Be Zealous for God but Please Don’t Kill Anyone

Numbers 25:1-9 stands near the top of my favorite Bible stories, if only for the bizarre portrayal of sin and holiness. The people of Israel are near the end of their 40 years of wandering. They find themselves camped beside Baal of Peor at Shittim. And of course, they began intermarrying with people whom God forbade them. This is a problem. So the nation repents.

All the people wail and cry, while the judges execute Israelites who disobeyed God. It is this terrible scene. Then all of a sudden, this guy walks into the camp.

Num 25:5 says “And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting.”

You would think he would pick up that what he was doing was a bad idea, right? I mean dead bodies are everywhere, people are crying, and it was all over intermarriage, which he was boldy doing in front of them. When the priest Phinehas saw this, he picked up a spear, ran into the tent, and pierced through both the man and woman.

For Christians, his zeal is admirable but not emulatible. Be Zealous for God but Don’t kill anyone.

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