Daily Devotional: Sunday 20th September

by William Moody

Numbers 25

Baal Worship at Peor

25:1 While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang1 them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”

And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

The Zeal of Phinehas

10 And the LORD said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, 13 and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’”

14 The name of the slain man of Israel, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of a father’s house belonging to the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father’s house in Midian.

16 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Harass the Midianites and strike them down, 18 for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague on account of Peor.”

Footnotes

[1] 25:4 Or impale

(ESV)

God has just protected the Israelites from Balak, who wanted to use Balaam to curse them, how do they repay the Lord? They indulge in immorality and idolatry with the Moabites and Midianites (v1-3). The result was that “the Lord’s anger burned against them” (v3b) and he sent a plague upon them.

The Israelites were enticed into this through the influence of Balaam (see Revelation 2 v14). God’s people always need to be watchful as temptation is never far away. Sin is serious and God has a hatred towards sin that is far above what we can imagine. God tells Moses that those who are responsible must be killed for their sin (v4-5).

In the middle of this, an Israelite man openly and unashamedly exposes his sin (v6). Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, exercises righteous anger in killing the Israelite and the Midianite woman (v7-8).

We live in days when there is such an emphasis on, ‘Judge not and be you not judged’, so that the place for righteous anger has been lost. God’s people today need to have a righteous anger for sin, but it has to begin with a righteous anger for our own sin.

This sin meant 24,000 Israelites died (v9). Balaam who was involved in leading the people astray would also suffer a death of judgment (see Joshua

13 v22). Phinehas on the other hand, would be honoured by God, for his zeal for God’s glory (v10-13).

The Lord says, “Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained.” (1 Samuel 2 v30)

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®),
copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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