Pinchas: Standing for Righteousness
Given By: "Glenn D Blank" On Friday, June 28, 2013

 

In my parsha, I read about HaShem commending Pinchas (aka Phinehas) for turning away HaShem’s

wrath from the children of Israel. if you’d like to follow along, please turn to Numbers 25.

Pinchas took a stand for the righteousness of HaShem, against rampant immorality in the camp of Israel.

In case anyone doesn’t remember the whole story, let me review the context, from Numbers 25.

The children of Israel fell into sins of sexual immorality and idolatry with the daughters of Moab,

whooping it up with ritual prostitutes and offering sacrifices to their fertility god, the Baal of Peor.

Their gross sin incited God’s jealous anger and a plague killing thousands in the camp of Israel.

To stop the judgment of the plague, HaShem told Moshe to execute the leaders who were involved.

But Bamidbar (Numbers) 25:6, “Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his kinsmen

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.”

Oy vey! This fellow flagrantly defied HaShem by bringing another ritual prostitute into the camp,

tempting his kinsmen to join him—right where Moshe and the whole community could see him!

At the moment, Moshe was weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, presumably in intercession.

Would you agree that somebody needed to take a stand for righteousness? So Bamidbar (Numbers) 25:7

records,  “Pinchas pursued the man from Israel right into the inner part of the tent, where he thrust his

spear through both of them -the man from Israel and the woman through her belly.”

How about that? Well, the man and his prostitute were pretty brazen and maybe they had it coming.

Nevertheless, the Rabbis of Talmud were uncomfortable with Pinchas, concerned about a dangerous

precedent—taking the law into his own hands and slaying a man impulsively, in disregard of the law.

Some even argued that Moses would have excommunicated Pinchas—had it not been for the divine

decree declaring that Pinchas had acted on God’s behalf and bestowing on him a covenant of shalom.

So no, usually it would not be correct to grab a sword and go thrusting in through sinners! Got it?

On the other hand, there comes a time when one must take a stand for righteousness. V’eemru?

As Beit Simcha’s bylaw’s state, we agree that “the Holy Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God, “suitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). 

That’s a position that may increasingly put us at odds with the prevailing winds of our culture.

This very week the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which was enacted with overwhelming support by the Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. That was 1996.

Now it’s 2013. The Supreme Court has put its collective finger out to the breeze and determined that

the wind has changed. As a Jewish folk singer once crooned, “The times, they are a changin’.”

Jewish folk-singing is an ancient tradition, Ted… especially about God’s standards of justice. 

What was then a reasonable and righteous stand for traditional values is now discrimination.

What should be done? Well, as Yeshua told Peter when he cut off the ear of a soldier,

I urge you to put away any swords … though you may want to take up your pens & keyboards.

For the moment, marriage is still between a man and a woman in Pennsylvania and 37 states.

            If you believe it should stay that way, you might want to make sure your state legislators know.

Messianci Rabbis on the IAMCS forum are discussing whether we may need to review our bylaws

to make it clear that we do have standards about whom we can marry in good conscience. Hmm….

 

Let me also say that judgment, and hence righteous standards, begin with the household of God.

In my household, I’ve often had to take a stand for righteousness with my children and others who live

            at 3131 Chew Street. We don’t always get it right the first time, I’m glad that the Blanks

and Wikkerinks agree with God’s standards. V’eemru?

As Joshua said the nation of Israel (24:15), “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.””

Judgment and righteousness must start with our households. How are you doing in your households?

 

On occasion, as your humble leader, I’ve had to confront members of our congregation about

our standards. It doesn’t happen every month, but maybe once a year or so, somebody I love strays.

The truth is, gay marriage isn’t the main problem—flagrant rejection of God’s word is.

Yet even within the congregation, people have rationalized sin—including sexual immorality.

So, after some prayer and backing up from our zakenim, I endeavored to speak the truth in love.

In Matthew 18:15, Yeshua instructs his community, ““If your brother sins against you, go and show him

his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”

Thanks be to God, it usually works! Over the years, I’ve confronted a number of our members,

            and they have admitted that God’s ways are best and made an effort to straighten out their own.

            Many of them are here today. Baruch Hashem! Our community is stronger for it.

I’m not saying it always works—occasionally people really want to hang onto their own ways. Alas!

That’s why Yeshua went on to further instructions in Matthew 18:16ff.

It requires much patience and prayer.

Given the way the world is, not to mention fallen human nature, it’s amazing that it works at all.

It works, when members of Beit Simcha are convinced that the Scriptures truly are the authoritative Word of God “suitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”

V’eemru?

It also works because the Lord has taught me over the year that usually it’s best to withhold the sword,

 and instead, first pray, then listen, and then speak the truth in love.

Let’s recall what Yeshua said when they caught to the women in adultery.

In John 8:7, ““Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.””

And in John 8:11, “Neither do I condemn you; go. Go now, and sin no more.”

Let’s follow the example of our Master… standing for both His righteousness and His mercy.

            V’eemru?