Numbers 25:11, Has turned back my wrath…because he was zealous. Read Psalm 94:16. What are some other examples of righteous men and women in the Bible who stood up against evil in their day whom YHVH praised for doing so? Did Phinehas rise up against evil in his own carnally-minded, emotionally-based zeal? If not, then whose zeal was he full of? (Read verse 11 again.) When we take a stand against evil as led by the Word and Spirit of the YHVH Elohim, can it ever be wrong to do so, even though the world may not agree with us and may even criticize or persecute us for doing so? Not only that, Phinehas placed his life on the line between the righteous judgment of Elohim and those who were sinning. Many times, the servants of YHVH actually have to leave their comfort zones and place themselves in harm’s way on the ragged edge between good and evil to take a stand for YHVH Elohim. (Note Aaron’s actions in Num 16:46–50.) The examples of such actions from the pages of the Scriptures are too numerous to list. Some notable examples include:
- Noah preaching righteousness against the utterly corrupt generation of his day.
- David versus Goliath (1 Sam 17)
- Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:20ff)
- John the Baptist confronting King Herod (Matt 14)
- Yeshua confronting the religious leaders of his day on numerous occasions (e.g. Matt 23)
- Peter and John versus the Jewish leaders (Acts 4)
- Stephen confronting the Jewish leaders (Acts 7)
- Paul and Silas preaching against false religion in Philippi (Acts 16) and preaching the gospel on the streets in Thessolonica (Acts 17), in Corinth (Acts 18) and again in Ephesus (Acts 19)
- At times, YHVH tried to find such a person who would stand for his truth, but was unable to do so (see Jer 5:1; Ezek 22:30).
Numbers 25:17, Harass … and smite them. Midian is symbolic of the immoral pleasures of the society that surrounds the people of YHVH and that will subvert and overtake the righteous if left unchecked. YHVH commanded Israel to constantly harass and attack the Midianites for their subversion of Israel sexually.
The best defense is a strong offense.
As The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash points out, harassing the Midianites was to be an on-going state of mind (p. 877). Likewise, fighting the sin that would attempt to gain entrance into our lives must be a constant state of mind. YHVH commanded Israel to harass the Midianites and then to smite them. When sin arises, because our offensive and defensive positions against sin are secure, we will be ready to smite the sin that dogs us.
What are you (especially you men) doing to combat the sexual enticements of the surrounding wicked and perverse generation? What do you watch on television or view on the internet? Do you listen to sexually suggestive or downright immoral music? Are your conversations with your friends and coworkers always clean and pure? Do you allow your eyes ever to see anything that is sexually explicit? Do you vigorously and aggressively confront it for the evil that it is and take a stand against it both in your heart and mind and do so openly? As YHVH commanded Israel to view Midian as the enemy because of their lust for immoral pleasure, so we must despise the world around us as our enemy in this regard for its debauchery and idolatry. (Read 1 Cor 10:3–5.) In reality, we need to come to hate and despise sin at all times (as does YHVH) rather than to toy with it. (See Pss 45:7; 97:10; 101:3; 119:104 ; Prov 8:13; Amos 5:15; Rom 12:9 cp. Ps 34:4; Heb 1:9.)
Numbers 25:17, Harass…attack.With regard to our enemies who are bent on destroying us spiritually, we must not only be in a constant state of readiness to defend ourselves from them, but we must harass them as well; that is, maintain an offensive posture against them.
Maintaining a strategy of offense against sin and those who would seduce us into sinning keeps on in a stronger position physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually than merely maintaining a defense position.
In YHVH’s eyes, it wasn’t sufficient for the Israelites merely to kill those who had sinned, but also to continue attacking those who had provoked them to sin. Sin (especially sexual sin) is so alluring, that one is better able to resist temptation by actively rather than passively fighting against it. For example, if a man struggles with lust and pornography, it is an excellent defensive measure to shut off the computer, but it is even better for him to stand in front of an adult video store and to preach repentance and righteousness to those going into that store!
Seduced you. The Jewish sages teach that Balaam and Midian co-conspired at engineering the demise of Israel through sensual enticements. Make no mistake about it, sex is a very powerful motivating force in the affairs of humans—especially for men. Some will do anything (including adultery and murder—remember David with Bathsheba) for a few moments of sensual gratification. Are there forces afoot in our society today attempting to corrupt the morally pure by drawing them into unrighteousness and degradation sexually? What are the means by which this is occurring? Discuss the tide of immoral raunchiness and filth that continually assaults us and what the saints can do to keep from getting sucked into its cesspool.