TODAY’S READING: Numbers 5–6
God’s covenantal promise is simple: I will be your God, you will be My people, I will dwell with you, and I will bless you to be a blessing to all the nations. This simple covenant is the baseline for God’s relationship with mankind. Over and over in the Scripture this covenant is stated and explained. Every law, every commandment, every precept, every narrative of the Bible underlines or reinforces this covenant. God uses all kind of pictures, metaphors, events, people, and teachings to reinforce this essential commitment.
One such picture is ritual holiness. Nothing can defile the camp in which God dwells (Num. 5:3). Why? It is all covenantal. God is holy. We are to be His holy people. He then dwells among us, and that union is so blessed it creates a holy jealousy (and invitation) for those nations who don’t have it.
Marriage is another picture of God’s missional covenant (vv. 11–29). God is the husband, and His people are the bride. We are to be faithful to the covenant, under the authority of our Husband, aligned with His passions, contributing to His purpose. If we are unfaithful, we will be cursed, shamed, and judged (v. 27). To not remain in the covenant is to “defile ourselves with another man” (v. 20). When we enter into a covenant with God, He lays out the marriage principles: I will be your Husband, you will be My wife, I will dwell with you, and we will together bless the unreached peoples of earth. And we the bride say, “Amen, so be it” (v. 22). To do anything else then, to break any component of the covenant is to commit spiritual adultery. When we, the Church of God, do not align all our strength, will, energy, and focus on making disciples of all nations, we are adulterous. Our illicit lovers may be big buildings, fancy programs, slick performances, popular books, catchy worship songs, peppy conferences, or a thousand other gilded ministries, but they are betrayers all the same if we are not faithful to the missionary heart of our Husband.
Numbers 6:8 reveals a third picture—the Nazarite who was separate to the Lord all the days of his/her life. When a Nazarite dedicated himself to wholly serve God’s purposes, he agreed to wholly abstain from wine. So firm was this commitment that even grapes, grape juice, and raisins were avoided. No appearance of evil, nothing even close to the forbidden was considered. It was the same covenant. The Nazarite said to God: You are my holy God, I will be Your holy servant, Your holy presence will dwell with me, and I will be Your holy blessing to all the peoples of earth.
Missionaries are today’s Nazarites. They are the men and women of every nation who consecrate themselves to being holy that the God they revere may be made holy globally. In that endeavor they say no to good things that God may do great things. The Nazarite spirit also lives on in the generous businessman who says, “My business is holy unto the Lord,” wholly given over to use its profits for missions. The Nazarite spirit is strong in our retirees who on their knees pray and cry that the Holy Spirit is poured out among unreached peoples. The Nazarite spirit flows through the church pastors, elders, and deacons who refuse to violate their marriage covenant with the God of all the nations; they keep their vows by leading their whole congregation to God’s passion for His own glory among all peoples of earth.
When we live holy lives, the Lord indeed blesses us and keeps us and makes His face shine upon us, and He is gracious and smiles upon us and gives us peace (vv. 24–26). All those blessings have a reason—that we carry them to Nepal and disburse them to the uttermost parts and peoples of earth.