Such challenges are a good time to check if we have made an idol of something meant to be a blessing.
After all, among the very first commandments are the statements “Thou shall have no other God’s before Me” and “You shall not make for yourself an idol.” (Exodus 20:3–4)
As the Creator of the Universe, God alone has the power and right to expect complete devotion. He alone has the right to be angry when His children are honoring and worshiping idols, money, pleasure, or anything other than Himself, for no person or thing is worthy of such devotion.
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” (Proverbs 8:13)
Sin in the Leadership
“The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.” (Numbers 25:14–15)
The Israelite that Pinchas killed, Zimri, was the son of the leader of the Simeonite tribe. As the son of a tribal leader, people looked to him as an example of how they, too, should behave.
Zimri’s father, the tribal leader, should have brought up his son in the ways of the Lord and put a stop to Zimri’s elicit actions, but it seems that he had no Godly influence over his son.
Today, in some areas of the world, family members kill family members to protect their own “family honor” and supposedly God’s honor. But God is not in favor of any such honor killings, and the act of Pinchas should not be confused with them.
The worship of Baal by the Israelites was not a private sin within any one family. Idolatry, eating food sacrificed to gods, and fornication were rampant throughout the nation of Israel.
Zimri brought his sin not only into the Simeon family but also into the entire camp of Israel. Word would soon spread among his clan about what he was doing in his tent with a daughter of a Moabite tribal chief. If he could act out these perversions with her, why not they?
God wanted the madness to stop, so “Moses said to Israel’s judges, ‘Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.’” (Numbers 25:5)
By the time Pinchas took action, the plague had already killed 24,000 people as a direct result of the nation’s sin.
The Bible, however, does not record anyone else who had enough zeal to say, “This is not right!” and follow through with Moses’ command, standing against the forces of evil that were destroying the entire nation.
The prophetic writings of the Tanakh (Old Testament), however, tell of another man with similar zeal.
Haftarah (Prophetic Portion): Taking a Stand for God
This week’s prophetic reading tells of the prophet Elijah, who also had a great zeal for protecting God’s honor.
In Haftarah Pinchas, in order to protect God’s honor among the entire nation of Israel, Elijah acts in a similar fashion to Pinchas, killing hundreds of false prophets of Baal who were leading the Israelites into false worship. In response, Queen Jezebel sends her men to find and kill him.
Elijah becomes disheartened, saying to the Angel of God:
“I have been very jealous [kinah–zealous] for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and slain Your prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1 Kings 19:10)
Standing up for what is right is not popular with those who want to do wrong.
Hatred, lies, fines, imprisonment, or even death may result. But allowing an entire community to be led into certain death by worshiping false idols is like standing up for the enemy of God who is seeking the destruction of the entire human race.
Every Believer must choose appropriate ways in today’s culture to stand up for God. Elijah did that in his day, and God stood up for him, giving him relief from his stress by protecting his life and anointing a successor, Elisha.
When we stand up for God in righteousness, we can rely on Him standing up for us.
“Whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8–9)
Receiving Our Inheritance
Later in this Parasha, we read about the laws of inheritance (yerusha), as a census is taken and the land divided in accordance with birthright.
Five tenacious sisters, the daughters of Zelophehad (who had no sons), were determined to receive their inheritance in the Land.
Moses brought their appeal to the Lord and He upheld their request, resulting in a change of Israel’s inheritance laws to include women when a father dies without a male heir.
If these women had not made their request known, they would have never received their father’s inheritance in the Land.
How often do we not receive simply because we fail to ask? The Word says, “You have not because you ask not.” (James 4:2)
Yeshua invites us to ask for what we need and desire, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24)
God can always say no, but if we don’t ask, sometimes there is no movement. As the saying goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Moreover, God wants us to come to Him, the Source of all good things, with our requests.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
Be bold in answering God’s invitation to ask for what you need, and trust Him to bring it to pass in His way and His time.
“And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” (1 John 5:14–15)
We see from God’s attention to the request of these women that He is sometimes willing to set convention on its ear so that our needs are met.
There is nothing so small, so insignificant, or so trivial that God does not care about it, if it concerns us. While He cares for the nation as a whole, He also has His eye on each and every person within it. God’s eye is not just on the big picture, it is on the mundane details of our lives.
“He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him.” (Psalm 145:19)