Our Sunday reading takes us to chapter five and six of Numbers.
Chapter 5 –
If the organization of the Israelites traveling to the promised land was important their sanctification – that is their status as set apart people of God – was critical. God’s holiness was manifested in a visible way in the tabernacle, which was in the center of Israel’s camp and served as symbol of God’s presence.
The regulations of chapter five spell out the stipulations isolating as “unclean” anyone among them having a skin disease, anyone with a discharge, or anyone who was defiled. Because of contact with a corpse. Such people must go outside the camp.
There were procedures for cleansing and restoring the affected person back into camp. In verse 5-6 regulation is presented here involved a person who committed any sin against another. Since such a sin was some kind of moral or legal violation serious steps had to be taken to make it right.
The offended human victim of sin has to be compensated. The remaining chapter deals with a husband who had a feeling of jealousy. Adultery was a sin that could not be tolerated under Mosaic law. The process began with the husband bring his wife to the priest, along with an offering of barley flour to deal with possible guilt. The priest would then take holy water in a clay bowl and mix it with dust from the tabernacle floor to make a bitter drink which the woman would be required to drink affirming she was innocent or accepting a curse if she was guilty.
If the woman were innocent no harm would come to her but if she was guilty the curse would render her sterile
Chapter 6 –
Serving the Lord in the tabernacle was limited to the priests and other servants who belonged to the tribe of Levi. But any Israelite could consecrate himself or herself for special separation and devotion by taking the Nazirite vow. Two Old Testament Nazirites were Samuel who honored his vow and Samson who dishonored his vow.
Ehen the period of consecration was over the Nazirite ws to present themselves to the Lord with three unblemished animals at the tabernacle as a burnt offering…a sin offering and a fellowship offering. Then the Nazirite would shave his consecrated head and throw the hair into the fire on the altar symbolizing the completion of his vow. This chapter ends with a beautiful priestly blessing to palce the Lord’s name on the people.