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The Zeal of Phinehas

Words of Faith Final

The Zeal of Phinehas

Words of Faith 8-5-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Numbers 25

    [10] The Lord said to Moses, [11] "Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. [12] Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. [13] He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites."

    [14] The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. [15] And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Cozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

    [16] The Lord said to Moses, [17] "Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, [18] because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor and their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of Peor."


        Shwew!  How do you clean up after that mess?  Phinehas slew two flagrant sinners who were assaulting the very worship place of the Lord.  This was not your average day at church, for sure.

        Of course, the differences between now and then in time and culture are immense.  Today, Phinehas would be locked up immediately, and the family of his “victims” awarded a large settlement. 

        What was God’s response?  He commended Phinehas. In essence, God said: I am glad someone had the guts to stand up and do something.  "Phinehas has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them.” 

        And Phinehas is credited with saving the nation!  God then made a unique covenant of peace with Phinehas and his descendants who would be the priesthood of Israel.

         Of course, we must recognize that this was a theocracy, and the execution of Zimri and Cozbi by Phinehas was fully sanctioned by the civil and religious Law of God.  Today we cannot (and would not) go about executing those who offend the worship of the Lord, but can we do something?

        We might think that these stories have little or no relevance to our lives today.  The truth is that there is a regular and constant assault going on against the worship of God. A few years back, media giant Viacom Inc. paid a record $3.5 million in FCC fines.  The fine included penalties against a pair of morning “shock-jock” radio hosts who staged the live broadcast of a "couple engaged sex” inside New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral.  Was this any less of a direct assault on the true and pure worship of the Lord?  At least the FCC saw this as offensive at that point in time.

         Of course, we typically see the assault in much more subtle ways.  We can rant about the deliberate media agenda to portray aberrant sexual behavior as “normal” during prime time. Still, the greatest threat is truly within the church itself.  Little has changed since the time of Balaam and Phinehas.  

         Denomination after denomination has wrestled and studied and finally developed plans to split. Church property is always a precious commodity at stake. But much more valuable is the integrity of the Gospel and purity of God's house of worship.

         A few years back, one of the oldest and most prominent denominations in the country was upset because networks rejected its new national ad campaign. The ad portrayed other churches as “exclusionary” with bouncers at the door to keep out those of diverse ethnicity and then portrays the ad's makers as "open" to a variety of lifestyle and unions.  The campaign was called “God is still talking…” Interestingly, even the networks saw the ad as too controversial and refused to run it!

         The question in the church today is not so much whether God is still talking, but why some say He contradicts His Word.  Of course, the church should and must be open to people of all lifestyles and backgrounds.  The ministry of Christ is to reach all sorts of sinners. Diversity saturates the Gospel writings. But the church is never called to adopt these lifestyles or condone them if they are contrary to the teaching of Scripture.  Such a traditional or orthodox view will be labeled as intolerant, but it is simply the truth of Scripture.   

        So, we might well ask: Where is the line of Phinehas today?  Where is the priesthood that will protect the worship place and faith of God?  Where are the church leaders who will stand up to such attacks from within? The voices and testimonies of those set free from sin are often silenced these days because churches and denominations don't want to stir up trouble.   

        The violence of Phinehas is, of course, not appropriate today, but certainly, his zeal for the holiness of God's house is.  Where are the leaders today who will have the guts to stand up for what God has declared to be the truth?  This is not a matter of being “cruel” to those who are lost.  The cruelest thing one can do is to lie to those who are lost in sin and tell them that their choices do not matter. 

          The most loving and inclusive thing that we can do is declare that God condemns all sin equally and calls us lovingly to repentance offering by grace the wonderful opportunity for new life in Jesus who has conquered the power of sin and death in our lives.


          Father God, give us the grace and guts to stand up against the enemies of faith and true worship.  Give me the grace to walk in holiness and contrition with You daily.  Show me how to love the sinner while still hating the sin that destroys lives.  Draw me near to You.  In Jesus’ name.


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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2004, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.