“Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” (Numbers 25:12,13 KJV)
A covenant of peace… What an incredibly precious gift! A gift almost worth coveting if that would not destroy the very heart of the gift. A gift that can only be given by God. A gift that we long to be given by the hand of God. How did Phinehas get this covenant? Re-read the whole story in Numbers 25:1-15. Was it something peaceful that he had done? Did he broker a great treaty between two nations? Not really. He drove a spear right through a guy who was doing something forbidden such that it killed him and her. How did Phinehas end up with a covenant of peace for doing that?
It seems that no matter how egregious the offense is, no matter how blatant the infraction is, or how real the command of God is to eliminate that activity in the short term; we instinctively hold back. At least the “sensible” people do. Our management instinct tells us that, yes, this needs dealt with, but we will find a softer or gentler way to deal with this. Something in our rapidly flashing back history lessons tell us that no act of violence, albeit in the heat of the moment, is going to come to a peaceful conclusion. Somehow, if we deal with this like it “ought” to be dealt with then peace will forever elude us. We will always have to be looking over our shoulder wondering who has it in for us.
Yet, God out right gives Phinehas a covenant of peace! This is clearly not something Phinehas could have obtained himself. Especially with a zeal like this for the Holiness of his God. Or was it the zeal for the Holiness of his God that made this covenant exclusively possible? Being able to receive from God requires a total and complete surrender to all those social graces that we hold onto. Not for the destruction of our society, but for it’s salvation. A salvation that is way beyond the protocols that were erected to protect it. A salvation that seems to be quickly forgotten even in the middle of the very plague that is killing people by the thousands. Twenty four thousand in this case (see verse 9). It is a zeal for the Holiness of God in that white hot moment of flagrant infraction that saved the balance of the population from total annihilation.
God gives Phinehas a covenant of peace. A covenant such that Phinehas does not have to look over his shoulder always wondering if he did the right thing or did it in the right way or not. There is a similar gift promised as a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Not a fruit of our will, but of His Spirit. Notice that it follows both love and joy. When we are immersed in His love for Him and for those around us, and we receive His joy in doing so, He is also able to establish a peace that no one can take from us. Having a zeal for Jesus may save more lives than appear to be lost.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 KJV)