Summary of passage: An Israelite man brought a Midianite woman to the Tent of Meeting. Phinehas, son of Eleazar, drove them through with a spear. The plague against the Israelites stopped but 24,000 died. God made a lasting covenant of priesthood with Phinehas because he was zealous for God’s honor and made atonement for the people. The leader of the Simeonite family was killed and now God told the Israelites to treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them for their deception.
10a) Phinehas was jealous for God’s honor and the killing shed blood to atone for the Israelites’ sins. Furthermore, Phinehas was just as jealous for God’s honor as God is jealous for His honor, showing how much Phinehas has a heart for God.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Defend Him when blasphemied. Tolerate no sin around you and say something when others are committing blatant sins against Him. Be Godly yourself.
11a) Balaam is credited with giving the Midianites the idea to entice/defeat the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.
[See also Numbers 31:16]
b) Balaam was killed along with the five kings of Midian shortly after his blessings of the Israelites. He is remembered as a lover of “wages of wickedness” according to Peter. He is remembered as greedy and motivated by money–an unbeliever out for himself.
12a) Personal Question. My answer: God cannot tolerate sin nor be near sin. His honor matters and He rewards those who defend Him here on earth. He punishes justly and gives all a chance to turn to Him.
b) Personal Question. My answer: To be holy. To maintain it. To honor and defend it.
Conclusions: Question 12 is a filler. It’s nice to see Balaam being punished for his misdeeds. So often in this world we don’t see sin being punished. We just have to trust the sinners will be handled by God in heaven. Still, God is a just God and incidents like this renew our faith that He is in control and consequences will be paid.
End Notes: Scholars believe Zimri was having sex with Cozbi right in front of the tabernacle, which would make sense to solicit such a reaction from Phinehas.
This one act stopped the plague–an encouragement to us who think sometimes what we do doesn’t matter.
Phinehas had the zeal of God and was ensured he would be the line of the priesthood out of Eleazar’s sons.
Now the Midianites are an enemy of God after they had attacked God’s people first. God’s anger is burning against them and He orders them to be destroyed. Good lesson not to mess with God and His people!