March 17: Letting Evil Burn
Numbers 19:1–20:13; 1 Corinthians 2:1–16; Psalm 18:13–30
“And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying … ‘let them take to you a red heifer without a physical defect …. And you will give it to Eleazar the priest, and it will … be slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest will take some of its blood on his finger and spatter it toward the mouth of the tent of assembly seven times. The heifer will be burned in his sight; its skin, its meat, and its blood, in addition to its offal, will burn’ ” (Num 19:1–4).
This passage is so strange and gruesome, it is clearly symbolic. The heifer represents the perfect, unblemished sacrifice—which takes care of some (not all) of the purification associated with things Yahweh deemed unclean for the purpose of teaching His people obedience, and some of the results of sin (Num 19:9).
Also, the heifer is burned because it has to be made into ashes. This beautiful creature becomes ashes. That’s the cost of an impure life: good has to become worthless. The only way to purge impurities is to burn them away. Then what has been purified through fire (and then water) can be used (Num 19:9–10). The passage goes on to describe several uses associated with this practice (e.g., Num 19:11–13).
All of our lives include things that go against God’s will, and these things must burn. We must let the Spirit work in us to empower us to remove them. And there’s good news for this: Jesus has already done the great work of conquering sin in the world. There is no more need for the red heifer because Jesus’ sacrifice (His death) paid for our problems. He wasn’t the symbol of the sacrifice, like the heifer; He was the sacrifice itself.
God calls us to the great race of running toward Him—for Him—in honor of what Christ has done among us. So let’s let the evil burn.
What is God calling you to burn?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And the Lord spake to Moses, and to Aaron, saying, This is the ordinance of the Law, which the Lord hath commaned, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel that they bring thee a red cow without blemish, wherein is no spot, upon the which never came yoke. And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the Priest, that he may bring her without the host, and cause her to be slain before his face. Then shall Eleazar the Priest take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle it before the Tabernacle of the Congregation seven times, And cause the cow to be burnt in his sight with her sking, and her flesh, and her blood, and her dung shall he burn her. Then shall the Priest take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet lace, and cast them in the midst of the fire where the cow burneth. Then shall the Priest wash his clothes, and he shall wash his flesh in water, and then come into the host, and the Priest shall be unclean unto the even. Also he that burneth her, shall wash his clothes in water, and wash his flesh in water, and be unclean until even. And a man, that is clean, shall take up the ashes of the cow, and put them without the host in a clean place: and it shall be kept for the Congregation of the children of Israel for a sprinkling water: it is a sin offering. Therefore he that gathereth the ashes of the cow, shall wash his clothes, and remain unclean until even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that dwelleth among them, a statute forever. He that toucheth the dead body of any man, shall be unclean even seven days. He shall purify himself therewith the third day, and the seventh day he shall be clean: but if he purify not himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. Whosoever toucheth the corpse of any man that is dead, and purgeth not himself, defileth the Tabernacle of the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from Israel, because the sprinkling water was not sprinkled upon him: he shall be unclean, and his uncleanness shall remain still upon him. This is the law, When a man dieth in a tent, all that come into the tent, and all that is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. And all the vessels that be open, which have no covering fastened upon them, shall be unclean. Also whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the field, or a dead person, or a bone of a dead man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. Therefore for an unclean person, they shall take of the burnt ashes of the sin offering, and pure water shall be put thereto in a vessel. And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and on the persons that were therein, and upon him that touched the bone, or the slain, or the dead, or the grave. And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean third day, and the seventh day, and he shall purify himself the seventh day, and wash his clothes, and wash himself in water, and shall be clean at even. But the man that is unclean, and purifieth not himself, that person shall be cut off from among the Congregation, because he hath defiled the Sanctuary of the Lord: and the sprinkling water hath not been sprinkled upon him: therefore shall he be unclean. And it shall be a perpetual law unto them, that he that sprinkleth the sprinkling water, shall wash his clothes: also he that toucheth the sprinkling water, shall be unclean until even. And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean: and the person that toucheth him, shall be unclean until the even. Then the children of Israel came with the whole Congregation to the desert of Zin in the first month, and the people abode at Kadesh: where Miriam died, and was buried there. But there was no water for the Congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and against Aaron. And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Woud God we had perished when our brethren died before the Lord. Why have ye thus brought the Congregation of the Lord unto the wilderness, that both we and our cattle should die there? Wherefore now have ye made us to come up from Egypt, to bring us into this miserable place, which is no place of seed, nor figs, nor vines, nor pomegranates? neither is there any water to drink. Then Moses an Aaron went from the assembly unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou and thy brother Aaron the Congregation together, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the Congregation and the beasts drink. Then Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he had commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the Congregation together before the rock: and Moses said unto them, Hear now ye rebels: shall we bring you water out of this rock? Then Moses lift up his hand, and with his ro he smote the rock twice, and the water came out abundantly: so the Congregation, and their beasts drank. Again, the Lord spake unto Moses, and to Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the presence of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this Congregation into the land which I have given them. This is the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel strove with the Lord, and he was sanctified in them. Numbers 19:1–20:13
- And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of words, or of wisdom, showing unto you the testimony of God. For I esteemed not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was among you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. Neither stood my word, and my preaching in the enticing speech of man’s wisdom, but in plain evidence of the Spirit and of power. That your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. And we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: not the wisdom of this world, neithr of the princes of this world, which come to nought. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hid wisdom, which God had determined before the world, unto our glory. Which none of the princes of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, The things which eye hath not seen, neither ear hath heard, neither came into man’s heart, are, which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man, which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have receiveth not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit, which is of God, that we might know the things that are given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words of which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things. But the natural man perceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual, discerneth all things: yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he might instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:1–16
- They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me because he favored me. The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness: according to the pureness of mine hand he recompensed me: Because I kept the ways of the Lord, and did not wickedly against God. For all his laws were before me, and I did not cast away his commandments from me. I was upright also with him, and have kept me from my wickedness. Therefore the Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness, and according to the pureness of mine hand in his sight. With the godly thou wilt show thyself godly: with the upright man thou wilt show thyself upright. With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure, and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward. Thus thou wilt save the poor people, and wilt cast down to proud looks. Surely thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will lighten my darkness. For by thee I have broken through an host, and by my God I have leaped over a wall. The way of God is uncorrupt: the word of the Lord is tried in the fire: he is a shield to all that trust in him. Psalm 18:13–30