Deuteronomy 23:9-14 – What To Do About the Crap In Your Camp (Practical Application of God’s Theology)!

Posted: March 23, 2017 in 05-Deuteronomy
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Deuteronomy 23:9-14

Keeping the Camp Holy


Who says the Bible is not just as practical as it is high-brow theology? Here we have a passage about wet dreams and poop! The practicality thing is certainly evidence of God’s concern for holiness in every day life. Deuteronomy is full of real life applications of the Ten Commandments, the central core of the Old Testament. This passage is no different.


Real life application and high brow theology hand in hand is part of the beauty of the Old Testament. It kind of reminds me of the differences between my brother and me when we were growing up, particularly in middle school and high school. My brother was and is smarter than me. He has an eidetic memory, much like the character, Sheldon, on the show, Big Bang Theory. He can retain and store facts and figures in volume with ease. I am no slouch academically but I have to work pretty hard at it. Academic accomplishments for me are a thing of pride because they are result of dedication, planning, and hard work. Whereas, for my brother, it all seems to come naturally. In school, because he was so superior intellectually to most, he had the fatal flaw of flaunting his intelligence upon others. He has tempered that through hard knocks and experience over the years, but back then, he was full-on Sheldon. He was an academician in a teen world that disdained academicians. He failed to see the connection between being a brainiac and his inability to fit in socially. He was his own worst enemy. Everything, every moment was an opportunity to him to prove how smart he was to others. It was a thing of pride for him to prove he was the smartest person in the room. As a result, high school was not very friendly to my brother. Intellgencia without social application is a recipe for lonely high school years.


On the other hand, although I was not and still am not as smart as my brother, I did not my academics seriously. I studied hard. I had good grades throughout school. However, I was better at social skills than my brother. I was always able to make friends and fit in. I was able to be quietly intelligent but socially acceptable. I had the ability to be smart but be social. I was able to apply my knowledge to social situations without it seeming to be me lording my intelligence over others. As Sheldon’s mom told Sheldon once, “People don’t like that!” Whereas, I was not too far behind my brother in natural intelligence, my high school years were a whole lot of fun. Even now, even though I have two masters degrees and am in pursuit of my doctorate, I still have the ability to relate to people easily. I often tell people that I am just a redneck with two master’s degrees. After watching the brutality of my brother’s high school years, it was always important to me to have practical intelligence. Being able to relate to people and real life situations without coming off as a brainiac is something I take pride in. Practical application of high-minded knowledge is important to social function, I have learned. That is one of the things that I love my recent academic pursuits is that I am learning so much about the Bible and the beautiful theology of the Christian faith but yet being able to translate that in to a discussion with a friend or with a class about, for example, biblical financial principles. Seeing people begin to grasp the theology of obedience while learning practical money management techniques is a beautiful thing.


That difference between theology and practical application was a necessary thought when we meet this passage. It is about as practical as it gets. But we will see how the practical does tie into the theology of God as we tie this blog up after we read the passage, Deuteronomy 23:9-14:


9 When you are encamped against your enemies, keep away from everything impure. 10 If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp and stay there. 11 But as evening approaches he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp.


12 Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. 14 For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.


The high theology here is that God is the Divine Warrior who guarded and protected Israel in battle. Therefore, the battle camps of the Israelites had to be holy. Nothing impure could be in camp. We see in Joshua 7:1-26 that we bring inpurities into camp, God will withdraw his holy protection from Israel. Achan’s disobedience and the bringing of impurity in the camp as a result brought defeat of the Israelites at the Battle of Ai. That’s what this passage is about – keeping God’s camp holy.


Wet dreams are often about lust for women that are not our wives. So there is a practicality there, we must admit our sin and remove ourselves from camp when we have impure sexual thoughts and repent of those thoughts before we can come into God’s presence once again. Having thoughts on other things that we want to pursue other than the battle that God has in front of us is to take focus off what God has us to do. When we dabble in sins and justify them as OK, God will withdraw his blessing on our lives and our ministries.


Not defecating in camp. Going outside of camp to defecate and then covering it up just makes sense. Does it not? The practical aspect here is that defecation is waste and it is pretty much roundly accepted from a social and medical perspective as being a major disease causing agent when not properly disposed of. When buried in the earth, it is a great fertilizer but running raw sewage is a deadly disease carrier. That’s just very practical of God to require that his warriors go outside camp to poop! It’s a practical and literal application of the modern proverb, “Don’t shit where you eat!” Although that saying has come to mean something different (about not having an affair with someone in the office where you work), it origin probably was very literal. Taking a crap in camp is not only smelly and messy, it is an open invitation to disease and the spreading of that disease throughout camp. The high minded theology is, again, that if God is to dwell among the camp, it must be holy and we must remove those things that are impure.


The ultimate truth that comes out of this to me are two things. First, God gives us practical applications of his theology in the Bible and he gives it to us through earnestly seeking His guidance through prayer. His theology is beautiful, but it is practical as well. He gives us guidance for our daily lives. The basic theme of which that seeking God through Jesus Christ and His holiness, we learn to be more holy ourselves. We must learn through the Holy Spirit of those things that must be removed from our lives so that we can become more and more holy as we mature in Christ.


The other thing that is just as profound is that of what is it that is impure in my camp that will cause God to remove his blessing from my church. We so often in church wonder what we can add to our church to make it better and more attractive to the world around us. What can we add? Maybe the better question is, “what must we remove?” What is it that prevents God from blessing our church? Is there something unholy and impure in our camp? Are we bringing sin into our camp and calling it holy? Is there something impure within our camp that has caused God to withdraw His blessing from our midst? Are our efforts not being blessed because we are blind to our own lusts in our camp? Are our efforts not being blessed because we are blind to the defecation in our own camp? We are to be the pure and spotless bride of Christ? We must examine ourselves collectively and individually as to what needs to be removed from our camps so that God can enter into His holy camp and do the miracles that He do!


What must you and I remove from our lives that we are OK with but that is unholy in the sight of God? What sins are we OK with but that God has forever labeled as sin? What crap is there in my life that I am lying to myself about? What must be removed from my camp to make it holy and make it ready for God to enter the camp and do the things that He so desperately wants to do through us, you and me!


It’s all very practical application of high minded theology. God is holy – high minded theology. God’s camp should be holy – practical application.


Amen and Amen.

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