It can get really confusing at times. A righteous anger rises up inside of you, or is it? It feels right; it must be right. Surely Yahweh will punish this heinous act. Surely He hates unrighteousness. I can read it in the Bible.
Just look at what He told Saul to do! “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel…go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them.” And just read how He blessed Phinehas for ramming a spear through a Moabite harlot and her Israelite boyfriend; “Phinehas has turned back My wrath from Israel…because he was zealous with My zeal; …Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants…because he was zealous for his God.”
And yet, when Simeon and Levi jumped into action and killed Shechem, his father Hamor, and all the males of the city because Shechem raped their sister Dinah, their father Jacob was infuriated. He later calls them “self-willed instruments of cruelty” and removes a blessing from them.
So, how do you know if you are being a Phinehas or a Simeon? Paul had the answer; “…being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.” Phinehas must have been acting in obedience, Simeon and Levi, not so much.
What motivated their behaviors? Phinehas was zealous for God, and made atonement for the children of Israel. In other words, his actions ended unrighteousness and saved lives. Jacob’s sons, on the other hand, killed many, plundered the city, took all the wealth, and enslaved wives and children. Their motivation was carnal and atoned for nothing. What is motivating your zeal these days and how do you know?