Bamidbar (Numbers) 25:10–30:1
Can God’s wrath be reversed? It’s an important question that this week’s Scripture portion addresses. The first verses of the portion specifically caught my attention:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel, in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the sons of Israel.”
In order for us to fully understand the story here, we need to revisit the end of our reading from last week:
While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor.”
Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. And those who died by the plague were 24,000.
As we can see from the verses above Pinchas was zealous for the LORD! The fact that he was jealous for that which the LORD is jealous, and that he did not tolerate the sins of Israel, but acted to stop them from continuing, granted him a covenant of peace and redeemed Israel from their sin. This is powerful!
There is so much that we can learn from the richness of the passages above. I would like to highlight four main principles. The first is that we can clearly see God’s unending love and faithfulness demonstrated here. In spite of the fact that (once again) the Children of Israel turned their backs on God and sinned against Him, He remained faithful to them. This is something that ought to bring us great comfort and assurance; His love and grace are endless!
The second thing I want to highlight is the LORD’s jealousy. God’s love for us and His desire for us to live a life honorable to Him is tremendous. His desire for us to live in such a way is not just for His glory, but is also for our benefit, as He knows what is good for us and wants to bless us through His principles.
The third principle is that His Will will be accomplished! In fact, the Scriptures tell us that the accomplishment of His will is directly connected to His jealousy. In Isaiah 9:7, it is written,
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.
Some translations say that the “zeal” of the Lord will accomplish it, but the Hebrew word here is more accurately translated as “jealousy”. God’s Will will be done; He is jealous for the truth of His Word! We can accept it and have peace, or reject it and be at war with it.
The fourth principle of our portion points us to Messiah. There is a direct connection between the words in the books of Numbers and Isaiah. In Numbers, the words “Covenant of Peace” refer to a great hope that would be in Israel’s future (Isaiah 54:10, Ezekiel 34:25, and 37:26). Likewise in Isaiah, the words “government of peace” refer to a government or kingdom that would start at a specific time when Messiah would establish His reign. To this specific government there will be no end; it will be an everlasting peace that will be initiated through a covenant offered by the Prince of Peace. It will be available for anyone who would accept His atonement for the forgiveness of sin.
My dear brothers and sisters, I am amazed again and again by the faithfulness of our LORD and the consistency of His Word! Let this encourage you in your walk with Him today.
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