Welcome to our weekly study of Yahweh’s Torah / bible / instructions and righteous living guidance called “Pinchas” (Phinehas). May you be blessed, your knowledge increase and obedience to God’s requirements in your physical actions as you study.
“Pinchas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honour among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal." (Numbers 25:11).
Last week’s study section "Balak", concluded with a man named Pinchas ending a devastating plague that had come on Israel and already killed 24,000 Israelites. The plague resulted from the Israelites participating in sexual immorality with the Midianite women. A snare Balaam counselled Balak to set for them. I can’t curse them; but we can tempt them to sin and step out of the conditional protective hedge of Yahweh their God. The death toll ended when Pinchas (the grandson of Aaron) killed the Israelite Zimri, a Simeonite leader who openly brought a Midianite princess into his tent. Pinchas entered his tent and plunged a spear through both of them.
Religion is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, faith in God, trust in Messiah and obedience to God's commandments is the narrow path that leads to life (Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Yahshua. See also 14:12). It brings peace, joy and purpose to existence. On the other hand, religious convictions can become a source of strife, enmity and hatred between people and nations.
Section “Pinchas” is named for Pinchas (Phinehas), the zealous grandson of Aaron the priest who turned aside Yahweh’s wrath by publicly skewering two flagrant transgressors. Yahweh rewarded Phinehas with a “covenant of peace.” He became the progenitor of the priestly line. Yahweh said, “He was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy” (Numbers 25:11-13). The Hebrew word kin’ah (קנאה), which we ordinarily translate as “jealousy,” also means “zeal,” a better translation in this context. It seems unthinkable that such an act of violence could bring about a covenant of peace with God, but that is what happened. What might we learn from Pinchas? Certainly it is not that God honours violence; but He was honouring zeal for Himself. Elijah also walked in Godly zeal and passion for YHWH. He boldly confronted the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel to prove that YHVH is God. God also honoured Elijah’s zeal by promising to send him to usher in our Messianic redemption, as it is written: “I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the coming of the great and awesome day of God.” (Malachi 4:5).
After the devastation of this plague, the Lord commanded that a census be taken. The census would also help prepare each tribe to receive their fair share of inheritance once they enter their promised land. The census revealed that some clans survived even though God’s wrath had consumed their ancestors. For instance, the ancestors of Korach, the Levite who led a rebellion of 250 chieftains against Moses and tried to take over the priesthood, survived. Korach, his home, and the men with him were consumed by an earthquake and fire, yet the Scriptures say that “the sons of Korach died not.” (Numbers 26:11; see also Numbers 16:32).
The concept of zeal explains why Yahshua had a disciple named “Simon the Canaanite” in the King James Version of the Bible. The Greek text of Matthew and Mark introduce one of Yahshua’s disciples as “Simon the Canaanean (Καναναῖος).” Translators and scribes stumbled over the unusual word. Some scribes mistakenly tried to correct it as “Simon man of Cana.” The King James translators chose to translate it as “Simon the Canaanite.” Thanks to the error, Simon has the embarrassing honour of being the only Gentile disciple among the twelve and a Canaanite at that! Actually, the mysterious Greek word is an attempt to transliterate the Semitic kanana (קנאנא), which means “the Zealot.” The anti-Roman, Jewish revolutionaries of first-century Judea called themselves Zealots. Luke recognized the word and translated it as “Simon the Zealot.” In modern vernacular, we would call him Simon the Terrorist.
Judea and Galilee were filled with political and religious zealots who regularly resorted to violence to advance their purposes (just like Barabbas who committed insurrection in Mark 15:7). They emulated Phinehas, and used his story to justify terrorism. Terrorists like the Zealots prove that zeal can be misplaced. Paul is another example of misplaced zeal. Prior to his Damascus road encounter, Paul pursued the believers with a Phinehas-like zeal. In his epistle to the Philippians, he mentioned his history as a persecutor of the believers as evidence of his “zeal” for God. Rather than imitating Phinehas, we do far better to emulate the Master who was zealous for His Father’s house in John 2:17 (where he drove out those using the temple as a market place) and for His Father’s will (Matt 26:39 in the garden). We should imitate the first-century Jewish believers who were “zealous for the Torah” (Acts 21:20). We should be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14), and zealous for Messiah and the kingdom. This means ruthlessly rooting out from our lives those things that lead us to sin and cause us to stray (a little leaven corrupts the whole loaf as Balaam corrupted the whole of Israel).
According to the division of the land and the laws of inheritance introduced in this week's Torah reading, a man's land and goods were to be passed on to his sons and divided among them. There was an Israelite named Zelophehad who had four daughters. Because he had no sons who could inherit land, his family was not going to receive any portion of the tribal allotment of Manasseh. Not only would that leave his four daughters landless, it would mean that his name would not be remembered in the tribal allotment. Zelophehad's daughters realized that they had to do something. They decided to petition Moses with their case. “Our father died in the wilderness, yet he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons. (Numbers 27:3).
When the daughters of Zelophehad asked Moses for a ruling, he did not decide the case himself. He brought the question to Yahweh. Why did Moses need to consult God? Why was he unable to judge the case himself? Moses can only implement the laws of God not make them in new situations. Today pastors and denominations make or change laws of God rather than teach their implementation as what days are to be kept as holy and what are pagan. When Moses appointed judges, he told them, "The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it" (Deuteronomy 1:17). Take your questions about the laws of God to one (or a denomination) who keeps them or at least knows them and teaches there are to be kept even if they themselves fail in keeping any. Do not take your questions to a denomination who does not or you may well get the unlawful answer to make you unholy and separated from God. Mat 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Mat 23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: Mat 23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. 1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
This should remind us as well that there is no virtue in answering a question when we are uncertain. Rather than admit to being ignorant on a certain subject or law, people often bluff competence. Clergy and Bible teachers tend to be the worst offenders. Their congregations and students look to them as spiritual authorities. Because of that, they pepper them with questions. Rather than appear uninformed or uncertain in a certain area of knowledge (especially the laws of God), the Bible teacher will provide an answer off the top of his head or as taught to them by their denomination. The sages say that a wise man answers a question to which he does not know the answer by saying, "I do not know." That is better than to mislead a person with traditions rather than biblical law and precedents.
The question proposed by Zelophehad's daughters constituted a difficult matter to which Moses did not know the answer. God had not given Him one to that problem, therefore he honestly admitted he did not know. If scripture has given us an answer in God’s laws we should not say God told me a different answer. 1Co 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 2Pe 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. Deu 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, ..Deu 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Deu 13:4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Deu 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
Deu 13:6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul (in other words, anybody), entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, [like emperor Constantine, German Martin Luther, many pastors of denominational teachings etc] which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;… There have always been heads of congregations and even of Israel that led them astray and those who did not follow who threatened i.e. Elijah and Jezebel 1Ki 19:2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. The threat to disobey God and follow denomination teachings could be subtle or not as de-fellowship from congregations. Regardless of the threats or other influences, even if you are on your own, it is better than being with the rest of burning coal in the fire 1Ki 19:14 And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
Another explanation as to why Moses chose not to adjudicate the daughter’s matter is, that the question was not legally difficult for Moses, it was morally difficult. Moses felt unable to settle the case because of the way that Zelophehad's daughters presented it to him. They said, "Our father died in the wilderness, yet he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against Yahweh in the company of Korah" (Numbers 27:3). When Moses heard these words, he realized that he could not serve as an impartial judge in deciding the case. He would be inclined to rule in favour of the daughters of a man who had remained loyal to him. Therefore, he removed himself from the case and brought the matter to God. We see from God’s attention to these women’s request, that there is nothing so small or big that God does not care about if it is something that concerns us.
The Man for the Job.
Moses prayed for the right successor to lead Israel. Yahweh chose Joshua to lead the people to be obedient to His ways Num 27:20 And thou shalt put some of thine honour upon him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. How did Joshua become such a great and worthy leader? He learned the art of leadership by being a careful disciple and faithful servant of Moses. If a person desires to develop in wisdom, he should spend time with the wise. If a person desires to develop in righteousness, he should spend time with righteous people (Proverbs 13:20). If a person desires to become a good leader, he should stay close to good leaders. If to be a keeper of God’s ways then stay close to those teaching the same. Likewise, as we become better disciples of our teacher Yahshua of Nazareth who kept His father’s commandments and instructed them to be kept, we will become more and more like Him. The Gospel of Luke says, "A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher" (Luke 6:40). Paul told Timothy 2Ti 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (Old Testament only), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Yahshua.
Moses laid his hands on Joshua in front of all Israel so there would not be any question about who was designated to succeed him. He endowed Joshua with his authority so the Israelites would obey him. We know Moses and Joshua were appointed by God and that they kept and taught to be kept God’s laws. Same as Yahshua and the apostles. What is different about most leaders today? They appoint themselves claiming it is of God and teach the law is nailed to the cross, we are now under grace. Not even one of two biblical precedents can be attributed to them! This is not mentioned as a poke at them; but a thought for us as our salvation may depend on whose instructions we follow.
The transfer of the Holy Spirit from Moses to his disciple Joshua enables us to better understand why the disciples of Yahshua were invested with the Holy Spirit after His ascension. In the same way that Joshua was to take on the mantle of Moses after his departure, the disciples of Yahshua are responsible for carrying on His work. Act 1:8 But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. See also the conditions of Acts 1:2-5. Apostles whom he chose, showed himself to, saw him during the forty days and spoke to them in the upper room. Many claim the gift specifically given to the apostles for the specific purpose mentioned; yet they do not even keep or teach to be kept commandments and holy days of Yahweh God.
The biblical festivals are like sanctuaries in time, temples of holiness that stand apart from normal time (see Ex 16:23; 20:8; 31:14; 23:3; Neh 10:31; Isa 58:13; Eze 22:8, 26; Gen 2:3). This is not promotion for denominations who only keep the weekly Sabbath; though the correct weekly one is better than the wrong one. Yahweh's holy place is called the Tent of Appointment. His holy times are called the appointed times. The reason is to teach you that the weekly seventh day Sabbath and the annual holy days are like tabernacles pitched in the flow of time. When we enter the appointed times, we enter a holy temple made of time.
Numbers 28-29 is an ancient priestly calendar, a detailed list of the prescribed Temple sacrifices for each festival day. They are God's appointed times for meeting with man. They are also appointed times for sacrifice. Since we are without the Holy Temple, the animal requirement laws of Numbers 28-29 are not actually applicable to us. They are a list of sacrifices, and the Bible forbids us from making sacrifices outside of the Temple. We are forbidden from offering a sacrifice, but we are still obligated to keep the appointed times and offer sacrifices of praise on those days (Psa 27:6; Jer 17:26; 33:11; Heb 13:15).
Yahweh warned the people, “You shall be careful to present My offering … at their appointed times.” It means that we are to be scrupulously careful to keep the appointed times at the appointed times. Sometimes believers take a lenient attitude toward matters of observance. It is often said, “It doesn’t matter which day we keep the Sabbath, as long as we keep a sabbath”. This is biblically incorrect, there is only the Sabbaths proclaimed by Yahweh God. Any other day is simply an ordinary unholy day. Only God can and has made certain days holy. Sometimes people keep a loose and casual attitude towards observing God’s commandments as if being cavalier and indifferent to the details conveys spiritual maturity. If anything, it conveys indifference towards God. Putting no difference between holy and unholy. Eze 22:26 Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. Eze 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.
For example, if a person agreed to meet you at a certain coffee shop, at a certain time of day, this coming Tuesday; but then showed up on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, he would not actually be keeping the appointment, would he? If that was to catch a plane, they would miss the flight. You would have been there on Tuesday. He would have been there on Wednesday. You would never have met as you were supposed to meet. God’s appointed times are appointments. We are to be “careful” to observe them at their “appointed times.” He may not be there when you think He is turning up at your time.
The Man over the Congregation.
The story of the appointment of Joshua has obvious Messianic implications which point toward another Joshua: Yahshua of Nazareth. Yahweh told Moses that his time to die had drawn near. Moses did not object; but he expressed his concern for those he would leave behind. He implored, “Appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of Yahweh will not be like sheep which have no shepherd” (Numbers 27:16–17). Yahweh told him to lay hands on Joshua the son of Nun to designate him as his successor.
Yahweh took some of the Spirit that rested on Moses and He bestowed it upon Joshua. This solved the problem temporarily. Joshua, however, was destined to die a generation later, leaving Israel like sheep without a shepherd once again. The petition of Moses, “Appoint a man over the congregation,” could not be fulfilled in perpetuity until God appointed a shepherd who would not succumb to death. Yahshua is the man that God has appointed over the congregation of Israel. Deu 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. The term “man over the congregation” invokes several apostolic passages about the Messiah and His assembly. For example, Paul says, “The man is the head of the woman even as Messiah is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23). The English word “church” mistranslates the Greek word for “assembly” or “congregation.” “He is also head of the body, the congregation” (Collossians 1:18). Peter told the congregation of Israel assembled in the Temple that “Yahshua [is] the Messiah appointed for you” (Acts 3:20). He is “a Man whom [God] has appointed” (Acts 17:3) and “the One who has been appointed by God.” (Acts 10:42).
God Honours Truth in Action.
We must not think we are too weak, too timid, too young, too old or whatever excuse we use to fulfil our mission in God’s plan. If God is in it, He will give the strength, grace, wisdom, and boldness to do His will. Pinchas, for instance, was not yet an elder in the community, yet he was the only one who took action against the sin that was destroying his own people. Others had witnessed Zimri’s open sin, but they apparently did nothing (even Moses, Aaron and his sons). When we stand by and wait for our leaders or friends to confront sin or the slanderous attacks against God, His scriptures, authority or even Israel in front of us, the sin or the lie just grows and infects more people. As it is said, a little leaven corrupts the whole lump. While in today’s earthly legal system God may not expect us to respond with spears in the backs of sinners or our enemies, we are also not to remain silent and passive. One rational I constantly hear regurgitated against keeping God’s laws of Exodus 20 and more is “so are we to stone adulterers then as that is what the law of God prescribes”. Us not doing it in a world controlled by ungodly leaders does not mean it has been abolished by God. Many gangsters, even politicians and banks get away with literal and financial murder. What they do does not make it right!
Sometimes God is calling us to help correct a problem by speaking life into the situation, either by speaking or writing the truth. Living lives filled with truth and or writing about it can be a powerful weapon against sin, especially lies. As well, speaking blessings and words of life over those who are courageously speaking truth can bring anointing and power to them that they may not have had access to before. It builds them up in strength and helps them to persevere in the storm that comes to all who stand for righteousness. Pray for such people.
You may be slandered for speaking life, but “even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened; but in your hearts revere Messiah as master. ... For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:14–15, 17). In addition to speaking the truth about Yahweh’s scriptures, people or nation, we can speak the truth that brings eternal life by sharing the truth about who the Messiah really is; Yahshua HaMashiach.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in the Messiah may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Peter 3:15–16).
This does not mean any answer will do. If it is untrue it will not do. It has to be biblically accurate. Remember Job’s friends who thought they were speaking truth and at the end we find out from God they were not? As a result they were judged in error and only Job’s sacrifice for them would have excused them of their sin. Likewise judgement will begin with the church or those who think they are in God’s church. The others are easily and quickly judged.
1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 1Pe 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 1Pe 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
New Testament portion.
The parable told by Yahshua in Mark 12 is similar to that found in Isaiah 5:1. A good bible scholar may be able to find all of Yahshua’s and the apostles teachings and answers to questions found in the Law of His Father given through Moses. At the end of Yahshua’s answer in the following example it can be seen that through keeping the law one can be “not far from the kingdom of Yahweh God”.
Mar 12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? Mar 12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: Mar 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. Mar 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. Mar 12:32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: Mar 12:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Mar 12:34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
SHALOM and happy studies.