READ: Numbers 25
THINK: There is a rather grisly legend about how Eskimos kill wolves. First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. Then he adds another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood. Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder the wolf licks the blade in the arctic night. So great becomes his craving for blood that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more–until the dawn finds him dead in the snow.
Numbers 25 tells us how Israel, much like the wolf in this story, chased after it’s own appetites. And they proved deadly. The men of Israel engaged in sexual immorality with the Moabite women and something really powerful happened. I love the way that verse 3 describes it: “So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor…” Yoked. Oxen who are yoked are bound and driven. They no longer have control over themselves or the direction in which they will go.
Sin is slavery. I’ll write that again, because it’s critically important for us to understand: sin is slavery! John 8:34 tells us that everyone who sins becomes enslaved to it. No matter what our sins are – whether they are sexual in nature like those of the Israelites in this story or they are anything else at all – they eventually bind us up and imprison us. Sin has the power to yoke us and make us far less than the people we were created to be. It promises pleasure and gratification, but they are only temporary. Once we’ve been ensnared they rip us apart.
But there is hope. There is deliverance through the anointed priest. Just as in this story Phinehas stepped in and broke the curse through his bold action, in the same way Jesus Christ stepped into history and took bold action on our behalf, breaking our bondage to sin. But if we want to live in the freedom that is available to us there can be no half-measures. Phinehas took up his spear. Christ took up his cross. We must take our sin before God, confess it, and ask him to help us slay it. We can’t do it on our own – there is no way – but there is hope and there is freedom available to all of us through Christ!
PRAY: Confess your sins to God today. Lay them out there. Admit that you’re beat and you can conquer them on your own. Ask him to forgive you and set you free.