Parashat Phinehas: Defending the Holiness of God

This week’s reading from the Torah in Israel is from the portion (Parasha) called Phinehas. The portion (Parasha) Phinehas starts in Numbers chapter 25:10-30:1.

The first thing that is important for us to notice is that God is not angry with Phinehas for taking his spear and killing the princes of Moab and the Prince of the tribe of Simeon.

Here is the interesting text:

And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Now when Phinehas 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; 8 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. 9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. – Num. 25:6-9

This young man Phinehas took the law into his own hand and actually executed this couple that were having sex in the courtyard of the Tabernacle of the Lord. The top leadership of Israel was there and the act was done in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the leadership of Israel. No one did anything about this abomination. Those who were in authority like Moses himself were doing nothing they were just bewildered and dumb founded and knew not what to do.

In this case Phinehas took the law into his own hand and his javelin pierced the couple in the middle of their action. No one appointed Phinehas to do this act of violence. You would think that everyone would be angry and upset with this young man who jumped out of turn and did this brave act.

As you can see from the text this act out of order stopped the plague that was reaping death in the camp of the children of Israel. The plague killed twenty-four thousand children of Israel and it was stopped by this act of bravery. The reading of Numbers chapter 25:11-12, we find out that the Lord actually praises Phinehas and gives him something very special. The Lord gives Phinehas a covenant of Shalom (Peace) and stops the terrible plague in his behalf. “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. Therefore say, “Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace . . .”

The difficult issue in this portion of the Torah is what can we learn for own lives and times from this event and from how the Lord reacted to Phinehas taking the law in his own hands.

1. The Law is the Law, but at times the Law does not give an answer to an emergency situation. Someone on who sees the need and also sees the helplessness of those who are appointed to exercise the Law and knows that he can stop the evil – it is his responsibility to not stand by and wait for the LAW to take action, but take action himself and be willing to bear the consequences if necessary.

2. God expects everyone to do good every time he has the opportunity. Consider the following principle: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

3. Consider that most of the time in our lives our choices are between “bad” and “worst.” It is not often that our lives have the choice between 100% of good and 100% of evil. We must take into account the King David Principle: “But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” (1 Samuel 17:45) For his own sake David didn’t defend himself on several occasions, but when it comes to someone defiling the name of God or the honor of our God David like Phinehas stood up and put his faith into action. All of the Army of Israel and King Saul was standing by not knowing what to do, but little David with the power of the Lord behind him took the action to stop the dishonoring of God.

The whole world sees how Muslims honor the image and name of Muhammad. I would never suggest for Christians or Jews to do what Muslims do when some spoof newspaper in Belgium or Paris draws a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. But on the other hand Christians and Jews are showing weakness when they see the evil and hear the evil and the blasphemy against our God, and we just stand by and say nothing or do nothing. There comes a time when all good man must stand up for the right and stop the worry for the political correct. We must stand up with Yeshua and with God HIMSELF. It is up to the Disciples of Yeshua to stand up for him. It is up to the followers of Yeshua and the Worshipers of God Himself to protect the honor of God and of our Savior. Phinehas was not worried about the political correctness of his action. He was worried about the fact that Moses and the leadership of Israel was showing weakness and not knowing how to stop the sin and the plague that was killing the people of Israel. Phinehas was worried for the defiling of God’s holiness and the respect of the people for God’s Tabernacles. If we are ashamed of our Savior in front of man! He, Yeshua, will be ashamed of us in front of His Father in the judgment day.

This article originally appeared as a part of The Jerusalem Prayer List by Netivyah, July 21, 2016, and reposted with permission.