Purify my heart, O God.
Read Numbers 9:1–14
9 The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2 “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”
4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, 5 and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.
6 But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day 7 and said to Moses, “We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the Lord’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time?”
8 Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you.”
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, 10 “Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they are still to celebrate the Lord’s Passover, 11 but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations. 13 But if anyone who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, they must be cut off from their people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at the appointed time. They will bear the consequences of their sin.
14 “‘A foreigner residing among you is also to celebrate the Lord’s Passover in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for both the foreigner and the native-born.’”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow can unclean sinners live to please God?
It’s Israel’s first birthday! Every year, the entire nation was to remember how God saved them through the Passover. They had to do it in the right way at the right time (2,3).
But there’s a problem. In the year since that first Passover, God has taught his people they could only come to him if they were clean. But through no fault of their own, some people were unclean (6). Their hearts were in the right place: they were not treating the Passover casually (we can just skip it); they were not treating God’s law casually (we can eat it as we are). But they have a dilemma: how do you do what God says when God says you can’t?
So God makes an exception to the careful instructions of verse 3. They may celebrate it a month later. The dilemma shows that in a fallen world, obeying God and walking in his ways often requires prayer and godly wisdom.
But the main point is not merely about moral choices. It’s that we need a better substitute than a Passover lamb. We need one who not only saves us from judgment, but who makes us pure and holy and fit for God’s presence so that we can serve him with joy. We need a substitute who makes us clean.
Is there a command or passage of Scripture that you have difficulty understanding or obeying? Find a trusted, godly leader to ask about this issue.
Praise God that although you were an alien and stranger (14), Christ died to make you clean and bring you close.