In the Wilderness

A friend of mine and I have been doing through the minor prophets and Jeremiah together.
He said this week that the Old Testament was gripping and relevant as if it was written yesterday. I had to agree. 


From Ray Stedman: The Pentateuch -- the first five books of our Bible -- trace for us the spiritual journey of an individual from sin into belief and to glorification in Christ. The whole Old Testament was written so that we might see in a vivid way what the New Testament declares to be true. The New Testament confirms this. The New Testament says that all these events involving Israel happened as an example to us, and were written down for our instruction since they are pictures of what we will go through, as we move along with Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:11)

Now, the book of Genesis is a picture of humanity in all its strident, clamorous need. It portrays what we look like as a result of the fall of man and the consequent need for God in our life. From Exodus to Deuteronomy, we have the way from Egypt to Canaan as a picture of the way the Christian will move from the slavery of sin to the freedom of victory in Christ, victory in the midst of his enemies. This is precisely the spiritual journey God has called us to, so these books become exceedingly helpful for us. If you read the Old Testament as nothing but a history of ancient events concerning people who have long since disappeared, it will be the dullest, most boring reading you can find. However, if you read it as a picture of what is happening in your life, vividly displayed in terms of these people of old, you will find fascinating reading indeed.

The book of Exodus is a picture of God's delivering power. There we have the three great events in the early life of Israel -- the Passover in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai. These correspond with God's work in us. Like the Israelites in the Passover, where the blood was sprinkled for them, we too realized that the angel of death had passed over us in the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross and by that event, we were saved. We too moved out across the Red Sea when we openly declared our redemption in Christ and cut off the ties that bound us to the world. We came into the wilderness and heard the law of Moses when we began to learn, perhaps for the first time in our lives, the kind of God with whom we had to deal, a God of utter holiness, of complete righteousness, utterly consistent with himself.

Then in the book of Leviticus we learn how to worship, what it is this kind of God demands, and how a God of such surpassing holiness can dwell with men and women like ourselves. Here we discover the means by which God makes possible the necessary intercourse between God and man.

Now we come to the book of Numbers. In Numbers we have dramatically set forth what is perhaps the hardest lesson a Christian has to learn -- to trust God instead of his own reason. This is where we struggle, isn't it? We think that what we want to do and the way we want to do it is the right way. The hardest struggle we have, even as these Israelites had, is to learn to believe that God knows what he is talking about and that what he tells us is the truth, and is for our good, and to operate on that basis despite what friends and others around are telling us concerning the right way. Proverbs puts it so graphically, "There is a way which seems right to a man, and its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12) The book of Numbers is a picture of that experience in the believer.

You will recognize, of course, that it is the experience of Romans 7 where the unhappy, defeated Christian, who is his own worst enemy, is being disciplined by God because God as a father loves him. He is experiencing in the midst of this discipline the fatherly love and care of God and protection from his enemy. That is what the book of Numbers portrays. It is a picture of people who have come out of Egypt but who have not yet reached Canaan. They had the faith to follow God out of the bondage and slavery of sin but have not yet come into the fullness of liberty and rest in the Holy Spirit -- Canaan being a picture of the Spirit-filled life.

This book falls into three divisions. The first is included in chapters one through ten, and is a picture of God's provision for guidance and warfare. These are the two critical needs of Israel in their march from Mt. Sinai, where the law was given, until they came north across the wilderness of Paran to the edge of the promised land, the land of Canaan. On the way they would need guidance, because this was a trackless wilderness; moreover, they would need protection, for the wilderness was occupied by fierce, hostile tribes that opposed them every time they turned around.

All of this, you will recognize, is an exact picture of our need, isn't it? We need guidance because of the clever subtleties of the world in which we live and the ease with which we can be misled and derailed; and we need protection because of the enemies among whom we dwell, those within us and round about us, who would defeat us if they could.

In this section that begins with the arrangement of the camp, note two things -- the position of the tabernacle with the tribes on every side, and a numbering of the armed men of Israel. These are pictures for us of the need for defense against the enemies of God. God provides all the strategy and resources necessary to meet every enemy that comes our way. There is not only the order of the camp (the tabernacle surrounded by the tribes), but also there is the cloud over the camp by day and the pillar of fire by night -- all of which (tabernacle, cloud, and pillar) picture for us the great truth of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have God in our midst. That is a great truth. He is able to direct and to lead us through the wilderness of the world by the guidance of the Word. We are led by the cloud and the fire, just as Israel was led, and we are to be obedient to that leading. This is all the potential we need to get us from the place of the law (the knowledge of the holiness of God) to the rest in the Spirit which the land of Canaan represents. We have everything we need, just as Israel had all that they needed.

But what happened? Well, the major part of this book, from chapter eleven through twenty-one, is a description of the murmuring and rebelling of the people. It is a most remarkable fact, but one every pastor and parent is fully aware of, that rebellion and willful disobedience to God always begin with murmuring and critical complaining. Whenever you find yourself beginning to complain and murmur and whisper and carrying on a carping campaign against the circumstances in which you find yourself, you know that you are on the threshold of rebellion, because it always begins there. Notice that there are three kinds of murmuring -- three levels of complaint -- that occur throughout the wilderness journey.

There was, first of all, the complaint of the people against the circumstances. They complained about the manna and about the lack of water; they complained about the meat and about the wilderness itself. They were always murmuring. This was their favorite outdoor sport, it seems, and they worked at it day and night. Nothing was right, not even the manna, the miraculous supply of God every day. I wonder if you know what manna typifies in your life? Well, it typifies the Holy Spirit. For the manna, it says, tasted like oil and honey mixed together into a thin w wafer. Oil and honey are both symbols of the Holy Spirit. On this they were to feed. But it was just a thin wafer. It wasn't enough to satisfy them -- although it was enough to sustain them -- because God never intended them to live so long in the wilderness. He intended them to get on over into the land of Canaan and begin to feed upon the abundant food there. But the! got sick of manna. Who wouldn't after forty years, when it was only intended for a few days? Manna for breakfast, manna for lunch, manna for supper. Nothing but manna, manna, manna -- until finally they began to complain and rebel.

Yet it wasn't God's fault. Manna was never intended to satisfy. It was merely a temporary provision until they could get into the fullness of the land, just as God never intended you to live on the experience of the meager contact with the Holy Spirit you get in a defeated Christian experience. Go on into the land of abundant living. That is where you will find satisfaction.

They also complained about the lack of meat, so God gave them meat for a month until they were sick, and then they complained about the abundance of meat. So on it went. In murmuring they always thought about Egypt and this is a picture for us of a degenerating Christian experience. All they could think of was the meat, the melons, the cucumbers, leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt. Imagine dreaming of that kind of food! But that is what Egypt meant to them. They had no thought of Canaan because they had no knowledge of it. All they had heard were sermons about Canaan. They had no experience of it. All they could remember was the world out of which they had come. As Major W. Ian Thomas puts it in his book, The Saving Life of Christ,

What are these a picture of? A cucumber is 12 inches of indigestion! Leeks and onions and garlic have a very peculiar property about them. They are the kind of food you eat in private but everybody knows about it in public.

Now this murmuring against the circumstances in which they found themselves was met by the judgment of God in three forms -- fire, plague, and poisoned serpents. I wonder if you can see in each of these a picture of the inevitable result of whining, complaining, and murmuring as a Christian. When we begin to complain about where God has put us and the kind of people he has put us among and the kind of food we have to eat and all the other circumstances of our life, we discover that the fire of gossip, scandal and slander; the plague of anxiety and nervous tension that takes its daily toll of our life; and the poison of envy and jealousy are released in our own life to sap our strength. These things are inevitable.

Not only did the Israelites murmur against their circumstances, but there were several times when they murmured against the blessing of God. Imagine that. They came at last to the edge of the land of Canaan, standing on the very border line at Kadesh-barnea, and there God said to them, "Now move forward. Possess the land." They had sent out the spies and had learned that it was a land flowing with milk and honey. The spies had brought back grapes so large that they had to carry them on a stick between the shoulders of two men, the bunch was so heavy. But they also knew that it was a land full of giants, and because of the giants they were afraid to go forward. They thought the giants were greater than God, so they refused to go on into blessing. They resisted God's efforts to bless them. They were glad to get out of Egypt but they were unwilling to go on into Canaan. This is why they wandered for forty years in the wilderness. The inevitable judgment to them was that if they would not go into blessing, they must experience the full results of a failure before moving on in God's program.

Many, many Christians are living right here today, square in the middle of a howling wilderness, living on a minimum supply of the Holy Spirit -- enough to keep them going, and that's all. They spend their lives in complaining, unending murmuring against their circumstances, yet still are unwilling to move on into the land that God has fully provided for them. This is the problem of so many. While you can be sustained in the wilderness, you will never be satisfied, never. And that is why the wilderness experience is always marked by a complaining heart and an unending criticism of something or someone. In this book it never ended until a new generation was ready to enter the land. God said, "Not one of you older than twenty years who went back at Kadesh-barnea will ever enter this land, except two men." (Numbers 14:29, 30) Those two men -- Caleb and Joshua -- were men of faith who went on.

Thus it isn't until we make a new beginning in our lives, when we come to the end of ourselves and it seems almost as if we begin again in the Christian life, that we can go on after we have resisted the work of the Spirit in taking us into the land. This is why so many Christians never seem to come to victory until they have a crisis experience, a new beginning, and then they enter into the land.

The Israelites had one other occupation in the wilderness besides murmuring, and that was burying. The mark of the wilderness is that it is a land of death. Did you ever think how many Israelites died in those forty years in the wilderness? This book begins with a census of Israel, and it totals 603,000 men alone, men able to go out to warfare, who are at least twenty years old. Six hundred and three thousand. Most of those men were married. That meant an equal number of women, as well as all the children that were in that camp. Many have estimated the total population at that time to have been well over two million people. Yet in the wilderness, in the space of forty years, one million two hundred thousand of them died, an average of 82 per day, so there was nothing but a great big funeral going on all the time. The wilderness was one huge graveyard. No wonder they had to move so often. You can imagine why, as literally scores of people would die every day through that forty years' time. What a picture of what Romans says, "to set the mind on the flesh is death." (Romans 8:6)

Finally, there is one other form of murmuring here; murmuring against authority. They murmured against circumstances; they murmured against God's effort to bless them, and they murmured against the authority of God expressed through Moses! They said, "All the people are holy. Moses and Aaron, why do you put on airs as though you were better than we are? All of the people of God are holy, in their own eyes." They judged themselves by their own standards and thus rebelled against the properly constituted authority in their midst. They resisted with all their strength the suggestion that these two should be anything more than they.

Have you noticed that this is another characteristic of the defeated Christian? He always thinks he is holy enough, that he is as holy as he needs to be, and he resents anyone else who seems to be ahead of him or to exercise any authority. He resists any attempt to suggest to him that he ought to be more than he is. That is what these people did.

God met this attitude with the severest judgment of all. There is that dramatic account of the rebellion of Korah and Abiram when they openly challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron. God divided the camp in half and said, "Moses and Aaron you stand over here. Korah and your group, stand over here, and the people stand there." And then he said, "Stand back. I am going to show you who is in authority here." He led Moses to say, "If these people live out their lives as normal ordinary men. then it is a sign that God is not with me, but if God does something absolutely new and the ground opens up beneath them and swallows them alive, it is an indication that God is with me." And as he said the words, the ground opened up beneath Korah and Abiram and all their families, and they went down alive into the pit. Thus God established his authority through Moses by this remarkable judgment. When we rebel against authority, God judges with the utmost severity.

Through all this. interestingly enough, the murmuring went on, in spite of the severity of this judgment, until two things took place. One was associated with the rebellion of Korah and Abiram and the other was in connection with the serpents that came and bit them at the time they complained about the food. Do you remember what Moses did to stop the rebellion at the death of Korah and Abiram? All the leaders of the twelve tribes took rods and put them before the Lord. Aaron's rod was included among them, and when they came back in the morning, they found that Aaron's rod had grown branches, the branches had blossomed and the blossoms had grown fruit and there were almonds hanging on the branches, all taking place overnight. Of the twelve rods, only Aaron's blossomed. This is a picture of the resurrection life. In this, God is saying that the only ones who have the right to bear authority are those who walk in the fullness and power of resurrection life.

Then when they murmured about the food, he sent poison serpents among them. In the third chapter of John our Lord makes reference to this story. Moses cured the effects of the poison by lifting up a brazen serpent on a pole, and all who looked at it were healed. By that God was saying the only cure of sin of any kind, even sin in the Christian, is a look again at the cross and the way it utterly repudiates all human endeavor and human worthiness by putting Christian living solely on the basis of the resurrection life of Jesus Christ. "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life." (John 3: 14)

The latter part of the book, chapters twenty-one through twenty-six, is a remarkable record of protection in spite of failure. Here you find victory over the enemies around, the outward forces of King Arad, Sihon, Og, King of Bashan, and the attempts of Balaam, the false prophet to try to undermine the people of God, which resulted only in greater blessing. All of it is simply saying to us, in the most vivid language God can find, that though we are disobedient, though we are rebellious, though we turn and refuse to go into blessing, though we wander in a wilderness of defeat and despair and barrenness year after year after year -- nevertheless, the Holy Spirit will never leave us. Even in the midst of our weakness, he grants us protection from our enemies and deliverance from complete defeat. What a remarkable book. But what a picture of what Paul sums up in the poignant phrase, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24) That is why we need to move on into Deuteronomy, where we get the second law, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.


Thank you, Father, for these graphic things not only written down for us, but lived out in the lives of men and women like ourselves. Thank you also, for this marvelous book so accurately preserved, so skillfully recorded by which we may learn the truth, if we only give ourselves to it and discover what life is all about. Teach us, Lord, to step out of the barren wilderness of our own frustrated lives and begin to rest upon the glorious provision of the indwelling life of our Lord Jesus; to get out of the wilderness into the land, to give up the frustration of an imitation Christian and begin to enjoy the fullness of a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. We thank you for this provision in Jesus' name, Amen.

-- Ray Stedman: Numbers... |


Both Moses and Aaron were members of the tribe of Levi---in fact they were brothers---and Miriam, the prophetess was their sister. To all the descendants of Levi was given the responsibility of erecting, maintaining, disassembling and transporting the Tabernacle and all its furniture during the Forty Years wandering in the wilderness of Sinai. The priesthood itself was in the hands of Aaron, the High Priest, who had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, (Exodus 28:1). The two eldest sons, in line to succeed their father, were privileged to be numbered among the Seventy Elders whom God invited onto Mount Sinai to "worship afar off," while Moses came near (Exodus 24:1,2). Yet these two young men met a sudden and terrible end, recorded in Leviticus 10, when they departed from the exact instructions for the offering of incense in the tabernacle service:

"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer, and put fire on it, and laid incense on it, and offered unholy fire before the LORD, such as he had not commanded them. Then fire came forth from the presence of the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD, (Leviticus 10:1-2). 

Especially significant in what follows was the behavior of Aaron and his two younger sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, who had to continue the service without interruption while the bodies of their older brothers were carried out:

"Then Moses said to Aaron, 'This is what the LORD has said, "I will show myself holy among all those who are near me, and before all the people I will be glorified."' And Aaron held his peace. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, 'Draw near, carry your brothers from before the sanctuary out of the camp.' So they drew near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp as Moses had said. And Moses said to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his sons, 'Do not let the hair of your heads hang loose, and do not rend your clothes, lest you die, and lest wrath come upon all the congregation; but your brothers, the whole house of Israel, may bewail the burning which the LORD has kindled. And do not go out from the door of the tent of meeting, lest you die; for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you.' And they did according to the word of Moses," (10:3-7).

Eleazar, the third son of Aaron thus succeeded his father as high priest at the death of Aaron, (Numbers 3:1-4, 20:25). Eleazar received further experiential training in the holy ways of God in the revolt of Korah, (Numbers 16), for he was the one chosen to hammer the bronze censers of the rebels into a covering for the altar. He evidently lived to a ripe old age---his death and burial are recorded at the very end of the book of Joshua:

"And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him at Gibeath, the town of Phinehas his son, which had been given to him in the hill country of Ephraim," (Joshua 24:33). 

Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, grandson of Aaron, was a young man probably in his late twenties when the people of Israel were seduced by Balak into idolatry on the east side of the Jordan. Balaam, the hireling prophet had found himself unable to curse the people of God on three successive occasions, (Numbers 22-24), but he privately advised Balak that the people of Israel could be diverted from their godly course by a Midianite "banquet" prepared for them in the desert, (Jude 11, 2 Peter 2:15, Revelation 2:14),

"And Israel dwelt in Shittim and the people began to commit fornication with the daughters of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods: and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods. So Israel yoked himself to Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, "Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up before the LORD in the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel." And Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Slay every one those men of yours who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor."

In the midst of an awesome, virulent plague (possibly a terrible, endemic sexually-transmitted disease found among the Midianites), young Phinehas rushed in at the critical moment---to act in a way that seems to our generation to be thoroughly outrageous. Yet his actions met with God's approval but with special commendation from the Lord.

"And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought to his brethren a Midianite woman to his family 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 tent of meeting. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation, and took a spear 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. Thus the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. Nevertheless those that died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. "

"And the LORD said to Moses, 'Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel in that he was zealous for my sake among them, so 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 an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel."'

"The name of the Israelite who was slain, with the Midianite woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a fathers' house among the Simeonites. And the name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people, and of a fathers' house in Midian, "(Numbers 25: 1-17).

In recounting the history of Israel's wilderness journey the author of Psalms 105 and 106 makes special mention of Phinehas,

"They joined themselves also to Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague broke in upon them. Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed. And that was counted to him for righteousness to all generations for evermore, (Psalm 106:28:31, cf I Maccabees 2:54).

These events are also noted for our instruction in 1 Corinthians 10:7-8, lest we suppose that God has changed his standards as far as immoral sexual conduct is concerned. What Numbers 25 illustrates is that sin is as contagious to God's people as a deadly plague. Sin is not a private matter but when left unjudged in one member of the Body of Christ swiftly endangers all the rest---"A little leaven leavens the whole lump." Although Phinehas' actions must have been highly unpopular at the time, he acted swiftly and righteously, reflecting no doubt the excellent training he had received from his godly father Eleazar.

Later Phinehas had a prominent role in God's judgment of the Midianites just prior to the death of Moses,

"And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 'Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shall thou be gathered to thy people.' And Moses spoke to the people, saying, 'Arm some of yourselves to the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian. Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall you send to the war'. So there came out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand from every tribe, and with them Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. And they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captives, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle, and all their flocks, and all their goods. 

"And they burned all their cities in which they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire. And they took all the spoil, and all the prey, both of men and of beasts. And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, to Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and to the congregation of the children of Israel, to the camp at the plains of Moab, by the Jordan near Jericho. And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp..." (Numbers 31:1-13ff).

Phinehas served as faithful priest for 19 years, the third High Priest of Israel. He is next mentioned in Joshua 22 in connection with the resolution of a dispute created by the two and a half tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh who remained on the east side of Jordan erecting an altar there. A final and interesting event in the life of Phinehas was his involvement in the civil war against Benjamin following the tragic events recorded in Judges 19 and 20. Avenging the sin of the tribe of Benjamin, the remaining tribes were twice defeated until they humbled themselves, fasted and wept before the Ark of the Covenant and Tabernacle which was then at Bethel. It was at Bethel that Phinehas then responded as the spokesman of the LORD, "Go up; for tomorrow I (the LORD) will give them into your hand."

Not all the priests in the line of Aaron were as godly as Eleazar and Phinehas his son. Eli, the son of Ithamar and his sons are mentioned in 1 Samuel in a very negative light. At the time Samuel was born, and later at the time Jesus was born the priesthood was far from what it ought to have been---Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, though a descendant of Phinehas, was struck dumb for his unbelief when an angel announced to him that his wife was to bear a son, (Luke 1).

According to the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament, the Levitical priesthood was weak and ineffectual since it dealt only with shadows and not their underlying realities. A more powerful new priesthood was introduced by Jesus effective during this present age, "after the order of Melchizedek." It is the clear teaching of the New Testament that all believers today are priests in the household of faith, and that our perpetual High Priest, Jesus stands watch over his people night and day. However, since God has not yet fulfilled all his promises to Israel, by any means, there is more to come for the line of Phinehas: Ezra the scribe was a descendant of Phinehas as was Zadok the priest who served loyally during the time of David, (2 Samuel 8-1 Kings 4). But, Abiathar the priest, a descendant of Eli and Ithamar, was displaced, (1 Kings 2:27, 35; 1 Samuel 2:27-36). And, after the Messiah comes to Israel and the final temple is built, it is Levitical priests descended from Zadok who alone serve at the altar, (Ezekiel 40-48), the rest of the Levites being assigned to lesser tasks because of their history of compromise with God's standards of holiness. This seems to fulfill the promise God made to Phinehas,

"'Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace: And it shall be to him, and to his descendants after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.'" 

For both Christians and Jews, Phinehas is a permanent example of the believing faith that leads to righteous actions, to courageous deeds, and to taking a stand when all is crumbling. 

Of Phinehas it is said,

"...his faith was counted to him as righteousness."

God commended and promoted Phinehas for driving a spear through a Jewish man and his Midianite hookup date! An entire generation of parents died in the wilderness during the 40 years in the wilderness--bcause they had rebelled against the Lord who had invited them into the Land. Their boys were not circumcised, the Midianite girls had no moral scruples. A lavish party with music and wine was a welcome respite from the hot barren desert, hosted by a local king, Barak. The example of one couple fornicating was contagious! Soon all the boys in the camp would follow suit with no correction from dad! This action by young Phinehas today would be considered murder and his life would have been forfeit. Instead God promoted him!

For an unmarried man a woman to have casual sex after a party is very common today. What then about two men or two women having kinky sex or single men men masturbating regularly all their lives (with or without porn)?

A related issue was in the Law of Moses: Jewish men were not to take non-Jewish wives. The book of Nehemiah closes with a summary of some drastic reforms undertaken by this venerable, godly man, after the walls of Jerusalem had been rebuilt in 445 BC.

In those days also I saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab; and half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and they could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke the language of various peoples. And I contended with them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair; and I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, ‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves. Did not King Solomon of Israel sin on account of such women? Among the many nations there was no king like him, and he was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil and act treacherously against our God by marrying foreign women?’

And of Jehoiada, son of the high priest Eliashib, was the son-in-law of Sanballat the Horonite; I chased him away from me. Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, the covenant of the priests and the Levites." (Nehihmiah 13:23-31)

Supplemental Reading

Song: My Lord Knows the Way Through the Wilderness

Balaam (Dave Roper)

The Holiness Papers

Sexuality and Wholeness Papers

Jesus our Trailblazer



Earth's Near Term Future

The Management of the Universe

How Jesus Saves

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August 26, 2021