Numbers 5:1-10 (Part 1) – Edging Closer and Closer to The Holy of Holies

Posted: July 8, 2016 in 04-Numbers
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Numbers 5:1-10 (Part 1)

Purity in Israel’s Camp

Being a preacher’s kid ain’t easy. You are expected to behave at a higher standard than kids who dad is not a minister. It was especially true when I was growing up as a small child in the 1960’s and as a tweener and a teenager in the 1970’s when Southern culture was more centered around church life than it is now, particularly in small towns. Back when I was growing up in the parsonages in which we lived, we were typically living in a small, rural Southern town. Many were farming communities. Others were mill villages. Church was a big deal in those times and in those places. In all those places and in each of those times, being a preacher’s kid was a unique job. You were supposed to be like the others kids but not like them. You were supposed to be one of the boys but not.


There seemed to be an expectation that we were little ministers. We were to be miniature versions of our dad. We were never supposed to misbehave. We, I guess, were supposed to never have normal feelings of childhood. However, we were kids. We wanted to play football. We wanted to ride bikes all over town on Saturdays. To us, the church building and the Sunday school building was a playground that we got to play in every day. To play cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians in the church sanctuary was a normal day for us. Shooting my imaginary guns or toy guns at my brother from behind the pulpit was just the order of afternoon play after school or all-day play during the summer. Jumping out of a dark classroom to scare my brother in a hallway was just part of the deal of being a preacher’s kid. We were just normal kids using whatever was available in our environment for play. To us the church buildings were a treasure trove of props for our imagination. We were just kids. However, so many adults did not see us as regular kids and held us to a higher standard than other kids. We were supposed to monks, or friars or something. I always rebelled against that attitude. All preacher’s kids back in those days were measured by this standard. Old sayings like “preacher’s kids are the worst!” or “you better watch out for those preacher’s kids!” or “if you hang around with those preacher’s kids, you’ll get in trouble”. I don’t think that preacher’s kids were any worse than anybody else’s kids. It was just that we were held to a higher standard of behavior because we were the kids of the pastor. There were above-normal expectations of our behavior and when we turned out just to be normal kids, there was a larger gap between expectations and reality.


Expectations of holiness was a heavy burden for a child to bear when just by the sheer nature of being a child, you are going to do things that require discipline as you learn the boundaries of life growing up. We were expected to be born holy. There was an expectation that we were to be a cut above everyone. We were expected to understand high moral standards at a young age. We were expected to be little grown-ups, extensions of our preacher fathers. Preacher’s kids may rebel against it. We may think it unfair (and it may well be). We may say why couldn’t we have been born to someone who was not a preacher. At some point, you have realized that these are the cards that were dealt. You live in a preacher’s home and you have to deal with the expectations that come with it. Some preacher’s kids learn it early while still living at home, some later while still living at home, and still others never learn it and live their whole lives rebelling against being born a preacher’s kid.


It was that idea of different sets of expectations that I thought of this morning when I read our new passage for today, Numbers 5:1-10. We will review this passage in three parts this weekend. First, today, we will look at this expectations thing. Second, we will look Numbers 5:1-4 about the issue of segregating the sick and diseased from the camp. Finally, on the third blog on this passage, we will look at Numbers 5:5-10 about restitution for crimes/sins committed. But for today, let’s focus on expectations, when we read Numbers 5:1-10:


5 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease[a] or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. 3 Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.” 4 The Israelites did so; they sent them outside the camp. They did just as the Lord had instructed Moses.


5 The Lord said to Moses, 6 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way[b] and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty 7 and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. 8 But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer. 9 All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. 10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.’”


The one thing that rattled through my brain as I read this passage as a whole this morning was that the closer that you operate to God the more holy that you need to be. God is a holy God. He is perfect. He is Perfection. Holiness and purity make up perfection and God is holy and pure. In this passage, the expectations of holiness by God of his people were greater and greater as you approached the Tabernacle to the point that only a certain few could come in the presence of God. There were rituals that the priests had to go through just to go into the Holy of Holies. Only Moses was granted the ability to talk with God. And according to the Bible, Moses was one of, if not, the holiest of men not named Jesus. The closer we operate to God, the holier we must be. What an interesting concept that is.


Before we meet Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are comparable to the diseased persons who are outside the camp. We are diseased by our sin in a figurative sense. Our souls are leperous. We have scales of sin all over our souls. These scales prevent us from being able to hear God in our souls. We are disfigured by our sin. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are admitted into the camp. We are a member of God’s people proper as a result of our decision to accept Christ as our Savior and Lord. We are still scarred and imperfect though and must exist on the edge of camp. We are safely members of the tribe of God through our membership achieved through Jesus. We are made clean by Jesus and are acceptable as a member of God’s chosen family. We are safe and secure. When we accept Christ as our Savior, no one can undo our membership in His family. Our eternity as a member of the clan of God’s chosen ones is secure. However, as baby Christians, we are still on the edge of the camp. It is only through the action of the Holy Spirit over time that we grow closer and more intimate with God. As we grow in Christ, we become more and more holy. It sometimes a painful experience as the scales of sin are lopped off our souls through the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Think of the person you are as a Christ follower now compared to the one that accepted Christ six months ago, six years ago, sixty years ago. You are certainly more holy now than you were then. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are more holy day by day. Day by day we edge closer to the Tabernacle. Day by day we grow more holy and can operate with more and more intimacy with a holy God. It is only when we die that we are perfected and most holy and can exist in the presence of God in heaven. Then we can enter the Holy of Holies. This is not about earning salvation. This about sanctification. Once we are members of the camp, we can never be expelled from it. Through Jesus we are made perfect in God’s sight. However, once we become Christians, we begin the lifetime process of becoming more holy and edging closer and closer to the Tabernacle. Like I said earlier, a sixty year Christ follower is more mature in Christ, hopefully, than a six month Christ follower. Through the pruning of the Holy Spirit, we are made more holy each day and we grow closer and closer to God.


As a preacher’s kid, there were unrealistic expectations of my behavior simply because I existed in the preacher’s house. However, there is a certain truth to the fact that as we mature in Christ, we can operate closer to God. We can know Him more deeply. Through the Holy Spirit, we understand God more deeply and know Him more intimately. We can rebel against the action of the Holy Spirit that prunes our souls and makes us more and more holy. When we rebel against this action and want to keep our pet sins, we will remain spiritual babies on the outer edges of camp. In camp but on the outer edges. Through submitting to the Holy Spirit’s actions in our souls, we become more holy as we progress in our walk with Jesus. We can come closer and closer to the Tabernacle. We can know God more intimately.


Amen and Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s