ZEAL: Passionate ardor in the pursuit of any thing, an eagerness of desire to accomplish or obtain some object, and it may be manifested either in favor of any person or thing, or in opposition to it, and in a good or bad cause.
Have you ever been zealous about something? If you were, zealous probably isn’t the word you’d use, but zeal is still something we encounter and experience.
In Numbers 25, Israel has—once again—fallen prey to temptation and has been drawn away from God and into the worship of foreign gods. The Lord is mad. M.A.D. Mad. God has ordered that all of the ringleaders be executed in broad daylight. Right after this order has been given, an Israelite man made the less-than-intelligent decision to bring a Midianite woman into the camp. God’s anger is already burning at white hot. The priests share in His rage. Who are these people to deny the God who led them out of captivity, feeds them and provides for them every day for forty years, and wants to bring them into their own prosperous land?
In a fit of passionate zeal, Phinehas, son of Eleazar flees the scene only to return with a spear. In one swift move, he launches the weapon and skewers the man and woman both. This single act stopped the wrath of God within the Israelite camp.
I am in no way telling anyone to find a weapon and take out the next person who sins in your presence, but what if we, the Church, responded in a similar manner to Phinehas when sin enters our camp? I’m not talking about the unbeliever—sinners are supposed to sin. I’m talking about when Christians sin. Yes, we sin. Most people wouldn’t use that word. He stumbled. She’s going through something. Oh, it’s just a season they’re going through. We whitewash our shortcomings and pretend it doesn’t happen.
I know that there is sin in my own life and, after reading this passage, I wonder what would or could change if I went after it as zealously as Phinehas went after the man with the Midianite woman? What would happen if I called out my own sin and slayed it for all to see? What if we all did?
Would the Church be seen less as a gathering of hypocrites and more like a place where everyone is welcome to work out their salvation? We are all works in process, let’s not pretend we’re a finished product. Why not be accountable and hold others accountable?
Call sin what it is. Look at it. Acknowledge it. Get it out of the camp.
Daily Bible reading: Numbers 24-27, Mark 8:11-38