Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďNEEDED: A PHINEHASĒ

Numbers 25.1-13

 

INTRODUCTION:

1.   This morning I want to introduce you to a man named Phinehas.  But first, turn in your Bible to Exodus 28.1, where we see reference made to a man named Eleazar:  ďAnd take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priestís office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaronís sons.Ē

2.   Notice a couple of things that will help establish the context for us before we meet Phinehas:  First, this fellow named Eleazar is the third son of Aaron, the very first high priest of Israel.  Of course, that would make Eleazar a priest.  However, being the third son of the high priest, we know from other passages that Eleazar would never become the high priest of Israel himself so long as his father lived, and so long as his brothers Nadab and Abihu were alive.

3.   Only if his father Aaron died, and then if Nadab and Abihu died without male heirs of age to assume the office of high priest, would Eleazar be anointed to become the high priest himself.  How likely was that to happen?

4.   Now turn to Leviticus 10.1-2, where we see what some people would consider a coincidence, but which Bible believers recognize to be the outworking of Godís plan:  ďAnd Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.Ē

5.   What a surprise!  Almost immediately after the priestly service of the Aaronic order was begun after the construction of the tabernacle and all its furniture, older brothers Nadab and Abihu were slain by God.  They did not transgress any prohibition laid down by God, but they did presume to offer strange fire on the LORDís altar.

6.   Being guilty of the sin of presumption, recklessly doing something they were not authorized to do, they were immediately judged by the LORD at the cost of their lives, leaving the third son of Aaron, Eleazar, in line to succeed his father as the high priest.  Who would have ever thought would happen? 

7.   With the stage now set, Numbers chapter 25 provides for us the circumstances by which a young man named Phinehas becomes prominent in the history of Israel.

8.   Numbers 25.1-3 records Israelís great sin against God:

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

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

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

 

9.   In verses 4-5 we see the response of the LORD:

4        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.

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

 

10. Now listen as I read Numbers 25.6-9, where we see the zeal of this man Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, for the LORD:

6        And, 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.

7        And 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;

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

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

 

11. In Numbers 25.10-13, we see that a covenant was established by the LORD with Phinehas:

10      And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

11                  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.

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

13      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.

 

12. In light of what we have read here in Numbers chapter 25, allow me to make some observations and

             applications using the life of this wonderful man named Phinehas:

 

1A.    First, NOTICE THAT THERE WAS A PLAGUE AMONG THE ISRAELITES

1B.         There were, among the Israelites, a great number of unsaved people who did not really want to be there.  The whole idea of traveling in the desert and worshiping the one true and living God was upsetting to them.  The only reason they stayed with Moses and Joshua and Caleb, and those others who were sincere, was the convenience of it all.  There was all that free food and shelter.  Egypt was preferable to them by far, except for the hard work back there.

2B.    So, the first chance they got they got they began to commit whoredom with the women of Moab.  Does anyone not know that that means?  It means that the young Jewish men began to fornicate with the young Moabite women.  It got so bad that one of the young Jewish men actually brought his Midianite girlfriend to meet his friends, in plain sight of Moses and all the others who were broken hearted over their sins and praying to God on their behalf.  

3B.    Of course, there was idolatry associated with the Moabites and the Midianites, but the practicalities of it all were associated with the sexual sins those trashy women offered to those Jewish guys, who really didnít want to be there.  The plague, then, was a plague brought on by God as a judgment associated with sexual sins.  Is everyone infected by a plague?  No, but everyone is in some way affected by a plague.

 

2A.    Next, NOTICE THAT DRAMATIC MEASURES WERE REQUIRED TO STOP THE PLAGUE

1B.    Of course, the sinning got worse and worse and worse.  God pronounced judgment against the sin and against the sinners.  But no matter how strongly Moses must certainly have spoken out against the sinning, he was more than 80 years old, he was Godís man, and the young Jewish men who paid no attention to Moses or Aaron were in rebellion to God and everything connected to Godís authority.  They didnít want to be there.  They wanted nothing to do with the worship of the one true and living God.  And they would do anything to get clear of it all.  But there was all that food, and there was the shelter and clothing that was provided for them.  What a terrible quandary a fellow finds himself in who does not want to worship God, yet he does not want to provide for himself either.

2B.    The heartís rebellion against God and His men was quite subdued and subtle . . . until the young Moabite women were available, those trashy Moabite girls.  Once the Moabite females were available, with their exotic charm and worldly ways, the floodgates of passion and the anticipation of forbidden pleasures swung wide open, and the young Jewish men pursued the forbidden women with utter disregard for the consequences.  Would those women ruin their lives?  Would they lead to the destruction of the Israelites as a distinct people?  With the smell of perfume in their nostrils, the young men simply did not care.  They wanted what they wanted no matter the cost.

3B.         Thus matters proceeded, until the sinful pursuits of the young men was met by the determined holiness of the man named Phinehas.  When Phineas, who was two full generations younger than Moses, and far closer to the age of the young Jewish men, saw what they were doing, saw their utter disregard for Godís will, saw the plague spreading so that it affected one, then another, and then another . . . he said to himself, ďNo!Ē  Then he got up from the prayer meeting he was at and executed the will of God to put an end to the plague once and for all.

4B.         Phinehas, a priest of God in the theocratic kingdom of Israel, where God ruled directly over His people, took a stand.  He stood against the flood tide.  He stood on the LORDís side.

 

3A.    Third, NOTICE THAT THERE IS A DRAMATIC PLAGUE IN OUR CHURCH

1B.         Have you noticed over the last fifteen years two different directions of movement can be observed among young people in our church?  On one hand, we have some young people coming into our church from the world.  They have tasted the bitter dregs of sin and want no more to do with it.  They are looking for something better, because they have had enough of that which is bitter.  They are considering the claims of Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinful menís souls.  But at the same time, while those who are coming in are listening and considering the gospel, we have some church young people moving out, kids who have actually heard thousands of gospel sermons over the course of their lives.  They sit in the same auditorium, but the ones seem to be moving in while some of the others seem to be moving out.  Have you ever noticed?

2B.         Another thing I have noticed in my 20 years as the pastor of this church:  It used to be that church young people frequently left the church, never to be seen again, right out of high school.  Do you remember?  Do you know why those who left left?  They didnít like being in church.  They didnít like sitting under the preaching of the gospel.  They didnít like being around people who named the name of Christ.  So, as soon as they got out of high school they figured out a way to leave.  And though it takes longer and longer for those types of church kids to leave us these days now that we no longer have a youth group, those who end up leaving most generally leave the same way: sex sins.

3B.         Think about it.  A kid comes to church with parents or with mom and has to sit through three services a week, plus evangelism, and he hates it.  He wants out.  Being unsaved, he hates God and Christ, Christís people and Christís church.  But there is a dilemma that type of church kid is faced with.  So long as he gets free food and a place to stay, he doesnít just up and leave.  Oh, no. 

4B.    He waits until the benefits he enjoys by staying are finally outweighed by the benefits he thinks he realizes by leaving.  When he comes to that point, he works it out so he gets kicked out of the church.  She works it so we wonít let her come to church anymore.  That way, the church kid will always be able to justify in his or her mind that itís not his fault he isnít in church anymore.  After all, he was kicked out.

5B.         Folks, that dramatic plague in Mosesí day bears a striking similarity to the plague running through our church.  Not everyone is infected, not even that a majority of our young people are infected, but everyone is in some way affected.  You see, illicit sex, or the promise of illicit sex, is the lure and the enticement both in Mosesí day and now.  Illicit sex, or the anticipation of illicit sex, is also the tool that is frequently used to bring about the exit from the church. 

6B.         Think about it:  In both cases you have young people who really donít want to worship the one true and living God.  But rather than just playing the man and deciding to leave, they show themselves to be cowards who monkey around and play off of our convictions so they can blame us for leaving, or so they can blame the pastor for leaving, thereby making everything that befalls them after they have been told to leave someone elseís fault.

7B.    It is quite a clever game that is being played, is it not?  Notice that it is a game that cannot be played in most loose evangelical churches, where sex sins are tolerated and where only a few tears and an ďIím sorryĒ will make things okay with parents who have no convictions about their kids attending church with them, and where the law and the gospel are not really preached.  But in our church, where God is holy and where He demands that His people be holy, where the church is holy ground, their game can be played. 

8B.         Here is what you do when you are a despicable little Pharisee of a church kid, who hates God and really doesnít want to be in church.  When you decide it is time to leave you just have sex with someone and you get kicked out.  Then mommy and daddy are not upset with you for leaving the church, but for fornicating.  Much easier to deal with, I assure you.  And until you get caught, get really caught, you continue to have it all.  You are on your way out of the church, sometimes even preying upon someone who is on her way in.  But however you do it, you still eat the free food, you still have the free bedroom, and you pleasure yourself with the illicit sex . . . until you get caught.  But thatís okay with you, since you are really ready to go anyway.  That is why you had sex.  You were ready to leave.

9B.         Does this happen in most other churches?  Not usually, and not to the degree that it happens here, because in most other churches parents and pastors actually expect kids to leave the church.  That is why they are so oftentimes eager to get their young people into the military, or into Bible college; because they have given up on retaining them in their church.  But in our church, because we really do want our kids to stay and serve God with us after they get converted, some mechanism has to be employed by the lost young person to escape the ďgraspĒ of the pastor and move beyond the reach of the parents.  So in our church, primarily because we are not decisionists who expect and actually encourage everyone to leave at some point, lost kids have figured out this way to get out of church.

 

4A.    Finally, NOTICE THAT A DRAMATIC MEASURE WILL BE REQUIRED TO STOP IT

1B.    It doesnít matter how much I preach against it.  It doesnít matter how many moms and dads cry out against it.  This pattern of using sex as a way out of the church has been so imprinted upon the kids of our church that there will always be some who will use it as their means of ďescape.Ē  Mom and dad, there is nothing you can do about it.  Many of the young people in our church know, deep down in their hearts, that one of the really quick ways to leave the church, without all the haggling, without all the arguing back and forth, without all the pleading and begging by mom and dad for them to stay, is for them to just drop their trousers and hike their skirts. 

2B.         Then, with a minimum of emotional energy expended to deal with a crying mom and a yelling dad who tries to talk them into coming back to church, they never have to go to church again.  After all, how do you undo fornication?  Simple, is it not?  When you consider the aggravation a college age guy might otherwise have to put up with to stop going to church, it makes sense. 

3B.         Imagine a 20 year old guy telling his dad he doesnít want to go to church anymore.  His dad will say, ďYes, you are, if you expect to live in my house.Ē  And then they go back and forth, arguing for hours.  But what if he has sex with a girl?  Then he knows there will be no argument, because the matter is suddenly out of his fatherís hands.  The pastor wonít let him come to church anymore.  Isnít that just so cool?  So what if he has to get his own place.  Wonít his mom make sure his dad continually provides financial help for him for the rest of his life?  Itís a no brainer for a guy who hates going to church.  Is it not?  The plague has continued in this fashion for decades.

4B.         What we need, what our church really needs, is a Phinehas.  We need one young man or one young woman who will stand up and say ďNo!Ē  I am not going to leave this church, and I am not going to sit by and watch my peers trash their lives by fornicating.  And I am not going to sit by and let stupid, selfish church kids ruin the chances of kids I have worked hard to bring into this church.  Every single time I see something unacceptable, I am going to give someone a tongue lashing.  Every time I hear something inappropriate being said, I am going to give someone a tongue lashing.  And I donít care if the majority of the wicked church kids in this congregation donít like it, I am not going to stand for it.

5B.    Will God ever raise up a Phinehas in our church?  I hope He does, but I really donít know.  If He doesnít, we will continue to gradually young people this way from time to time.  Here and there, they will leave by committing sex sins, just like the ones older than them occasionally did. 

6B.    So, how will Calvary Road Baptist Church thrive?  Our church may not thrive as we ought to, apart from God raising up a Phinehas to put an end to this terrible plague.  Oh, we will see people come to Christ, which will thrill my soul.  But, there will always be that risk, when we see some young person coming into our church, that some selfish church kid will use that new lost kid as a way of getting out, by having sex and making sure they get caught.  Or, if he looks down his nose at the kids coming into our church, he will find some tramp at work or at school, who has the morals of an alley cat, and he will fornicate so he can leave or leave so he can fornicate.

 

CONCLUSION:

1.   Why this brief message about Phinehas and the plague?  Because young people can cause great harm to our church by destroying yourselves.

2.   I have an idea.  Why donít you do what someone did last year, and just tell me that you want out?  I actually had someone walk into my office and say, ďPastor, you know how you tell us that we canít have it all, and that we have to choose between sin and righteousness?Ē  I said, ďYes.Ē  This person then said, ďOkay.  I have made my choice.  I am leaving.Ē

3.   That person got no argument from me, and neither will you.  I figure, if hundreds of gospel sermons doesnít do the trick, how can an hour or two of arguing help? 

4.   Why donít you just call me on the phone and say, ďPastor, I have made my choice.  Iím outta here.Ē  If you do that I will encourage your parents not to fuss with you.  Just go.  I only encourage you to go that way instead of using sex as a way out.  Just go.

5.   You see, the benefits of leaving without fornicating are many, and here are three:

a.   First, you wonít ruin the chances of new people getting saved if you will just leave without having sex with someone.  Just leave.

b.               Second, you can show everyone that you really donít like church without anyone fussing at you or criticizing you.  Church is not for everyone, and it is obviously not for you.  Youíre not of the elect, you have never liked church, and the idea of living for Christ is repugnant to you.  Okay, I can deal with that.  Just go, and try not to let the door hit your rear end on the way out.

c.   Finally, when you go without fornicating you wonít be saddled with the burdensome responsibilities associated with having a kid and perhaps being married to someone who, like you, isnít really mature enough yet for marriage.

6.   Now, what your parents will do in response to your departure from church is, of course, up to them.  If you are the youngest kid, and there are no other siblings in the family for you to ruin, they may very well let you continue to live in the home, sucking them dry.

7.   I just know that once you are out of high school, if you donít want to be here, I do not want you here, because this plague of your wickedness ruins peopleís lives, and is destroys the credibility of the gospel for those coming in who havenít yet figured out what vipers some of you are.  So, leave and donít ever come back if you donít want to be here.  I want people here who want to be here.

8.   One final post script:  You realize, of course, that when you get sexually involved with someone and I tell you that you cannot come back to the church, it really isnít me that has done anything.  You know that, donít you?  You may tell your friends, ďI donít go there anymore because Pastor Waldrip kicked me out.Ē  Say that all you want, but what really happened was that you decided to leave and you did something that you knew I could not tolerate without violating my conscience.  So, you didnít get kicked out at all.  You left.  Instead of going through all that self-deception, why not just leave?

9.   You can go and be happy in the world and we can be happy serving God.  You donít have to do anything you donít want to do, and we donít have to face the wreckage that you leave behind by using sex to get out of church.  Just leave, and never come back.

10. I wonít be mad at you, and you donít need to be mad at me.  Itís a big world out there, and we will never have to see each other again.  But for those who stay, you will likely get converted.  And I promise you, before God, that I will love you, will lead you, will pastor you, and will in every way I can prepare you to serve God.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org