Saturday, May 3, 2014

Numbers 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is Numbers 5. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • If you've been doing the Verve reading plan on the weekends this year, you've already read quite a bit about people with infectious diseases (for instance, in Leviticus 13 and 15). God here is giving laws to keep His people pure and protected from spreadable diseases.
  • In verses 5-10 God lays down laws so that people who sin against others won't be able to continue on as if they've done nothing wrong. He provides a way for people to make their wrongs right and restore broken relationships.
  • In verses 11-31 we find the test for an unfaithful wife. Part of the reason for this test is to prevent unfounded charges of unfaithfulness on the part of a husband. The actions to be taken according to this section may seem harsh, but back then it would have been far worse for a woman accused of adultery by her husband if there were not these provisions made for her innocence or guilt to be determined. Having the priest intercede was an act of mercy. The severity of the ritual for a wife suspected of adultery demonstrated the importance of marital faithfulness, but also the importance of the purity and unity of God's people. Still today, but especially during this time, infidelity by a spouse would have impacted the entire community.
  • Some of the proceedings may sound a bit like magic or witchcraft, but repeatedly (see verses 16, 21 and 25) God's role and control over this process is highlighted. 

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The basis of everything in this chapter is purity. God was offering to dwell in the camp with His people, and therefore it was critical that the camp and the people remain pure. God is too holy to dwell in a place that is impure. And the same still holds true today. In the New Testament we read, "Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." (Ephesians 5:1-4)
  • God's people, and God's community, must live in purity. First, because of God and His offer to live in and amongst us. And, second, because we represent God to people who don't know Him.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you rate your personal purity? Purity concerns your thought life, your words, how you treat people, your sex life, and more. Are you living with the kind of purity God wants, and that reflects God's presence in your life? If not, change is needed. And change comes from a partnership between you and God. You can't do it on your own, but God won't do it in your life without your participation. Ask Him for strength and wisdom, but also know that you need to exercise self-discipline.