Purity in the Camp – Numbers 4 – 5

Purity in the Camp - Numbers 4 - 5Having never actually read all the way through Numbers before, it makes sense that I would never have noticed this before. In all my years as a follower of Christ, I’ve not heard too many sermons from the book of Numbers, either.

I came upon a fascinating passage in the reading today about protecting marital faithfulness. There are specific instructions that the Lord gave to Moses concerning how to deal with a wife who is unfaithful to her husband – or even if the husband simply suspects that his wife has been unfaithful:

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure–or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure– 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest.

The rest of the chapter goes on to describe how the priest would make the waters of jealousy, a sort of “truth serum” made from holy water and dust from the Tabernacle floor. The drink brings a curse of bitter suffering and infertility upon those who are guilty. Those who are not guilty are left unharmed.

Keep in mind that adultry was (is?) considered as exceedingly sinful, particularly in those days. Matthew Henrey’s commentary says:

It is committing a trespass against the husband, robbing him of his honour, alienating his right, introducing a spurious breed into his family to share with his children in his estate, and violating her covenant with him. It is being defiled; for nothing pollutes the mind and conscience more than this sin does.

To be honest, I found this rather creepy. But then again, the whole bloody sacrifice mess is creepy. But, the Lord is showing Mo that there needs to be purity in the camp for them to survive. All the reading today is about how Moses needs to remove anything unclean from the camp – no matter how severe the method may seem.

So I got to thinking about this purity. What unclean things are in my camp? What needs to be removed from my home that is unclean? What things in my life do not honor God, but cause me to take my eyes off Him?

Adultry is a secret sin – done in secret. The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, Job 24:15.  And the adulteress takes her opportunity when the good man is not at home, Prov. 7:19. If we knew we had to stand before those we loved and drink the waters of jealousy, how would that change our behavior?

What other secret sins exist in our lives? Do we think that we can hide them from God? No.

The good news is that once we confess our sins to Him and repent, He is faithful to forgive us of our sins and forgets all about them – casting them as far as the east is from the west.

Take a moment and take a spiritual inventory of your camp. Ask God to reveal those unclean things that need to be removed from your camp. Deal with them and He will bless your journey through the wilderness.


  1. #1 by tina on March 1, 2007 - 10:02 am

    I like Matthew Henry’s commentary. I wish I understood the spiritual ramifications of this passage, it’s a very interesting story.

  2. #2 by hook4 on March 1, 2007 - 3:19 pm


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