Parashah B’Midbar (In the Desert) Numbers 1 – 4:20

We begin the 4th book of the Torah.

God commands that a census be taken so that we know how many we have that are able to serve, both in the military and for the service of the Tabernacle. We are also reminded that all the first born belong to God, both of people and of animals, because God took all the firstborn of the Egyptians as a ransom for His people, Israel.

The Levites are counted separately and their first born are ransom for the first born of the other tribes.

Here we can see, again, the consistency of God: everything belongs to God. Everything that grows, everything human, everything animal, everything- of the produce we give a tenth to God, and all the first born we give to God. From our tithe the Levite takes their portion, and as a sort of return, the Levites supply the first born to God from their tribe as a way of paying back the other tribes.

That’s a little convoluted, and it’s my own way of looking at that arrangement- I hope I explained it well enough so that (at least) some of you may understand what I mean.

Taking a census is OK, so long as it is in accordance with God’s commandment. This census was taken to identify who can serve doing what, and is needed now because the people are about to travel to the Promised Land. The Tabernacle needs to be moved and the people need to know who will be responsible for protecting them as they travel. God also identifies how, exactly, the camp is to be arranged and the order of travel.

We are also told that those who are unclean must be kept outside the camp because God is in the camp and nothing unclean may be near Him. OK- that sounds fine. If you are unclean you can’t be in the same place where God is, that makes sense….and then it hit me: inside the camp there is protection, but outside the camp you are exposed to the world without protection. And if attacked, you can’t go into the camp- you are unclean. You have enemies all around you; not that your own people are your enemy, but as long as you are unclean, they are not allowed to help or protect you.

When we sin or disobey God, we are unclean. As such, we are no longer under His protection- we are “outside of the camp”, aren’t we? God tells us of all that He will do to bless us when we are “clean”, i.e., obeying Him. And He also tells us all the terrible things that will happen to us when we ignore and disobey Him. We read this in Leviticus and we are told this, over and over, throughout the Torah. The best place to get this listing of blessings and curses will come later, in Deuteronomy (Chapter 28.)

Sin not only separates us from God, but since we are outside the camp when we are unclean, it separates us from each other, as well. We may be physically close, but we are spiritually separated, and eventually that spiritual uncleanliness will show itself in our actions. Then we will be physically forced away from other Believers, because our actions will show we are no longer clean enough to be in the camp, spiritually or physically.

Sin excommunicates us, one way or another.

Does that mean if I do wrong I am no longer a child of God? Heavens no! We all sin, and there is a BIG difference between sinning without care and sinning without meaning to. When we sin, thanks to Yeshua, we can be cleansed then and there. And when we do T’shuvah in our hearts, the uncleanness that sin causes can be washed away ASAP when we ask for forgiveness. We can be back in the camp in a heartbeat, or (more accurately) in a prayer.

Those who were physically unclean had to wait until sundown, but we can be cleansed immediately. We can remain in the camp, where God walks with us, and that is all thanks to Yeshua and to God, who keeps His promises, especially the ones made through Yeshua ha Maschiach.

We all will sin now and then- we can’t help it, really, but we can regret it. Regretting it will lead to T’shuvah, which will lead to confession, which will lead to requesting forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, which will cleanse us and we will be able to re-enter the camp.

Outside the camp is a dangerous and scary place- you do not want to be there.

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