August 4, 2008

The Story of Phineas the Spartan-like Zealot

Lately I have thought long and hard about what I perceive to be an overemphasis on God's grace (if that's possible) that has allowed us to sort of leave the demands for our obedience in our lives resting on a shelf. As I read Numbers 25 this morning these thoughts were further reinforced.

Almost immediately after Balaam prophecies that God will "crush the foreheads of Moab's people", many of the Israelites are being deceived and seduced by the Moabites. Verse 3 is so pointed and revealing: "Before long Israel was joining in...."
This statement is painfully revealing in regards to how easy our hearts are led astray to wander from the narrow road. We are easily seduced.

But returning to the point, you have to notice that this so outrages the heart of God - He is so jealous for His own glory - that He is ready to destroy the entire nation (in broad daylight, mind you). BAM! Just like that. And then something strange happens. An Israelite named Phineas sees another Israelite man coming into the camp with a Midianite woman - basically meaning that he took her to his tent to have some relations. He knowingly and openly disregarded God's law. And what happens? Phineas sees this and is so outraged that he grabs a spear, runs into the man's tent, and stabs him so hard with it that it goes all the way through the man and into the Midianite woman. BAM! Just like that. Like a scene straight out of 300!

What's so eye-opening about this is that it "turned God's anger away...". Get this: God saw that Phineas was so zealous for His glory and His name that it turned away His wrath. In other words, this Spartan-like act brought a settling to the heart of God. This is serious business. This is a God who is fixed and focused on His glory - and attentive to the hearts of those who become consumed with everything that this means. And it all begins with those of us who claim to be His children taking seriously what He has asked of us. The evidence is in the obedience.

I don't know that the Holy Spirit will be moving or convicting us to ram anyone through the chest with a spear anytime soon, but maybe we should take the glory of God a little more seriously. What do you think?

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