Awesome Hands – Part 133: “The Zeal of Phinehas”

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Awesome Hands, Part 133 - The Zeal of Phinehas

[Study Aired May 13, 2018]

Zeal is something we all want. Whether it is for work, family or service to the Lord, most of us desire to be zealous in and for the things to which we’ve decided to dedicate our precious time.

Oftentimes, it is hard to determine what to dedicate ourselves to, but no matter what decision we make, it is ALL determined to happen the way it happens, by the will of the Lord.

In our study today, we are going to examine some examples of zeal, and how we, too, can truly be zealous for the Lord.

Zeal stays wrath

Our previous study focused on looking at various decisions and situations we are faced with and either blessing or cursing those things in our hearts as we deal with them. For this study, we are going to see what it means to fully be dedicated to God while He is working all things after the counsel of His own will.

The verses for consideration for this “Awesome Hands, Part 133” study are found in Numbers 25.

Numbers 25:1  And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
Numbers 25:2  And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
Numbers 25:3  And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
Numbers 25:4  And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
Numbers 25:5  And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.
Numbers 25:6  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, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Numbers 25:7  And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
Numbers 25:8  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 belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
Numbers 25:9  And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

At first glance, these verses can seem quite gruesome and violent. In truth, they are both of those things because of the seriousness of the situation in which we find the Israelites.
By today’s civilized standards, these acts are brutal. However, by the standards set in the Old Testament, these were expected behaviors as it pertained to obeying the Lord and disobeying Him alike.

In Numbers 25, the Israelites are not too far along in their journeys from Egypt from seeing various miracles by the Lord. They have long been established as the people of God. They have been given victory over various battles. The Lord has been with them and has clearly claimed them as His people.

So, they now represent the Lord in everything they do. When they do something that is not what God would have Him being represented as, He is going to correct those actions like a good parent does with their children.

When we take on the name of Christian today, this is the same for us. We are “like Christ”. So, we need to evaluate what that means. The clearest way to make sure we are being “like Christ” is to follow the biblical example of that, but I will warn you now that when we do this, the world of mankind WITHIN and WITHOUT us will HATE US.

Hate seems like such a strong word, but it is definitively HATE. Make no mistake about it.

Luke 21:17  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.
Luke 21:18  But there shall not an hair of your head perish.
Luke 21:19  In your patience possess ye your souls.

Mark puts it like this:

Mark 13:12  Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
Mark 13:13  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Mark 13:14  But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:

One Gospel tells us that not one hair of your head shall perish, and in our patience we possess our souls, while, the other tells us that betrayal of FAMILY will happen, and we will see the abomination of the desolation standing where “it” ought not to stand. Both of these portrayals surround the concept of being hated of all men, so they are happening at the same time.

Our physical families are being talked about in Mark as well as those who are shown to not be approved within the spiritual family of God.

What are we to take away from that when considering the “zeal of the Lord”? How is it that I am connecting these things? How is being hated of all men for the name of the Lord connected with the zeal of the Lord?

“But there shall not an hair of your head perish” doesn’t seem to jive very well with “and shall cause them to be put to death.” These concepts seem at odds with each other, yet they are reflecting what will happen in our lives as Christians.

The zeal that Phinehas showed was one of jealousy for the Lord. The Lord had just judged the Israelites for joining themselves with Baalpeor, and here strolls in an Israelite that takes a Midianite women into his tent before the eyes of Moses and the whole congregation as that same congregation is weeping before the door of the tabernacle.

This is the ultimate contempt for what the Lord has declared. The Lord has just beheaded a bunch of people, and this man and woman just go about their business as disrespectfully as possible.

So, Phinehas acts, and the Lord responds.

Num 25:10  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 25:11  Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
Num 25:12  Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
Num 25:13  And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

What, then, is being zealous that Phinehas and his seed after him receive everlasting peace? I am not sure about anyone else, but I’d like to have some of this peace of which Phinehas and his seed partake.

This is one of those times the Strong’s definition has gotten things a bit twisted. This Hebrew word H7065 is translated 15 times as jealous or jealousy while zeal and zealous are only used 3 times. Two of those times are here in Numbers 25.

It is clear this word is rooted in jealousy. Looking closer, we see in Numbers 25:11 how I can conclude this.

Num 25:11  Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was H7065 zealous for my H7068 sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my H7068 jealousy.

It clear that this word is equivalent to jealousy. Being zealous for the Lord is being jealous for the Lord over which the things the Lord is jealous.

The root of H7068 is H7065 which is mostly translated as jealous. So, H7068 is jealousy while H7065 is to be jealous.

One is a noun, and one is a verb. We know this to be true because Numbers 25:11 shows us this Truth.

Instead of using the word “sake”, which is the only time H7068 was translated as such, let’s use jealousy to see how the verse changes.

Num 25:11  Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was H7065 zealous for my H7068 jealousy among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my H7068 jealousy.

I am not sure why the translators decided to use “sake” here, but jealousy makes perfect sense since it is the same word used later in the same verse.

Phinehas was jealous for the jealousy of the Lord. He wanted what the Lord wanted and commanded.

We are also exposed to this act in Psalms:

Psa 106:24  Yea, they despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word:
Psa 106:25  But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.
Psa 106:26  Therefore he lifted up his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness:
Psa 106:27  To overthrow their seed also among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands.
Psa 106:28  They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead.
Psa 106:29  Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.
Psa 106:30  Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.
Psa 106:31  And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.

You can pretty much reverse all of these behaviors to know you are doing what the Lord would have you do in good accordance to His will.

“They despised the pleasant land, they believed not his word, they murmured in their hearts, hearkened not to His voice, the joined themselves to another God Baalpeor and provoked God to anger with their inventions” are all things we need to do the opposite of.

We are told about this same zeal of the Lord in the New Testament.

Rom 9:31  But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Rom 9:32  Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
Rom 9:33  As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

Rom 10:1  Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
Rom 10:2  For I bear them record that they have a zealG2205 of God, but NOT ACCORDING TO KNOWLEDGE.
Rom 10:3  For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

2Co 7:10  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
2Co 7:11  For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zealG2205, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
2Co 7:12  Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.

2Co 9:1  For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
2Co 9:2  For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zealG2205 hath provoked very many.

You say, “That is well and good, brother Steven, but what does that mean based on what you are saying in this study? Is this the same zeal spoken of in the old testament verses we read?"

The root of zeal in the New Testament is FERVENT.

Act 18:24  And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
Act 18:25  This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
Act 18:26  And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
Act 18:27  And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
Act 18:28  For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

The other example we have is:

Rom 12:10  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Rom 12:11  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Isn’t this what Phinehas was when he acted upon the Israelite man and woman who acted the way they did in front of all the congregation? Phinehas was fervent in his action for the Lord.

For most people, we look on the act of killing two people while they lay with each other as barbaric, but the Lord counted it as zeal and righteousness for Phinehas. It was the context of the situation that justifies the actions of Phinehas.

The context of our actions matters. Phinehas was not acting the way he did for his own glory. We know this because the context of his actions and the reward for which the Lord awarded him and his seed after him.

In fact, we must be very careful in acting on our OWN GLORY with jealousy and calling it zeal or Godly jealousy.

Here are same examples of the negative application of thinking we have the zeal of God when in fact we can be sinning the whole time.

Act 13:45  But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envyG2205, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

2Co 12:19  Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
2Co 12:20  For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyingsG2205, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:

Rom 13:13  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envyingG2205.

Php 3:4  Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Php 3:5  Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
Php 3:6  Concerning zealG2205, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

We should desire to be fervent or HOT for the Lord. When we are HOT for the Lord, we are seeking his righteousness THROUGH FAITH and fervent PRAYER. Do what you do with purpose!

Rev 3:13  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Rev 3:14  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Rev 3:16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Rev 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Being cold or HOT is all about our mindset on whatever it is we have in our minds.

Being cold, the Lord can still make us HOT. He can still work with us. Being lukewarm is trying to ride the fence of “what is permissible with the Lord” versus what we know, via knowledge of the Word, what we should be doing.

Being hot is where it is at when being zealous with the Lord. We must have the DESIRE to serve the Lord, and then PRAY WITH FAITH that the Lord with give us this zeal to serve Him. IF you are not at this point, be zealous and repent. Turn the opposite way from which you are heading now, and the Lord WILL help you serve Him completely.

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