A Prophet Must Have Courage

When children grow up and start to think for themselves their character begins to show! In every group there is always some kid that is unusual, different, bright but not controllable. Precautious kid with a soft heart, but a hard head.

This week’s Torah portion from the book of Numbers 25:10‑30:1 is called Pinchas (Phinehas). Pinchas is a name of this kind of young man. A young man that everything about him is “out of the box.”

He is not politically correct. He is stubborn and disobedient to the ruling elite of the tribe Pinchas never gives up and always has questions that challenge the elders that are sitting at the gate to judge the crowds. Here is the reason why this portion of the Torah is named after a young man that I described above.

Here is the story of Pinchas! In the last Shabbat we read the portion called Balak. Balak is the King of Moab who calls Balaam the magician who has the power to curse or to bless.

Balaam has an international reputation and a record of success. When Balaam blesses, the people come out blessed. When Balaam curses, the curses that he uses bring disaster and are fulfilled in a clear and visible way.

Balaam came to curse Israel and ended up by blessing Israel. The most powerful influence on Balaam was his donkey that saw the angel of the Lord standing in front of him while Balaam was riding him.

The donkey could see the angel and Balaam the great prophet and magician could not see him. The donkey could hear the angel and Balaam couldn’t. After three times that the angel appears and tries to stop the donkey and Balaam, and each time Balaam uses his cane and hits the donkey on the head.

The Lord opens the donkey’s mouth and he talks to Balaam. The donkey complains to Balaam and asks him with an audible voice. Why are you beating me! At this point the eyes of Balaam open and now he can hear and see the Angel of the Lord.

The scheme of Balak King of Moab does not succeed, because Balaam was obedient to God and would not disobey Him. However, Balaam’s greed is still there and he can’t curse Israel because God does not allow him, but on the other hand he wants the reward that Balak, King of Moab, promised him.

So, Balaam gives forth some of the most wonderful biblical texts describing Israel and the Jewish nation. Every Jewish synagogue opens every service with the words of the Gentile magician, Balaam:

“How lovely are your tents, O Jacob! Your dwellings, O Israel!” – Numbers 24:5 [NKJV]

Balaam can’t curse Israel, but he still wants to the gold and silver that Balak promised him. So, Balaam gives advice to Balak. Since the Israelites love beautiful young women, use the beautiful Midianite girls to seduce the Israelite men.

Here is when Pinchas comes into the picture. Zimri the son of Palu, the prince of the tribe of Simeon, and Cozbi the daughter of Zur, a princess of Midian, are having sex at the entrance to the Tabernacle of God. Yes, having sex publicly and the elders of Israel are watching and in shock, and they don’t know what to do because this horrible act is being performed in the courtyard of God’s dwelling place.

Moses and the elders are in total shock and tongue-tied. The leadership of Israel is just paralyzed and could not imagine that such an abomination would ever be performed by anyone from Israel, in such a blatant abominable act.

“Now when Pinchas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel.” – Numbers 25:7,8 [NKJV]

The young man Pinchas actually provides his name for this week’s portion. You would think that God would be very upset that this young Levite who had no legal authority and took the law into his own hands and executed Zimri and Cozbi in public, right at the entrance to the Lord’s Tabernacle.

Under the laws of most Western countries, a person like Pinchas, who takes the law into his hands without authority and permission, and kills two people in public, right in in front of Moses and the elders of Israel, would be charged with a crime.

The lesson here is so very important for me. I learn from Pinchas that God is not square and that God can appreciate moments when the law is impotent and a young person who steps up with courage and initiative and, even if he takes the initiative without formal authority, can be innocent of committing a crime.

Under normal circumstances, when someone takes the law into his own hands without authority, he would be taken to court and go to jail. However, here we have God, the God who created the world, rewarding Pinchas for taking the initiative and killing these two people, Zimri and Cozbi, with all the elite and leadership of Israel as witnesses.

Pinchas was not concerned for himself or what might happen to him for killing these two people who were challenging the Tabernacle of God and His presence. Challenging Moses and his authority, the elders of Israel, and the priests of the Lord who were all there watching.

Pinchas was not trying to be politically correct. Pinchas was concerned about stopping the abomination and depravity of these two young leaders, of these two leaders among their people, Simeon the president of his tribe, Simeon, and Cozbi, the daughter of the King of Midian.

You see, my dear brothers, most of the so-called “men of God” think three times before they say something that might be interpreted as “out of the box” or politically incorrect. The fear of the media and of the possible criticism of people or of the press, is a very scaring factor.

If the pastor is not polished and if he does not wear a big smile, and if his teeth aren’t perfectly white and he isn’t always smooth-talking and speaking in generalities, without any criticisms, smooth and mild and full of positive thinking, all the time worrying that he might not have a job on Monday, if he exposes the sins of one of the elders, or even of the pastor or of one of his children.

We can learn from Pinchas that there are moments when a man has to stand for what is right and just and important to protect and defend what is right and what is holy, and God’s honor, even at a high personal cost. Every prophet of God has to have the courage to speak things that are not politically correct and not popular for the masses that are fed “politically correct” three times per day.

Here are the words of Jeremiah, who had a rich experience speaking and calling Israel and the leadership of Israel and the spiritual leadership of Jerusalem to order. Jeremiah experienced rejection and physical persecution and loss of status and severe treatment even to be expelled from his job as a priest in God’s house.

It is sometimes the right thing to do, to stand up against corrupt laws and evil practices and injustice and to speak out and protest the evil that is going on all around. Someone has to have the courage to stand up and take a clear stand to change the tide and protect God’s interests and the truth. This is why Pinchas was rewarded by God and made the chief of staff of all of Israel’s army.

The principle that I think that every man of God has to have in his calling is, first of all, commitment to honor God and His cause. Second, every man of God has to have courage to stand up against the majority against the politically correct culture and stand up for what is of God and what is holy and pure without calculating what he will personally gain, or what he might miss out on.

I pray that you and the leadership in your synagogue or church will be made up of the same kind of material as Pinchas, and have the character of Pinchas. To stand up for righteousness and holiness and justice in your camp.

If a person is not willing to stand up for God and for His word and defend what is right and to condemn what is wrong, he ought not to become a pastor or a preacher or even a teacher of God’s word. Who is going to stand up for God and for His word, and for The Torah and the prophets, and the New Testament of the good news, for the Jew first, and also for the Gentiles?

Stay on the side of faith and with God’s people, and don’t trust all the fake world politicians that want to destroy and uproot the Jewish nation of Israel from God’s promises. The goals of the greedy and power mongering world famous politicians are the same as the goals of Balak, King of Moab, and Balaam, the son of Beor.

This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.