What happened at Peor? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
For now, let’s get back to marriage in the Bible with intermittent posting when I get something new on how Jesus handled the crowds in His day. In this chapter, Balaam had failed to curse Israel, but that didn’t stop other methods being used. If the direct approach won’t work, get them to abandon their covenant indirectly and well, what better way to lead men astray than the temptation of women.
So some women show up and the men give in to the temptation of the flesh. Something to note here as an aside. Usually if you want a family to go to the church, you go for the father and if he goes, most likely, the rest of his family will come along. We could say if you want the family to fail, you do the same thing. You strike the father.
The operation is successful. In Numbers 25, the men are led astray. It’s worth noting also that Israel was more than willing to leave Moab alone. They only wanted to get to the Promised Land. Moab went out of their way to go after Israel. The goal was to get them to abandon their covenant with YHWH and lose His favor.
Moses tells them to deal with the problem by hanging the chiefs of the people who were responsible. While some of the leaders are weeping in repentance, an Israelite man comes with a Midianite woman and enters into the chambers right in front of everyone. Phineas the priest will not put up with this. He grabs a spear and goes in and interrupts their intimate time together by running through both of them with one spear. Phineas was praised for this action and was often held as an example of zeal for the Lord.
What’s fascinating about this is that this man did this in open defiance. Everyone knew what was going on in that tent. Consider today in movies and TV shows, when it comes to a sex scene, practically everything has to be shown. Older people will tell you in the past, a man and a woman went into a room and you saw the door closed and perhaps heard a click of a lock and you knew what was going on. No one had to be shown.
While everyone is in repentance, this man doesn’t care and will do what he wants. He will not only do it, but he will flaunt it. This is a man who cares nothing about the standards that YHWH has set up. Had he really wanted to go this route, he could have just left Israel and traveled to Moab and had a relationship with a Moabite woman.
Nope. He wanted to flaunt.
One of the ways to be faithful to YHWH is to be faithful in your marriage covenant and that means treating sex as something sacred. Don’t have it before or outside of marriage and when you are in marriage, honor the one you are with with the gift of sex. Our culture is caught up in a confusion about sex. We treat it like a recreational activity and then say that we have an identity built around this recreational activity.
I am not at all saying divorce is always wrong. I have cases where I would even encourage a couple to sadly get a divorce, but even when I think it is the best option, it is still a tragedy. It means along the lines, someone was that unfaithful to the covenant. However, if that has not happened to a party, then it is not just unfaithfulness to the person they promised faithfulness to, but unfaithfulness to God, and in a marriage, they did promise God they would be faithful to Him in being faithful to their spouse.
Phineas was more faithful to YHWH than he was to public opinion. He didn’t care what the people would think of him. He didn’t wait for Moses to take the lead. He knew what needed to be done in faithfulness to YHWH and he did it.
Marriage is also a call of faithfulness to YHWH if you enter it. It doesn’t matter what the public opinion is. You also don’t wait on the other person. You do what you can to build up your marriage and it is done in faithfulness to YHWH. That’s hard many times, but if we want to rebuild our nation, we have to rebuild marriage. We can blame the left for attempts to redefine marriage and matters like that, but we have to ask ourselves if we were treating marriage seriously ourselves.
Keep in mind, this is also so serious that this is what leads to Numbers 31 where Israel battles Midian, a favorite passage of skeptics. Abandoning of YHWH’s covenant by abandoning marriage led to a full-on war where several people died. It’s serious business.
Marriage always is.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)