Numbers 25 Commentary: Sexual sin and then 24000 deaths.
A combination of Moabite women and Israel’s unfaithfulness is the main subject here. Sexual infidelity is an outward manifestation of spiritual infidelity – clearly on display here.
Israel has quickly forgotten her LORD. We want to suspect we have the same formula as in Exodus. When Israel substituted her LORD with a golden calf, the result was revelry and wild conduct – pagan indulgence without moral restraint.
Idolatry is always the first step. Idolatry and then adultery. It is always the same formula. One must first forsake his God and after that you have the physical manifestation of sin. The LORD’S response is swift. The penalty of sin is death. 24,000 people die before Phinehas’ quick action saves the day.
The LORD is happy with Phinehas’ zeal. This is so strange. The LORD is happy that someone moved quickly to stop mass murder, but this is murder by the LORD Himself! It is the mystery of Mercy and Justice combining once again. Justice nearly got its way! But mercy prevailed eventually. Importantly these lines point us to the cross. It took the death of one important sinner for peace to reign again. He carried our sins; then Zimri and Cozbi don’t have to die in their sexual sin.
24,000 is an important number in the book of numbers. Deaths. It represents yet another wave of deaths as a result of sin. The wages of sin is death. We hear it very loudly in this book.
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