In Numbers 25 we find the Israelites running after foreign gods (remember this is right after God saved Balaam from cursing them… essentially they’re repaying God’s mercy with unfaithfulness). Many were partaking in rituals worshiping these gods and included in this “worship” was sexual acts with the Moabite woman (the Moabites were descendants from the incest between Lot’s daughters and their father after being rescued by God from Sodom and Gomorrah). God was so angry He sent a plague through the Israelite camp and is wiping them out in His jealous rage.
In verses 6-9 we find that one of Israel’s leaders has brought one of these women into the Israelite camp. Phinehas, a priest and Aaron’s grandson, is disgusted and appalled by this and grabs a javelin and goes and spears them through – both the leader and the woman he brought with Him. As soon as he did this the plague stopped.
In verses 10-11 the Lord explains to Moses:
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.
For this context, Merriam-Webster’s unabridged defines zeal as:
ardor (i.e. passion) of feeling taking the form usually of jealousy or indignation
In other words because someone expressed passion that paralleled His own passion God stayed His hand. Furthermore, in verses 12-13 God blesses him and all his descendants too!
What do we learn from this? Passion matters!
Think about it… what are you passionate about? Some scream and yell at sporting events, others at concerts, others like to debate politics… what are YOU willing to get passionate about?
Are you passionate about the Word? Worship? Reaching the lost? See you can’t fake passion. You either have it or you don’t. If you don’t have it, you can get it though… prayer is key in developing a deeper love. When you pray for something or someone your heart towards it expands… passion is birthed.
The things we are passionate about we happily give our time and money to… we don’t begrudge the resource demands made by our passions, rather we begrudge the things that keep our resources from being able to be used on our passions!
God is passionate about us. And what we see in this scripture, when our passion aligns with His, we are blessed (verse 12-13).
Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.
So again, what are you passionate about? Does it align with God’s passion? If not, why not… what is distracting you from being aligned with God? Is something that distracts you from God worth being passionate over… from the looks of this chapter… no.
Lord I ask that You birth a passion in us that mirrors Your heart, Your passion. May we love what You love and hate what You hate. Show us how to grow that zeal within us. Show us how to please You!