“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. 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; 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.”
Numbers 25:6-8 NKJV
“Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?” Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them.”
I Samuel 2:22-25 NKJV
Two tales of Phinehas
As I have studied through the Bible, I have regularly encountered little nuggets that have given me pause to wonder if the Lord is communicating meaning. I think of Saul, the first king of Israel, who started out glorious, but over time, had taken his eyes off the Lord and focused more on himself. He had been given a glorious potential, but in the end he is stripped of his reign and killed.
I think of Saul of Tarsus, who began as a Pharisee commissioned to erase the church of Jesus Christ from the face of the earth. He went about his mission with great zeal until one day Stephen, a disciple of Jesus, presented one of the greatest sermons in the Bible, a sermon I believe was meant for only one man, Saul who guarded the clothes of Stephen’s killers.
“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.””
Acts 9:1-6 NKJV
That Saul, who later became Paul, went on to glorify the Lord and serve as the preparer if the saints, and one we must lean on in these later days.
Reading this morning in I Samuel chapter two, I encountered the accounting of Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli. These were priest in the line of Aaron who performed their duties at the temple. They did not honor God in the work they had been commissioned to do, and their reputations were infamous throughout the territory.
Through their ministry they did not represent the holiness of God, thus casting a shadow of sinfulness on the faith. They served in the days long after the death of Joshua and they were ones who did what was right in their own eyes.
The name of Phinehas sparks strong memories in me, as I think back to the moment when the children of Israel had begun to intermingle with the women of Moab and became caught up in sexual sin. The Lord had brought a plague upon them for their disobedience. Even as the people were grieving over their sins, one had the audacity to take a Moabite woman to his tent for intercourse.
In his zeal for the Lord, Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron, rushed into the tent with a spear, and pierce the couple in mid coitus, thus putting and end to the sin and ending the plague.
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “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. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; 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.’ ””
Numbers 25:10-13 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, all too many of us have become like Phinehas, son of Eli, having a holy calling of God upon us, but not recognizing the glory of that calling. There are many among us who have been called to a royal priesthood, ordained by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
I Peter 2:9-10 NKJV
Many have taken this glorious calling, and made it an occasion for fornication with the world, living by its values, eschewing what is holy, in the hope of great gain. In recent months, I have seen very well known pastors, leaders of exceeding large congregations, become overtly worldly, tossing aside the prescriptions of the Scriptures, seeking interpretations that fit comfortably in the world.
They have become like the son of Eli, grieving the Lord in their unbelief.
We are called to be like Phinehas, having a great zeal for the Lord. Because of Jesus, those who have called upon the Lord for salvation and and been born again in the Spirit, have an eternal calling and ultimately will rule and reign with Jesus in the millennium to come.
I tell you the truth, to stand as a Phinehas, son of Eleazar, in these days is to be mocked and rejected, for the world has great reward for the one who surrenders to the masses, but rejection and cancelation for those who dare stand for the Word of God.
Let us be Samuels, one born in the spirit of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, called to serve the Lord with great zeal. Each of us has a calling, to go and tell, to go and represent the Lord Jesus Christ in this sick and dying world.
Like Samuel, we will call have that moment of calling. May we be like him, and answer. “Here am I.”
Let us also be mindful that the devil is lurking about, casting temptations our way, seeking to draw us into his snare. But we must be own guard.
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
I Peter 2:11-12 NKJV
The time is short my people, and soon very soon, judgement will begin in the household of God. The Lord did not spare Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, and many who call themselves Christians will be revealed as the tares they really are. Let us be found to be genuine.
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One thought on “Two tales of Phinehas”
Yes, and amen! This is one of my greatest desires, is to be genuine and honest. I’m being challenged in this area right now by a friend. Will you please pray brother? Thanks so much for this challenging blog.
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