by Gerard Hoet & Pieter Sluiter
TO CHEW ON: "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
Phinehas is a minor Old Testament character to whom our psalm writer pays a major tribute. Let's delve into his life a bit.
This Phinehas (there is another in the Bible—the son of Eli, who was evil) was the noble grandson of Aaron (Exodus 6:25).
The deed that he did and which was "accounted to him for righteousness" was—well, grisly. The people of Israel, camping near the Midianites during the exodus, had fallen prey to their idol worship. It happened through Israelite-Midianite coupling. God spoke to Moses about rooting out this evil and Moses gathered the leaders and people in front of the tabernacle. Even as the assembled people were weeping there, an Israeli man (the son of a leader) traipsed past the crowd with a Midianite woman (the daughter of a Midianite chieftain) on his arm.
Phinehas saw it, took Moses' message to heart, and went into action (Numbers 25:7-8; read the whole story: Numbers 25:1-17). That act of zealousness for God's holiness stopped the plague of punishment from advancing and earned him the tribute ("accounted to him for righteousness") which only one other Bible character received. The same thing is said of only Abraham (Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:1-3, 9-19, 19-24, Galatians 3:5-7).
Phinehas was born into a family of leaders. But he proved to be a true leader by doing the difficult job of standing up for God's holiness and actually rooting out that evil. As such he became a stander-in-the-breach between God and the people—a type of Christ.
Leadership remains a difficult job. It is definitely not a place for people-pleasers. If we are leaders, we can learn a lot from the principled and fearless leadership of Phinehas.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me, wherever I lead, to seek Your approval and not the approval of people. Amen.
MORE: More about Phinehas
- After the above event, Phinehas led the people into battle against the Midianites with unusual weapons: "...the holy articles and the signal trumpets in his hand" - Numbers 31:6. How telling: spiritual weapons for a spiritual battle.
- Later, his leadership in breaching a potential rift between Reuben, Gad, Manassah and the rest of the Israelites averted a potential civil war. Read that story in Joshua 22:1-34.
- It was he who inquired and heard from the Lord as to whether to continue the war against the treacherous tribe of Benjamin. Read that story in Judges 20:1-48.
- He was a direct descendant of Levi, the son of Israel - 1 Chronicles 6:1-4.
- He was from a family of singers and worshipers whose descendants were still serving in that way at the time of David - 1 Chronicles 6:1-4, 31-33.
- He was also in charge of the gatekeepers of the tabernacle. In that capacity the Bible says of him "...the Lord was with him" - 1 Chronicles 9:19-20.
- Ezra was his descendant - Ezra 7:5.