Friday, March 15, 2024

2024.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Numbers 5

Read Numbers 5

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke to whom in Numbers 5:1? Whom was he to command (Numbers 5:2)? What were they to do to what three kinds of people (cf. Leviticus 11–15)? Which ones (Numbers 5:3)? In order that they would not do what to the camps? Because Who dwells there? How does Israel respond to this command (Numbers 5:4)? Who speaks to whom in Numbers 5:5? To whom is he supposed to speak (Numbers 5:6)? What might a person do? Against Whom? What does that make that person? What must the sinner say to God (Numbers 5:7)? What must he do to what persons? And Whom does he pay, if neither that person, nor their kinsman redeemer, is available to pay that restitution (Numbers 5:8)? Whose rights (to what particular property) do Numbers 5:9-10 protect? Who speaks to whom in Numbers 5:11? To whom is he to speak (Numbers 5:12)? About what situation? What do she and the adulterer do (Numbers 5:13)? But then what happens with the husband (Numbers 5:14)? When might he also be suspicious and jealous? To whom is he to bring her in either case (Numbers 5:15)? And what is he to bring for the priest on her behalf? What is not to be put upon this offering? Why? What is this drawing near (“offering,” NKJ) supposed to accomplish? To Whom does the priest then bring her near and set her (Numbers 5:16)? What is he to combine in what (Numbers 5:17)? Where does the priest stand her (Numbers 5:18)? What does he uncover? What does he put in her hands? And what does he have in his own hands? What does he say, when he makes her to swear (“puts her under oath) in Numbers 5:19-20? What curse does the priest warn against the woman in (Numbers 5:21-22)? And what does the woman swear (Numbers 5:22)? What does the priest do with the curses (Numbers 5:23)? Then what does he do with the ink? And what does he do with the water (Numbers 5:24)? Then what does the priest take (Numbers 5:25)? Where does he bring it? What does he take from it (Numbers 5:26)? And what does he do with that handful? What will the result be, with the woman, in which case (Numbers 5:27)? And what will the result be in the other case (Numbers 5:28)? What cases do Numbers 5:29-30 cover? What does Numbers 5:31a imply about a husband who feels jealous but doesn’t deal with it? What does verse 31b ensure about a wife who has been unfaithful?

How do the instructions in this chapter fit together? Numbers 5 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that, as those among whom God dwells, Christians must conscientiously maintain their holiness, relationships, and hearts. 

A Holy People, Numbers 5:1–4. One of the main features of the last several chapters has been the Levites’ functioning as a holy buffer between the tabernacle and the rest of the camp. But God’s dwelling among His people requires that the entire camp be holy: “that they may not defile their camps in the midst of which I dwell” (Numbers 5:3).

The uncleannesses referred to in Numbers 5:2 are representative of the whole of Leviticus 11–15. Those who were ritually defiled had to be put out of the camp. Both they and the ritually clean would be reminded that God looks upon the heart. The one who approaches the Lord must have a pure heart (cf. Psalm 15, Psalm 24:3–4). This they knew already from the atonements and offerings by which they had to come near. But it was driven home all the more by the enforcement of the cleanliness code. 

How happy the expelled person would be when they were clean again and were able to follow the regulations for reentry! It would be plain to them that this was a reentry into the camp where God Himself had made His glory to dwell. And it was a reminder that, even after we have been redeemed by God, we must be made perfectly holy if we are to enter His eternal rest (cf. Matthew 5:8, Hebrews 9:14). 

No Unresolved Sin Against One AnotherNumbers 5:5-10. Again, we have something that was covered in Leviticus 5–6, but in this context it is important for us to notice the reason for restitution. Sin against others is, first and foremost, “committing unfaithfulness against YHWH” (Numbers 5:6, cf. Psalm 51:4)! This was why they still had to make restitution even if they couldn’t pay back the one who was wronged, or even find a near relative to pay back. Part of maintaining holiness as those who are gathered to God for His worship is to keep short accounts and not allow sin against one another to go unresolved.

No Harboring JealousyNumbers 5:11-31. The third, and longest, section is one that we might easily misunderstand, if we don’t catch the implication in the first half of Numbers 5:31: “then the man shall be free from iniquity.” God was forbidding the man to live with a jealous heart. Instead, the husband was taught by this procedure to give up any jealous suspicions to God, and let Him deal with it. While the ceremonial law has passed, the principle remains. Those among whom God dwells, and who come to Him for worship, must not live with a jealous heart.

The dreadfulness of the ordeal would both serve to encourage a wife to make every effort not to give reason for jealousy, as well as encouraging the husband to come to the Lord to be released of the jealousy of in his spirit. In both of their cases, the prospective curse on childbearing was a reminder that their marriage wasn’t only for themselves. It was first and foremost for the Lord, for honoring Him both in their own generation, and in raising up godly seed unto Him (cf. Malachi 2:15).

But the primary point here is the jealousy of the heart. Those who are gathered unto God in His church, and who gather to Him to worship Him, must be careful of the inner life of the heart before Him!

What hope do you have that you will have that holiness that is necessary to see the Lord? What application are you making of that principle in living a holy life now, as someone who comes weekly to worship Him? Against whom have you committed unresolved sin? How are you going to resolve it ASAP, and before you come to worship? How are you exercising care over the inner life of your heart?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we are amazed that You have been pleased to tabernacle among us and to take us as Your temple. Grant that we would be holy, that we would conduct ourselves in a holy manner with one another, and that we would be careful of the inner life of our hearts. For, we ask it through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent Who Will Reside?” or TPH24B “The Earth and Its Riches”

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