- Num. 25:1-18; 31:1-54
While they were camped nearby, many of the Israelite men began to commit sin against GOD with the Moabite women. GOD was furious and told Moses to take the Israelite leaders and kill those who had sinned with the Moabite women.
While Moses and the Israelite leaders were weeping at the entrance to the tabernacle, an Israelite man walked by with one of the Moabite women. When he saw it, Phinehas the son of Eleazar (Aaron’s grandson), took a spear and stabbed it through both the Israelite man and Moabite woman, killing them both. GOD was well-pleased with Phinehas’ actions, saying:
“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. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 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.’”
(Num. 25:11-13 NKJV)
The Hebrew word קָנָא that is translated "zealous" means "be envious, be move to, provoke to jealousy, very, be zealous." In other words, what happened here was that Phinehas saw what the Israelite man and Moabite woman were doing and he was angry for the LORD’s sake, because they were sinning against GOD. GOD had told the Israelites not to worship other gods, nor to commit fornication, and He had instructed the Israelites to purge themselves of the sinners among them.
Today, GOD has not instructed us to kill those who sin, but rather to teach them about Jesus so that they can find forgiveness. But GOD wants us to have the same zeal for His name that Phinehas displayed. GOD wants us to be passionate about Him, about our relationship with Him, about salvation, about lost souls, and about being holy (which includes obeying His commands). GOD is a jealous God and He wants us to be like Him so we should be jealous for His sake also.