Grace Protestant Reformed Church

The Zeal of Phinehas

Date: AM
Text: Numbers 25:7-13
Psalters: 168, 84, 184, 291
Installation of Elders and Deacons
  1. The sad setting.
    1. The great spiritual weakness in the nation generally at this time.
    2. The Moabites and Midianites, acting on the advice of Balaam (Numbers 31:16; Rev. 2:14), wanted to make Israel curse-able to God.
    3. “Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor” (Numbers 25:3) and “separated themselves unto that shame” (Hosea 9:10).
      1. Generally, the nation fell into sin, for the 24,000 who died in the plague were all guilty of this sin (Deut. 4:3,4).
      2. It seems that many of the leaders and heads of the tribes were guilty (Numbers 25:4).
      3. Their sin was openly and brazenly committed by Zimri, a Simeon prince (Numbers 25:6-8).
  2. God responded by leading Israel back into the way of a constant, humble repentance.
    1. “The anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel” (Numbers 25:3). This anger was out of His undeserved love.
      1. God demanded Christian discipline on the leaders who sinned: they were stoned to death and their bodies hung (Numbers 25:4).
      2. And God sent a plague which killed thousands of the guilty (9; Deut. 4:3; I Cor. 10:8).
    2. God’s mercy and faithfulness were also displayed positively.
      1. The godly in Israel responded to the sinful display by weeping at the door of the tabernacle (Numbers 25:6).
      2. Phinehas exercised a holy zeal, taking a sword and publicly executing divine justice on the sin and sinners (Numbers 25:7,8).
      3. Phinehas “made an atonement for the children of Israel” (Numbers 25:13).
    3. God rewarded Phinehas’ zeal by giving him “My covenant of peace…even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood” (Numbers 25:12,13).
  3. Important lessons for all, but especially for the elders of the church.
    1. Let us heed the warning of this incident, especially the danger of spiritual ease in times of prosperity.
    2. Remember Phinehas for his zeal, i.e., his excited jealousy for God and His glory).
    3. This zeal of Phinehas was fulfilled in Jesus, who not only appeased God’s wrath, but satisfied it by bearing it Himself.