If you know anything about the strong will and self-control of the people of Israel to this point, you can probably guess that they fell for it hook, line & sinker. And, God’s anger blazed against them.
Many had to die because of it, about 24,000. And the passionate zeal of Phinehas, who executed one Isrealite man and a Midianite woman because of their blatant disobedience in the face of God, is what God identified as turning away His anger.
It got me thinking about my own passionate zeal. What do I do to remain clean before God? We no longer have rituals and sacrifice, but we do have confession and repentance. What about the sin I see in others? I’m not recommending we pick up a spear and skewer those we see caught in obvious sin, but is God telling us to confront with the sword of Truth (the Bible)?
Particularly in the area of sexual sin – I know many people who struggle. It’s obvious in some cases – and no one says anything. Yet this is one of the most dangerous battlegrounds for Christian man. Matthew Henry said of lust, “None are more fatally bewitched than those that are bewitched by their own lusts.” This story alone tells of a few men gone bad that ended up costing the nation of Israel 24,000 lives.
Today’s reading is a reminder how important it is to strive to obey God’s commands, and to have those in my life who I can encourage (and they me) to keep my eyes on God every day. Our passion for Christ will demonstrate our love for others and how they’re doing. In turn, they can prompt us on to good deeds as well.