Numbers 23-25: God’s Not Messing Around

There are few stories crazier than the zeal of Phinehas in Numbers 25. The people of Israel are beginning to follow after the gods of the Midianites and God sends a plague to wipe them out. While all of this is going on, Zimri, the son of the Simeonite chief (of the tribe of Simeon) runs off to get intimate with a Midian princess. Phinehas sees them run off and here’s what happened next:

[7] Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest… rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand [8] 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. [9] Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.
(Numbers 25:7-9 ESV)

Now, this is an extreme and violent story, and not actually very common in Scripture, but because of His faithfulness, Phinehas is greatly blessed by the Lord. Here is what the God says in the passage that follows:

[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.’”
(Numbers 25:11-13 ESV)

I love that phrase, “he was jealous with my jealousy.” Don’t you want to be like that, so concerned about the glory of God that you will go to any lengths to protect it? This passage not only gives us an example of how we should feel about God’s glory, it also gives us a glimpse of One who will come that is greater than Phinehas, One who upholds God’s glory to perfection. Just look at what the Lord says:

He makes a covenant of peace with Phinehas, who will now have a perpetual (ongoing, eternal) priesthood because he atoned for the sins of the people. Does that sound familiar? Obviously, this is mainly talking about Phinehas, but we don’t need to think very hard to notice the shadow of the Jesus Christ who Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14) because He made atonement for our sins (1 John 4:10) and is now our Great High Priest forever (Hebrews 4:14).

I don’t know how many times I’ve written this lately, but God is serious about His own glory. So serious that He sent His Son to turn aside His wrath from devouring us so that we might be saved to the praise of that very same glory. Jesus was pierced through for our transgressions so that the plague of sin might not overtake us. God has been so gracious to us. Let us learn to be jealous for Him.

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One Response to Numbers 23-25: God’s Not Messing Around

  1. Pingback: Numbers 31-32: Balaam and the People of God | Unoriginal Observations

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