"No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 23:1-3)In the assembly of the Israelite, there was only room for the pure, perfect, and pedigreed. Those with defects, illegitimate birth, or incorrect ancestry were excluded. Unless you were perfect, you were not accepted and were forced to dwell separated from the people of God and from the God of the people of God. Moreover, if you were one of the fortunate ones to be counted acceptable, there were times when you too would be forced "outside the camp" to wait out your times of impurity or uncleanness. Such uncleanness could be caused by sickness, touching something unclean (like a dead body), or some impure bodily emission.
"If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp." (Deuteronomy 23:10-11)Everything inside the camp had to be pure, spotless, and without blemish or defect. So strict was God regarding their conduct within the camp, and the condition of the camp, that He even provided them rules regarding how they were to relieve themselves.
"You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement." (Deuteronomy 23:12-13)Many of these commandments may seem to us to be extreme, extracting, and fastidious but they are the price of having the presence of God abiding in your midst.
"Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you." (Deuteronomy 23:13)God is pure, holey, and perfect and he can only dwell in a place and with a people who are also pure, holy, and perfect. These commandments from God represent the minimum requirements necessary for God's presence to be able to abide in our midst. Without perfection, God's presence will either turn away from us or be a fire to consume us. "Sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling has seized the godless. Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?" (Isaiah 33:14)
Under the Mosaic covenant, fellowship with God was dependent upon one keeping the law of God. "Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully." (Psalms 24:3-4) Without keeping the law you could not approach God nor could His presence abide with or in you. "You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)
Fortunately, Jesus came to declare good news to us. That acceptance with God was to be made available, not by keeping the law, but rather by believing upon Jesus and trusting in the finished work of atonement which Jesus accomplished upon the cross. An acceptance that is by faith rather than by works. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13) Through faith in Christ we can have fellowship with God and He will come and make His abode in us. "My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (John 14:23) No more is the requirement perfection, but faith. God has called all to come to Him by faith, even the broken, hurting, defective, weak, and illegitimate. All are welcome in Christ, all are invited back to fellowship with God. We are all sinners, we are all fallen, and we are all invited. "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
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