Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah#41 (Pinchas) B’Midbar 15:10-30:1
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 18:46-19:21
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:1-30
Let’s begin with a story that relates to our perception of peace. I previously shared this, but believe it to be more applicable as the end times progress:
G-d promised Pinchas a “covenant of shalom.” The prophet Isaiah said that one day there will be universal peace, when “the lamb will lie down with the lion” (Isaiah 11:16).
One beautiful Sunday, Peter decided to go to the local zoo with his wife and children. As he neared the lion’s cage, he was astonished to see a lamb lying peacefully with a lion beside her. “That’s wonderful,” he cried. “Finally, Isaiah’s prophecy is realized.” Peter ran to the zookeeper. “My congratulations! You have finally made everyone see that peace is at hand. But tell me, how do you make the lion lay down with the lamb?”
“It’s no problem,” replied the zookeeper. “Every morning, I simply put another lamb in the lion’s cage!”
The moral of this story is that sometimes we might think we have peace about us, but until Messiah’s return this kind of peace is only an illusion. This is the type of peace Israel will experience during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. Still, we must continue to do everything we can to usher in G-d’s peace in the world.
This week’s parashah is a continuation of the previous in that we are discussing Pinchas. Why is there a break from one parashah to another? The sages say this is to show us that in matters of divine zeal, one should not expect immediate reward. Recall that The Children of Israel began whoring with the Moabite women, started making sacrifices to their gods, and were bowing down to them. An Israelite brought a Midianite woman to his family’s tent and this was more than Pinchas could stand. He impaled them both with a single thrust of his spear and the plague instituted by Adonai against the people suddenly stopped. 24,000 people were killed by the plague. IN his zeal for Adonai, Pinchas “atoned” for the people, deflecting G-d’s anger (Num. 25:10). G-d makes a covenant of Shalom with Pinchas who is one of Aharon’s sons, promising that he and his descendants will retain the office of Cohen forever (Num. 25:12-13). This action may cause us to ask why Pinchas was not guilty of murder according to the sixth commandment. First, we must understand what it means to be a Cohen or Priest. Secondly, we should understand that true believers are Priests according to 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation (nation) a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Finally, we should ask ourselves, what is the function and nature of a priest, since we are now a royal priesthood?
Aharon was chosen as the first Cohen because he “loved and pursued peace” according to the Pirkay Avot 1:12 (Sayings of the Fathers). He devoted his life to the ideal of peace. Never considering it beneath his dignity to foster love and understanding. He pursued peace between man and man, and in his role as the Cohen Gadol (High Priest), he continued his role in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) between man and YHVH. Aharon came to symbolize the ideal Cohen, the man of YHVH Elohim who strived for the welfare of others with no though of personal gain. This example typifies Yahshua, who as the perfect High Priest was obedient unto death that we might be saved.
Within the human realm, Pinchas put his own life at risk when he rushed into Zimri’s tent because there was a plague ravaging the nation. YHVH commends Pinchas for atoning for the Israelites. Pinchas acted to bring about peace between man and YHVH just like a Cohen Gadol who din the Mishkan. His desire to create shalom (the whole peace of G-d) between man and G-d demonstrated his worthiness of the enormous responsibility of fostering peace and understanding within the nation. The etymology of Pinchas is mixed. From the Egyptian it translates as “Nubian, or negro.” From the Hebrew it translates as “mouth of a snake,” “oracle,” or “to be complete.” Whatever the true meaning, G-d made it clear that Pinchas was not a murderer as accused by the people. Rather, he committed an act that saved countless lives.
To show the magnitude of Pinchas’ deed, the name of the Israelite man and the Midianite woman are provided. (Num. 25:14-15). Zimri was the leader of his tribe and the woman was the daughter of a prince. Her status illustrates the Midianite hatred for the Israelites. Even her father, a prince, readily abandon his daughter to harlotry in order to seduce Israel.
Aharon’s overriding quality was his selfless desire to create shalom between man and man. YHVH on the other hand, selected Pinchas, for preserving the connection between YHVH and man. Both qualities demonstrate a love for the people. Because of this, YHVH gave to Pinchas “his pledge of peace” and appointed hem and all his descendants as Cohanim in Israel. Accordingly, we who are the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9) should develop the same kind of love toward YHVH and for every other believer. Note that loving your brother, neighbor, and “loving” your enemies are two very different types of love. I invite you to explore this subject for your continued learning (Hint: start with defining brother, neighbor, and enemy according to the biblical definition).
Haftarah: M’lakhin Alef (1 Kings) 18:46-19:21
I elaborated on how we may prepare for disasters and hard times in general this year because of the increased interest expressed by many who communicated with me either via the Internet or in personal conversations. I hope you find this additional information helpful.
Pinchas is acknowledged as the first zealot if Israel. In this Haftarah, we learn that this quality still exists within B’nai Yisra’el and is one of the characteristics of a great prophet. As Eliyahu (Elijah) 19:10, 14 reads: I have indeed been very zealous for Adonai, the G-d of armies: because the people of Israel have abandoned your covenant, broken down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword.” Elijah echoed the same sentiment and motivation for his zealous act as did Phineas.
This raises another very important point: We are to be zealous for the L-rd, but with knowledge and wisdom; not out of a rebellious, anti-Torah attitude! Sh’aul addresses this very issue in Romans 10:2 “Brothers, (he is speaking to the Messianic community in Rome) my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to G-d for Israel is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for G-d. But it is not based on correct understanding; for, since they are unaware of G-d’s way of making people righteous as instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to G-d’s way of making people righteous.” Similarly, we must remember that it is not by might nor power, but by my Sprit says the L-rd (Zech. 4:6). This is to say that the answer for what is happening in our country today is not hoarding weapons, ammunition, and planning rebellion. We are to pray, fast when we are led, study, internalize, and live Torah. Yahshua spent much time teaching his talmidim (disciples) then and us now how to prepare for what is to come. That is ALL we need. Let us not confuse zealous acts by men such as Elijah and Pinchas with many of the current movements spearheaded by those who know nothing of G-d and his Torah. There is nothing wrong with keeping an “emergency” container that may include medications, non-perishable foods, water, pet supplies and the like that will last for a few days, but this action is something that behooves everyone for any type of emergency. Our priority should be our spiritual connection to G-d. Yahshua puts this into perspective in many of His teachings, but on scripture that comes to mind is 6: 25-31 speaking about our lives in general. Matth.6:25-31 reads “Therefore, I tell you, don’t worry about your life- what you will eat or drink; or about your body- what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds flying about! They neither plant nor harvest, nor do they gather food in their barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they are? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to his life? And why be anxious about clothing? Think about the fields of wild irises, and how they grow. They neither work nor spin thread, yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed as beautifully as one of these. If this is how G-d clothes the grass in the field- which is here today and gone tomorrow, thrown in the oven- won’t He much more clothe you? What little trust you have! So don’t be anxious, asking ‘What will we eat.’ What will we drink?’ or ‘How will we be clothed?’ For it is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need the all. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Don’t worry about tomorrow- tomorrow will worry about itself! Today has enough troubles already!
With that being said, that G-d has provided us ample warning of hard times ahead AND an example of how we may prepare through the story of Joseph. The ultimate goal in all of this is to glorify G-d. If we are prepared spiritually and physically, we may be able to shine our light and glorify G-d through whatever may befall us. When a person takes steps to implement Biblical financial commands and principals, that goal ought to be tied to being a good steward of God’s resources, providing for family, and serving God’s people. Two, practical steps like these are worth implementing outside of an economic catastrophe. They’re simply ways to apply, and learn from, the Scriptures. Let’s look to the story of Joseph found in Genesis 41:55-56.
Even before the time of Joseph, Egypt was a thriving nation, abounding with commerce, trade, livestock, grain, and land. In the first famine recorded in Scripture, Abraham left his country and travelled to Egypt to flee the effects of the famine in his homeland. Throughout the generations of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Egypt was a prosperous nation. However, similar to what our country will face in the near future, Egypt suffered an “economic meltdown”, that threatened the nation and the world (Gen 41:55-56). Indeed, seven years of famine came upon Egypt, Canaan, and the entire earth. Amazingly, Egypt was actually blessed by G-d in this instance because G-d had ordained that Joseph would be directly involved in Egypt’s affairs in order that He (G-d) may be glorified before the nation and world. G-d used Joseph to interpret the dreams that Pharaoh had, and then, by divine revelation Joseph knew that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
How did Joseph react? He was proactive; he prepared. He didn’t hoard, he didn’t seclude himself and his family in a fortress; he prepared proactively. He immediately proposed a savings plan to Pharaoh that went like this:
“Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of those years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine.” (Gen 41:33-36)
Throughout the years of plenty the Egyptians stored up enough grain in reserve for the years of famine that followed. Their surplus was so significant that people “from all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain” (Gen 41:57). You could imagine the premium on food in a time of worldwide famine. By the time the famine ended, Pharaoh had accrued the money, livestock, and land of all the people in Egypt, with the exception of the priests. The people were delivered, yet, everything they owned became the property of Pharaoh and Egypt became a world super power. Deliverance from the famine had come; G-d had glorified Himself through His servant Joseph; Egypt became a world super-power; and the children of Israel moved into the land of Goshen where they would abundantly multiply and soon find themselves in Egyptian bondage, thus, paving the way for the God to raise up Moses as a deliverer. It is interesting, that even when the Israelites were in Egypt proper, G-d still kept them separate by placing them in the land of Goshen, where the pastures were green and plenty, and water readily available. The Israelites were in the world but were not of the world. So what are the take-home lessons from this narrative? I found the following information on another site that I find to be very appropriate to this week’s teaching and well organized. I am thankful that we can share credible knowledge with each other for HaShem’s glory. I made some modifications to clarify some of the points.
1. Saving in times of plenty is wise preparation for times of famine. G-d saved the lives of many people (the just and unjust) through the process of saving grain and food in the seven years of plenty. Famines come in many forms including food, monetary, and spiritual. A Biblical principle is to save during the time there is not a famine or shortage or disaster, so when they occur, we are better prepared to honor G-d with our resources, provide for our families, and extend help to others. This concept is taught within Deut. 6:4-11.
2. Joseph had a plan and a goal as it related to his savings. Joseph had a good idea of what it was going to take to be prepared for the famine that was coming and he implemented a plan to get ready. You and I may not know what tomorrow holds, but we can have an idea of what kind of resources we would need on hand, or in the bank, to be a blessing to others in the case of an emergency. Even outside of emergency planning, such a principle could be part of how a person stewards their money to the glory of G-d. The command to tithe is a good place to start as we prepare our hearts spiritually by keeping G-d first in everything we do. This kind of person doesn’t have self at the center of the savings plan. They trust that G-d will provide for their needs. Their hope is not in their checking account or savings account. Yet, they come up with a plan for their savings because they want to be in a position to bless others and demonstrate G-d’s worth by how they use their finances.
3. Being prepared for the famine didn’t happen overnight. It took Joseph seven years to help Pharaoh prepare for the “economic crisis” that came. It didn’t happen overnight. Getting your financial house in order may not happen in one month or one year or five years; the idea is to plod steadily. By G-d’s grace, commit to start saving, giving, paying down debt, and leveraging your finances for the glory of G-d. You may not be where you want to be overnight, but you can begin honoring G-d with your finances today. Remember, G-d shared with us the parable of the servants in Matt. 25:14. Where do you fit in this parable? This parable relates to the time after the abomination of desolation. The man who who received five talents went out and invested them immediately and earned another five. The one given two talents earned another two. “But the one given one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.” This man represents those who hoard what they perceive as “my money” and invests nothing for the Master.
The master returns. He recognizes the first servant as good and trustworthy and put him in charge of a large amount. The one who had received two was also found to be good and faithful. But the one who hoarded the master’s money had his taken away and gave it to the one who had invested the most. “ For everyone who has something will be given more, so that they will have more than enough; but from anyone who has nothing, even what he does have will be taken away. As for the worthless servant, throw him out in the dark, where people will wail and grind their teeth!” This needs no additional explanation.
4. Look at what happened to the people under Joseph’s rule. Because the majority of people were dramatically under prepared for the crisis that came they lost pretty much all they owned. The government of Egypt dramatically grew because it was prepared and the people were in a position where they needed to sell all they had throughout those seven years to stay alive. They must have been relieved they had the tangible assets to trade (money, livestock, and land); nonetheless, in retrospect anything they saved on the front end (the seven years of plenty) would have saved them much on the back end (the seven years of famine). Also, there must have been as there will be in the future, those who will hold to what they perceive as “my possessions” to their own destruction.
5. Joseph sold the grain back to the people; he didn’t just give it to them. This is a simple but profound principle worth noting. Joseph didn’t give the people something for nothing. He opened the storehouses of Egypt and both the Egyptians and people from all countries were able to come and buy grain (Gen 41:56-57). Then, when the famine was still severe, and after Joseph gathered up all the money that was to be found in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan into Pharaoh’s house (Gen 47:13-14), he exchange bread for livestock (vs.16). The following year the people returned and, having no food and livestock, they sold themselves and their land to Pharaoh in exchange for food (vs.2-23). Joseph did not treat the people as though they were on a welfare system. There was clearly help to be had, and Joseph extended help to the people by giving them land to use whereby they could keep 80% of what was grown on it; but nonetheless, the people worked and exchanged in order to receive.
6. Joseph benevolently instituted a plan through which the people that had sold their land could still use the land to provide for their families provided they paid Pharaoh a 20% tax on what they produced. Although Joseph had bought the land of the people for Pharaoh, he allowed the people to use the land to produce food for themselves and their families. Still, keeping with the principles of 4 and 5, the people had to give 20% of their produce to the Egyptian government. They didn’t get to use the land that was no longer theirs at without expense; and, if they were better prepared for the famine that came, they might have been able to retain some, if not all, of their land.
7. We must acknowledge that G-d is the sole provider. If G-d had not intervened in this situation no one would have been prepared. G-d gave Pharaoh his dreams and G-d gave Joseph the interpretation of those dreams. Throughout these events G-d’s providence and benevolence were on display. As the story of Joseph came to a close, his father Jacob died and his brothers wondered if now Joseph was going to pay them back for the evil they had done to him.
Joseph’s brothers came before him, fell down before his face, and said, “Behold we are your servants” (Gen 50:18). They preemptively sought the mercy of Joseph hoping he would spare their lives and not exact vengeance upon them. But Joseph responded, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of G-d? But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” (vs.19-20) Despite the treachery of Joseph’s brothers, G-d’s purposes were being accomplished; Joseph rose to prominence in Egypt and many people would be saved alive (vs.20).
B’rit Chadashah: Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:1-30
In this chapter Yahshua speaks to his talmidim (disciples) about his coming execution and Pesach (Passover, Ex. 12:1-13:16) two days hence. The central event of the original Passover was the slaughtering of a lam “without blemish or spot” by each Israelite family, whereupon YHVH spared the firstborn sons of Israel but slew the firstborn of Egypt. When Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptist) speaks of Yahshua as the “lamb of YHVH (John 1:29), he is invoking the imagery of the Temple and Pesach. In the B’rit Chadashah this event is called the “Last Supper,” and is so rendered in most English translations and understood to mean a Passover meal or Seder by most scholars. There is a controversy that this “Last Supper” was not Pesach, but without getting into the controversy surrounding when and what this last meal was, this event (vv.17-30) is rich with Pesach themes that provide deeper levels of meaning for the believer. Below is a list of prophecies implied from verse 24 relating to the death of the Messiah in the Tanakh and their fulfillment in the B’rit Chadashah; once again demonstrating that the Old and “New” Testaments are inextricably related.
* Unfortunately, the table does not transfer to the website in a readable form. I apologize for this inconvenience. If you are interested in this information and are not a member of the local congregation, please send me a note and I will provide it in a separate e-mail.
R. Tamah Davis