February 17

Numbers 25-27, Psalm 48

Growing up in Brooklyn, one sure way to initiate a fight was to insult someone's mother. This offense was considered so severe that a swift response was necessary. As we get older we see people rise to that same level over disagreements on sports teams, political sides, etc. Yet, when it comes to people blaspheming or misrepresenting the name of God, that seems to be tolerated or overlooked. Worse than that, often rather than responding, Christians can't wait to get to church to complain how terrible those people or comments were to their fellow Christians. A few years ago, I had an employee, who had at one time been bisexual. She was talking with some of the other employees and me, when she said, "My God, would never condemn one's sexual preference". I asked her who her God was, because the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has clearly spoken about this topic and ruled on it. If her God, felt otherwise, then she was choosing to worship another God. A polite but spirited conversation evolved. She wound up moving to Florida shortly thereafter. She recently called one of the other workers and told her to let me know that she recently gave her heart to Christ, is an active member of a Christian church down there and is part of their worship team. Though it is the Holy Spirit who saves, we are commanded to have our part by not remaining silent and planting seeds.

We read in Numbers 31:16, "Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord." This is how Balaam convinced King Balak to have God curse the Israelites. We see how this unfolded in Numbers 25:1-2, "...and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel." Moses was then told by Lord what must be done to cleanse the camp. While this cleansing process was going on we read of an Israelite man who brazenly approached the congregation with a Midianite woman. We see the passionate response in 25:7-8, "Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel." Notice how God viewed the actions of Phinehas in 25:11, "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." He goes on to give a blessing to Phinehas as a result of his actions.

As believers, we are to have a passion for God which means an overwhelming, strong desire for Him. So many believers are afraid to stand out from the crowd and be labeled as a freak or a fanatic. But this was exactly the behavior which was exemplified by Phinehas, that God acknowledged and blessed. When we hear God's name being dragged through the mud, do we politely walk away; or cowardly say nothing, only to gossip with our fellow believers over the sad state of affairs? This is not why God has given us His gift of His Holy Spirit, to remain silent. In 2 Timothy 1:7, we read, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." We are commanded in Ephesians 4:15, to speak the truth in love. Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:15, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;". God, through the prophet Ezekiel, exhorted all of us to be watchmen, to boldly take a stance. So as we gather with our families, at the water cooler or the nurse's station at work, and we hear God's name being blasphemed or misrepresented, may we boldly stand up for the things of God, with zeal. May we stop being apathetic and indifferent and be worthy of being called a fanatic for God.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster