Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? (Psalm 94:16)
Numbers 25:7, Phinehas…took a javelin. Phinehas, the priest, rose up against evil—in this case, sexual immorality—and took a stand for righteousness, and YHVH commended him for it. Who are the Phinehases of today?
In standing against sin, Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron the high priest, was not acting as a self-appointed vigilante as it may appear. Rather, YHVH had given the priests, of which Phinehas was one, the authority to act as judges in Israel and to pronounce sentence in criminal matters (Deut 17:9–11). Additionally, Phinehas was doubly justified in his action against the fornicators, since he was an eyewitness of these sexual crimes, and the Torah teaches that the hand of the eyewitness was to be the first to rise up in executing judgment against the criminals (Deut 17:6; Ezek 44:24). So as an eyewitness and as a priest, he was legally justified in his actions. The priests and Levites were to act as Israel’s legal experts (Lev 10:10–11; Deut 24:8; 33:10; 2 Chron 17:9; 30:22; Neh 8:2, 8; Hag 2:11; Ezek 44:23; Mal 2:7) and to make determinations between the holy and the profane (Ezek 22:26; 44:23).
Who are YHVH’s priest on the earth today? According to Peter, and John the saints are those priests (1 Pet 2:7; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). As such, the saints presently possess the divinely mandated legal authority to fulfill the responsibilities of the priesthood of old when it comes to teaching the laws of Elohim to the nations in which they live (Lev 10:10–11). Moreover, Yeshua, our Great High Priest, has tasked his disciples with the responsibility and authority to judge righteously (i.e. to make judgments according to YHVH’s standards of righteousness, John 7:24), and to be spiritual fruit inspectors (Matt 7:15–20). Today, this responsibility is primarily exercised within the congregation of the righteous (1 Cor 5:12; 6:1–6). However, besides this, the righteous saints are to act as spiritual salt in this world and to be like a spiritual light on a hill for the world to see (Matt 5:13–16). This means that they are to preach the gospel to the world, to make disciples and to teach those around them all that Yeshua has commanded them (Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–16). This means that the saints have heaven’s authority and commission to act as the spiritual and moral compass and conscience for the nations in which they live. This means that they will be standing against evil wherever and however they can as directed by the Spirit of Elohim, even as Phinehas did.
It is time that the righteous servants of YHVH Elohim begin to stand up in a more vocal and demonstrative way against the evil that is being foisted upon our society by those who are bent upon destroying the family, morality, and any vestiges of biblical standards of righteousness that may still exist around us. In Psalm 94:16, YHVH asks the question of his servants, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” With this in mind, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: If not me, who; if not now, when? If you have something worth living for, then do you have something worth giving your life for? If those who are caught up in demonically inspired religious systems are willing to die for their faith calling it “a holy war” and “martyrdom for their [demon] god,” can the saints of YHVH at least not take a verbal stand against the tide of evil that is sweeping our society?
The Bible is full of examples of YHVH’s servants standing against unrighteousness in their day and their receiving YHVH’s blessing for it. Several examples include the Hebrew midwives disobeying the edict of Pharaoh to commit infanticide (Exod 1:15–22), Phinehas executing judgment against the fornicators (Num 25:7–8), the three Hebrew children refusing to worship the golden image (Dan 3:8–18), Daniel violating the king’s edicts by praying to YHVH (Dan 6:10–12), John the Baptist criticizing Herod for his adultery (Mark 6:18), Yeshua turning over the money changers’ tables in the temple (Matt 21:12), and Peter and John for disobeying the Jewish leaders’ command to not preach the gospel (Acts 4:18–20). Many more examples could be given. Remember all the biblical prophets?
Numbers 25:11, Has turned back my wrath…because he was zealous. Read Psalm 94:16. What are some other examples of righteous men and women in the Bible who stood up against evil in their day whom YHVH praised for doing so? Did Phinehas rise up against evil in his own carnally-minded, emotionally-based zeal? If not, then whose zeal was he full of? (Read verse 11 again.) When we take a stand against evil as led by the Word and Spirit of the YHVH Elohim, can it ever be wrong to do so, even though the world may not agree with us and may even criticize or persecute us for doing so? Not only that, Phinehas placed his life on the line between the righteous judgment of Elohim and those who were sinning. Many times, the servants of YHVH actually have to leave their comfort zones and place themselves in harm’s way on the ragged edge between good and evil to take a stand for YHVH Elohim. (Note Aaron’s actions in Num 16:46–50.) The examples of such actions from the pages of the Scriptures are too numerous to list. Some notable examples include:
- Noah preaching righteousness against the utterly corrupt generation of his day.
- David versus Goliath (1 Sam 17)
- Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:20ff)
- John the Baptist confronting King Herod (Matt 14)
- Yeshua confronting the religious leaders of his day on numerous occasions (e.g. Matt 23)
- Peter and John versus the Jewish leaders (Acts 4)
- Stephen confronting the Jewish leaders (Acts 7)
- Paul and Silas preaching against false religion in Philippi (Acts 16) and preaching the gospel on the streets in Thessolonica (Acts 17), in Corinth (Acts 18) and again in Ephesus (Acts 19)
At times, YHVH tried to find such a person who would stand for his truth, but was unable to do so (see Jer 5:1; Ezek 22:30).
Numbers 25:11, In my jealousy.YHVH is a jealous Elohim. The word jealous is the Hebrew word qanna/TBBE(Strong’s H7067) meaning “to envy, be jealous, be envious, be zealous.” The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash states, “Jealousy is a person’s reaction when he finds that another is taking something that is rightly his. [Elohim] is jealous when Jews serve idols, because they transfer their allegiance from Him to something else.” p. 876). Torah expresses this same idea elsewhere:
You shall not bow down yourself to [idols], nor serve them, for I YHVH thy Elohim am a jealous El, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. (Exod 20:5)
For you shall worship no other god, for YHVH, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous El. (Exod 34:14)
For YHVH your Elohim is a consuming fire, even a jealous El. (Deut 4:24)
You shalt not bow down yourself unto them, nor serve them, for I YHVH your Elohim am a jealous El, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. (Deut 5:9)
For YHVH your Elohim is a jealous El among you lest the anger of YHVH your Elohim be kindled against you, and destroy you from off the face of the earth. (Deut 6:15)
Why is YHVH jealous over his people? Could the answer perhaps lie in why a husband is jealous over his wife? Does YHVH view us in the same way? Read Ezekiel 16, which describes his espousal and marriage to his wife, Israel, and her subsequent adultery. The next time you are tempted to commit the sin of idolatry, which the Bible likens to spiritual adultery (i.e. the placing of anything in your life—e.g. money, entertainment, hobbies, sensual pleasures, food, television, family and friends, career—higher than your devotion, service and obedience to YHVH), it might be well to remember that YHVH is jealous. Perhaps this will act as a deterrence your sinning.
But there’s more to jealousy. Jealousy is more than reacting when someone tries to something of yours that doesn’t belong to them, or when someone you care about begins to move away from you emotionally and toward someone else. Jealousy is a defensive reaction where one person moves into protective mode for another person they love or care about very deeply, especially if the other person is beginning to go down a path that will be harmful to them. YHVH Elohim loves his people so much that when they begin to turn away from him, his jealous reaction isn’t just one out of mere self-preservation or self-interest, but out of loving concern for his people and the harm that will come to them when they turn away from him.
Numbers 25:17, Harass … and smite them. Midian is symbolic of the immoral pleasures of the society that surrounds the people of YHVH and that will subvert and overtake the righteous if left unchecked. YHVH commanded Israel to constantly harass and attack the Midianites for their subversion of Israel sexually.
The best defense is a strong offense.
As The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash points out, harassing the Midianites was to be an on-going state of mind (p. 877). Likewise, fighting the sin that would attempt to gain entrance into our lives must be a constant state of mind. YHVH commanded Israel to harass the Midianites and then to smite them. When sin arises, because our offensive and defensive positions against sin are secure, we will be ready to smite the sin that dogs us.
What are you (especially you men) doing to combat the sexual enticements of the surrounding wicked and perverse generation? What do you watch on television or view on the internet? Do you listen to sexually suggestive or downright immoral music? Are your conversations with your friends and coworkers always clean and pure? Do you allow your eyes ever to see anything that is sexually explicit? Do you vigorously and aggressively confront it for the evil that it is and take a stand against it both in your heart and mind and do so openly? As YHVH commanded Israel to view Midian as the enemy because of their lust for immoral pleasure, so we must despise the world around us as our enemy in this regard for its debauchery and idolatry. (Read 1 Cor 10:3–5.) In reality, we need to come to hate and despise sin at all times (as does YHVH) rather than to toy with it. (See Pss 45:7; 97:10; 101:3; 119:104 ; Prov 8:13; Amos 5:15; Rom 12:9 cp. Ps 34:4; Heb 1:9.)
Numbers 25:17, Harass…attack.With regard to our enemies who are bent on destroying us spiritually, we must not only be in a constant state of readiness to defend ourselves from them, but we must harass them as well; that is, maintain an offensive posture against them.
Maintaining a strategy of offense against sin and those who would seduce us into sinning keeps on in a stronger position physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually than merely maintaining a defense position.
In YHVH’s eyes, it wasn’t sufficient for the Israelites merely to kill those who had sinned, but also to continue attacking those who had provoked them to sin. Sin (especially sexual sin) is so alluring, that one is better able to resist temptation by actively rather than passively fighting against it. For example, if a man struggles with lust and pornography, it is an excellent defensive measure to shut off the computer, but it is even better for him to stand in front of an adult video store and to preach repentance and righteousness to those going into that store!
Seduced you. The Jewish sages teach that Balaam and Midian co-conspired at engineering the demise of Israel through sensual enticements. Make no mistake about it, sex is a very powerful motivating force in the affairs of humans—especially for men. Some will do anything (including adultery and murder—remember David with Bathsheba) for a few moments of sensual gratification. Are there forces afoot in our society today attempting to corrupt the morally pure by drawing them into unrighteousness and degradation sexually? What are the means by which this is occurring? Discuss the tide of immoral raunchiness and filth that continually assaults us and what the saints can do to keep from getting sucked into its cesspool.