They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods; they aroused the Lord 's anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them. But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked. This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come. - Psalm 106: 28-31 (NIV)
If there was ever any doubt about the rebellious nature of the nation of Israel, we simply need to read Psalm 106, which recounts the highlights of disobedience from the chosen people. One would think that which such a vast and very specific history provided for us under divine inspiration by God Himself, that the church would be watchful for making the same mistakes. Certainly it seemed more so in the past but as we have moved on in culture we have seen the church devolve into a biblically illiterate body that has been taught that Christianity is about them, instead of about Christ. It has set upon us like a plague. The Bible was not meant to be some collection of stories for us to consider:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2Timothy 3: 16-17 (NIV)
I know we have all heard these verses but do we realize what it is saying to us as believers? About the all-sufficiency of the Bible? That God has breathed life directly into the Words we read in Scripture? That we should use the Bible to be taught, rebuked, corrected and trained to be righteous? That God has good works for us to do for His glory that we need the Bible to prepare us for? Does any of this register anymore within the purpose driven seeker friendly churches across this country? The Bible was not meant to be used by salesmen try to persuade you that this is your best life now. It was not meant to be used by hucksters who cherry pick verses out of context to try and rob you of your money. The God we serve isn't short of cash.
I say this as a backdrop because the Bible is also provided for us to learn from. To see what Israel did right and what they did wrong. So that we can pursue the spirit of Joshua and Caleb who believed God over everything their natural senses told them instead of the spirit of the grumbling masses who do not like when their faith was tested. As such, there comes a point in Psalm 106 where the Psalmist recounts the story of a man named Phinehas and that account is found in the key verses today. Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron the High Priest. Although mentioned several times in the Bible, his main story comes from Numbers when he stood up for what was right. First we see the problem:
While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord 's anger burned against them. - Numbers 25: 1-3 (NIV)
As Moab seduced Israel the world today is seducing the church. The world today is Moab. Filled with carnality and lust and false beliefs. I think sometimes we can make the mistake of thinking idol worship must involve a carved image of stone or wood. The devil is usually more subtle than that. You are not going to walk into a church and find a statue of Nebuchadnezzar to bow down to. You may however be asked to look the other way as the leaven of the world continues to infiltrate the church. You may be asked to accept questionable doctrine under the false argument of authority. You may be asked to keep your dissent quiet under the false argument of unity. You may ultimately be forced out of ministry or asked to leave the sheep pen by the wolf guarding it. Note the language here in Numbers. Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. They did it to themselves. Sure the enemy tempts but ultimately the choice to be yoked to the false god was their choice.