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Bible Commentaries

C. H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch

Numbers 25

 

 

Verses 1-18

Here a new scene opens upon our view. We have been on the top of Pisgah, hearkening to God's testimony respecting Israel, and there all was bright and fair, without a cloud, without a spot. But now we find ourselves in the plains of Moab, and all is changed. There, we had to do with God and His thoughts. Here, we have to do with the people and their joys. What a contrast! It reminds us of the opening and the close of 2 Corinthians 12:1-21. In the former, we have the positive standing of the Christian; in the latter, the possible state into which he may fall if not watchful. That shows us "a man in Christ" capable of being caught up into paradise, at any moment. This shows us saints of God capable of plunging into all manner of sin and folly.

Thus it is with Israel, as seen from "The top of the rocks," in "The vision of the almighty," and Israel as seen in the plains of Moab. In the one case, we have their perfect standing; in the other, their imperfect state. Balaam's parables give us God's estimate of the former; the javelin of Phinehas, His judgement upon the latter. God will never reverse His decision as to what His people are as to standing; but he must judge and chasten them when their ways comport not with that standing. It is His gracious will that their state should correspond with their standing. But here is, alas! where failure comes in. Nature is allowed to act in various ways, and our God is constrained to take down the rod of discipline, in order that the evil thing which we have suffered to manifest itself may be crushed and subdued.

Thus it is in Numbers 25:1-18. Balaam, having failed in his attempt to curse Israel, succeeds in seducing them, his wiles, to commit sin, hoping whereby to gain his end. "And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. and 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." (Ver. 3, 4.) Then we have the striking record of the zeal and faithfulness of Phinehas: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, 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. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and 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." Verse 10-13.

God's glory and Israel's good were the objects that ruled the conduct of the faithful Phinehas on this occasion. It was a critical moment. He felt there was a demand for the most stern action. It was no time for false tenderness. There are moments in the history of God's people in the which tenderness to man becomes unfaithfulness to God; and it is of the utmost importance to be able to discern such moments. The prompt acting of Phinehas saved the whole congregation, glorified Jehovah in the midst of His people, and completely frustrated the enemy's design. Balaam fell among the judged Midianites; but Phinehas became the possessor of an everlasting priesthood.

Thus much as to the solemn instruction contained in this brief section of our book, May we profit by it. May God's Spirit give us such an abiding sense of the perfection of our standing in Christ, that our practical ways may be more in accordance with it!

 


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Bibliography Information
Mackintosh, Charles Henry. "Commentary on Numbers 25:4". C. H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/nfp/numbers-25.html.

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