Let me ask you a question…Did you have a hero when you were child? Most of us did. For some, it was the athletic superstar of his day, while others love the soldier or the cowboy from the movies. For me, it was the Lone Ranger. I LOVED the Lone Ranger. Now I am not talking about that cheap imitation of the Lone Ranger Disney made recently…I hated that movie, it was awful, ok, move on Jamie, it is not time to do movie reviews….Anyway, I never missed the Lone Ranger. I have to admit, even now from time to time I will go to Hulu and watch an episode of the show.
Like most things in my life, when I was into something, I was into it! My lunchbox for kindergarten was the Lone Ranger. I had the action figures. I had the toy
guns, the hat, the mask, and even fake plastic silver bullets. I loved watching this masked hero and his brave Indian friend Tonto as they fought to uphold integrity and honesty in the old west. Each episode ended the same way. The Lone Ranger would leave his infamous silver bullet with whoever he had helped. When he left, someone would always ask “Who is that masked man?” Someone else would always answer, “Why, he is the Lone Ranger.” Then they would wave good bye as the Lone Ranger and Tonto rode off to the glorious cheer of “Hi yo Silver, away!”.
One thing that made the Lone Ranger so great was he stood for something. He believed in the code of the Texas Rangers, and after they were all massacred, he took it upon himself to find and arrest Butch Cavendish and bring him to justice. Then he made his life’s work to tame the west, to stand in the Gap for people who couldn’t do it themselves. He knew what we are going to learn today, God always needs men who will stand in the gap against evil and for Him. As a child, he was my hero!
While most of us had heroes as children, few of us have them as adults. We have become jaded and proud. We no longer look for men to look up to and model ourselves after. I think this is sad. I feel we all need to find men we can look to as heroes and the Bible is full of heroic men. Today, as we look at Numbers 25, I want to introduce you to one of my heroes. His name is Phinehas. Like the Lone Ranger, Phinehas saw the need to be a man who stood in the Gap.
Before we look at Phinehas’ story, let’s start by looking at Ezekiel 22:30. This is a powerful Bible verse which we used as our theme in our spring Mantour Conferences.
30 “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.
Okay, the “I” in this passage is God. God is speaking to the nation of Israel through his prophet Ezekiel. He is warning the people that they are about to face His judgment. The nation of Israel had become corrupted and were no longer serving God. They were not doing his will. They were following the sinful culture around them. The wall being broken and having a gap symbolized that the nation of Israel was falling apart spiritually and morally. Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like our nation to me.
God looked throughout the nation of Israel for someone, anyone, He could look at and say, “There is My man, he is standing in the Gap, he is standing for Me. He is committed. He is following Me. He is serving Me wholeheartedly. He is standing against the flow of the culture and doing what I called him to do. He is My man!” The passage says God looked at the nation, but He found no one. What a sad statement for a nation that was supposed to be God’s chosen people.
Men, we are on the threshold of such a time as this in America. America was once a nation under God, but we are slowly drifting away from God. Just like over 2,000 years ago, God is looking for a man who will stand in the gap. A man who will stand up and say, “I am God’s man, I am standing for what I believe in.” Guys, you can be that man!
To fully understand what it means to be a man who stands in the Gap, we are going to take some time and look further back into the Old Testament at a man who did stand in the Gap when the nation of Israel was on the cusp of judgement.
We are going to look at one of my favorite men in the entire Bible. He is one of the lesser known men in the Bible, which is a shame, because his story is amazing! We are going to look at the life of Phinehas in the book of Numbers.
Phinehas’ story is found during the time when Israel is heading toward the Promised Land. He was the grandson of Aaron, the high priest. He had been a slave in Egypt. He had witnessed God’s miraculous power when God freed the people of Israel from slavery. He walked across the Red Sea on dry ground. He hung out with guys like Joshua and Caleb. He was there when God helped the people in their first war against the Amelikites. After this battle, Israel fought and conquered the areas just outside the Promised Land. Next, they prepared the battle plan for the conquest of the land God promised them. This fact didn’t go unnoticed by the king of Moab whose land was just inside the area Israel was planning to invade.
In Deuteronomy 2: 9 we read:
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land as a possession, because I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.’ ”
The people of Israel are forbidden to attack or harm Moab. However, the king of Moab did not know this fact. Because he was afraid of Israel and their military might, Balak, the king of Moab hired Balaam, a prophet, to come and proclaim a curse on the nation of Israel.
When Balaam received the king’s request and the offer of a huge financial windfall, he immediately wanted to go. As Balaam proceeded on the long trek to Moab, he is stopped and warned not to curse Israel. This is done through the miraculous phenomenon of having his donkey speak to him. He is told that if he insisted on going, he may only say what God tells him to say.
When he arrives, he goes to view the Israelite’s camp and speak his curse, but the only thing God allowed him to do was bless the Israelites. Balak, furious at Balaam’s blessing, demanded he try again. The same thing happened each time he tried to curse Israel. Finally, unable to bring a curse upon the people of Israel, an exasperated Balaam taught the Moabites how to provoke the Lord’s anger against Israel. This is where our story begins.
Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. 2 They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.
This passage describes Balaam’s evil plot. He taught the Moabites how to trap the Israelites and cause a breech between them and God. The Moabite women seduced the Israelite men and caused them to participate in the sensual Moabite religious system. Balaam couldn’t curse the Jews, but he could help the Moabites trick the Jews into falling into disfavor with God.
This is a tactic the enemy is doing today. He is redefining sin in our culture. He is trying to water down sin and make it seem like not as big of a deal. He is repackaging sin in a shiny new package, trying to trap us. What do I mean by repackaging? Well, think about it.
Strip clubs are now called Gentleman’s clubs.
Alcohol abuse is called social drinking
Pornography is called adult entertainment
Abortion is called a women’s right to choose
Adultery is called swinging
Homosexuality is called an alternative lifestyle
Prostitutes are called escorts
Gambling is now called sports
Halloween is labeled Fall Festivals
Demons, witchcraft, and satanic activity is called Sci-Fi
Marijuana and cocaine are called medicine
And the list goes on and on. Satan is trying to get people trapped into sin without them even knowing they are sinning. It is an age old play in his playbook. He looks to redefine the boundaries, and by doing this, he gets men trapped in the ways of the culture around them.
This is exactly what He did in the passage we just looked at. God would not allow the nation of Israel to be cursed. They were His people, and as long as they followed Him, they would be kept safe from the enemies attack. Balaam understood this, so he taught the Moabites how to get into the Israelite culture and pervert them and cause separation between God’s people.
The Moabite women seduced the Israelite men and caused them to participate in the sensual Moabite religious system. The Israelite men fell into their trap. God’s anger was aroused against the entire Israelite community.
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” 5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.
God’s command to Moses was clear; kill the sinners and remove the sin from the camp. Anyone who worshiped with the women were to be killed.
Ok, so Moses and the children of Israel took the action necessary to remove the sin from among the people. The entire congregation was rededicated to God. They learned a hard lesson and were back on track. You would think they would never want to sin with the other nations again. Problem solved; lesson learned. I wish the story ended that way, but as we continue on we see the opposite.
6 And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
Can you believe it? What shameless audacity and rebellion against the Holiness of God! This man, in direct defiance and rebellion to God, went and took his Midianite girlfriend, the daughter of the head Midianite priest, into the Tent of Meeting!
The Commentaries say that the usage of weeping at the door denoted a play on words. Yes, people were weeping at what was happing in the nation that day. But the word weeping also was a term used to describe the sexual activity that was involved in Baal worship. Basically, in the Holy Presence of God inside of His tabernacle, they engaged in a sexual embrace in the manner of Baal worship! If this wasn’t offensive enough, he did it on the day that Israel was trying to get right with God and remove the sin from their lives. This was a heinous sin. It was rebellion against the very nature of God. This act rivals the rebellious action of Satan which caused him to get thrown out of Heaven!
If God wasn’t already angry with the nation of Israel and willing to destroy them, He surely was now! Immediate action needed to be taken by someone to stop God’s judgement. Someone needed to take a Stand. Someone had to stand in the Gap before God turned His back on the entire nation. Action needed to be taken.
Now you would expect action to come from the leader of the nation, Moses. If not him, then the church leader, Aaron. However, the passage doesn’t show them taking the action. Maybe they were too stunned to act. Perhaps they were heartbroken at the direct defiance against God. Maybe they were focused on the events of the day around them and missed this action going on among the mayhem. For whatever, they didn’t act first. An ordinary, average man, a man like you and me, was the one who stood up for God. A man just like you and me stood in the gap. His name was Phinehas.
7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, saw it, he rose 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 body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
WOW! I love this man. After seeing the horrific display of defiance against God, he was immediately filled with righteous, holy indignation. Earlier in life, Phinehas had seen his two uncles sin against God and be struck dead. This man’s terrible act was a horrific sin on a much larger scale. We see that God’s wrath was already underway because it mentions a plague. Phinehas knew that his life, as well as the lives of the rest of God’s children, were in grave danger. He knew that God’s holiness was under direct attack. Action needed to be taken! Phinehas loved God and his nation. He couldn’t stand by and let this pompous, rebellious traitor bring judgement on his people. He grabs a spear, runs up to the rebellious couple, and slams his spear directly though them both while they were having sex! This is a real man of God. He loves God and so desires His presence that he will take a stand and do what needs done to save God’s reputation and God’s people!
I love the description of Phinehas’ actions. He was overcome with righteous anger. It took tremendous strength to do what he did! Phinehas had a tremendous, supernatural strength of character, bound and formed around an intense desire to show honor and respect to God. What was this strength? We continue on the story to see how God Himself describes it.
10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. 12 Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’ ”
God declared that Phinehas was “zealous with My Zeal”. What exactly does this mean? According to Webster’s dictionary, zeal means “fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavour; enthusiastic; diligence; ardor. Phinehas had an eager desire, a fervor, to see the Holiness of God defended. The original Hebrew word used here is qana, which means to be jealous or envious. The idea is that Phinehas loved God so much that he was jealous for God’s sake. He hated that this man was in essence cheating on God. He felt the same pain that God was feeling and he took action to put an end to it.
Action had to be taken. God had been offended, and to Phinehas it was as if he himself had been attacked. He had to defend God’s honor. This character trait is essential in a godly man. We must hate evil. We cannot tolerate it. We must take appropriate action to deal with the evil around us. This action by Phinehas was appropriate to the circumstances. We need to take similar action.
We need to be men who will stand in the Gap! We need to be willing to pick up our spears and stand against anything that comes against God. God is searching the earth for men who will Stand in the Gap. Men, we can do it.
We need to take our spiritual spears and deal a death blow to our enemy. Men, we are under attack. The enemy has placed his bulls eye square on our backs. He knows that “as go the men, so goes a nation”. He is trying to devalue men. He is feminizing men.
Our culture is actively redefining men. Unfortunately, men are going along with the redefining, giving it credence. The world says men are selfish, only in life for themselves. They say you live to play and be irresponsible, you only work to have money to play. They say you are too stupid to lead a family. They say you don’t care about family. They believe you will turn your back and abandon your family.
Men are seen as having no morals or convictions. We are all just playboys chasing after any and all women. A real man in society is a man who is with a different woman each night. You can’t stay faithful to one women for the rest of your life.
You have been redefined as emotionless figures who cannot feel or express emotions.
You have been declared uninterested in God. You hate to learn and grow. You won’t read the Bible or pray. You have no interest in being in a men’s group. You’re not qualified to lead in your church.
According to culture, you have no ability to manage money or be financially responsible. You only use money for play and self-gratification.
Guys, the enemy is attacking and devaluing us at every turn. Unfortunately, his lies are being seen as fact, and as a result, the decline in men is resulting in a decline in our society. We are on the brink of facing God’s judgement as a nation. Once again, God is looking for Men who will stand up, take their spear in hand, and say, I WILL STAND!
We need to take a spear and say “I am going to be the head of my family. Even if men all around me desert their family, I am committed to standing beside My family!”
We must grab our spear and say, “I am committed to working hard and providing for my family. Even if everyone around me uses their money for their own selfish gain, I will be a Good steward and use it to provide for my family and to invest in God’s Kindgom.”
We must stand, spear in hand, and say to the world around us “I am committed to being a one woman man. I will never cheat on my wife. I have eyes only for her” …if you are single, then commit to standing pure and abstaining until your married. Show the world men can stand pure and not be a womanizer.
We can all stand for God, spear in hand and say, “I am a strong-confident man, confident enough to express emotion if I feel them. I will not fall into the worlds trap of saying I have no emotions or feelings. I will express my feelings like a mature, godly man, while not allowing my emotions to overflow in an unhealthy way.
Men we need to grab our spears and stand for God. We must declare we are men who love God’s word, who make it a priority, and who strive to live by his commandments. We will follow God wholeheartedly. We will submit to Him. We will take our place in the church and give to others instead of always taking. We will have active thriving men’s ministries, not designed around sucking each other dry, but designed around giving to each other and the community while providing help and support to each other in our spiritual battles.
Guys, God is looking for men to stand in the Gap! When he looked at the nation of Israel in Phinehas’ day, he found a man who would stand in the gap, and he thwarted his judgement because of it. In Ezekiel, he looked for someone to stand in the Gap, and he found no one. Let’s look at the next verse to see what happened.
31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
God was left with no choice but to destroy Israel and give them over in bondage to their enemies. He found no one who was standing in the gap to effect change and make a difference. What a sad statement for a nation that was supposed to be God’s people.
Men, we have two paths laid out for us today, two examples to follow. We have the path of indifference as seen in Ezekiel, and the path of standing as seen by Phinehas. God is looking today. He is looking to see if he has warriors who will stand for Him. It is time to pick up our spears and stand.
Will you commit to doing this. Will you stand in the gap for your family? Will You Stand up for God in a godless world? Are you committed to standing up to the enemies lies? Will you Stand?