He Walks Among Us.
“For the Lord your God walks about in the middle of your camp to deliver you and defeat your enemies for you. Therefore your camp should be holy, so that he does not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.” – Deuteronomy 23:14 NET
Like the two chapters that precede them, chapters 23-24 contain what seems to be a wide range of topics that don’t seem to fit together. But they all have something to do with the presence of God. They each reflect an awareness that God is in the midst of His people. As a result, He has different standards and He expects His people to live differently than the nations around them. We may view some of these restrictions as unnecessarily harsh, but God had a reason for them. He was illustrating for His people His own holiness and set-apartness. Even when the people of God went out on manuevers as an army, they had to remain holy. They couldn’t cut corners or excuse themselves from following God’s commands. “When you go out as an army against your enemies, guard yourselves against anything impure” (Deuteronomy 23:9 NET). Personal and corporate purity were to be a priority – at all times. Even when it came to personal hygiene, they were to practice purity. When an army was out in the field, each of the men was to cover his waste products, not leave it out in the open like a latrine. Why? Because God would be walking about their camp. He would be in their midst. Not only did this result in good hygiene, it resulted in a constant awareness of God’s presence. God’s people should ALWAYS conduct themselves in view of God’s presence among them.
This is a huge need in the church today. So often we fail to sense God’s presence among us. We act as if He is nowhere to be found. Which results in a flippant, casual kind of attitude about our thoughts and actions. Over in his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul says, “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes––these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God” (Ephesians 5:3-4). We are to remove these things from our community. We are NOT to live like the rest of the world. Our homes are NOT to have in them the same kind of things the rest of the world has. We are NOT to watch the same kind of movies and TV shows. We are NOT to listen to the same music. We are NOT to have the same kinds of conversations. Because we are better? No, but because the holy, righteous God walks in our midst. He walks among us. I remember one time having a conversation with my oldest son about his use of the Internet. I warned him about the dangers of pornography available online. I tried to tell him that there would be temptations to look at things he knew he was not supposed to look at. But the thing that made the greatest impact on him was when I told him to consider what it would be like if he was surfing the Internet and decided to click on a site he knew was inappropriate – and I was sitting next to him when the improper images appeared on the screen. I remember the uncomfortable look on his face. I asked him if he would ever click on something inappropriate or improper on the Internet if I was sitting next to him and he said, “No!” Then I told him to consider the fact that God Himself was sitting next to Him at all times. The holy, righteous God of the universe was with Him every second of every day. So if he did end up clicking on that site in order to look at images he knew were wrong for him as a believer, he would be doing so right in front of God.
But most of us don’t seem to believe that God is with us at all times. We don’t recognize that He walks in our midst. So we tolerate all kinds of “uncleanliness” in our midst. Rather than bury our filth, we allow it to remain in the open, subjecting God to our sin and uncleanness. Sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes. Sounds like a description of prime-time TV doesn’t it? Yet as we sit on the couch taking it all in, God is there with us. He is in our midst. His presence is there whether we feel it or not. Yet we live like the nations around us – ignoring His presence and pursuing a lifestyle that has no place among God’s people. “GOD, your God, strolls through your camp; he’s present to deliver you and give you victory over your enemies. Keep your camp holy; don’t permit anything indecent or offensive in GOD’s eyes” (Deuteronomy 23:14 MSG).
Father, You are in our midst, but we live like You are not there. We allow all kinds of uncleanness to exist in our camp, ignoring Your commands for holiness and purity. We resemble the world around us more than the God among us. We have lost our distinctiveness. Forgive us Father and remind us once again of our uniqueness as Your people. You walk among us. You have placed Your Spirit within us. We belong to You and not this world. Make us increasingly aware of Your presence so that we might willingly remove any and all things in and around our lives that have no place in the life of a believer. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men