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January 3, 2019

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
Christian Standard Bible for 2019

Text: Genesis 8-11
Audio: Genesis 8-11

You can use the audio Bible as a guide to help “set the pace” as you read along.

Numbers 19 (ESV)

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “This is the statute of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the people of Israel to bring you a red heifer without defect, in which there is no blemish, and on which a yoke has never come. And you shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered before him. And Eleazar the priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and sprinkle some of its blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times. And the heifer shall be burned in his sight. Its skin, its flesh, and its blood, with its dung, shall be burned. And the priest shall take cedarwood and hyssop and scarlet yarn, and throw them into the fire burning the heifer. Then the priest shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. But the priest shall be unclean until evening. The one who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water and shall be unclean until evening. And a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place. And they shall be kept for the water for impurity for the congregation of the people of Israel; it is a sin offering. 10 And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. And this shall be a perpetual statute for the people of Israel, and for the stranger who sojourns among them.

11 “Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days.12 He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. 13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.

14 “This is the law when someone dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent and everyone who is in the tent shall be unclean seven days. 15 And every open vessel that has no cover fastened on it is unclean. 16 Whoever in the open field touches someone who was killed with a sword or who died naturally, or touches a human bone or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17 For the unclean they shall take some ashes of the burnt sin offering, and fresh water shall be added in a vessel. 18 Then a clean person shall take hyssop and dip it in the water and sprinkle it on the tent and on all the furnishings and on the persons who were there and on whoever touched the bone, or the slain or the dead or the grave. 19 And the clean person shall sprinkle it on the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day. Thus on the seventh day he shall cleanse him, and he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and at evening he shall be clean.

20 “If the man who is unclean does not cleanse himself, that person shall be cut off from the midst of the assembly, since he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. Because the water for impurity has not been thrown on him, he is unclean. 21 And it shall be a statute forever for them. The one who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and the one who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening. 22 And whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean, and anyone who touches it shall be unclean until evening.”

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Next: Numbers 20

Back: Numbers 18

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. The Need for Cleansing

    In 1844, while Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife was away, he wrote, "The washing of dishes does seem to me the most absurd and unsatisfactory business that I ever undertook. If, when once washed, they would remain clean for ever and ever (which they ought in all reason to do, considering how much trouble it is), there would be less occasion to grumble; but no sooner is it done, than it requires to be done again. On the whole, I have come to the resolution not to use more than one dish at each meal."

    Sounds familiar, right?

    It's the same with laundry, dusting, vacuuming, our cars and of course, ourselves. No matter how clean our clothes are, if we play in the dirt, they are dirty. It's the same with our bodies – no matter how long we shower, no matter how clean we get, we will need another shower tomorrow (or soon after). Yesterday's shower won't help us today. We need to be cleaned and re-cleaned. Then cleaned again and again – just like dirty dishes, dirty clothes and anything else that needs to be cleaned. 

    Our spiritual lives are the same. As Iain Duguid writes in his commentary on Numbers, like physical dirt, "Spiritual dirt—sin—accumulates constantly without any significant effort on our part. Spiritual cleanliness seems impossible for us to maintain."

    In a section titled "Dealing With Dirt", he writes, "How do we deal with that reality in the realm of physical dirt? Well, one way to approach the issue is to redefine the nature of dirt. Does that pair of jeans really need washing, or can it be worn another day? How many dust bunnies does it take to form a quorum sufficiently large to require vacuuming? If we are able to define the acceptable level of dirt upward, then maybe our task in combating it will become manageable. Alternatively, we can try to limit the sources of contamination. Use only one dish per meal, as Hawthorne suggested; tell your children they can only play with one toy car or doll at a time; make everyone take off their shoes before they come into the house. Maybe that will make the impossible job of keeping the house clean and tidy achievable.

    "Essentially, people tend to adopt the same kinds of strategies when it comes to dealing with spiritual dirt. Many people try to redefine the nature of sin, thereby making obedience more manageable. I know I have to love my neighbor, but if I limit the extent of who my neighbor is, then obedience to the Law seems more achievable. If righteousness is defined merely in terms of external obedience to a set of rules and regulations, then perhaps I can manage to achieve it by carefully writing in enough loophole clauses and exceptions. Alternatively, others try to achieve spiritual cleanliness by limiting the potential sources of contamination. They huddle in their own family and religious group so the world cannot soil them. They don’t watch movies—not even The Sound of Music—or listen to the radio or read secular books for fear of defilement. They try to separate themselves completely from anything and everything that might be a source of impurity."

    Duguid, I. M., & Hughes, R. K. (2006). Numbers: God’s presence in the wilderness (pp. 239–240). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

    We can relate, can't we?

    What should be clear to us is the need for daily cleansing. Even if our lives are devoted to God and furthering His Kingdom through discipleship and evangelism; even if we read and study God's Word every single day; and even if we experience great victory in overcoming sin (even life-long sin); we need to constantly deal with the daily dirt buildup which stains our hearts and minds and leaves a residue in our relationship with God and others. 

    Numbers 19 makes it clear that consistent cleansing was necessary. While the process for becoming cleaned has changed in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, the principle that we need daily cleansing is still there. 

    Born Again Cleansing

    Before we are born again, we can't be spiritually clean. No matter how many good things we do, no matter how devoted we may be to a religion or church, without conversion, it's impossible to become spiritually clean. 

    When God grants us salvation through His sovereign mercy and grace and we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we are brought from death (dirty) to life (cleansed). 

    Ongoing Cleansing

    Once we are saved, the cleansing doesn't stop. Although we are made white as snow when we are born again, new birth is when the cleansing begins. 

    When we are born again, God begins His sanctifying work in our lives. Because we do not become sinless at new birth, we have an ongoing need to be cleansed of our imperfections, flaws, failures, struggles and sin. That work is being completed by God as we live out our new lives in Christ through sanctification. 

    Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness."

    1 John 1:7 says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

    1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

    One of the purposes of fellowship with other believers as members of the body of Christ in the context of a local church is helping each other become more like Christ. As we grow in our knowledge of God through His Word, as we submit ourselves to God and the authority of His Word and as we grow in grace and actively pursue holiness, sin loses its luster and appeal and we begin to enjoy the fruits of righteousness, repentance and life in the Spirit. 

    While we may be tempted and have times of great struggle (and even defeat), the lives of true followers of Jesus Christ are marked by God's sanctifying work in us which not only includes renouncing sin but also saying "YES" to living our lives in love and adoration for God and others. 

    When we do this, we will not become sinless, but we will sinLESS. We will stop doing things that defile us and make us unclean while showering in the living water of God's love and His Word. 

    In closing, we should never become preoccupied with our sin by focusing on it but rather, become preoccupied with loving God, treasuring His Word, meditating on it day and night and living it out for an unmatched intimacy with God in Christ and out of love for people who need a living example of the power of Christ and the blessings that come from being set free from the power of sin.

    Just as we don't stare in the rearview mirror while we're driving, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus and all that is before us and not keep looking back at our past mistakes. We all need to be cleaned. It's not weakness but strength to turn to God for cleansing. The more we are cleaned, the less we will want to be dirty and the more our lives will reflect the reality of the living God's handiwork in our lives.

    Have you experienced the cleansing of new birth?

    Are you experiencing the ongoing cleansing of God in your life?

    Is there anything in your life you want to keep dirty? 

     

  2. Wow, your comment today is amazing!

    When you said, "As we grow in grace and actively pursue holiness, sin loses its luster and appeal, and that we begin to enjoy the fruits of righteousness, repentance and life in the Spirit"…BOOM! That really spoke to me, because that is exactly what I'm experiencing. 

    On Christmas Eve, Mom, Mikey & I went to the service at Stony Lane. It was beautiful. Pastor John asked us to ask ourselves what, if anything, was holding us back from walking with Jesus as our Savior, and he suggested that maybe it was reluctance to give up all that you think you would have to give up – and that hit the nail on the head for me, as to where I had been before surrendering completely. 

    However, it is NOTHING like I thought – I am not missing out on a single thing. Those things just became completely unimportant to me; sin had lost its luster for me, and it is so incredible to experience this! I lost nothing that I wasn't better off without. 

    Instead, I gained everything: freedom, love, patience, kindness, security, peace, fellowship. … I could go on and on. Life is beautiful because I now have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, and I could not be more grateful. 

     

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