The peoples need for holiness

For a successful season of prayer, the best beginning is confession.” (Source Unknown).


In the opening verses of this chapter the Lord reminds the people of His holiness and of their need for holiness if they were to live near His dwelling place. In the Old Testament covenant, the community’s spiritual holiness was linked to and symbolized by physical, bodily, holiness and by proper interpersonal relationships:

  1. Anyone who contracted an illness that rendered him ceremonially unclean could not fellowship with the Lord at the tabernacle or with his human associates (vv. 1-4). This included an infectious skin disease (not only leprosy), a bodily discharge of any kind, and the contamination resulting from contact with a dead body. (For a full description of the various kinds of uncleanness and their treatments (see Lev. 12-15 and Num. 19).
  2. The offender who wronged another person in any way must confess that sin and also make full restitution for it plus 20 percent (vv. 5-10). This obviously refers to losses that also animals could be measured in a tangible way (See Lev. 6:1-7 for details). But if the offended party was no longer alive and had no close relative to whom restitution could be made, the restitution was to be given to the Lord along with a ram which was required as a guilt-offering of atonement (See Lev. 5:15; 6:6; 7:1-10). This type of offering was actually given to the priest for him to eat (Lev. 7:6-7). Similarly, the sacred contributions an Israelite might make voluntarily were to go to the priest for his use (Lev. 2:9-10).
  3. If a man suspected his wife of adultery he was to take her before the priest whether he had proof or not (vv. 11-31). In the covenant community of Israel, adultery, like ceremonial uncleanness and trespass against one’s brother or sister (v. 6), was symptomatic of unfaithfulness to the Lord. It therefore could not be tolerated as either a breach of the relationship of husband and wife (Ex. 20:14) or as the expression of covenant infidelity (Ezek. 16). When all was ready, the priest told the woman she would not be cursed if she were innocent but would be cursed if guilty. She was to reply, “So be it.”


If I sin or wrong another person today, I need to confess it to the Lord (I John 1:9), ask the person for forgiveness, and if it is of monetary value, I need to make restoration.

Numbers 5:1-31 (English Standard Version)

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Command the people of Israel that they put out of the camp everyone who is leprous or has a discharge and everyone who is unclean through contact with the dead. You shall put out both male and female, putting them outside the camp, that they may not defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell." And the people of Israel did so, and put them outside the camp; as the LORD said to Moses, so the people of Israel did. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel, When a man or woman commits any of the sins that people commit by breaking faith with the LORD, and that person realizes his guilt, he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong. But if the man has no next of kin to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution for wrong shall go to the LORD for the priest, in addition to the ram of atonement with which atonement is made for him. And every contribution, all the holy donations of the people of Israel, which they bring to the priest, shall be his. Each one shall keep his holy donations: whatever anyone gives to the priest shall be his." And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel, If any man's wife goes astray and breaks faith with him, if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act, and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself, then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance. "And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the LORD. And the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD and unbind the hair of the woman's head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And in his hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, 'If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband's authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you, then' (let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse, and say to the woman) 'the LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your thigh fall away and your body swell. May this water that brings the curse pass into your bowels and make your womb swell and your thigh fall away.' And the woman shall say, 'Amen, Amen.' "Then the priest shall write these curses in a book and wash them off into the water of bitterness. And he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain. And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand and shall wave the grain offering before the LORD and bring it to the altar. And the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive children. "This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, though under her husband's authority, goes astray and defiles herself, or when the spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife. Then he shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law. The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity."

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