Be zealous and repent.
When Israel sinned in joining itself to Baal Pe’or, a man stood against this iniquity as a court of one. When Pinchas saw one of the princes of Israel bring a Moabite priestess into his tent, without due process of law, he rose as witness, judge and executioner, took a spear in his hand, and pierced both of them through her belly. As a result, the plague on the people of Israel was stopped (Numbers 25:7-8), andHashem blessed Pinchas for his zeal with a ‘covenant of peace’ (Numbers 25:12).This story has serious ramifications as it promotes violent religious fundamentalism, something which our present world is plagued with coming from most major religions. Reading this story could justify the actions of violent terrorist extremists.
If we try to justify our actions by saying ‘so-and-so did it in the Bible and God blessed him’, we stand the risk to rationalize many other anti-social behaviors such as murder, incest, and polygamy. This is not the way we are supposed to process the narratives we read in the Sacred Scriptures.
In the case of Pinchas, God rewarded him for his zealousness for Him. In Hebrew the word ‘zealous’ is ‘kana’ee’ meaning ‘zealot’ and is a synonym to ‘jealous’; not jealous in the sense of obsessive protection of ownership and rights as the word is used today, but rather jealous as a parent willing to do anything to protect his family. Pinchas was jealous for God and it hurt him greatly to see these people flagrantly defying Moses and God with their vile actions. The worship of Ba’al Peor includes some very shameful practices.
There is a right and a wrong type of zealousness. In the case of Paul, we find a mislead type of zeal when he persecutes the believers (Philippians 3:6), a misplaced zeal still found in some ultra Orthodox communities of Israel who still persecutes the Jewish believers in the Jewish Messiah. In the case of Yeshua, ‘zeal’ for God’s House was noted when He cleaned the temple from the mercantilism (John 2:14-17). The apostolic Scriptures also tell us that the early Jerusalem believers had great zeal for the Torah (Acts 21:20).
In any case, we must also be careful lest our zeal is misplaced. We should always strive to be zealous for the standards of the kingdom, and this means to ruthlessly root out of our lives those things which could provoke us to sin. We are safer to let God take care of others as vengeance is His (Deuteronomy 32:35), not ours. Paul taught the Galatians congregation that it is good to be zealously affected in a good thing (Galatians 4:18 KJV) and reminded Titus that Messiah gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works (Good works in Hebrew: mitzvoth – obedience to Torah commandments). Peter also reminded us that ‘who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good (1 Peter 3:13)?