The Consequences of Sin
by Bobby Bruno

1 While Israel was staying at Shittim, the men began to have sex with Moabite women 2 who invited the people to the sacrifices offered to their gods. The people ate the meat from the sacrifices and worshiped these gods. 3 Since the Israelites joined in worshiping the god Baal of Peor, the LORD became angry with Israel. 4 The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people, and execute them in broad daylight in the LORD'S presence. This will turn the LORD'S anger away from Israel." 5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you must kill the men who have joined in worshiping the god Baal of Peor." 6 One of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman to his brothers. He did this right in front of Moses and the whole community of Israel while they were crying at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of the priest Aaron, saw this. So he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand, 8 and went into the tent after the Israelite man. He drove the spear through the man and into the woman's body. Because of this, the plague that the Israelites were experiencing stopped. 9 However, 24,000 people died from that plague. 10 Then the LORD said to Moses, 11 "Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of the priest Aaron, turned my fury away from the Israelites. Since he stood up for me, I didn't have to stand up for myself and destroy them. 12 So tell Phinehas that I'm making a promise of peace to him. 13 My promise is that he and his descendants will be priests permanently because he stood up for his God and he made peace with the LORD for the Israelites." 14 The name of the Israelite man who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri, son of Salu. (Salu was the leader of a family from Simeon.) 15 The name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi, daughter of Zur. (Zur was the head of a family from the Midianite tribes.) 16 The LORD said to Moses, 17 "Treat the Midianites as your enemies, and kill them 18 because they treated you as enemies. They plotted to trick you in the incident that took place at Peor. They used their sister Cozbi, daughter of a Midianite leader, who was killed on the day of the plague caused by the incident at Peor."
Numbers 25:1-18 (GW)

8 "Take your staff, then you and your brother Aaron gather the community. Right before their eyes, tell the rock to give up its water. In this way you will give the community water from the rock for them and their animals to drink." 9 Moses took his staff out of {the tent in} the LORD'S presence as he had been commanded. 10 Then Moses and Aaron assembled the community in front of the rock and said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring water out of this rock for you?" 11 Moses raised his hand and hit the rock twice with the staff. Water came pouring out, and all the people and their animals drank. 12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "You didn't trust me! You didn't show the Israelites how holy I am! So you will not bring this congregation into the land I'm giving them."
Numbers 20:8-12 (GW)

Part 1:
What does God mean when he states that Phineas' zeal is the same as His (God's)?

Phineas dealt with the sin of the people by putting to death the man and woman who paraded their sin in front of Moses and the entire community. When God said to kill all of the leaders who had worshipped Baal, Phineas immediately took a spear and went to the tent of one of the men and promptly killed him so that the immorality would stop, thus fulfilling God's command.

How could you reconcile the idea that God glorified a man who killed two people, one of whom was a fellow Israelite, with the knowledge of God as loving and compassionate?

God must deal with sin. If He does not then that sin, like yeast, can get into the whole nation and corrupt it completely. God must wipe out the sin before it gets too far leaving no one free of its stain and corruption. In this way, God is loving and compassionate because He doesn't want all of His people to fall. He wants to keep them separate for Himself as holy people to show the other nations that His people are different and that He is the One, True of the universe. When they fall into the sin of other nations God must cut that sin off so His people can remain His and free to fulfill His purposes for them. Phineas, the grandson of Aaron the Priest, wanted to protect the name of God by his obedience to God and his love for God and the people of Israel.

How does this story change/affect your understanding of who God is?

God is a jealous God and will do, or have done, whatever it takes to keep His people separate and holy for Himself. God wants to whole world to know Him and I do too. I agree that the world needs God and Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but God can't have His people living as the world does because, then, who would know the difference between Christians and the world at large? Phineas' obedience, and the blessings he received, shows me that God honors those who do what He says even if it is difficult, because, in the end, God's Will will prevail. Being zealous is a good thing as long as we aim it toward the truth of God and the rightness of whatever it is He wants us to do. I believe that since God created us only He has the right to destroy us, especially when we don't live according to or in obedience to the kind of life He wants us to live. This story doesn't change my understanding of God, it only increases it. The more I see God loving His people in whatever way He chooses to, the more I know that I am greatly loved and protected by Him.

Part 2:
Why was Moses not allowed to enter the Promised Land?

We find in Numbers 20:8-12 that God gave Moses (and Aaron) instructions speak to a rock so that the people could have water since they were still walking in the wilderness. But Moses, upset with the people for their constant bickering about food and water, struck the rock twice in anger instead. At that moment, God immediately rebuked Moses (and Aaron) for his disobedience for not trusting God to give water His way and told Moses that he would never see the land promised to the people of Israel.

What principle does this story illustrate, according to Hamilton? Do you agree or disagree?

The principle Hamilton describes is from Luke 12:48 "A lot will be expected from everyone who has been given a lot. More will be demanded from everyone who has been entrusted with a lot" (GW). I agree with this scripture very much. When God gives us a task to fulfill for Him, He expects us to fulfill it exactly as He planned it to be done; if we don't then He has the right to rebuke us in any way He chooses. Our lives are His and when we are His children He has the right to expect obedience from us in every way, the same as any earthly parent expects of their children. For example, a Pastor has more responsibility than a parishioner because God has entrusted him with His word and expects it to be taught correctly. If the Pastor does not live by the Word that he is teaching, then God has the right to expose him and remove him from office. This has happened to two worship leaders at the last two churches I attended as a member.

What can we glean from this incident, as leaders of the church?

We have to live lives worthy of God blessings. Leaders must always be free of any sin that could corrupt their position and ministry. God can give and He can also take away when we refuse to honor Him by our obedience to His words and commands. Why would we want to listen to a man preach the Word when we know that he is knowingly sinning against his wife? As leaders, we must realize that whatever is hidden by us will come into the light someday and be exposed for all to see. One leader living in sin can bring down a whole church and cause the people to no longer believe in God (my father is one of those people who left the church and God because of a sin committed by a reverend and never looked back). Practice what you preach is exactly what all leaders, and Christians, must do.

Comment: "The fact that Phineas was obedient to uphold His laws and kill those who violate them makes God proud of him. God is love and compassionate but abhors sin and those that sin will be punished by death if they don't repent and are blatant in their actions against God's commandments/word."

Author Response: Since Jesus hadn't come along yet in the days of the Old Testament, God had to deal with sin in some way. Since God created the animals as well as humans, what made people then think that He wouldn't deal with their sin by killing them? I believe that God already knows who will repent of their sins and who will not and therefore took them out before they could have sinned worse than what they already had. God always wants His name to be glorified and there are some who just will not repent which brings shame to His name. Since God created us, He has the right to do with us whatever He wants to. Yes, God is a loving God, but He thankfully takes out those who would be not just a headache to Him, but a nightmare for us as well.

Comment: "He (Phineas) also stopped the count on the amount of Israelites lives at 24,000 that was the number which died due to the plague because of their sin against the LORD."

Author Response; When we look at the way God handled sin in the old days we gasp and tell ourselves how incredible that God would just wipe out His creation like that. But isn't that how He is still handling it today. Yes, Jesus came to forgive us our sins, but we know that there are millions in the world who refuse to give Him their lives so that He can free them from these times when God has to take matters into His own hands. How many more earthquakes, tsunamis, mud slides, shootings, wars, and abortions is it going to take for people to wake up and get the picture that God is indeed in control of this entire universe. Yes, He lets us do whatever we want, but He also puts a price on how we are to pay for our misdeeds and evil sins. As Christians, we can understand why God does what He does in the world and we honor Him even if we don't like all of the people who die because of the consequences of their sin. Thankfully, God gave us Jesus, so He no longer has to tell a believer like me to go down the street and kill Joe Schmoe because he is having an affair with his neighbor's wife. I believe that God has actually taken less people out with one earthquake than if we were still pulling a Phineas these days.

Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love.  He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.

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