True leaders lead by compulsion

Leadership is not a philosophy – leadership is action. And you don’t need a title to be a leader – you simply need to lead by taking action!

Before reflecting on today’s devotional text, take a moment to watch this short introductory video on Leadership as Compulsion (


Numbers 25:1-15

1  While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2  These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3  So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 4  And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” 5  And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”

6  And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. 7  When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand 8  and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped.  9  Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

10  And the LORD said to Moses, 11  “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy. 12  Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace, 13  and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.'” 14  The name of the slain man of Israel, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of a father’s house belonging to the Simeonites. 15  And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father’s house in Midian.

Observation and reflection questions

  1. Let’s review the incident by briefly answering the following questions:
    • Moses called the nation to the Tabernacle of God (or “tent of meeting”) – why? [verses 1-3]
    • To whom did Moses give the instruction to execute these promiscuous offenders? [verse 5]
    • What did Zimri do and why was it so offensive – especially in the sight of the repenting assembly? [verse 6]
    • The whole nation saw what was happening but only one man responded. Who was he, what was his vocation/office and what action did he take? [verse 7-8]
    • Phinehas took descisive action.  How did God respond to the nation and how did God reward Phinehas? [verses 8, 10-13]
  2. The whole nation gathered and heard the command of the Lord regarding sexual promiscuity with the idol-worshiping people locals. Everyone saw Zimri’s bold contemptuous action, but only Phinehas had the courage to act.
    • Based on your experience with people, why do you think no-one else took action?
    • Based on Moses command earlier, who would you think should have taken action first?
    • Who was the true leader in this story?

Personal reflection and application

The nation of God was in a bad shape morally, resulting in a plague.  Moses called the nation to repent and reform, but at that moment a man showed contempt to God at the hight of the nation’s remorse.  None of the leaders dared move, but a young priest felt compelled to take decisive action, bringing an end to the plague and earning God’s reward for it.

  1. Based on past situations…
    • …would you be more inclined to step in and do what is necessary, or would you hope someone else does it first?
    • …would you be more inclined to confront someone who does something blatantly wrong or would you look away and hope someone else does that?
    • …would you be more inclined to wait for someone else to initiate a conversation in a difficult relationship, or would you initiate that conversation?
    • …what caused you to hesitate from taking decisive action in critical situations? [think it through, pray that the Lord help you see your motives]
  2. Memorize Peter’s instruction to “add to your faith courage…” (2 Peter 1:5).
    1. Commit in prayer today to not fear failure or ridicule, but courageously stand up for what is right.
    2. Keep this phrase in mind throughout the day; let it reveal your motives and let it stir you to decisive action for what is right and good.


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