Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Numbers, Chapters 23-25 … To study these chapters, go to this link -
Numbers 25: 6-13: … [Righteous Anger ] … 6 And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.7 And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;8 And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
10 And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. 12 Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:13 And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.”
My Journal for Today: There are several discussions worthy of my blogging keyboard from the Chapters in Numbers I was led to read this morning, more specifically Chapters 23-25. There was the interesting account of the sorcerer prophet, Balaam, and the scriptural reference to the prophesy of the “star of Jacob” in Chapter 23 which was likely the prophesy which led the so-called “Wisemen” to seek out the birthplace of the Messiah.
And I could journal here about how God could (and did) decide to use a false-prophet, like Balaam, to bring God’s message or wisdom to the people of the world … or even to God’s people. I hope we all know that anyone – even a misguided sorcerer like Balaam – can be used by God to bring truth forth or call attention to God’s ways. We must be discerning in seeing what is true and what is false from a man like Balaam. That is the lesson I’ve often referred to about the Bereans (in Acts 17: 10-15), who checked out the message of the Apostle Paul by going to God’s word to see if he was teaching truth or falsehood. We hear a lot of persuasive messages by prominent people in our world; and we need to be discerning and rely on God’s word and to get counsel from wise and Godly counselors to discern God’s will and to be able to follow those who’re trying to lead us to move in Godly directions.
But though those are very pertinent and interesting studies, I want to focus on a brief segment (copied above) in Numbers 25, verses 6-13, where we read of one of God’s Priests, Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, rising up in anger and slaying one of the disobedient Israelites, who had flagrantly brought a Canaanite woman into the Tent of Meetings, right before Moses’ eyes, with the sole intent of having sex with this woman in the sacred Tabernacle. And did God or the people strike down Phinehas for this angry act of retribution? No; … to the contrary, God honored Phinehas and even considered the slaying of the sinner as an atonement for the sinfulness of the Israelites, sparing them from God’s collective judgment for their general and wholesale disobedience during those times.
Today, in the commentary I often use to help guide me in my chronological read through the Bible this year, there was a good lesson about “righteous anger,” which I’d like to quote here for anyone who might be reading my devotional entry this morning. Here’s the quote from the Parson’s Commentary …
It is clear from Phinehas’ story that some anger is proper and justified. Phinehas was angry because of his zeal for the Lord. But how can we know when our anger is appropriate and when it should be restrained? Ask these questions when you become angry: (1) Why am I angry? (2) Whose rights are being violated (mine or another’s)? (3) Is the truth (a principle of God) being violated? If only your rights are at stake, it may be wiser to keep angry feelings under control. But if the truth is at stake, anger and action is often justified, although violence and retaliation are usually the wrong way to express it (Phinehas’ case was unique!). If we are becoming more and more like God, we should be angered by sin.
No, as it says above, striking out in anger for perceived sinful behavior by murdering sinners would not be considered the Godly way to go. But, like Phinehas, and Jesus when He cleansed the Temple, taking radical action may be called upon when sin against God becomes so much an affront to His holiness that we need to strike out against the perpetrators.
The advice given above about discerning and taking action when we’re angry is good and Godly counsel; and we need to remember that Jesus never struck out in anger to those who were attacking His personal being, … even when sinners spit on him or attacked His bodily security. No, our Lord only struck out in anger when He discerned that the world was defiling His Father’s Temple.
Is there anything in your life which is defiling God’s Temple … i.e., either your body or the Body of Christ? What about your own gluttony or maybe some addictive sin pattern like taking drugs, or obsessive gambling, or repetitively viewing p0rnography? Is there enough righteous anger in your countenance to strike out and do something about it, sending a spear through the heart of the perpetrator, as did Phinehas; … even if that perpetrator may be you, yourself.
I know right now that I stand convicted in discerning that I let my own sinful eating patterns defile God’s Temple, my body, at times; and I often see Christ’s body, the Church, being defiled by becoming an enabler of so many other Christians when the church makes it far too easy for the sin of gluttony to be magnified. Have you ever been to a church function and discerned that there were far too many gluttonous food choices than should be there to tempt Christians who’re struggling against the sin of gluttony? Were you angry enough to do something about it? Did you do something about it?
What about the plague of sin we have in our culture with the XXX sex trade proliferating with the growing cancer of internet p0rnography? Are you angry that p0rn is infiltrating our culture and destroying marriages and bringing down Christian church leaders the way we see in today’s world? Are you angry enough to do something like contacting your Representatives and demanding that our Justice Department prosecute the perpetrators of p0rn? If you struggle with your own sexual compulsions (maybe even recurring obsessions to view p0rn), are you angry enough to pick up a spear and throw it into the heart of your own sinfulness, getting help and confessing your sin to others?
All of us, who perceive flagrant sinfulness tearing apart our world or defiling God, could become an angry priest, like Phinehas to strike out in Christlike retribution against those who’re defiling Gods’ Temple or His Tabernacle. I am going to pray – right now - that we do just that!
My Prayer Today: … Lord, when we see the world defiling Your holiness, enlighten, enable, and empower us with Your sanctifying grace to be like Phinehas and take righteous action … but only when You lead us to take a stand for Your Name and to do it in Your way, inspired and modulated by Your word. Amen