Pinchas and Us
In Numbers 25, we read of the Israelites camped at Shittim, an oasis ‘city’ in Arabia right on the border to Canaan. They have camped here at the end of their 40-year journey through the wilderness. ‘40’ is a highly significant number in Hebrew thought – this is the number of purification. This number is seen many times in both the Hebrew and Apostolic Scriptures. For example, at the time of Noah, it rained 40 days and nights, purifying the earth. Moses went up onto Mt Sinai for 40 days to be purified before he spoke with Adonai. Yeshua went into the desert and there He fasted for 40 days and nights, in order to prepare the human to be ready to face the enemy. Finally, following His resurrection, Yeshua remained 40 days on the earth, as He prepared to ascent to the Father. As we have read, the Israelites, because of their disobedience in not trusting God, were required to roam the wilderness for 40 years, in order to be purified on the disobedient – ah that this worked on their sons and daughters.
As you may recall, Balak, the king of Midian, attempted to bring a curse on our people, through the diviner, Balaam. Of course this did not work, as HaShem turned every curse into a blessing. Not to be thwarted by this defeat, Balak tried another strategy – infiltration.
While they were camped at Shittim awaiting God’s command to invade Canaan, the Israelites were infiltrated by both Midianites and Moabites, led by Bil’am, a Moabite princess and her court. They, who were also idol prostitutes, seduced the Israelite men, drawing them away not only from their wives and sweethearts but also from Adonai. As a result, God visited a plague amongst the Israelites, killing tens of thousands of them. And, so, here we are introduced to Pinchas, whose name means “the bronze coloured one”; he was a zealot for Adonai. When he observed an Israeli man taking a Moabite woman into his family’s tent, i.e. consecrating marriage, Pinchas took his spear and ran through both man and the woman. This act of zealot obedience released the plague HaShem placed upon them for their apostasy. Pinchas placed himself into jeopardy by killing both the man and woman; had the man seen him coming, he could have killed Pinchas in self-defence and not be guilty of murder. Technically, Pinchas was guilty of murder but was absolved of his guilt, since his was an act based on yirat Shamayim, fear of heaven, or respect for HaShem and His commands. He did not act on his own behalf, from his ego, but from his true selfless desire to honour Adonai. For his stepping forward, God cut a permanent and irrevocable covenant with Pinchas and his line; he became a Kohen Gadol, a high priest of the Temple.
We see this same principle of honouring God through humble desire being played-out in the life of Elijah. You remember the story, Elijah has gone up against the 400 priests of Ba’al and, through HaShem’s power, has defeated them; we read of this in 1 Kings 18. The evil king Ahab had witnessed the Shekinah of Adonai – here was incontrovertible evidence – and he began fasting as part of his prayer to God to rescind the 3-year drought, brought upon the land. When Elijah noticed the clouds forming, filled with water, he told Ahab to get his chariot and head towards Jezreel. Most English translations then mention: The power of the Lord was on Elijah, and he tucked his mantle under his belt and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. However, that is not the intent of the Hebrew. What the Hebrew shows us is that Elijah ran with Ahab’s entourage, at the request of Ahab, as the court raced to Jezreel. The race was not between Elijah and Ahab but between the rain and the entourage. Here was the humble desire showing itself clearly; Ahab had displayed his desire to kill Elijah and had then seen the awesome power of HaShem. His prayer and fasting was a signal to Elijah of a possible T’shuva, a turning around, repentance, and he, Elijah, wanted to support that and, so, he joined the entourage on its way to Jezreel.
What we read in the Torah and the Haftarah we see coming to fulfillment in the Apostolic Scriptures. Ya’aqov, the brother of Adonai Yeshua, exhorts us, in James 4:7-10 – Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep. Your laughter must change to mourning and your joy to sorrow. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. So here it is; God demands our humble hearts come to Him in true desire to honour Him. Our egos, our pride only breed arrogance but a humble heart will draw us closer to our beloved Abba and we will be exalted; we will be lifted-up.
May Yahweh bless you richly.