Spears, Hair, & Money-changers’ Tables

Balaam, a prophet of God, being tempted with cold hard cash from Israel’s enemies, came up with the idea of leading Israel into fornication and idolatrous worship with “the daughters of Moab”. You can read about this whole sordid affair in the book of Numbers 22-25, 2nd Peter 2:15-16 & Jude 11. 

God instructed Moses to execute those who had lead Israel to do so. When a man came brazenly amongst God’s people with a Midianite woman, Phinehas, the son of one of Israel’s newly anointed priests, took a spear and ran them both through. God said of this: 

“Phinehas……. Has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy”, Numbers 25:11 

About 1,000 years later, Nehemiah would discover similar faithlessness among those who had returned to rebuild Jerusalem. His response was holy hostility:

“In those days I also saw that the Jews had married women from Ashdod, Ammon and Moab. As for their children, half spoke in the language of Ashdod, and none of them was able to speak the language of Judah, but the language of his own people. So I contended with them and cursed them and struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, ‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take of their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.” Nehemiah 13:23-25 

It is no wonder then that we see Jesus compelled to cleanse the temple of his father out of the same zeal as Phinehas & Nehemiah: 

“And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. And He made a scourge of cords and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.’ His disciples remembered that it was written, Zeal for Your house will consume me.”, John 2:14-17 

While I don’t necessarily recommend that you and I turn to violence, you & I would do very well to be “consumed with Godly zeal” for God, his ways and his people as we see expressed in these records of history. To whom is your zeal apparent today?

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