"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

NUMBERS – From SINAI To The PROMISED LAND: Chapters 5

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

NUMBERS 5: “CLEANSING OUTWARDLY AND INWARDLY” – by Albert Lopez, For the complete teaching, check out this teaching on youtube video.

INTRODUCTION: If I were to ask each one of you, do you like to be clean? and remain clean for as long as you can? Many of you or even all of you would say Yes. Everyone likes to be clean. An example of this is that you shower because you want to be clean and you want to smell good.

You know that our bodies need to be clean, and you do your best to make sure every part of your body gets washed with soap and shampoo and rinse with water. One important thing to note is that we do this daily, sometimes even more than once if we get all sweaty; but the point is that you are concerned about it. You take time to take care of it and clean thoroughly.
Little thought however is given to being cleaned inwardly by many people. It’s easy to detect and clean what you can see but it becomes more difficult when you are not able to see it or are not too concerned about it. We will be reading about examples that are outwardly and could be seen but also the state of the heart that leads people away from God.

NUMBERS 5:1-4
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 "Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse. 3 "You shall put out both male and female; you shall put them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell." 4 And the children of Israel did so, and put them outside the camp; as the LORD spoke to Moses, so the children of Israel did
.
Command the sons: These words were coming from the mouth, mind and heart of Almighty God who took them out of bondage in the land of Egypt.

Moses, as we have read, was and continues to be God’s mouth piece and what he is doing is representing a Holy, Holy, Holy God. You remember that in Exodus 3 when Moses was in Horeb where the mountain of God was; He himself was ordered to not come near here, remove your sandals from your feet. He was given this great command but not just for any old reason or for a reason that did not make any sense. NO! He was given this command because as you read on, it was explained to him the place in which he was standing on was Holy ground.

Also, it says that Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God. As we have read Moses grew in trusting the Lord and in obedience. As Moses’s relationship with God grew, he wanted more – to the point when he asks, Show me your Glory. Even though Moses was not able to see God’s face because “no man can see Me and live” the Lord told him, the Lord graciously allowed him to see his back [the afterglow of GOD’s presence].

I say this so we can understand that Moses had this intimate relationship with the Living God; he had no problem in carrying out whatever the Lord commanded Him to say or do in order to bring glory to the one who deserves all honor, praise, glory and adoration.

The question I want us to ask ourselves is: Are we prepare to submit to the Lord and be cleansed or try to live as long as we can with ‘leprosy’ knowing it can and will kill us? Do we ourselves have that intimate relationship that is built in times of fellowship and reading of the Word?

Pastor Sonny talked about how during the pandemic the Lord in some way was cleaning house. That is what we are reading about here. During the pandemic the Lord did away with false worship and exposed it in a way where many churches closed their doors and never opened them again. It’s a possibility that this was a perfect time because as we heard in Sunday’s preaching, many church goers used this pandemic as an excuse to not congregate and chose to do church virtually.

This is not talking about the ones who are not able because of health or other legitimate reasons. No, this is the Church goer who wanted a way out and this was a perfect way. We learned that their hearts were exposed and whether it was because of fear or just lack of love for God’s Word and His people, some just used this as a way out.
So, in this “sending away” I want us to note the requirement to identify, confirm, and take any necessary action (verse 2).

When you examine something, you don’t just glance and forget about it; especially if you know what you are looking for. You identify it: So, Moses and everyone knew that they were to get rid of every leper, everyone having a discharge and everyone who is unclean because of a dead person, meaning they had touched or were around a dead person. Regarding a dead person, I want us to remember that apart from Jesus we are all dead in our sins. We need to be made alive but not just to live, but rather to live for Him and through Him.

One other thing to note is that it didn’t matter whether you were male or female; if you were identified in having any of these visible signs, you were to be sent away from the camp. No if, ands, or buts; it didn’t even matter if you were related to Moses or Aaron.

If you think about the days we are living in, it’s no different with this pandemic: we are being told that if you test positive for Covid, you are to isolate and quarantine yourself. They also offer a vaccine and boosters if needed. So, not exactly the same thing but you can see that the idea is safety and the well-being of the people.

Even more specific is the spread. If you have listened to any type of news regarding this pandemic you will for sure hear that it is a race and a fight to stop the spread of this virus.
A leper is one who has an infectious skin disease (Lev 13:1-14:57).

In a spiritual view we learned that Leprosy is representative of Sin
A discharge - A bodily emission indicative of a disease, primarily from the sex organs. They may have been talking about some sort of venereal disease or other infection which would make the people toxic (Lev 15:1-33).

A dead person - Physical contact with a dead body; it might have been human or animal. A dead animal was likely to spread disease, but even human corpses were considered unclean (Lev. 21:1-4).

All of these prohibitions had sensible health benefits as well as serving to illustrate the need for moral cleanliness when approaching God. Although hygiene and health were involved in these laws, their basic purpose was to teach the Jews the meaning of separation and holiness. Israel was to be a clean people, and this was accomplished by obeying God’s Word in every area of life. God’s people today need to take this to heart.

The reason for all this was explained in verse 3: So that they will not defile their camp where I dwell in their midst.

This was explained even more clearly back in:
Levitus.26:12
I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people
.

Later in Numbers 35 The Lord says more specifically: For I the Lord am dwelling or have made my tabernacle in the middle of the Sons of Israel.

He has done the same with us Church through the Holy Spirit and Paul reminds us in:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body
.

That “therefore” is saying that because of this truth, glorify God by purifying yourself to be clean. The emphasis here is on purity, not discrimination, or personal status. The focus on purity indicates that the Lord was not only concerned about the uncleanness of individuals but also the effects that their impurity would have on the sacred space of the camp.

Moses who had that burning bush experience with God drew near to that burning bush maybe out of curiosity: Why isn’t it burning? That’s not scientifically possible! maybe he was saying. However as soon as he drew near, it was on God’s terms and not Moses’s. So, it is with you and I. God is the one who calls the shots. He sits on the throne and if we are wise we will have him sit and reign on the throne of our hearts.

On Sunday we heard how the job of a son or daughter was to obey their parents. So here is a prime example. God, our heavenly Father (through his people Israel) is saying, Do this because I will walk among you and be your God but I won’t dwell in a dirty environment. You are to be a holy people because I am holy. There is no negotiation; after all, remember this is a command not a suggestion. So what should be the response?

The sons of Israel did so and sent them outside the camp: Here in verse 4 we see the response of the people which is the only and correct response. I heard a good friend of mine while preaching say these words. Obey God and leave the consequences to Him. Why would we do that you ask? Simply because He is our God and He is for Us. Also let us remember that He is Savior but He is also Lord and as Lord deserves our faithfulness and allegiance.

NUMBERS 5:5-10
5 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 6 "Speak to the children of Israel: 'When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the LORD, and that person is guilty, 7 'then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged. 8 'But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution for the wrong must go to the LORD for the priest, in addition to the ram of the atonement with which atonement is made for him. 9 'Every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they bring to the priest, shall be his. 10 'And every man's holy things shall be his; whatever any man gives the priest shall be his
.'

These verses deal with personal sins, which are not as outwardly visible as the uncleanness described in the first four verses. Because these sins are not able to be identified on outwardly appearance, they require more digging, more examining.

Did you know that there is a test that reveals the condition of your heart? No, it isn’t an EKG test. It is the test of how you and I handle our mistakes. Are you stubborn? Do you stand your ground even when you are wrong? It’s hard to admit when you are wrong. Ask yourself why that is? Why am I not quick to say I’m sorry, I was wrong? It’s been said that this is one of the hardest phrases, those two words, to say and mean in the English language.

Could it be that we don’t admit that we are wrong because it’s hurtful? But ask yourself what does it hurt really? Your pride!

We are called to be peace makers with a humble heart so those two don’t go together, right? It can also be that we don’t admit we are wrong because it’s embarrassing at times. We must go back to being humble and asking the Lord to help us with whatever prevents us from getting to a truly humble and servant heart.

Israel was about to confront their enemies, and there could be no unity in the army if the people were in conflict with one another because of unresolved offenses. The soldiers would be alienated from each other and from the Lord and that would lead to defeat. True unity begins with everybody in the body being right with God and with each other.

God calls us to confess: Verse 7: Then he shall confess his sins which he has committed:

In Psalm 32:4-5 we read:
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude. 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.

Similarly, in 1 John.1:8-9
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness
.

So, we are to quickly confess our sin and ask for forgiveness to be cleansed from all unrighteousness.

If you haven’t acknowledged that you are a leper and in need of cleansing. This is to say that you are a sinner and in need of a savior do it today. Today is the appointed time of salvation don’t wait until you are removed from God’s Holy presence because you were not cleansed with the only blood that can save.

NUMBERS 5:6
against the Lord

A sin committed against God’s people was considered a sin committed against God himself. There was a need for confession and restitution in addition to the trespass offering.
We touched on pride but another hidden sin that we can be harboring is bitterness. This sin may deceive you into thinking you love God but at the same time you might hate your brother or sister. Listen to these passages:

1 John 4:20-21
If someone says, “I love God,” and yet he hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God must also love his brother and sister
.

If we are in this state the word calls us a liar and goes on to say we cannot love God. Lastly it commands us we must love our brother and sister if we say we love God.

We will be closing Numbers 5 with what the subtitles in your Bible might read: “the Adultery Test or the Jealousy ritual”.

Let’s talk about marriage; faithfulness in marriage is a foundation stone for every society; for as goes the home, so goes the nation. So goes the Church! This is a sin that was detestable to God, it defiled the people involved and also the land. Adultery was a capital offense. If found guilty both the man and the woman were stoned to death.

No married man wants to have his beloved aka his wife be unfaithful to him. Now this also applies to women, but for the sake of this text we will be referring to men as the accuser and the woman as the accused. It can be hurtful, embarrassing, scarring and could be a way to break trust and break a man’s heart.

Little thought is given to how we as individuals have turned our affections that can turn into lust; to anything other than God Almighty. Jesus is described as the bride-groom and the church is the bride. The world commits adultery but if we are not abiding in Jesus so does the church!

From Knowing God: The Lord very frequently addresses us in the character of a husband. As he performs all the offices of a true and faithful husband, so He requires love and chastity from us; that we do not prostitute our souls to Satan.

Jesus said: You have heard it said, You shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
The problem is ‘our bar’ is set too low. That’s another problem: it’s our bar and not God’s measuring stick which is His Word. We fail to acknowledge that we serve a God that sits on the throne on high.

Continuing the focus and moving to more and more personal hidden sin. We turn our attention to the purity of the husband-wife relationship. God referred to Israel as playing the harlot and prostituting herself with other gods. One book to read for a good example of this is the book of Hosea.

Hosea’s message was not only conveyed through what he said, but it was personified or lived out through his marriage to a wife of harlotry and the birth of their children. Hosea’s relationship with his family was intended to show us God’s troubled relationship with the Israelites. These were his covenant people who through Idolatry were guilty of spiritual infidelity.

Listen to this verse:

Hosea 1:2
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take for yourself a wife inclined to infidelity, and children of infidelity; for the land commits flagrant infidelity, abandoning the LORD
.

We can say that apart from the Lord we are Gomer who you will find is Hosea’s wife and plays the harlot. This nation is ripe for judgment as the names of Hosea’s children symbolized. However, as you will find out there is hope and a promise that if they heed the words of the Lord who says, Return O Israel to the Lord your God.

Which echoes Jesus words. Come to me all who are weary and burdened. This invitation is from an all knowing, all righteous, all loving God who knows our state just like he knew Israel’s condition.

With that in mind let us read:

NUMBERS 5:11-17
11 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'If any man's wife goes astray and behaves unfaithfully toward him, 13 'and a man lies with her carnally, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and it is concealed that she has defiled herself, and there was no witness against her, nor was she caught- 14 'if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, although she has not defiled herself- 15 'then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. He shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an EPHAH of barley meal; he shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, because it is a grain offering of jealousy, an offering for remembering, for bringing iniquity to remembrance. 16 'And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the LORD. 17 'The priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water
.

Verse 15: the man shall then bring his wife to the priest: If a husband suspected his wife of adultery and he had no proof, he was to take his wife to the priest, along with an offering of barley, to have her undergo the test or ritual.

So, the husband couldn’t use the excuse that he was feeling jealous so she must be cheating!
We are going to read about a procedure or the proceedings for this trial or test. because it’s comparable to a court proceeding except that the judge is no ordinary judge. The judge is the Judge of the Universe!

The procedure began when the priest brought the wife to stand before the Lord like it says in verse 16.

On a side note the Bible says that we will all stand before the Lord; the question is who is going to represent you in this court room? Yourself and your own works or the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?

This was probably done at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Since the dust from the tabernacle floor was needed for this ritual, and since the altar for the grain offering was nearby and the grain would be needed for part of the procedure.

Once she was in position the priest would take some dust from the tabernacle floor and mix it with holy water in a clay jar as we read in verse 17.

He would then loosen her hair- This is said to be a sign of mourning if the woman was found guilty. She would hold the barley grain offering in her hands, This is the memorial offering and a grain offering of jealousy.

The priest then would place her under oath. Sort of like in court they put their hand over God’s word and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help you God.
The priest would say: That this water of bitterness that was made up of holy water and dust from the floor would not harm her if she had not defiled herself.

However, if she had defiled herself she would bring a curse on herself that would cause her abdomen to swell and her thigh to waste away.

The suspected wife would then reply, Amen - Let it be so.
You’re probably thinking, Wow I don’t want to be in that type of court-room; the truth is you and all of us will be there. Again, there are two court rooms: the first court room is The Judgment seat of Christ where you will not be condemned, but might possibly lose out on some rewards, which is sad, but you have your biggest reward: The Lord Jesus. He is also the reason you will be found not guilty.

Or, the second court room, you will be at the White Throne Judgment. Such a nice name such a clean name. But trust me, you don’t want to be there.

There is no hope for you if you are there. Depart from I never knew you, will be the words sounding in your ears as the Lord will righteously pay you your wages for sin which is death (Rom 6:23). That is the second death and eternity in hell. The Bible tells us, referring to God and his willingness to save, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
So the trial is over right? No there’s more. . .

NUMBERS 5:18-31
18 'Then the priest shall stand the woman before the LORD, uncover the woman's head, and put the offering for remembering in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 'And the priest shall put her under oath, and say to the woman, "If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone astray to uncleanness while under your husband's authority, be free from this bitter water that brings a curse. 20 "But if you have gone astray while under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has lain with you" - 

21 'then the priest shall put the woman under the oath of the curse, and he shall say to the woman-"the LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your thigh rot and your belly swell; 22 "and may this water that causes the curse go into your stomach, and make your belly swell and your thigh rot." Then the woman shall say, "Amen, so be it." 23 'Then the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall scrape them off into the bitter water. 24 'And he shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter her to become bitter. 25 'Then the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy from the woman's hand, shall wave the offering before the LORD, and bring it to the altar; 

26 'and the priest shall take a handful of the offering, as its memorial portion, burn it on the altar, and afterward make the woman drink the water. 27 'When he has made her drink the water, then it shall be, if she has defiled herself and behaved unfaithfully toward her husband, that the water that brings a curse will enter her and become bitter, and her belly will swell, her thigh will rot, and the woman will become a curse among her people. 28 'But if the woman has not defiled herself, and is clean, then she shall be free and may conceive children. 29 'This is the law of jealousy, when a wife, while under her husband's authority, goes astray and defiles herself, 30 'or when the spirit of jealousy comes upon a man, and he becomes jealous of his wife; then he shall stand the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute all this law upon her. 31 'Then the man shall be free from iniquity, but that woman shall bear her guilt.'

After the Amen! The Priest would write a curse on a scroll and then wash the ink off into the jar of bitter water. You guys have probably heard the expression of eating your words or swallowing your words. This is exactly what was going to happen now.

The grain offering would be waved before the Lord and offered at the altar. The woman would then drink the concoction of holy water, dust and if that wasn’t bad enough now add ink to it.
So it is done now we wait. The time table for when the results would become visible is not stated but as we read in verses 27 and 28. One of two things will happen. If she had defiled herself, she would experience suffering and visible physical symptoms. If she was not guilty she would not suffer any consequences. She would be cleared of any guilt and would still have the opportunity to bear children in the future.

Purity in the home is just as important as purity in the tent of meeting. Let us walk in the Spirit at all times not just at church.

The Lord was committing Himself to respond in this case, thereby demonstrating that even hidden sin would not be tolerated among his people.

So we have seen that there is a need to be clean because our God is pure and Holy, Holy, Holy. We ought to want to be made more and more like Him every day. Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God, Jesus said. Today is January 5th and it is the start of a new year. You may have many resolutions, but I pray that one of them and the one you work the hardest at is being clean in the eyes of God. If you get dirty, because like Sonny said sheep get dirty, I pray we go to the word and come to the house of the Lord to hose us off and be made clean.

2 Corinthians 7:1
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let’s cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God
.

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