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Numbers Chapter 19 (ESV)
1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2 “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. 3 And you shall give it to Eleazar the priest, and it shall be taken outside the camp and slaughtered before him. 4 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. 5 And the heifer shall be burned in his sight. Its skin, its flesh, and its blood, with its dung, shall be burned. 6 And the priest shall take cedarwood and hyssop and scarlet yarn, and throw them into the fire burning the heifer. 7 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. 8 The one who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water and shall be unclean until evening. 9 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.
- Read aloud this passage.
- In Israel ritual uncleanness was contagious. If a person touched a dead body, he not only became unclean himself, but whatever he touched then became unclean. This meant that uncleanness had to be dealt with immediately, before the whole camp and the tabernacle itself could be contaminated. Thus the ashes of a sacrificed heifer were kept nearby, ready to be mixed with water and immediately sprinkled on anyone who had touched a dead body.
- The rite was not magical, but reflected spiritual realities. Sin does contaminate and must be dealt with immediately. You and I too are to deal with our sins without delay. We are to confess our sins to God at once, make restitution, and rely on God’s promise to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Go through my day mentally. Where do I get “contaminated” by the “uncleanness” the easiest? How can I avoid it? How does the sin in my life “infect” those around me? Ask the Holy Spirit help me to live a “clean” life.