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Time for a Phinehas to appear?

All scriptures are NKJV unless noted otherwise. 

Whose belief or action was said to be so strong that it was accounted to him for righteousness? If you instinctively answered, “Abraham, of course” (Genesis 15:6), you’d be correct -- but not complete. 

That statement was also made of a strong young leader in Israel of Moses’ day who stood up for the right, took decisive action, and stopped a plague continuing from God. 

Psalms 106:28-31 

“They joined themselves also to Baal of Peor, 

And ate sacrifices made to the dead. 

Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, 

And the plague broke out among them. 

30 Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, 

And the plague was stopped

31 And that was accounted to him for righteousness 

To all generations forevermore.” 

One of the priests at the coming third temple we believe will be built in Jerusalem in our lifetime, will be a descendant of Phinehas, due to the action of Phinehas that really moved God. When Phinehas acted, God was in the middle of exacting a plague in which 24,000 Israelites died. Phinehas’ action stopped the plague and saved thousands of more lives. 

In times of crisis in the Church – the Body of Christ today – do we have a modern-day Phinehas willing to stand up, take action and speak up for what’s right? I pray we do. YOU and I may be called upon to be a Phinehas at some point, maybe sooner than you think. Let’s read the story in Numbers 25. 

In the Exodus wilderness wanderings, Israel had been seduced into religious sex by Moabite and Midianite women. Israel started worshiping their pagan gods and committing harlotry with the foreign women. God was furious. Many of those involved were hanged. This takes us through the first five verses of Numbers 25. Now verse 6. What a Simeonite leader did was so “in-your-face” that even Moses seemed stunned. But here’s where our hero Phinehas gets involved. 

Numbers 25:6:15 

And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 

7 Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand; 

8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel. 

9 And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand. 

10 Then YHVH spoke to Moses, saying: 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron 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. 12 Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.'" 

14 Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father's house among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father's house in Midian.” 

Phinehas “was zealous for his God” and stood up against a LEADER of a tribe who was leading in a sin. Verse 11 quotes GOD himself saying Phinehas’ action may have stopped God from wiping out most of Israel in God’s zeal. 

The sin wasn’t just adultery – but was rebellion against God’s laws, against Moses as their leader, and that rebel – Zimri by name – was intent on doing what he felt he wanted to do. 

Numbers 25:6 says he did this in the sight of all the brethren. This was a taunt, an “In your face’ moment. He basically dared the brethren. “Nobody can stop me from doing what I want to do” – as he blatantly paraded the Midianite woman for all to see – right into his tent. 

Phinehas didn’t worry if what he was about to do was polite or not. He didn’t ask for any permission to go into the man’s private tent or “knocked on the door” first.] No, he grabbed a javelin and thrust it through both their bodies right in the midst of their act of sexual sin. 

A bit extreme? GOD didn’t think so. God commended him. I think it’s very possible that most of Israel would have been killed by God had Phinehas not stepped in. As it was – 24,000 died from God’s plague. 

YOU may be called upon to take decisive action and lead the way back to God in various times and places. 

Critical point: to be an effective Phinehas, know your God really well. Know his Word, His scriptures. Be studying and meditating on them night and day. Pray for courage and decisiveness – but also pray for wisdom so you do the right thing at the right time in the right way. Know when to do it boldly in front of everybody – and when to do it privately with just the one or two involved. But either way, don’t just sit back and do nothing. And remember there was a plague going on when Phinehas stood up. Twenty-four thousand had already died. He had no time to waste in that case. 

There are crises happening in the world and in the church right now. If you see a problem in the church, speak up. Do something. Say something. Talk to the ministers. Talk to others who need to hear you speak up. Voice your concerns. Take action. Realize you yourself may not have all the facts straight, so be sure of your facts before your Phinehas moment. But the couple’s actions in Numbers 25 were for all to see, done in the “sight of all the congregation.” 

If someone is openly causing division and slandering other pastors or sowing discord in your church body, speak up. It’s not a time to quietly sit back and do nothing. Remember that the name “Devil” means “Slanderer”. A slanderer has literally become a “devil” himself. Paul said “there must be no divisions among you” – 1 Cor. 1:10-11. Tell the divider – no, he’s not welcome to speak to your group. And be willing to tell him he needs to repent and seek God’s mercy. Be a Phinehas to him. 

If there’s drunkenness at church parties, speak up. If there’s womanizing going on or even just inappropriate comments, looks and flirting, speak up. In many cases you should speak privately first. Not every situation is a “grab your javelin and do a Phinehas” occasion. SO wisdom is also required. 

Older ladies, if there’s rampant immodesty (1 Tim. 2:9-10) at church services or anywhere our church ladies are, speak up. You older women, first set the right example – then speak and teach the younger women as Titus 2:3-5 clearly says. We all have a role to play in our church services and among the brethren, but that’s for another day, another topic. But today I’m talking about taking decisive action when it’s called for. 

Titus 2:3-5 

the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed”. 

I believe our church members are much too placid in times when leadership and action are required. 

Take a few minutes to ponder if you would have done what Phinehas did – if you could be transported in a time machine to that moment in time. Ponder further to consider times coming in the future when we might have to stand up for what’s right and speak up, or say something. I’ll write a blog or have a sermon before long, with God’s help and blessing, on when we should stand up and speak up – and when we it might be best to remain quiet. Too many of God’s people, though, are real good at the “remain quiet” kind of inaction – and never seem to be a real Phinehas. 

How about being willing to be a Phinehas when the circumstances and time are right? Be a zealous man or woman of action when the time warrants it. Be a Phinehas. 

The Humble Centurion
Who is “Messiah”?

Comments 1

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Ondigo Ochieng on Monday, 22 January 2024 15:01
Time for a Phinehas to appear

This is a crucial time for Phinehas to really appear. There are a lot going on that need someone with the courage like Phinehas to stand up and rebuke what is happening in the Church. I am grateful Philip for sharing this amazing and timely message to all who are reading this blog.
Ondigo Ochieng-Kenya.

This is a crucial time for Phinehas to really appear. There are a lot going on that need someone with the courage like Phinehas to stand up and rebuke what is happening in the Church. I am grateful Philip for sharing this amazing and timely message to all who are reading this blog. Ondigo Ochieng-Kenya.