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The Story of Phinehas
The Larger Problem
Jesus and The Woman Caught In Adultery
Section XII: Excuses for Gullibility
The Story of Phinehas
So, lets talk for a moment about this Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, who’s actions in the Old Testament are often held up as an example for all time. Aaron, the High Priest, had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar (Exodus 28:1), the first two of whom violated direct commands of God and failed to display reverence for Him and His sanctuary. This cost them their lives. Eleazar, the third son of Aaron succeeded his father Aaron as high priest and was in turn succeeded by his son, Phinehas. [See The Sons of Aaron]
The story behind the “Phinehas spirit” is found in the book of Numbers when Balaam, a prophet for hire, was unable to curse the people of God on three successive occasions (Numbers 22-24) because God turned the curses into blessings. Balaam then came up with a devious plan, which involved putting the Israelites in the position of being directly cursed by God… an indirect way to bring about the same result he had failed to accomplish directly. If the Israelites could be seduced to follow other gods and engage in sexual and spiritual harlotry, they would incur the curses God had pronounced on those who practiced such sins! So the extremely devious Balaam privately advised Balak king of the Moabites, to tempt the Hebrew nation to immoral acts and to the worship of Baal-peor…
“and the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab for they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.” [Numbers 25:1-2].
As Revelation 2:14 says... Balaam taught Balak to “cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication”.
Interestingly the first indictment against the Moabites found in Deuteronomy 23:3-5 says they shall not enter into the assembly of Jehovah; even to the tenth generation because they did not meet the Israelites with even bread and water when they came forth out of Egypt. yet here they were offering far more than basic fare, but none of the people suspected their motives.
The very first verse of Number 25 tells us that the problem was in it’s infancy and was very quickly nipped in the bud. [Emphasis Added]
On instructions from the Lord, Moses told the judges of Israel to "Slay every one those men of yours who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor." However in what seems to be sheer defiance, one Israelite (Zimri, the son of Salu) brings a Midianite woman into the camp in the sight of Moses, where the people are weeping. Upon which Phinehas follows the man and thrusts the spear through both the man and woman.
This act that must have been highly unpopular at the time and seems thoroughly outrageous to our generation, certainly met with God's approval… He stayed the plague that had broken out among the people…
And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the pavilion, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel. [Numbers 25:6-8].
The Larger Problem
A cursory reading of this section of the Old Testament might lead one to the conclusion that very extreme measures were taken because of a relationship between an Israelite man and a Midianite woman. However nothing would be further from the truth. When Moses fled from Egypt, it was the Midianites that took him in. Moses eventually married Zipporah the daughter of one of the priests of Midian. [Exodus 2:15-22].
However, this situation did not last long. After the Exodus, the Midianites began to view the Israelites as a threat, eventually joining the Moabites to combat the people of Israel. [See Foot Note I … Who Were The Midianites?]
And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now will this multitude lick up all that is round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. [Numbers 22:3-4]
The larger problem here was that the pagan women were calling the people unto the sacrifices of their gods and causing them to bow down to strange gods [Numbers 25:1-2]. The very act of prostrating themselves before the pagan deities was a blatant disregard of the covenant and the Law. If something had not been done, the nation would have destroyed itself. After the Midianites started the conflict, the Lord commanded Moses to war against them [Numbers 31:7], which was the second time that Moses was forced to fight people that he once regarded as his own.
The warnings about idols extend from one end of the Bible to the other and not without reason.. The word translated “idols” in Psalm 96:5 (“all the gods of the nations are idols”) is daimonia or “demons” in the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures and an Old Testament source for early Christians, frequently quoted by NT writers). From cover to cover, the Bible does not differentiate between sacrifices made to idols and sacrifices made to demons. [See Idol Worship... The Spirits Behind The Idols].
It is the next few verses in Numbers (10-13) that has often been used to justify an existing “Phinehas priesthood”. [Emphasis Added]
And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and it shall be unto him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel. [Numbers 25:10-13]
Note very carefully.. Phinehas’ faithful services secured to his house the succession of the priesthood… In other words Phinehas became High Priest after Aaron. This everlasting priesthood was bestowed only upon Phinehas and his blood descendants, not on anyone who decides they have the “spirit of Phinehas” or performs a "Phinehas act", unless of course they can trace their lineage back to Phinehas.
Psalm 106 also stresses that it is the righteousness of Phinehas that is everlasting.
Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment; And so the plague was stayed. And that was reckoned unto him for righteousness, Unto all generations for evermore. [Psalm 106:30-31]
While it is certain that Phinehas had an extraordinary zeal or passionate intensity for God, what he did that day was probably not quite as spontaneous or personally initiated as people seem to imagine. In fact his actions were not even completely without legal authority.
A careful reading of the account reveals that Phinehas was spurred by a direct order from God to Moses who was the head of the government of the nation. Moses in turn gave a direct order to the judges of Israel… [Emphasis Added]
And Jehovah said unto Moses, Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up unto Jehovah before the sun, that the fierce anger of Jehovah may turn away from Israel. And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that have joined themselves unto Baal-peor. [Numbers 25:4-5]
While there is no way to determine if Moses’ command specifically included Phinehas, since there is no Biblical evidence that Phinehas was a judge. However, on the other hand, the priests often doubled as judges. For example Eli was both the high priest and the 10th judge of Israel, while the priest Samuel was the last judge before Saul became king.
In the final analysis, Phinehas was simply following orders… God’s orders given through Moses, and by doing so seems to have saved the nation.
As an aside, perhaps the reason that God directly targeted the leaders in His instructions to Moses, was because they were openly tolerating the idolatry and immorality of the people. Although both Zimri and the Midianite woman were children of leaders of their respective nations (Numbers 25:14-18], verse 6 tells us that the man (Zimri) brought the Midianite woman “to his brethren”… “in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel”.
In other words, both his family and all of Israel’s leaders watched it happen and did absolutely nothing to deal with it.
However we are not told why it was that Moses appears to have called for action that was less severe than what God commanded. Perhaps it was because he expected God to be merciful.. Remember when the Israelites made and worshipped the golden calf? It was only thanks to Moses’ intercession that God did not wipe out the entire nation and start anew with Moses himself. (Exodus 32).
Jesus and The Woman Caught In Adultery
What is truly a matter of consideration for those that claim to have the “Spirit of Phinehas” is the story of the woman is caught in the act of adultery related in the book of John, chapter 8: 1-11.
In an effort to trap Him, the Pharisees, who have the law on their side, come to Jesus to seek his confirmation that the death penalty should be administered. They were not so much interested in punishing her as they were in putting Jesus on the spot, since they were aware that Jesus was on the side of the unfortunate and that he spent his time, not with the wealthy or the respected, but with those the Pharisees considered publicans and sinners. They obviously expected Jesus to turn the woman loose, by which He would have been contradicting the Law of Moses and they would have him in a very tight spot. Verse 6 says This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.
However Jesus initially seems to ignore them, but when He does answer, His words hold a mirror up to their own consciences… "He who is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone.", which none of them could do. Eventually they slunk off and Jesus and the woman were left alone. Note that He doesn’t ask her if these men were right and she were guilty as charged, but asked her where her accusers were and whether any man had condemned her. When the woman answered that no man had, Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."
The contrast between the very different yet strikingly parallel stories of Phinehas and of the woman caught in adultery by the scheming Pharisees is extremely telling. While Phinehas is highly praised for his zealous preservation of Israel’s holiness, Jesus rejects the violent punishment intended by the adulteress’s judges.
The story of Phinehas has become very handy passage for the Dominionists to hang their hats on, since it can be made to fit in with their agenda and justify their skewed ideas. However Phinehas was no vigilante. He was following orders given directly by God, through Moses.
In those days, it was of crucial importance to preserve the nation of Israel, because it was through them that the Messiah came to the world. God started out with one man.. Abraham, later revealing Himself to the nation as a whole at Sinai saying “I am the Lord your God who took you out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 20:2, Deuteronomy 5:6). He called them be a witness to the one true God in the midst of universal idolatry
Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that Jehovah he is God; there is none else besides him. [Deuteronomy 4:35]
It was the Jews that identified the true prophets and faithfully preserved their words passing them on to future generations. As the Apostle Paul said, “unto them (Israel) were committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2). The nation of Israel was to be the human channel for the Messiah upon whom rests the fate of the entire world.
And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. [Genesis 28:14]
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh come: And unto him shall the obedience of the peoples be. [Genesis 49:10]
And thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David. [2 Samuel 7:16-17]
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but Jehovah will arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And nations shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. [Isaiah 60:1-3]
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. [Matthew 1:1]
And yes, God would have wiped them out and started all over again as He threatened to do when the people who had just been miraculously delivered from Egypt decided to make and worship a golden calf. But, people being what they are, the ‘new nation’ would soon have fallen prey to some other conniving crook or alluring woman.
One way or another, whether it took a Phinehas or an Esther, it was imperative that the nation of Israel be preserved… for all our sakes.
This situation does not exist today.
Section XII: Excuses for Gullibility
(Also Connections to The Word Faith Movement)
Reconstruction and The Word Faith Movement.. both doctrines take the stance that man can manipulate affairs in his present world and thereby shape his own future,. This, borrowed from the world of the occult, is little more than a thinly disguised attempt to take on the role of God.
Discernment... The Forgotten Word.. Common sense should tell us that we have to have some standard by which to judge all thing Spiritual, lest each one go off on their own tangent. The Word of God says it is our plumb line and anything and everything spiritual has to conform to Scripture.
God’s Voice Vs. God’s Word?...Yet Joyner He endeavors to prove that people even in ancient Israel were required to listen ‘to the voice of the Lord’, which apparently was supplementary to what was recorded in Scripture. This is supposed to be Biblical grounds for trusting any and all extra-Biblical revelation that comes along.
The Pharisees…Those that are opposed to the Dominionist Movement are routinely called “Pharisees”, except that two of the main faults of the Pharisees are exactly what the Dominionist leadership is asking us to do.
Foot Note I
Who Were The Midianites?
Midian was one of the sons of Abraham by his wife Keturah, whom he married after Sarah died [Genesis 25:1-2]
Note that Numbers 12:1 …
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman.
…does not say “Ethiopian” but kûshîyth the feminine version of Cushite… a descendant of Cush, or a resident of the land of Cush. Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth and Cush was the eldest son of Ham, brother of Canaan and the father of Nimrod.
The marriage of Moses with a woman descended from Ham was not prohibited, so long as she was not of the stock of Canaan (See Exodus 34:11-16); but it would at any time have been offensive to that intense nationality which characterized the Jews.
Some allege that the several references to Cush in the Old Testament do not refer to Ethiopia, however as I understand it, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) uniformly translated Cush as "Ethiopia."
Certainly, the rhetorical question "Can the Cushite change his skin?" in Jeremiah 13:23 implies people of a markedly different skin color from the Israelites. [PLACE IN TEXT]