The Parashah for this week is called Pinhas.
Note: During the three-week period between the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz (commemorating the breaching of the wall of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE) and the Fast of the 9th of Av (commemorating the destruction of the Temple three weeks later), the usual Haftarot (readings from the prophets) are replaced by special “Haftarot of Affliction/Admonition”—calling Israel to sober contemplation of her sin and her deserving of severe judgment—while at the same time calling her to recognize the love of her God which still draws her to repentance and returning to Himself!
THE ZEAL OF THE LORD
*Numbers 25: 11, 13: “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aharon 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…He was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel”.
The Hebrew word Kinah Biblically may be translated either zeal (NKJV) or jealousy (NASB). Holy zeal is a burning passionate jealousy on behalf of something or someone good and deeply loved. Phinehas was zealous for “the honor of his God” (25:11,13 NIV). In a psalm foreshadowing the coming Messiah, David sang of his zeal for God’s House (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17), which consumed him. Zechariah 1:14 records YHVH’s zeal for Jerusalem—and Isaiah 9:6-7 speaks of His zeal for His Son and the establishment of His Righteous Kingdom on Earth.
(Note: But zeal must be based on a knowledge of what is righteous before God (Romans 10:2), otherwise it may be released in indiscriminate human anger which cannot work that righteousness (James 1:20). It is important also to know that kinah may be used for a kind of unholy jealousy ignited by the flesh, in which case it is refers to mere envy—Proverbs 23:17).
PLEASE PRAY: For the awakening believers in Israel of a burning zeal, a holy jealousy for the things of God, based on truth and knowledge (Rom 10:2)—a zeal which will be necessary in turning away God’s wrath so that his people in this later generation are not consumed.
The Voice in the Still Silent Moment
*I Kings 19:11-12: (From the Haftarah usually accompanying Parasha Pinhas—I Kings 18:46—19:21). “And the LORD was not in the wind…the earthquake…the fire; and after the fire a still small voice”. The “still small voice” can also be translated, “A voice—a silence—a moment”. Apprehending this moment, pregnant with the Word of God, is essential for those aflame with zeal. In the cave, Elijah protested that he had been “very zealous” on God’s behalf—yet God had to show him that the roar and shaking and flame accompanying his zeal had not been enough—the intense persecution it had aroused had left Elijah with feelings of alienation, rejection and fear. There must also be the stabilizing presence of the quiet Word within, at the center of the storm. When He yielded to that Word, the Lord was able to release instructions for Him to “return to his way” (vs 15) and proceed onward towards the culmination of his call. In the roar of Israel, it is difficult, yet essential to apprehend and embrace that “still silent moment”. Psalm 4:4 literally says, “Become agitated and do not sin—speak in your hearts on your beds and be still” (same Hebrew word as “still” in the I Kings verse).
PLEASE PRAY THAT WE TAKE THE TIME TO HEAR AND ENTER INTO THESE MOMENTS WHEN THEY COME.
A New Generation—A New Numbering
*Numbers 26:1-2: “And it came to pass, after the plague, that the LORD spoke to Moses and Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying: ‘Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel from twenty years old and above, by their fathers’ houses, all who are able to go to war in Israel.”
*Numbers 26:64-65: “But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest (Numbers 2) when they numbered the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai. For the LORD had said to them, ‘They shall surely die in the wilderness.’ So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.”
With the 24,000 who died in the plague brought on by the seduction of the women of Moab, the older generation which had rebelled forty years before is finally passed. A new numbering of the people must take place—a new accounting in which each knows his/her positioning—but the ‘old’ has been left behind.
*Numbers 27:16: “Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying ‘Let YHVH, the God of Spirits of all Flesh set a man over the congregation…’”
This name for the deity (almost exactly the same as was used in Numbers 16:22, only this time using the personal name YHVH) implies the sovereign knowledge the LORD has of the inner workings of all human beings. It is noteworthy that Moses uses this name in requesting the LORD’s appointment of a new leader—and the Lord responds by referring specifically to the “spirit” within Joshua (27:18).
The Transfer of Mantles
*Numbers 27:18-20: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. And you shall give some of your authority, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient” (NKJV)
I Kings 19:16, 19: “…and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place…Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him”.
It was not enough that Joshua was skilled and experienced after serving over forty years under Moses’ leadership. Something more was necessary; something beyond Moses’ own natural abilities, something supernatural bespeaking the high authority of Heaven had affected the rebellious people in such a way that they had continued to follow and respect Moses’ leadership in the desert for 40 years.
This particular “authority” of which he was commanded to pass some on to Joshua is Hebrew hod –“a grandeur or majesty related to royalty” (“splendor” in Psalm 45:3 NASB). This sovereign enabling for leadership, which would influence the congregation to listen to and obey his word. was passed on here by the laying on of hands and the public releasing of God’s charge (“inaugurating”) into Joshua.
In the usual Haftarah reading for this Parasha, after Elijah threw his mantle on Elisha, the younger prophet immediately arose and “ran after” him.
PLEASE PRAY: For leaders in the Body in Israel to “hear” and be obedient in passing on their mantles to faithful ones upon whom God will release favour in the generation rising up behind.
A Reminder of Appointed Times and Seasons
*Numbers 28:2: “Command the Children of Israel, and say to them, ‘My offering, My food for My offerings made by fire as a sweet aroma to Me, you shall be careful to offer to Me at their appointed time.”
Timing is an important aspect of our worship. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 speaks of times and seasons, and of the necessity of timing in the manifesting of the beauty God desires to bring forth in His creation. Here in Chapters 28-29 are presented anew for the next generation the “appointed times” of the LORD (along with the sacrifices to be made during each): Daily (morning and evening), Weekly (Sabbaths), Monthly (Rosh Chodesh—Head of the Month), Springtime: Pesach (Passover), Matzot (Unleavened Bread), Shavuot (Weeks, Pentecost), Fall: Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot (Feast of Booths/Tabernacles, with instructions for each of the eight days). All these times of the LORD (with their relevant offerings) are here laid out afresh before His army, before moving forward into their new Land.
– Your Friends in Jerusalem