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The Sin-Killer

You want to know how cool the Bible is?  It has a story about a guy who rams a spear through two people having sex.  And on top of that, God is so pleased with this action that He makes an eternal covenant of peace with the killer right there on the spot.  The young killer's name was Phineas (yes, I would love to name a son after him), and his story is found in Numbers 25. Now, I have already written about my sick tastes in being drawn to stories like this (see previous blog post here), so I won't do so again here.  Instead, I want to focus on why God was so pleased with what happened.

One commandment that God repeatedly gives His people is that they should not intermix with unbelievers.  Israel was to remain separate from the nations around them, and God's reasoning behind commanding this was that shackling yourself in marriage to an unbeliever is about the most sure way to corrupt your faith that can be found (Exodus 34:12-16).  If you marry a pagan, it is very likely that he or she will eventually lead you off into some aspect or another of paganism.  Thus, in the New Testament as well, those in the church are given the command to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).  To do so is purely disobedient and utterly foolish, no matter what kind of ridiculous excuse the believer gives about "evangelistic dating" or whatever.

Well, in Numbers 25, this was exactly the way that Satan was ambushing the people of God.  He sent a bunch of hot Moabite girls into the camp and all of the stupid Israelite guys were chasing after them.  Then, when they invited the boys to the sacrifices of their gods, these lust-sick idiots went right along with them.

In judgment of these acts, God told Moses to "Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel" (Numbers 25:4).  So, Moses gives the order to the judges of Israel.  And while they are standing there discussing this, and while the godly ones were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting because of the sad state of the people, a fool named Zimri walks by with a Moabite whore named Cozbi, giggling and making googly-eyes at each other as they made their way toward Zimri's tent (okay the giggling and googly-eyes aren't in the text, but you get the picture).  At this point, Phineas, the grandson of Aaron, grabs a spear and follows them into the bedroom where he shish-kabobs them right there on the spot in the act (Numbers 25:7-8).

God's pleasure with this act of justice is made immediately known.  He tells Moses that Phineas has turned back His wrath against the people of Israel, and He gives as His reason for this that "[Phineas] was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy" (verse 11).  Apparently this is a similar case to what I wrote yesterday: if we will uphold God's holiness in our lives, then He will not have to show Himself holy in judging us.  Likewise, if we show His jealousy for the righteousness of His people in our lives, then He won't have to show it in judging us in that jealousy.

Phineas, then, becomes the model sin-killer for us.  The tabernacle used to sit in the middle of the Israelite camp, but in the New Covenant each believer becomes the temple that houses the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).  And just as the godly ones were weeping at the tabernacle for the sin that was in the camp, when we bring sin into our lives it grieves the Holy Spirit who dwells within (Ephesians 4:30).  So we need to become like one who would take up the spear and put sin to death with God's jealousy for His Name.  We need to be ruthless in the way that we stomp out disobedience in our own hearts.  Let this young man be a role model to you and look on your sins not as delicious distractions that you would hate to lose, but as an enemy in the camp who needs to be killed violently and immediately.