Blaine Robison, M.A.
Delivered 7 July 2018
Zealous for ADONAI
11 "Pinchas son of Elazar, son of Aharon the priest,
has turned back My wrath upon the sons of Israel being zealous among
them in my zeal, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My
zeal. 12 Therefore say, 'Behold, I give to him My covenant of
shalom; 13 and it shall be to him and to his seed after him, a
covenant of everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God
and making atonement for the sons of Israel.'" (Num 25:11-13 BR)
Numbers 25 tells the tragic
story of Israelites engaging in harlotry and idolatry with the Midianites. ADONAI
directed Moses to execute all the leaders of the rebellion and Moses passed
the order to the judges, one of whom was Pinchas. He took the first action,
inspiring the other judges, and he is credited with cleansing the nation.
Because of his bold initiative ADONAI
gave Pinchas a covenant of shalom and a covenant of priesthood.
The covenant of shalom was
not just the guarantee of a peaceful life but that he would become God's
peacemaker for promoting shalom within the nation and between the Israelites
You can read about his national peacemaking work in Joshua 22. Pinchas was
already a priest, but he was guaranteed that his descendants would have a
priesthood for all time and, except for a time when the house of Ei-li
served as high priests, the descendants of Pinchas held the high priesthood
until the Romans destroyed the Temple.
Besides Pinchas there are
four men in Scripture described as zealous: David, Elijah, Yeshua and Paul.
Elijah was zealous in standing publicly against the evils of his day
[1Kgs 19:10, 14].
David was zealous for the house of God and Torah [Ps
69:9; 119:139]. Paul
was zealous for Pharisaic traditions
but was transformed into a zealous ambassador for the Messiah
Yeshua was zealous to preserve the temple as a house of prayer
and to do the will of the Father
Like Pinchas Yeshua made atonement without an animal sacrifice and received
an eternal priesthood. Paul said that Yeshua gave himself for us so that he
might cleanse for himself a people zealous for good works
So, what does it mean for us
to be zealous for the Lord? The biblical stories of passionate devotion to
God can offer guidance in what that means. At the very least it's daring to
be open about who you serve. Zealousness is implied in the choice to follow
Yeshua. After all, Yeshua told his apostles to make disciples, not
believers. It took me a while to learn that lesson.
When I was a freshman at a
Christian college (a lot of years ago), the book Cost of Discipleship
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer was very popular. If you're not aware Bonhoeffer was
a German pastor before and during World War II who publicly opposed Hitler's
dictatorship and his persecution of Jews. He was arrested and executed in
1945. His book explains what it means to take up one's cross to follow
Yeshua. However, I decided not to read it at the time because I was afraid
God would ask me to do something I couldn't do.
When I joined the Army
several years later I did things I never thought I could do, like jump out
of a perfectly good airplane. In 1980 I experienced a spiritual renewal and
not long after the Spirit spoke to me directly and said "Go buy Bonhoeffer's
book." I'm not saying this is God's will for everybody, but for me it was a
point of repentance and obedience. Then in the same month God arranged for
the Army to send me to Germany for a training exercise. While there I read
God also arranged for me to
stay on a base where there was a group of soldiers who were zealous for the
Lord. They did not hide their faith. They prayed out loud over their meals.
They played their music in the barracks for others to hear. They gave joyful
praise to the Lord in public places outside of chapel. Reading Bonhoeffer
and watching those soldiers motivated me to make some changes in how I lived
out my faith. When I returned home I bought a fish plaque and put it up in
my office as a public declaration. One of my soldiers saw it and said, "Are
you a Pisces?" I said, "No, let me tell you what that means." As a result of
a new-found boldness God enabled me to lead three soldiers to Yeshua and
provided me the opportunity to speak in a chapel service on base.
In the spirit of Pinchas God
then led me to leave the Army and pursue a ministry of shalom. That journey
led Jean and me to Kansas City where I graduated from seminary and then
served 21 years in a special ministry as a peacemaker to help reconcile
broken relationships. For me being zealous for the Lord is being zealous for
shalom. Yeshua said "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called
sons of God" and in that ministry I was blessed to witness the healing of
God's shalom in many lives. I think there is no greater focus for zeal than
being a peacemaker for Yeshua and promoting shalom in our families, our
friendships and our congregation. To paraphrase Paul's exhortation,
"Zealously pursue peace with everyone"
Copyright © 2018 by
Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.