Inspired by the Africa Study Bible

When you think of the term “warrior”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Physical strength, swords, or a booming voice? Maybe a huge army with one mighty leader standing at the head, fearless and ready for action? These qualities are definitely warrior-esque according to what the movies and media portray. Things like strength, skill, and leadership are necessary qualities when it comes to a warrior. However, warriors are not confined to only qualities on one side of the spectrum. Warriors are so much more than what we have designed them to be.

In Phinehas’s case, he was a warrior with his words and ears. Unlike some of the other biblical warriors, Phinehas was fighting a spiritual battle. He found himself among a big misunderstanding between tribal leaders in Joshua 22. There was confusion about building altars to God/other gods. In the past, Phinehas had experienced women of other religions being brought into the tribes as wives and concubines. Phinehas was passionate about the Lord. He refused to allow the worship of idols into his community. By the time that the altar was built to the wrong god(s), according to the other tribal leaders’ assumptions, Phinehas was ready to get to the bottom of it.

Phinehas was known for being a great listener. When he heard that the altar was built with impure motives, he knew something was up. After the women who worshipped other gods were previously brought into the tribes for the wrong reasons, he knew that the people had learned their lesson regarding idolatry. Instead of listening to hearsay, Phinehas calmly spoke to the leaders of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh about why they built the altar. Come to find out, the two and a half tribes built the altar so that future generations would be certain that they worshipped the one, true God. Phineas apologized for the miscommunication and reconciled between all the tribes – he was a peacemaker.

Phinehas’ choices in this situation were wise. The Africa Study Bible says on page 327:

“Phinehas was a wise leader. He was a priest zealous for God’s honour. He was not afraid to act when he knew what God wanted. But when he did not have all the information, he was willing to listen first.”

Africa Study Bible

Phinehas was different than the other tribal leaders because he listened. He took the time to understand the two and a half tribes before pursuing punishment. Imagine what would have happened if Phinehas had chosen to destroy the altar and penalize the tribes? Their true intentions would have never come to light, and they would have been wrongly disciplined for something that they did not do. This would have caused even more of an uproar and Phinehas would have lost their respect. In fact, generations to come could have turned from God because of it. Phinehas chose to seek peace.

Like the Africa Study Bible explains, we as Christians should always choose to listen before we take action. We must admit when we are wrong. We must apologize frequently instead of bringing out our defense of excuses. We must pursue unity and focus on what we have in common over small differences. Phinehas did these things, and he diffused what could have been a great fire. He was a warrior and a peacemaker, two qualities that fit perfectly together like a puzzle for God’s glory.

This excerpt is inspired by an African Touch Point of the Africa Study Bible titled, “ Both a Warrior and a Peacemaker ”. African Touch Points draw attention to Scripture passages with a special connection to Africa. There are three kinds of Touch Points but many of them feature an example of how African culture sheds light on the meaning of a passage in the Bible.

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