Torah Portion: Phineas

Numbers 25-30, II Timothy 1-4

This one can bother people.

A man ran after two sinners and killed them. He and his offspring were blessed for it. What?

What made this right? What’s the difference between holy zeal, and personal vengeance against people who don’t fall in line – when the person avenging is obviously a fallen sinner just like everyone else?

In a different context with a different heart, the exact same act would have been murder, and Pinehas would have gotten the death penalty himself. No blessing for him and bad repercussions for his posterity.

Our children deal with this confusion sometimes. Touching certain objects, taking charge of certain tasks, and saying certain things, aren’t always the right things to do, depending on the context. Even if the parents are as consistent as humanly possible in their rules, jerking their siblings’ hand away from toys isn’t the same as jerking the same hand in the same manner away from a closing door. They have to learn to hear the parents’ instructions in the moment.

Adults deal with this seemingly grey area, as well. Withdrawing from gossip or unhealthy conversation may be the way to honor YHWH, or it may be a cover to rationalize spiteful, self-righteous behavior towards others. Which is it? When is the same behavior right or wrong?

Back to Pinehas… no, we need to go back further.

King Balack was afraid of Yisrael, and hired Bilam to curse them to ensure his victory. It didn’t work. YHWH had blessed them, and curses could not come against them. The Enemy tried another way. If Yisrael could not be cursed by others, they could be persuaded to curse themselves. They whored physically and spiritually, inviting the corruption of the flesh they were supposed to keep set apart, and dabbling in idolatry, turning back on the covenant they made with YHWH.

Covenants were more than contracts. You couldn’t call it off. When one party betrayed a covenant, it was death. Both parties walked between divided animals or over a threshold running with blood to signify the severity of their agreement. (The Passover blood on the door lintel made sense.) In Israel’s case, though, YHWH took on the whole responsibility. When he made the covenant with Abraham, he put Abraham into a deep sleep, and only His Own presence passed between the pieces. Abraham bears some consequences, but YHWH bears the ultimate price.

So when Yisrael had reestablished this covenant and then cheated on The LORD, the nation was not completely wiped out. His grace pardoned anyone willing to cleave to Him again. He took on the responsibility. Eventually, He would come down to pay the ultimate price on behalf of anyone willing to join this covenant.

The camp was still holy, though, and holiness consumes the evil in its presence. Plague broke out and thousands were dying. In Numbers 25:4&5, He declared the penalty to put an end to the evil threatening to ruin Yisrael beyond recovery. If they failed to survive now, the promise to Abraham would be broken and there wouldn’t be the bloodline promised to produce the Messiah.

Even in the face of this destruction, Zimri flaunted his sexual immorality in the face of his brothers as they were dying. He was part of the cause of their demise and had no heart to stop. He hated his true God and his brothers. Cozbi was just as heartless.

Phineas saw all of this, knew what YHWH commanded of him, and obeyed. Because of his zeal, the plague ended, and no more was added to the 24,000 death toll.


The lesson I see this year is that as much as you familiarize yourself with the Word, the rules, the principles, or the theology, obedience to Yahweh at every step is dependent upon listening to His voice in that moment. We can’t figure Him out; he is infinite. Like any wise teacher, He only tells us what we need to understand as we need it. We get our daily bread, not a winter’s supply for us to try to ration ourselves. Obeying by spirit alone can lead us astray. Obeying by truth alone makes us our own gods. We must obey both in Spirit and in Truth.

Read the Word. Learn all you can. Yet as you live out today, listen to our Heavenly Father closely, because He understands the context in ways His children have yet to grasp. Trust Him!

You Won’t Get it Right

Doing everything right

Is no guarantee

That everything will turn out right

You can try to communicate as transparently as possible.

You can trust everyone around you.

You can give them every benefit of the doubt you can think of.

You can apologize for everything you see you’ve done wrong.

You can be kind.

You can let a lot slide.

You can keep your mouth shut.

You can struggle to beat down your temper.

You can throttle your pride.

You can choose to smile and see the best as your soul is bleeding internally.

You can respond to evil with good.

You can take the hits and try to speak gracefully.

You can ask questions and try your best to understand the other parties.

You can give them their space.

You can submit despite the fear and confusion.

You can speak honestly and calmly.

You can deal with your anger before you sleep.

You can give every respect that is due and avoid displaying your rage.

You can forgive and give more chances.

You can follow all the advice you can dig up.

None of it matters.

There is no winning.

You will never be good enough.

Your Heavenly Father is the only Good. You doing everything right won’t make anything right. While struggling to lead a life as He leads you will not guarantee healthy human relationships, realize that’s not the point.

Doing everything His Way

Is only a guarantee

That you will be close to Him.

Torah Portion “When You Set Up”

Numbers/Debarim 8-12

I Corinthians 10-14

In Numbers 11, the one congregation with the honor of living in the visible presence of YHWH, whined. The Heavenly Father cares for His children, they refuse to trust him, and Moses is stuck in the middle of it. As we age and grow into new roles, the different sides of this debacle become more understandable.

At one point, we can’t believe that the people who witnessed such miracles could doubt YHWH’s provision. At another, we sympathize that living over a year without our beloved garden produce could be quite sad, particularly in desert conditions. They had expected to be in the land of milk and honey by this time, after all. (Sucks to be idolaters.)

We’ve witnessed murmuring spread and stir large crowds; a little dark complaint grows like yeast through entire conventions of thousands of people.

Then, like Moses, we experience the frustration of trying to grapple the responsibility of helping brethren reconcile to their Maker again.

We have small children who doubt our commitment to care for them. No matter what we have done for them before, or the good things we are trying to give them now, only the first thing that strikes their fancy will satisfy them. Some parents, like YHWH, give children their selfish wants and allow them to experience the consequences.

Then we look at ourselves and know that we often fret over things our Loving Creator has dealt with, has chosen to give us, is already protecting us from, or knows isn’t as important as the great works He is inviting us to participate in.

Yes, there are plenty of angles in the Old Testament drama to consider and apply today.

Authority in Context

Posted publicly by Randy Brogdon on Personhood Oklahoma.

Over the years, church Denominations have been birthed by selecting one or two verses and then building an entire doctrine around them. Currently, politicians, preachers, candidates, and Pro-life leaders are diluting and misquoting Scripture in order to support their flawed doctrine regarding our mandatory submission to government.

The main example of this is Romans 13:1-2 which states, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authority. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God”. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God and those who resist will bring judgment upon themselves.

Scripture says if we resist authority we will bring judgment upon ourselves. Of course none of us want that to happen. We are told that it would be traynical and even a sin to resist a governmental law or decree no matter what it is.

So how do we square all the many Scriptures in the Old and New Testament that tell us we must resist a tyrannical ruler or government? (Exodus 1:15, Daniel 3, Daniel 6, Matt 2, Acts 5, Ezekiel 22, 1st Samuel 14, 1st Timothy 6:15, James 4:12, Col1:6, Prov 8:15). No Scripture should be read in a vacuum, it must be measured by other Scriptures. Scriptures (S) interpret scripture (s) and each verse should be examined in light of the whole Word of God.

The reading of Romans 13:1-2 without context of verses 3-5 is what causes confusion and leads to a dangerous misinterpretation which can cause fear and confusion in a believer. That fear tends to enslave many Christians and Pro-lifers and prevent them from supporting a complete Abolishment of Abortion.

After all we are told that Roe v Wade is the law of the land and if we resist it we will be judged. For sure we will be judged, but we will be judged if we don’t resist it. With all Scripture we are to study to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2nd Timothy 2:15)

Romans 13:3-5 is the light that explains the first two verses. “ For rulers are not a terror to good works but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what’s good and you will be praised from the same. For he (ruler) is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil be afraid for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject not only because of wrath but also for conscience sake.

It doesn’t get more clear than this. The ruler is God’s minister to us for good. In Verse 1 and 2 God is explicit that we are supposed to obey a good government that protects justice and punishes evil. If God expected us to obey a government that promoted evil and punished good, then He would have said so.

If government is created by God to protect good and punish evil, then it’s our responsibility to do good so Government does not punish us. Adhering to an evil government that violates God’s law is repugnant to God and a stench in His nostrils. For anyone to assert that God demands us to obey a ruler that has become an “evil avenger” is treading on dangerous ground and is sure to be judged.

There is not one single verse in Scripture that even remotely hints that we are to submit to an evil ruler (government). We are to resist it because an evil government is the exact opposite of God’s definition of government. We are never obligated to participate in immoral and ungodly laws and decrees. Immoral and unjust laws are not laws at all. We citizens are obligated and expected to stand against anything that is contrary to God’s law.

“When the State commands that which God forbids, or when the State forbids that which God commands, men have a duty to obey God rather than men” no matter what any politician or others may suggest.

Study to show yourself approved, least you lead others astray and are harshly judged.

What is Torah?

The King James Version calls it “law.” Others translate it as “instructions.” Some think it includes the arbitrary laws instituted by the rabbis. Then, there are people who recognize it as only the statutes recorded my Moshe in the first five books of the Old Testament.

What is Torah?

The word “Torah” itself in the original script tells us what it is. Before the commonly recognized Babylonian script, Hebrew was more of a pictograph form, and the very letters in a word described its definition. When Biblical terms are translated and the spelling is analyzed, a whole other dimension to Scriptural study opens wide!

Credit for this list of Hebrew Aleph Bet is due to Lew White’s Fossilized Customs.

Below are my notes from researching the Paleo Hebrew spelling of “Torah” online.

(Remember to read Hebrew right to left.)

Torah = tav vav resh hey = mark nail prince reveal

Torah can be translated to mean “revelation of the Prince nailed to the cross.”

Considering the Torah is the Almighty’s Word, and Messiah the Word became flesh, it all fits together. COOL, right?! From Bereshit/in the beginning, the Torah is all about our Prince redeeming us!

Remember this definition as you read Torah, and you can find every situation in these books points to Yashuah HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) in some way.

Happy reading, and Shalom!