Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest has turned my anger away from the Israelites by being as zealous among them as I was. So I stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended to do in my zealous anger. (Numbers 25:11)
Relate: If you can’t beat them, assimilate them. There are certain people groups and cultures over time that have proven stronger than any conquering army. Perhaps the most famous example of this is how even though the Romans beat the Greeks, all the best and the brightest in Rome ended up doing their best to live and read and think like the Greeks they conquered. The Slavic people in Russia also used this strategy to great effect. Before they rose to be a power in their own right, they were invaded by the Vikings, the Pechings, the Cumans, and then the Mongols. Each time, although they lost the military war, they won the cultural war. The same can be said for the Bretons in Great Britain. They were invaded by the Picts, the Jutes, the Saxons, and the Normans. Yet still today the people are known as British. (Although to be fair, the invading Scotti did well to leave their imprint in the north. Pretty soon they might even be their own country again.)
Moab was well on their way to doing the same with Israel. The Hebrew people, new guys on the block, could not be stopped. The king heard time and time again prophesies of how Israel would be victorious. There was no way to kill them off and no way to curse them so he figured if he can’t keep them out, he would invite them in. His women, his gods, his culture were beginning to make inroads with the Hebrews when Phineas, in a very dramatic way, put a stop to it.
React: H Richard Neibhur wrote a book called Christ and Culture. In it he shares various views of how Christ can interact with and change culture. For each way he demonstrates how certain Godly leaders in the past used or encouraged that particular type interaction between Christ and culture. One thing only hinted at in the book is how culture infiltrates the church.
I remember reading a while back an old article that used the early Batman TV show as an example of how violent television was becoming. My goodness, we wouldn’t even blink at that today. Every time batman would hit the bad guy you would see “bang”, “pow”, and “boom” rather than showing the action. The author who wrote the negative article about that show would have a heart attack watching the violence on Saturday morning cartoons in our generation. But we don’t even bat an eyelash.
The Moabite woman who Phineas killed was named Cozbi. Her name can mean, “voluptuous”, “deceiver” or “to slide away”. I believe there is significance in each meaning. Think about it. When we see something desirable, something voluptuous, we are deceived into thinking we can get away with having it. From there we find ourselves sliding away from the Godly foundation we should be building our life on. We are assimilated into a culture of sin. The enemy has no chance in a stand up fight against the One living in us. Not even close. So instead he tried to get us to join him. Perhaps it’s time we kill that compromise right on the bed it is lying in.
All I want is You. The problem is, I’m a leaky vessel. Over and over again I find the mindset, the philosophy, even the actions of a culture that has set itself up against You keep creeping into my life. Clean me out and plug the holes. Help me to desire only You. Help me to live for only You. In the area of holiness in thought and action let there never be any compromise.