Numbers Chapter 19

The Israelites were wandering in the wilderness at this point in the bible. They had been given the law of Moses with many laws and ordinances. Part of the law, was the law of sacrifice. Each sacrifice had a specific purpose in the purification and sanctification of the children of Israel. The Lord had further instruction in this chapter, which begins:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
2 This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke:
3 And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face:
4 And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times:
5 And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn:
6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.
7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the even.
8 And he that burneth her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the even.
9 And a man that is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up without the camp in a clean place, and it shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for a water of separation: it is a purification for sin.
10 And he that gathereth the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: and it shall be unto the children of Israel, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among them, for a statute for ever.

The Israelites were commanded to sacrifice a young red calf, without blemish, which had never borne a yoke. Eleazar, the son of Aaron and priest, was to be given the cow. He was to take her out of the camp, where someone would kill her in front of him. Then Eleazar was to take her blood and sprinkle it seven times, in front of the tabernacle of congregation. The cow was to be burned with cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet. Eleazar, the priest, and anyone who helped to burn the cow, was to wash and return to the camp unclean for the rest of the day. One who was considered clean or worthy, was to gather the ashes and put them in a clean place outside of camp for the water of separation, which was used for purification from sin. The one who gathered the ashes, was then to wash his clothes and be considered unclean for the rest of the day.

11 He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days.
12 He shall purify himself with it on the third day, and on 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.
13 Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him.
14 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.
15 And every open vessel, which hath no covering bound upon it, is unclean.
16 And whosoever toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.
17 And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel:
18 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 upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave:
19 And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.
20 But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him; he is unclean.
21 And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.
22 And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean; and the soul that toucheth it shall be unclean until even.

Those who touched the dead, or entered into the tent when someone had died there, were considered unclean for seven days. If they went through purification on the third day, they would be considered clean on the seventh day. If purification was not done, then the person was unclean, and defiled the tabernacle. As a result, they were to be cut off from the people or excommunicated from the church. Part of the purification process, was a sprinkling of the water of separation. The uncovered vessels within a tent where one had died, were also unclean. Those who touched someone who died by sword in battle, any dead body, any bones of a person, or any grave for the dead, were also considered unclean for the seven days. The purification process for these unclean people, was that they were to take the cow ashes and add them to running water in a vessel. Then one who was clean, would then take hyssop, dip it into the water and sprinkle it upon the tent, vessels and any person who had become unclean by the dead. The unclean person was to be sprinkled on the third day. On the seventh day, they were to purify themselves, wash and remain unclean for that day. The person who sprinkled the water of separation was to wash his clothes and be unclean for the remainder of the day. Any individual who touched the water was unclean for the rest of the day as well. Anything that was touched by the unclean, was also considered unclean. Anyone who touched anything considered unclean, was also unclean for the rest of the day.

The Israelites were taught to be clean, and went through a very physical process to be purified. They did this so that they would be considered worthy to the Lord. Today, we should also strive to be found clean and worthy. For us, the process is much more spiritual. It involves sincere repentance and returning to the Lord every step of the way. In Doctrine and Covenants 76:114 and 116, we read, “But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom . . . Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him” We must be purified, in order to be worthy of the companionship of the Spirit. Since true conversion, learning, and growth can only happen when the Spirit can be there with us, we should strive to be pure and clean all the time. I am grateful for atonement and that it covers all things that may cause me to be unworthy. The challenge in life, is to remember to use the atonement everyday through repentance, and then to live according to the will of the Lord. I know that the result of worthiness to the Lord is of great importance and will lead to receiving countless blessings from the Lord.

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