Zimri’s brazen act of sexual immorality cost him and his “date” their lives, his family its honor, and 24,000 lives of his countrymen in a resultant plague.
1. The Sin of the Crowd (Num. 25:1-5,9)
– Their Perversion (v.1-3)
Zimri was not the only one engaged in sexual immorality. Shortly after the incident with Balaam, many Israelite men were being enticed by Moabite women. The problem was not just that these women were foreigners (discouraged by God). The real problem was that these women worshiped false gods. The sexual immorality described in Num. 25 was intimately connected to their pagan worship. Temple prostitution played a significant part in many of the religions of that day – but it was not to be a part of Judaism. So, it was adultery… made worse by idolatry.
– Their Punishment (v.4,5,9)
All men involved would be killed in a plague, resulting in the deaths of 24,000 people. But, more about that in a bit…
2. The Sin of a Couple (Num. 25:6-8,10-18)
– Their Perversion (v.6,14,15)
So, Zimri was just one of many in Israel who walked down a destructive path. But, he chose the worst possible time to do so. Just as Moses was ordering Israel’s judges to kill any man who was guilty of sexual immorality – and just as the people were gathered outside the tent of meeting, weeping in a public display of their repentance – Zimri marched into the camp with a Midianite woman! In front of everyone, including Moses, he entered the tent. Apparently, he thought ritual prostitution was a normal part of worship…
– Their Punishment (v.7,8,10-13,16-18)
But, one of the priests had other ideas. Phinehas, a grandson of Aaron, followed the pair into the tent – spear in hand. With one sweeping motion, he impaled Zimri and the Midianite woman, Kozbi.
Thousands more died in the subsequent plague that was sent to punish the Israelites. Phinehas was rewarded for his zeal. Zimri, on the other hand, brought shame upon his family – especially his father, Salu, who was named in the account of his son’s shocking behavior.
From this moment on, God ordered the Israelites to regard the Moabites as enemies. God did not take lightly the efforts of those who tried to lead His people astray.
God takes following Him… walking His path His way… very seriously.
He also takes the example and guidance we give to others very seriously.
We are to live our lives in such a way that others see Jesus in us.
And we are to do what we can… ALL we can, when we can… to help others live like Jesus, too.
You can read the story of Zimri in Numbers 25.