Dave Burnette's Commentary

Numbers Chapter 25

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Unbelief (c 1-27)
Theme: A Second Approach to the Promised Land (c 22-36)
Message: The Israelites Worship Baal  (v 1-18)

Numbers 25 Commentary

(25:1) Israel's New Problem - This verse shows the great challenge Israel had to face. The most dangerous problem for Moses and Joshua was not Jericho's hostile army but the ever-present temptation to compromise with the pagan Canaanite religions and cultures.

(25:1-2) Balaam Leads Isreal Astray - This combination of sexual sin and idolatry, it turns out, was Balaam's idea (see 31:16; Revelation 2:14)- the same Balaam who had just blessed Israel and who appeared to be on their side. It is easy to see how the Israelites were misled, for Balaam seemed to say and do all the right things-at least for a while (Numbers 22-24). Not until Balaam had inflicted great damage on them did the Israelites realize that he was greedy, used sorcery, and was deeply involved in pagan religious practices. We must be careful to weigh the words and the deeds of those who claim to offer spiritual help.

(25:2-3)  Isreal Moves Toward Paganism - The Bible doesn't say how the Israelite men got involved in sexual immorality. One thing we do know is that sacred prostitution was a common practice among Canaanite religions. At first, the Israelites didn't think about worshiping idols; they were just interested in sex. Before long, they started attending local feasts and family celebrations that involved idol worship. Soon they were in over their heads, absorbed into the practices of the pagan culture. Their desire for fun and pleasure caused them to loosen their spiritual commitment. Have you relaxed your standards in order to justify your desires?

(25:3) Israel is Attracted to Baal - Baal was the most popular god in Canaan, the land Israel was about to enter. Represented by a bull, a symbol of strength and fertility, he was the god of the rains and harvest. The Israelites were continually attracted to Baal worship, in which prostitution played a large part, throughout their years in Canaan. Baal actually means "lord," so his name was often used as a generic title for all the local gods in the region.

(25:6-9) Prostitution Introduced - Clearly this woman was brought into the Israelite's tent for sex. Zimri (25:14) so disregarded the law of God that he brought the woman right into the camp.

(25:10-11) Phinehas's Anger - It is clear from Phinehas's story that some anger is proper and justified; he was angry because of his zeal for the Lord. However, Phinehas's situation was truly unique to that day and time because God was forging a nation that was supposed to be totally dedicated to him. We must be careful how we apply this to our day and time. But there are general principles we can take away from this event. An important question to ask is: How can I know when my anger is appropriate and when it should be restrained? Ask these questions when you become angry: (1) Why am I angry? (2) Whose rights are being violated (mine or another's)? (3) Is the truth (a principle of God) being violated? If only your rights are at stake, it may be wiser to keep angry feelings under control. But if the truth is at stake or another person is being abused, anger is often justified, although violence and retaliation are almost always the wrong way to express it. If we are becoming more and more like God, we should be increasingly angered by sin, but we also need to handle our anger properly.

(25:12-13)  God's Judgement Averted - Phinehas's act made atonement for the nation of Israel; in effect, what he did averted God's judgment. Because of this, his descendants would become the high priests of Israel. They continued so throughout the history of the tabernacle and the temple.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

Sin's Consequences

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of Numbers with Chapter 25 and in today's text we see Israel enter into idolatry with Baal in Shiitim when sexual sin is committed with idolatry. We see God's wrath unveiled as twenty four thousand die from a plague of judgement. In making application we see the price of sin when God's people commit known open sin. This case of Idolatry was no doubt told to this generation from the fathers of the last generation as Israel experienced the same judgement when Idolatry was committed in the wilderness. This theme is repeated over and over in the chapters ahead and in making application we see the need to learn from this story. Today I see Christians making the same error. Saved people entering into the same sin of our text today. Failing to heed the Word of God many of us find ourselves in the same judgement. The problem is we tend to want to walk the fence and see how close to sin we can walk without falling over. How about you? Do you see the tendency for us to commit the same sin as the generations before us? Do you see our tenancy to want to walk the fence. Let us learn from today's text and learn from and stay far away from sin lest we too see the judgement of the Lord


Numbers 25

Numbers 25

 1And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.

 2And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.

 3And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.

 4And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.

 5And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.

 6And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

 7And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;

 8And 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 belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.

 9And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

 10And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

 11Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.

 12Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:

 13And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

 14Now the name of the Israelite that was slain, even that was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites.

 15And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head over a people, and of a chief house in Midian.

 16And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

 17Vex the Midianites, and smite them:

 18For they vex you with their wiles, wherewith they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of a prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain in the day of the plague for Peor's sake.