sermon preached on 2 July 2010
How many of you are sick and tired of the blatant disregard for Yahweh in the world around us today? We see everything other than Yahweh being worshiped today, even within the body of Messiah! And what are we doing about it? In the light of the world that we live in, and the desperate need for us to walk consistently in our loving obedience to the commands of Yahweh, there is a call to those who truly fear Yahweh and are zealous for Him and His honour, to rise up and take a stand for the Truth! Tonight I want us to look at another great hero of the faith, one of those great heroes recorded of in Scripture. Some may not have heard of him, but after tonight you will never forget him! We are going to look at the account of Phineas, from Numbers 25 in a message called, “It is time to rise up and take a stand”.
Firstly though, to give you a little background before we read the text – the Israelites, as we know, had in entering the Wilderness, no longer trusted in Yahweh’s power, provision or promises, and in a sense felt that any victory that lay ahead depended entirely upon their own abilities; which after analysing themselves against their enemies they determined that they were no match for the people in the Promised Land and so rebelled against Yahweh in refusing to take the land, which got them 40 years sentence in the wilderness as a result. They had simply, very quickly, forgotten what Yahweh had done and so looking forward they saw no hope. This is so true for us today – if we forget what Yahweh has done for us we can so easily fall into the trap of trying to battle on in our own strength and quickly find ourselves at a weakened place of defeat. It is good for us to remember what Yahweh has done for us, for it strengthens our faith and hope for the secure promises that lie ahead for us in Yahshua Messiah. That ‘forgetful’ generation had died off and a new generation had grown up, and here in Numbers 25 we find the Israelites nearing the end of this 40 year journey. They were in fact completing their last year of their wilderness wanderings and were camped next to the Jordan River at Shittim. They would have known that they were in there last year for Yahweh had told them that they would be in the Wilderness for 40 years for their disobedience – 1 year for every day they spied out the land and brought back a bad report. It was from this very place that Joshua would lead them across the Jordan into the Promised Land and destroy Jericho and the surrounding nations. I want you to picture this for a moment as we look back in time – The journey in the Wilderness is nearly over – the land of Promise is just across the river which they can see – they were on the ‘home stretch’ so to speak. The Wilderness years were certainly not easy – over 1 million adults that had left Egypt were now dead. Moses’ brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam were now dead, and Moses didn’t have much longer to go, for he also knew that he would not go across as Yahweh told him after he hit the rock instead of speaking to it for water at Meribah. The years in the Wilderness were years of hardship and grumbling, plagues and battles - a result of their own disobedience I might add – yet through it all Yahweh was with them and He provided for them (food and water for over 2 million people for 40 years in the dessert!!!). Israel was now about to ‘cross over’ into the Promised Land – about to embrace the victory of the Promises of Yahweh. If you were to enter this camp site at this time, knowing all this, you kind of think that you would find great excitement, expectation and enthusiasm; people rejoicing, dancing, singing, giving thanks and worshipping before Yahweh of Hosts. Well that is what you would expect to see, yet here we find and discover that this great scene of thankfulness that we thought would be there is not at all what was going on…turn with me to Numbers 25:1-15 (read).
This passage we read is part of last weeks and this weeks Torah reading, and today I want us to look at this man Phineas – Yahweh’s faithful servant and soldier – a man who truly loved Yahweh and hated sin!
2 John: 6 'And this is the love, that we walk according to His commands. This is the command, that you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it.'
Phineas loved Yahweh and as we see from this account, he was a man that walked in Yahweh’s commands. As we look at this heroic moment in his life, let us be encouraged to follow his example, amen!
Well, what is really going on here – it certainly isn’t worship and celebration unto Yahweh, what was happening that angered Yahweh so much? The Israelites began to whore with the daughters of Moab, they sacrificed to their ‘gods’ through their sexual acts of sin, they ate and drank with them and so were ‘joined’ to Ba’al Peor. What does that mean? What is Ba’al Peor? What is Ba’al worship?
Ba’al Peor was a Moabite ‘god’, which service included sexually immoral acts. The name Ba’al means husband, land owner and its general meaning and term as used in pagan idolatry and worship is ‘lord’, which may be a little shocking to you if you have never realised this – the term lord is an inherited term from pagan worship used for thousands of years. Peor was the name of a mountain in Moab. This name comes from the word ‘pa’ar’ which is a verb meaning ‘open wide’ and so in essence Ba’al Peor can be accurately rendered as ‘lord of the opening’ or the ‘lord that opens wide’. We know that Yahshua says that wide is the way that leads to destruction and many find it!!! The occurrences of this verb ‘pa’ar’, to ‘open wide’, indicate adjunction with the strong passion or feeling, usually not very positive and described the wide opening of the mouth, hence alluding to other body cavities! Hosea remarks on the Ba’al Peor event (Hosea 9:10) and it is clear that the Israelites defiled themselves with abundant fornication and sexual perversion as the Ba’al worship rites were celebrated by the grossest obscenity. So here we can translate that being joined to Ba’al Peor meant being led on the wide path of destruction. We are to be the joined body of Messiah – joined to Messiah Yahshua – being led in His narrow way!
In essence Ba’al worship is giving free reign to the carnal nature, which is the flesh, and is expressed in gluttony, drunkenness and sexual acts. This form of pagan worship comes from ancient Babylon as the worship of Nimrod was started by Semiramis, known as the Queen of heaven or Ishtar, today known as ‘Easter’ – who was the pagan goddess of fertility and mother of Tammuz, the worshipped son of Ba’al who would be reborn every year on December 25th. You see celebrating these pagan festivals, under the misguided lie of worship unto Yahshua, is in fact a way people today are engaging in Ba’al worship!!!
Back to Numbers, Balaq couldn’t get Bil‘am to curse the Israelites and so the only way they knew they could infiltrate them and possibly beat them was to seduce them with the women of Moab, enticing them to worship Ba’al – the very thing that Yahweh had commanded the Israelites not to do. As we look at our generation today, we can clearly see Ba’al worship going on, right before our very eyes – the question is how do we respond to what we see? Let us learn from the heroic acts of Phineas – the faithful and obedient servant of the Most high.
1 – WE LIKE PHINEAS MUST WITHSTAND THE ‘PULL’ OF SIN
Ever since the Israelites had left Mitsrayim (Egypt), her enemy was in hot pursuit. Pharaoh’s army immediately pursued them and drowned. Right through Numbers we can read of the direct attacks that came upon Israel from their enemies. Arad, kind of the Canaanites, Sihon the Amorite king and Og the king of Bashan to name a few who employed large armies to engage in battle against Israel. Balaq king of Moab employed a corrupt prophet to curse Israel, which he couldn’t do, and so we see how Israel encountered many direct attacks; but by the grace of Elohim all Israel’s enemies were defeated and the curses spoken against them were turned into blessings. However the enemy as we know does not give up that easy and employed a new strategy which was very cunning and shrewd. Let me remind you the enemy, the devil, is devious and sly. The plan now was to seemingly be nice to Yahweh’s people – invite them to parties, weaken them with fleshly indulgences and then seduce them with their women and so have them worship their god, Ba’al, through sexually immoral acts with the enemy. What the mighty armies and the hired prophet were unable to do, the Israelites did themselves by giving in to their own lusts. They had been in the Wilderness for nearly 40 years! Now they get invited to feasts, all you can eat buffets – I am sure there was pig on the menu too! Wine, beer, all the alcohol you could want, and of course the beautiful women. The enemy had attacked with direct assaults at first, which is also true in our case today. From the time we received the free gift of Salvation by grace through faith and accepted Yahshua Messiah as Master and Sovereign over our lives, our enemy, Satan, has been in hot pursuit with the goal of turning us back to Mitsrayim (Egypt) – back to the bondage and shackles of sin! He will not give up at this either. He will change his strategy to a more cunning and crafty approach – as he tries to lure us by appealing to ones desires of the flesh. As James puts it – we should never say that we are enticed or tempted by Elohim, but that each one is enticed when he is drawn away by his own desires and trapped, and when the desire is conceived it gives birth to sin, which when accomplished brings forth death (James 1:13-15).
The enemy wants to kill you, and he will do it slowly, sucking you dry – using any tactic to do so – luring you by the desires of the flesh. I must remind you that the enemy knows where our weak spots are and we would do well to know too and so guard ourselves in those areas. Weak spots are often areas where you have been defeated before or areas where you have not yet been victorious in – he will hit you in your weak spots – he doesn’t play fair. Perhaps we may find we have a kink in our armour when it comes to things such as: pride, lust, envy, bitterness, rage, compromise of the truth, jealousy, greed, hate, selfishness, slander or deceit to name a few. He will entice you with your weakness and attempt to get you to fall into the deadly trap of sin, and try to get you to turn away from Yahweh, turning back to sin and in effect worship Ba’al as you satisfy the desires of the flesh!
Now Phineas was there too, when all this was going on – he also faced the same enticing from the beautiful women, to the food and wine and other pleasures of the flesh – perhaps even massages, hot steam baths etc; yet he withstood and did not allow himself to be defeated by them. We too must withstand the pull of sin – and let me tell you, sin is constantly at the door trying to pull one away from pure worship unto Yahweh. The crowds may say come on and you may be the only one who says no – so what – be the only one and do not give in and be pulled because others have! Don’t be pulled away from pure and total obedience unto Yahweh, not even for a second, not for that little moment and say – “Oh but I will worship next time, I just got to do this, I have been invited…” Don’t fall prey to the pulling into sin, even when it doesn’t look like sin, yet it pulls you away from obedience! Draw near to Yahweh in ardent worship. Many friends and family may be indulging in what the world calls the ‘good life’ and make you think and feel that serving Yahweh is ‘boring’ and ‘legalistic’ – they will engage in wild parties, drinking, drugs, loose living – and they are enticing you to go along for the fun of it – do not be pulled in but stand firm in your faith! Let me remind you that serving and living for Yahweh is far from ‘boring’ and ‘legalistic’, in fact it is the greatest fun and joy filled life you can have – because when you love somebody – living to please them is certainly not boring and is ‘neve’ legalistic!!! People who say that obeying the commands of Elohim is just legalistic living obviously do not love Elohim and do not understand what loving Him entails!!!
2 – WE LIKE PHINEAS MUST WEIGH THE PRICE OF INDIFFERENCE
What does that mean? Well we must weigh up what the cost of not caring enough! Where were the leaders in this when these gross acts of sin were taking place? Some were most probably joining in for we know that Zimri, son of the tribal leader of the Simeonites, was involved. But what about the other leaders, why didn’t any of them attempt to stop what was going on? Instead, those who were not involved must have just watched and kept silent, thinking it is not their business. It seems as if they did not care enough to act otherwise they would have. We must remember that the sin of one affected the whole camp – we saw that after the victory of Jericho when Achan sinned and caused Israel to be defeated by Ai. So keeping quiet while you know what is going on is also sin! For some of these leaders it obviously was not important enough for them to take a stand against the evil in the camp, it wasn’t important enough to take a risk in speaking the truth. The majority were indifferent to the sin that was all around them – they were not doing it so why so why get involved? Well we know that this sin certainly did not go unnoticed – in fact a high price was paid for this indifference. Yahweh commanded Moses to take all the leaders and hang them before Yahweh in the sun – at the heat of the day – in front of all to see. To hang them in the text can also mean to ‘impale’ them – this would be a warning for all to see the price for sin and indifference. And right through the camp thousands were dying of a plague and Moses and some of the people were weeping at the door of the Tent of Meeting,
What about indifference of Yahweh’s people today? What do you think Sha’ul (Paul) and Kepha (Peter) would say if they were around today? If they saw what was on television or listened to the chart topping music of today accompanied by suggestive videos which are all symbolic if Ba’al and Asherah worship – just see any of the latest video’s of Beyonce, Rihanna, or Lady Gaga (or rather don’t watch them…!!!) – it is Ba’al worship period! What would they say about the movies that people are racing to see – “Oh but the graphics are great” yes and so is the deception! What about magazines, newspapers, billboards? What would they say if they visited an abortion clinic, or even go and sit in some church meetings where men get to vote to change the Word of Elohim? What do you think would be raging through their minds? Perhaps it would be something like, “Where are all the Believers, where are the appointed leaders, pastors, teachers, prophets, evangelists? Where are all the messengers of the Good News? Don’t they even care what is going on around them as the world and so many churches are paying homage to false gods and calling it worship unto Yahweh – it is an abomination!” For far too long too many believers have been indifferent to what is really going on right around them – and let me tell you it is closer to home than you think!!!
Most today are too afraid of ‘stepping on toes’ because we must love and accept each other! Yes love, but do not accept sin, that is true love!!! When we can walk in love and show a brother his fault when he sins and vice versa. Some may say, “Who am I to tell others they are doing something wrong?” That is indifference, and we are not to be indifferent about the sin in the lives of those we care about and know in the body. We are ambassadors of Messiah – and we must speak out! As we look at our world today, we can certainly see the price of indifference:
• A baby is killed in the womb at least every 20 seconds
• Prayer and the Word of Elohim has been removed from most institutions and establishments, having been replaced by humanism, condoms and safe sex education.
• False doctrines are being preached from pulpits – what is false teaching? That which promotes lawlessness! That which teaches you do not have to follow Torah! Yahshua didn’t abolish the Law and the Prophets, but many doctrines have! And thousands are following these lies because it tickles their ears – they can ‘live loose’ and say they are ‘saved’ and can do whatever they want because ‘Jesus’ loves them! That is arrogance and rebellion against Yahshua Messiah who has shown us they Way.
• Scripturally immoral values and lifestyles are being sanctioned as acceptable – by the modern church, tolerating Jezebel! Listen, it was Jezebel who brought Ba’al worship back into Israel and she has done it again – Ba’al worship is running rampant in the ‘body’ today and it is time to rise up and stop being indifferent.
• A godless world without hope is continually being sucked into the worldly scum of sex, drugs, violence, greed and hate!
And today many believers sit by indifferent to what is going on!
Well the pull of sin that tried to wrap its evil fingers around Phineas didn’t succeed for he withstood, he overcame! And then when he, with fire in his heart and tears in his eyes, saw the peoples consequences of their sin and that people were dying around him, and saw that the Name of Yahweh was being trampled upon and mocked, Phineas weighed the price of indifference and saw that it was too great to remain silent and not act. As a faithful soldier of Elohim Most High he rose to the occasion and picked up his spear and took action as he:
3 – WALKED THE PATH OF ZEAL
Phineas was ardent for the righteous standards of Yahweh. Ardent means, “being characterised by warmth of feeling typically expressed in eager zealous support or activity”. This is an active doing word! It also means, “Fiery, hot, shining or glowing.” Here was a man ‘on fire’ for Yahweh – a man that could not sit any longer and simply not take notice of what was going on within the community of Yahweh. When he saw all the sexual immorality going on, all the drunkenness, all the orgies and debauchery, all the sins of the flesh – he was angered and then the arrogance of Zimri to simply just walk into the camp past the eyes of Moses and the whole congregation with a Midianite women and go into his tent. It is thought by some that Zimri and Kozbi were married as she was the daughter of a leader from Moab and Zimri was the son of the leader of the tribe of the Simoenites. Even if this were so – this was forbidden – no marriages to foreigners were allowed and no Moabite was permitted in the assembly of Israel. As you may remember, that the Moabites were a result if the incestuous relationship of Lot and his daughter. What Zimri did was an abomination in the eyes of Yahweh. Phineas’ anger and zeal for the honour of Yahweh reached its boiling point and so he took a spear and followed them into the tent and catching them in the act of sexual sin drove the spear right through them both into the ground. Now listen, this was some act – it was not just a little jab or stab at the sin – this was a forceful act that went through two bodies and into the ground!!! Immediately the plague stopped, by then 24,000 had died and so this brave ardent act made atonement for Israel. Yahweh then honours Phineas and makes a covenant of peace with him and an everlasting covenant of priesthood for him and his family. I love this for this is another picture of the work of Yahshua, who has made atonement by dying for our sins and has become our high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
Phineas was ardent, had zeal for Yahweh. The Word for ardent or zeal in the Hebrew is ‘qa-na’, which means, ‘to burn with zeal for a person or a thing’ and also means, ‘the intense love and emotion that involves a high level of commitment.’
How zealous are you for Yahweh? How intense is your love for Yahweh – do you obey Him and heed and obey His very Word? How committed are you? Phineas had a concern for the honour of Yahweh and this commitment moved him to rid the Israelite camp of sin in order to restore and maintain the holiness of Yahweh’s people.
This is a great example of ardent love for Yahweh. This guy had passion for Yahweh like none other, his zeal was ‘as the zeal of Yahweh’, and so should ours be too! Phineas was not going to simply sit by and shut up when others were too afraid to take a stand. Phineas stood up, not for himself, but for Yahweh! As we see in this account – the path of zeal for Yahweh’s honour is not easy, it requires everything of you and is often a lonely path – yet we who claim to live in Yahshua must walk this very zealous path that he walked and declare the truth.
I also believe that Phineas was well trained and skilled in the use of weaponry and could with precision use the spear – which he did with a very sharp spear. This speaks to me about our being trained and skilled in the Word. We must become skilled in the very Word that is sharper than a doubled edged sword and being ardent to use it for the honour of Yahweh. Let me tell you, when you take a stand and with precision use the Word that cuts – you will not necessarily be popular, so do not expect any applause – expect mockery, slander, course laughter, and bitterness. But know this – your reward is not with men – it is with Yahweh – He will applaud you and reward you for defending His honour. Wouldn’t it be something to hear the Father say, “You are as zealous as I am for My honour!”
Yahweh is waiting for his chosen to arise and have the courage to love Him and hate sin. Obedience to his very Living Word is the highest expression of our love for Him. I am asking you today, “Will you arise and burn with zeal for Yahweh’s honour and be bold and courageous to declare His Truth as you see sin around you, as you see Ba’al worship going on in the lives of believers?” Will you take up a stand for His Torah – to live it, declare it and teach it, as you zealously expose the lies of the enemy and draw people back unto true worship? May we not sit by at the false teachings and watered down doctrines!
Will you, in your own life kill and put to death the misdeeds of the flesh and help others to as well? This is an ‘Elijah message’ tonight – why do I say that? What is the Elijah message? It is a call to forsake the worship of Ba’al and return to the commandments of Yahweh. On the physical level the Elijah message denounces sexual sin and all lusts of the flesh and on the spiritual level it denounces the observance of pagan festivals – such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween to name a few. The majority will continue to worship Ba’al (whether they realise it or not), yet there will be many ‘overcomers’, many like Phineas – true believers who keep the commandments of Yahweh and put their faith in Yahshua Messiah. Endeavour to be amongst the few – amongst the remnant as you walk the path of zeal! It is time to rise up and take a stand and live, eat, hear and do the Truth! Do not let sin pull you away; do not be afraid to rise up and take a stand – walk in zeal for Yahweh. Come on there is people out there dying – what are you going to do – be zealous for Yahweh – rise up and take a stand!
Isaiah 60: 1-2 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, the esteem of Yahweh has risen upon you. For look, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness the peoples. But Yahweh arises over you and His esteem is upon you.”
As you may know ‘light’ in the Hebrew also carries with it the meaning of ‘knowledge’ and ‘darkness’ means ‘ignorance’. You see darkness/ignorance is over the earth, yet ‘thick darkness/ignorance’ is over many people. But you, you have the light, the light and knowledge of Messiah Yahshua – His honour is upon you – will you arise and stand up and defend the honour of Yahweh and take a stand for the Truth!!!