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Numbers 5

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Instructions for Israel’s purity before leaving Mount Sinai and going to war in Canaan. Israel’s “success” as a nation did not depend on worldly estimations of a dominant empire. Rather, they must be holy as God their king is holy.

Three situations bringing national defilement that would affect their success in conquering Canaan are addressed here: physical (vv. 2-4), relational (vv. 5-10), and marriage/family (vv. 11-31). God dwelt among them (v. 3); God was offended and sinned against (vv. 6, 8); God was their judge (vv. 16, 21, 30).

For the meaning and intent of a woman suspected of adultery (vv. 11-31), see the comments in today’s daily devotional. This must not be viewed as favoring the man over the woman, but for what it says: a situation threatening the family and theocratic nation should be judged by the Lord, not the capricious jealousy of men.

In our atheistic and feminist dominated views of life and “justice,” a passage like this can appear barbaric and unjust. It must be remembered that these three situations were already addressed in Leviticus (leprosy, Lev 13; restitution, Lev 5; sexual immorality and adultery, Lev 20). Furthermore and more fundamentally, not only in the OT theocracy but in every time of human history God has always expected holiness and righteousness, regardless of what sinful, fallen, and depraved humanity may say. “Let God be true but every man a liar,” (Rom 3:4).

Furthermore, evaluating the Lord’s laws of the theocratic nation by today’s judgments of fallen humanity is ludicrous (for example, the same humanity which calls same-sex marriages true, and the murder of the unborn a woman’s right). This is not merely man-centeredness, This is sin-centeredness. Should a holy God dwell approvingly with and bless wickedness? Should he allow justice to be perverted?

In the OT theocracy both men and women guilty of adultery were sentenced to death; sin against the Lord and a neighbor brought guilt demanding atonement and restitution; the Lord’s very presence in the camp required purity of one’s own physical flesh.

Let us not only remember but have the same attitude toward God’s Word that the Spirit-directed psalmist did:

Psalm 119:97,113,163,165

Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

I hate the double-minded,
But I love Your law.

I hate and abhor lying,
But I love Your law.

Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

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