Torah Portion: Pinchas B’Midbar (Numbers) 25:10-30:1
HafTorah: I Kings 18:46-19:21
Tonight we read the portion Pinchas, which brings light to the ending of last week’s Torah portion. This section of scripture ranges from the blessing given to Pinchas, to the census of the people, to the request of the daughters who’s father had died with no male heirs, to Moshe praying for the new leader of Israel and ending with the description of the holidays and offerings. Is there anything that ties this all together for us? Maybe it begins and ends with the priesthood and covenant of Shalom given to Pinchas.
First, I want us to look at the prayer of Moshe when he came before G-d to pray for the leader that would follow him. In Numbers 27:15-16 we read where Moshe addresses G-d as, “May HaShem, G-d of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the assembly.” Here he addresses G-d as G-d of the spirits of all flesh. What does this mean? Moshe is saying that G-d sees each person individually and not as a large assembly of people all blended together as one. He sees each one with their own problems, gifts, desires and they are all different. They can’t be painted with the same brush but as G-d sees each one so should the coming leader of Israel and so should we see people. We tend to do and say things based on our own background, teaching or prejudice when we counsel someone or relate to people we come in contact with. This can cause problems. Everyone is not just like me. My experience may not help someone looking for their own way in the world. I found this out raising our two daughters. Our daughters are very different people. The same thing might resonate or be helpful to one and not be helpful to the other. They have different gifts, strengths and weaknesses. I reread the verse Proverbs 22:6 this week that says in English, “Train up a child in the way he should go…” In Hebrew it really says, “Train up a child in his way and when he is old he will not depart from it.” We are all individual and as much as possible we need to keep that in mind when we are trying to guide or impart help to another person. Just because something spoke to us in a certain way doesn’t mean it will speak to the other person the same way. As G-d sees us as individuals, He expects us as His people to do the same. We see Yeshua do this over and over in the New Testament. He spoke to people where each of them were and changed them. When Moshe was praying for the future leader of Israel, this was the first quality he asked G-d for in this man.
Now to Pinchas and the covenant of Shalom. Scripture says he was zealous after G-d. In John 2:15-17 it says the same thing about Yeshua. What can we learn from these two cases? By the way, zeal is mentioned quite often in scripture, Psalms 69:9, Psalms 119:139, I Kings 19:10, Ezra 7:23, Revelations 3:19, Romans 10:2 and Titus 2:14. In some of these verses it is mentioned as a good trait and some not so good. What makes the difference? How are we to have the right kind of zeal? We must be aware of our motives. Are we zealous to sanctify the Name or are we zealous because it is something in our own agenda or our own makeup. Both Yeshua and Pinchas had zeal for G-d, not for themselves.
I want to finish tonight with the connecting thread I see through this portion of scripture which helped me greatly this week understand the sacrifice of Yeshua. Pinchas was promoted to the priesthood and one of his jobs was to do the sacrifices that were brought to the Mishkan or tabernacle each day. These sacrifices were to bring peace and restore any broken relationship between the people and G-d. G-d had instructed that the animal brought would be a substitute for the person. Rather than sacrificing themselves, which in some cases was the practice of the surrounding people, this animal was to be their substitute. G-d’s will was that the person would use an animal as a substitute for themselves. They, by this animal, would give themselves completely to the Father and bring peace between them. Yeshua does this for us. At the moment of our coming to faith He is our sacrifice and we then are expected to live completely for the Father, with all our heart, all our mind, our everything. So our faith is a beautiful picture of this sacrificial system set out in our Torah portion and by which we are called to live each day.