And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse.” (Numbers 5:1-2)
If we understand that the sanctity of the Sanctuary had to be maintained, it stands to reason that the camp itself had to be ritually clean as well. That is, in fact, the message within these commands — there could be no contamination or, in Hebrew, tumah. The first of those things considered to be contamination in regard to the camp was the metzorah or “leper.” That was followed by the one who has an “issue” (see Lev. 15) and then the one who comes in contact with a corpse. The common denominator in all of these is the threat of uncleanness being spread to others, which had to be avoided.
While some of this may seem a bit harsh to us today, the reality is that certain things have the ability to spread and affect others whether or not the afflicted person intended it that way. Perhaps more importantly, though, is the principle embedded within this command. The removal of physical impurities that could affect many, hints at the need to remove spiritual impurities, which could also affect many. So many times, entire congregations have fallen victim to one sin or another because that particular sin was allowed to run rampant within the Body without being challenged.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he mentions how sexual immorality was present within in the congregation and was being allowed to remain. Paul’s instruction to the people was to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved” (1 Corinthians 5:5). In short, spiritual impurity must be put out of the camp for the sake of others and the sanctity of the congregation. Things such as this cannot coexist with the followers of Messiah. Separation from impurity is a must and, as His people, we must possess the willingness to put distance between us and such behavior — but not in condemnation. We do this in the hope that those who are excluded from the community will be provoked to repentance and restoration. That is how our Father works with us and how we should be with others.
Blessings and Shalom,