An Army of Sons and Daughters
Spiritual Descendants of Phinehas
Several families listened to the Album “We Will Not Neglect the House of Our God” and discussed it afterward. Three different people who were there asked me to try to write down what we discussed, so here’s my best effort. This captures the gist of it, I think, though I’m sure I’m forgetting some things. But I’m also filling in some details we missed, so it’s a trade-off. :-) —tc
Discussion after listening to the Album “We Will Not Neglect the House of Our God.”
Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.
The LORD said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”Numbers 25:6-13
Who told Phinehas to do that? Where in the Ten Commandments did it say, “When there is a plague and someone takes a Midianite woman into his tent, get a spear and kill them?” It’s not there. There was no way Phinehas could have known, “This is what you do in this situation.” He wasn’t told to do it, and he didn’t ask anyone’s permission. He just knew it was right because he was zealous for God’s honor.
It’s very easy if you’re a young believer, or not a believer yet, to think that Christianity consists of a list of stuff to do and not do. “Do this, don’t do that.” But that’s not what Christianity is at all. God has always wanted a people who had a relationship with Him. People so close to Him that they care about what He cares about and Love what He Loves. It’s not about following rules. In Romans Chapter 5 and Galatians Chapter 3, Paul makes it very clear that the law was given by God as a temporary measure because our hearts were so hard. We didn’t love Him like we should, we weren’t like Phinehas, so he had to introduce these rules to show us right from wrong, because we were so stubborn and stupid.
But it was NEVER God’s intent that we be controlled by a bunch of regulations. In Jesus, there really are NO RULES as such. None. There is JESUS. That changes everything we do and think, if it’s HIM we are after, only. ALL that He is, not a cheapened version to accommodate our flesh or preferences. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6 that, “All things are permissible to me, though not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible, though I will not be mastered by anything.” What does that mean? It means that the limitations of what I will and won’t do have nothing to do with rules God has given, they have to do with a love affair I have with a Living God that I don’t want to put into jeopardy by selfish choices that don’t reflect His Heart and Mind! I want to be like Him, I want to please Him, I’m zealous for His honor, I’m learning how to think like Him, and I’m not going to blow it by sinning! Sin isn’t breaking a “rule,” it’s breaking that relationship by doing what I want instead of what He wants.
How do we know what He wants? Slaves have to be told what to do. “First, go do this, and then go do that.” But sons KNOW their Father’s mind. So, when in a situation that wasn’t covered by the 10 commandments…that wasn’t covered by the law and never could be even if it was a million pages long and tried to address what to do in every possible situation…Phinehas still knew what to do! He was a Son of God, and he knew God’s heart and mind. He cared about what God cared about and was zealous for His honor. He didn’t have some other agenda. He could be led by God’s Sprit because there wasn’t a bunch of other junky goals and competing loves in his heart. So he knew exactly what to do.
Just because someone doesn’t attend religious services and instead sits in a living room does NOT mean that they are any better off. Why? Because we can fall into the same temptation to add God on the side to all our other goals in life. That won’t work. To be like Phinehas and know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will requires that our whole life be attuned to what He wants. It requires us to be zealous of God’s honor as much as God is zealous for it. Only then can we be led by the Spirit. It doesn’t happen automatically just because you’re hanging around other Christians! It’s a personal choice and commitment you must make in your own heart.
Something interesting can be illustrated by a World War II movie depicting the invasion of D-Day. The German army was VERY regimented and authoritarian (very clergy-laity, if you will). If a German battalion was located in a given area, they couldn’t move to a different area without permission from Adolf Hitler or one of the generals right up there close to him. Even if it was obvious in the course of battle that they needed to relocate or change plans, they were paralyzed until they received different orders.
The allies were quite a bit different. They had freedom to improvise and be creative, even when they didn’t have constant radio contact with headquarters. So on D-Day, one of the lieutenants had the job to take out 4 guns that were pounding the beach where allied soldiers were trying to land. But nothing went as it was supposed to. The commanding officer of his company didn’t survive the parachute drop. Many of his men were already dead. But he understood the objective was to take out those 4 guns, and he had the freedom to be creative. He grabbed some men from a different company. He drew up an incredibly brilliant plan that involved using their 16 men with ZERO battle experience to take on a hardened, elite force of 60 or so Germans who were dug in and better armed. And he was unbelievably successful and destroyed all 4 of those guns.
The lieutenant and the rest of his men didn’t have to be TOLD “Now do this, now do that.” They didn’t fall apart because everything didn’t go the way they wanted it to, the way it was planned. They didn’t just wander around aimlessly wondering what to do. They were one in heart with the goal and they cared deeply about it succeeding, and they were able to think and approach the situation like Eisenhower himself would have, without being told exactly what to do, because they understood the mission and cared about it just as much as he did. They weren’t robots who had to be told what to do. They were zealous for the victory and they did what had to be done, just like Phinehas, as we talked about earlier.
So how do we “not neglect the house of our God?” How do we build his house? It can be overwhelming. “O God, thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” What do we do?
What we need to do is OUR JOB, to the best of our ability. Going back to the lieutenant on D-Day, he couldn’t defeat the entire German army. He couldn’t be everywhere at once. He couldn’t, by himself, do a fraction of one percent of all that needed to be done that day to make the invasion successful. But he could do HIS job. If he just did THAT, hundreds of lives could be saved…the success of D-Day itself might even hinge on whether those 4 guns could be taken out!
(And it turned out those guns were sited to put artillery fire on the full expanse of Utah Beach, where the US 4th Division was coming ashore from landing craft. The Germans had forward observers along the beach to direct the fire. The capture and destruction of those guns was a major factor in the success of the Utah landings and in the almost complete lack of casualties in that Division during its landing).
Do you see how important it is for you to do your job in the Kingdom of God, whatever that is? To be a son of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32)? To CARE and have a ZEAL for God’s Honor? Do you see how God feels about a man or woman who is as zealous for His honor as He is, and how God honors such a person? Re-read Numbers 25:6-13. What a compliment God paid Phinehas!
“Those who honor me I will honor.”1 Samuel 2:30
“Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stopped. And that was accounted to him for righteousness to all generations forevermore.”Psalm 106:30-31
We all have jobs to do for Jesus, and it’s critical that we do them. It may be talking to someone, or helping someone. It may be doing something creative that nobody had to TELL you to do, but you knew it was right because you’re zealous for God’s honor and His Spirit has control of the passions and desires of your heart. You’re a son or daughter of God, you know His mind, and you’re fighting for and with your brothers and sisters, and His Spirit can lead you because you have crucified the false motives and lusts that keep you from knowing His will.
Your job may not be a glamorous one. During D-Day, it was somebody’s job to bring in all the food and ammunition after the beach was already taken. It was somebody’s job to help direct the invasion from England. It was somebody’s job to airlift the supplies in after the danger was over. But those were important jobs, too.
The key is that we must all do OUR job today out of love for Jesus and His Garden, His People, His Purposes, His Word…whatever that is, and care, and take it very seriously. As seriously as Phinehas did. As seriously as Jesus did, and does. That’s how God’s house is going to be built. That’s how the gates of hell are going to be overrun. By an army of Sons and Daughters who are spiritual descendants of Phinehas. And that was accounted—to all with that heart—for righteousness to all generations forevermore.