“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.” (
I have had a few flat tires in my lifetime. Progress comes to a halt, and if you are traveling at a high speed can be dangerous—even deadly. It may be the result of hitting a big pothole or sharp object, but not typically. What usually occurred is that the tire had been losing air almost imperceptibly, and I had failed to be vigilant. The result was a horrible noise, difficult steering, and finding myself beside the highway with a flat tire.
I still remember the warning given by the man who once pastored my home church, Dr. Thad Dowdle. He said, “Most spiritual failures are not the result of a blowout, but a slow leak!” How true! We see someone who has wrecked their marriage, totaled their testimony, and are sitting on the side of the road of life, and wonder what happened. We may conclude it was a sudden event—and it can be—but not usually. It was the little compromises—the neglect of the spiritual life—failing to be vigilant and diligent in maintaining Biblical convictions that brought the catastrophe.
This is the way the Devil operates. We observe it in the twenty-fifth chapter of Numbers. Balak, the King of Moab, had tried to hire Balaam to curse
but each time the false prophet opened his mouth, God cause a blessing rather
than a curse to be spoken. Balaam’s plan
then became to send beautiful Moabite women into the camp to seduce the
gullible Israeli men, leading them to worship Baal. Since Balaam couldn’t get God to turn from Israel Israel, he decided to get to turn
from God. Then he knew that God would
bring His wrath upon the idolatry. He
knew there was more than one way to skin a cat! Israel
The plan worked perfectly. Their compromise in their relationship with heathen people—being “unequally yoked,”—led to contamination of their morals, and what we would call “backsliding.” The wages of sin is death—and we see the high price of low-living. 24,000 died in a plague sent as a punishment from God.
What saved the day? The zeal of Phineas stopped the plague. This godly man was stirred to action. A man named Zimri had given his heart to a pagan woman, who in turn had led him to give his heart to idolatry. What magnified his sin was that he was a leader in
, and so
Zimri not only hurt himself, he led others astray. Phineas took radical action and stuck a
javelin through the two compromisers—surgically removing the moral malignancy
threatening to kill the nation. Phineas
is commended by God for his zeal—a zeal for holiness like his Lord—and blessing
is promised to him and his descendants. Israel
Today you will likely face a temptation—will you respond with compromise or conviction? Satan whispers, “It is such a little thing.” It might be—the little compromise added to the little one from yesterday, and the day before—and you may be closer to ruin than you imagine. May we seek the zeal of Phineas and kill the compromise! The great old Puritan, John Owen, said, “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” Click on the link for more from Owen on this vital matter.