Monday, May 10, 2010

Phineas and Godly Jealousy

In the book Godly Jealousy (Thoennes, K. Erik. Godly Jealousy: a Theology of Intolerant Love. Scotland: Christian Focus, 2005.), the author discusses examples of godly human jealousy from Scripture. He starts by considering three examples from the Old Testament.

The three examples were; Phineas, David, and Elijah. According to Thoennes, "The clearest example of godly human jealousy in the Bible is found in Numbers 25:11"
(149). Here is that passage which has God speaking to Moses:
“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.’”

The event which leads to this declaration by God is found in Numbers 25:1-9 which is as follows in the ESV:
25:1 While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. 4 And the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the Lord, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” 5 And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”

6 And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand 8 and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. 9 Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

Thoennes walks the reader through this event with an clear explanation of Phineas' righteous jealousy and the result and implications of it. In concluding his remarks about this priest, Thoennes writes, "In the jealousy of Phineas we have a clear example of a man who so shared God's perspective that he felt and acted on God's behalf in an accurate and godly way. the godly jealousy expressed by Phineas is the purest kind, for it is intensely and ultimately concerned about the goal for which God is most intensely and ultimately concerned-his own glory ... His radical behavior flowed out of a godly character and perspective and that enabled him to have the courage necessary to boldly act on God's behalf." (168-171)

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