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Sermon #2467 — Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: “The Law of Jealousies”
Text: Numbers 5:11-31
Subject: The Lord’s Jealousy for His Church
Date: Tuesday Evening — February 19, 2019
Readings: Lindsay Campbell and Rex Bartley
Seeking the Lord’s message for you, I am sometimes given direction by the Spirit of God through…
Š Providential Events
Š Personal Experiences
Š Your Trials and Blessings
Š Conversations with You
Š Your Questions
A portion of our Bible reading last Wednesday morning was the 5th chapter of numbers. While we were having breakfast, Shelby called my attention to that chapter and asked, “Can you explain that law of jealousy to me? How did it work? What does it mean?” Frankly, I was a little embarrassed because I couldn’t give her much help. So we read Hawker and Gill together. And they weren’t of much help. Needless to say, the text has been on my mind all week. And, I believe, the Lord gave me some help and gave me a message for you. So, turn with me to Numbers 5, and we will read what God there say to us about “The Law of Jealousies.” That is my subject — “The Law of Jealouies.” Our text will be Numbers 5:11-31.
Proposition: So jealous is God our Savior for us that he established a law in Israel, called “the law of jealousies,” to show us how he who “hateth putting away” keeps his beloved from leaving him.
(Numbers 5:11-31) “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (12) Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, (13) And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner; (14) And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled: (15) Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance. (16) And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD: (17) And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water: (18) And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse: (19) And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse: (20) But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband: (21) Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell; (22) And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen. (23) And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water: (24) And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter. (25) Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman’s hand, and shall wave the offering before the LORD, and offer it upon the altar: (26) And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water. (27) And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. (28) And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed. (29) This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled; (30) Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law. (31) Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity.”
In this passage of Scripture the Lord God established “the law of jealousies” (v. 29). If the wife was seen speaking with or spending what appeared to the husband to be an inordinate amount of time with another man, she could be brought to a priest and given a test. The test was designed to prove her innocence or establish her guilt.
Only the Husband
We should not fail to observe that the test was only available to the husband. No such test existed if the wife suspected her husband of adultery. The burden of proof or innocence was upon the woman. We are nowhere told that adultery was more prevalent among wives than it was among husbands in Israel; but that may very well have been the case.
Hebrew women looked upon barrenness as a terrible curse and reproach, a shameful thing, as indicated in verse 28. There we are told that if the wife was proved innocent she would then conceive.
It was suggested by some of the ancient Jewish writers that adultery was more prevalent among wives, because they thought that the multiplicity of lovers would increase the probability of conception. And, if they were able to conceive and bear children, people would look upon them as being blessed of God. That notion would tend to stir a little jealousy in a man, especially if his other wives were barren.
If a woman’s husband became suspicious of her fidelity, if he was jealous for her, God ordained this strange law for his use. It was not necessary that she be caught in the act of adultery or that she be guilty of it. All that was necessary was for her husband to be jealous. If in his mind there was but the suspicion of infidelity, this test, this law, was to be applied (vv. 12-14).
This test did not involve being put on trial in a court of law. That would only take place if the woman had been caught in the act of adultery and the result in that case was capital punishment for both the woman and the man with whom she had committed adultery (Leviticus 20:10).
If a man was suspicious of his wife, she was to be brought to the priest with an offering (v.15). The offering was to be supplied by the husband, but it was her offering. This offering was unique. The offering was to be the tenth part of an ephah of barley; which was the same as an omer, about 3 1/2 quarts of dry measure or about 1/10 of a bushel. The offering was carried in an earthen vessel. And the woman had to hold this weight while she was being tested. You can imagine how heavy the offering was as she held it out in her hands. It was designed to make her weary and, perhaps, bring about a confession of guilt.
Everything about the offering was significant. It was not an offering that was designated to expiate, remove, or transfer sin. Rather, in verse 15, it is specifically called…
Š A Jealousy Offering
Š A Memorial Offering
Š An Offering to Bring Iniquity to Remembrance
The amount of barley meal was the same as the daily ration of manna for one person, the same measure used in the meal or meat offering. But, unlike the meal offering, this offering had no fine flour, or oil, or frankincense; all of which pointed to
Š the righteousness of Christ,
Š the work of the Spirit,
Š and the sweet smelling savor of the grace of God.
Fine flour was the food of the priests. Barley was the food of the beast. The earthen vessel was a vessel of dishonor, a common vessel, used only for a time and then discarded. Every element of the offering was designed to cause the woman to remember her sin and iniquity (v.15). This was a jealousy offering and it showed the effects of suspicion, the woman was suspected of a common, beastly and dishonorable act — adultery. And, as I said before, the offering was provided by her husband; but it was her offering.
The priest would then take holy water (water from the laver of brass) and mix it in the earthen vessel with dirt from the floor of the tabernacle and pronounce the curse upon the woman (vv. 19-22). The ramifications of the curse were contingent upon her being proved guilty. The curse was declared to the woman; and she was required to agree to it, verifying her understanding of the charges laid against her. After hearing the curse, she would reply “Amen, amen” (v.22). By doing so she was saying that she understood the charges against, agreed to the curse, and was ready to be tested. She was saying that when she drank the bitter water, if it became bitter in her stomach and caused her stomach to swell and her thigh to rot, if she became ill and began to corrupt, that she was guilty as charged and would be shunned the rest of her days.
Then the priest would write the charges, the indictment of suspicion, on a piece of parchment and take the water mixed with the dirt and blot the indictment. The blotting of the ink from the indictment was mixed with the water and dirt. The brew that was in the earthen vessel was water, dirt from the floor of the tabernacle, and ink blotted from the parchment upon which her indictment was written. This strange concoction was designed only to reveal whether she was guilty or not guilty of adultery. It searched her from within and made manifest her guilt or innocence. — Either way, the outcome would be miraculous, an obvious work of God. — The concoction was, no doubt, bitter to the taste. But there was nothing in it that could make her sick, except by Divine intervention.
Š If she was innocent, she could not be injured but by a miracle performed by the Lord.
Š If she was guilty, she could not be punished but a miracle performed by the Lord.
A Gospel Type
Because the mixture had nothing toxic or poisonous in it, and could only discern what was inside the woman, the test was a miraculous thing and should be viewed as such. God the Holy Ghost tells us, in 1st Corinthians 10, that these things happened in Israel to be typical, typical of Gospel matters. In this Gospel Age God judges the secrets of all hearts by Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest of our profession, by the Gospel. As is all the law, the Book of Numbers is about the Church, Christ’s Bride, in our relationship with Christ our Husband. What’s this all about?
The Wife Suspected
1st — Only the wife could be suspected of adultery. No law was given concerning the possibility of the husband’s infidelity. Had God intended for us to look upon this law as relating to the natural affairs of the heart neither the wife nor the husband would have need of testing. Both were, as we all are, adulterers by nature (Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21).
The law is, in its entirety, spiritual. It is all about Christ, his person and his accomplished work for his people. The husband was not suspected because this, of course, points to the fact that Christ is without sin. — He is our ever faithful Husband, whose name is Faithful and True. Any problem that results in a damaged relationship between Christ and his Church must be laid at our door, never his.
No hint of suspicion can ever be put to the immutable Christ.
Š He, who never lies, who cannot lie, loves his bride unconditionally.
Š He will never leave her nor forsake her.
Š He is with her always.
Š He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Š He loves her with an everlasting love and lives to intercede for her.
If a possibility of suspicion, if any hint of unfaithfulness exists, it can only be with the Bride, not with Christ.
Illustration: The Song of Solomon
2nd — Christ is jealous for his glory and jealous for his Bride, and will countenance no rival to her affection for him.
In Zechariah 1:14, the prophet of God said, “The angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” Because of his great jealousy for his people, the Lord God destroys the enemies of his people and — “Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem” (Zechariah 1:16-17).
In Zechariah 8, the Lord Jesus again asserts that his jealousy for his chosen makes their salvation certain.
(Zechariah 8:2) “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.”
The emotion of jealousy has to do with entitlement. The Lord Jesus is entitled. — We are not. He has both claim and right to the unconditional affection and allegiance of those he loves. He says, “Give me thine heart;” and he is entitled to it because he is worthy. He has a right to be jealous because he is entitled. — Though we all proudly presume that we are entitled to the love of our husband or wife we are not, because none of us are without sin and none of us love freely and unconditionally.
Cause for Suspicion
3rd — We must acknowledge that we often, (Dare I not say, “constantly”?) give our Savior, our completely devoted Husband, cause for jealousy. — Do we not? The believer’s love for Christ is genuine. We say with Peter, “Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee.” — “We love him, because he first loved us.”
“Do not I love Thee, Oh my Lord?
Behold my heart and see;
And turn each odious idol out
That dares to rival Thee!
Do not I love Thee from my heart?
Then let me nothing love.
Dead be my heart to every joy
Which Thou dost not approve.
Is not Thy name melodious still
To mine attentive ear?
Doth not each pulse with pleasure beat
My Savior’s voice to hear?
Hast Thou a lamb in all Thy flock
I would disdain to feed?
Hast Thou a foe before whose face
I fear Thy cause to plead?
Thou know’st I love Thee, dearest Lord,
But Oh! I long to soar
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
That I may love Thee more!”
— Phillip Doddridge
Yes, we love our Redeemer, who loved us and gave himself for us. Yet, our base, corrupt, evil hearts are ever straying from him! How often we go awhoring after others!
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love!
Here’s my heart. — O take and seal it!
Seal it for Thy courts above!”
Š The cares of the world often get in the way of the unrivalled love we owe our Beloved.
Š Our minds may wander from Christ and become focused on petty differences between the brethren.
Š We sometimes isolate ourselves (individually and as a body) from fellowship with others of like precious faith over perceived issues.
Š We often become proud and self-sufficient, and leave our first love, like the church at Laodicea.
Š God’s Church sometimes allows the presence of false teachings, like the church at Pergamos.
Š Sometimes she allows the doctrine of Balaam to enter in, as well as that of the Nicolaitans.
Š She struggles with schisms, like the church at Corinth.
Š Individually, personally, who can tell out his adulteries committed against the Lord Jesus?
Yes, the Church of God, Christ’s chosen, redeemed, dearly beloved Bride often gives reason to be suspected of an alienation of affection. To be suspicious of her would be both feasible and reasonable. The possibility of her being untrue is always at the surface. The fact of it is evident. Therefore the Lord Jesus, our ever-faithful, ever-true, ever-gracious, ever-loving Husband has put in our hands…
Š A Jealousy Offering
Š A Memorial Offering
Š An Offering to Bring Iniquity to Remembrance
4th — We must be proved, not for his sake but for our own. We must be tested. We must be tried. We must be searched from within. We must drink the water mixed with dust and the ink of the accusation. How will the inner thoughts of my heart and yours be discovered?
The three elements of the potion in Numbers 5 were dust from the floor of the tabernacle, holy water, and the ink from the indictment written against the wife. Those elements are significant.
Š The dust represents death.
Š The water represents the Word of God, the Gospel.
Š The indictment represents the law and its curse.
Š The dust and the indictment are in the water.
Š And the very law of the indictment is the means by which the indictment is blotted out (Romans 3:24-28; Isaiah 45:20).
(Romans 3:19-31) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (26) To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (27) Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. (28) Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (29) Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: (30) Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. (31) Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
(Isaiah 45:20-22) “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. (21) Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? Who hath told it from that time? Have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. (22) Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
Š The whole mixture (the water, the ink of the indictment, and the dirt) was all put in an earthen vessel, which represents the Gospel preacher.
The Gospel of Christ sets forth the death of Christ as the Substitute for sinners condemned by the law.
Š The Gospel is the food and drink of the Church. It is the feast of fat things, wine upon the lees and well refined.
Š It is the singular drink for both the one who is true and the one who is unfaithful. It is the drink that reveals both.
It is the Gospel that searches the inward man, where God requires truth. To the one who is guilty of unfaithfulness and drinks, the Gospel searches him out, finds, and discloses his unfaithfulness. This is exactly what is portrayed in the Song of Solomon (5:2-7).
(Song of Songs 5:2-7) “I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. (3) I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? (4) My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. (5) I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. (6) I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. (7) The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.”
The drink of death searches out the faithful too, and gives him freedom to bring forth fruit unto God. The fact is that there is in us, that is in our hearts, both faithfulness and adultery. We must be tried by the Word. We must have a constant diet of the Gospel. The preaching of the Gospel is the only thing that will search us out (Hebrews 4:12-13; Ephesians 5:8-13; John 3:19-21; Psalm 139:23 –24).
(Hebrews 4:12-13) “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (13) Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
(Ephesians 5:8-13) “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (9) (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) (10) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. (11) And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (12) For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (13) But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.”
(John 3:19-21) “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (21) But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
(Psalms 139:23-24) “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (24) And see if there be any wicked way in me (See if the way of the wicked is in me.), and lead me in the way everlasting.”
The offering that was brought was barley, the food of beasts. This is a picture of the believer approaching God with nothing of value. It speaks to the fact that the believer stands before God trusting him to reveal the truth about him. — “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.”
The barley also pictures the Gospel in that it is the food of beasts. The Gospel is for sinners. Christ came not to call the righteous but to bring sinners to repentance. — “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”
When the Church is tried by the Gospel she is always found innocent. When she feasts on the Gospel and is searched in her inmost self, she is found without sin because the Gospel declares that her sin is gone. She is sanctified. She is made the very righteousness of God. Fully aware of her personal guilt, rottenness swelling within, she clings to Christ all the more, knowing that he is her All. The indictment that was against us has been blotted out by the precious blood of Christ (Romans. 8:1, 33-34).
(Romans 8:1-4) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
(Romans 8:33-34) Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Death and the law are both elements of the preaching of the Gospel and both are swallowed up by it. The Gospel is a heavenly cordial that inebriates the soul and causes the Bride to rejoice that though she may be suspect in herself, because of her Bridegroom, she is not guilty. She welcomes the test. She gladly drinks the potion heartily and often, for it will prove her always innocent. Though within her flesh she knows that there dwells no good thing, she knows, by Gospel declaration, that she is true to her Beloved and he will never put her away. Because he declares “I am jealous for her,” nothing shall separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Jeremiah 32:38-40; Hosea 2:19-20). — Here is the mixture that says so.
Š The death of Christ was my death.
Š The indictment of the law has been blotted out.
Š The Water of the Word (the Gospel) declares it so.
(Jeremiah 32:38-40) “And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: (39) And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: (40) And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.”
(Hosea 2:19-20) “And I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. (20) I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.”
This is the witness of God (1 John 5:1-13; Hebrews 11:2).
(1 John 5:1-11) Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. (2) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. (3) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (4) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (5) Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (6) This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. (7) For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (8) And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. (9) If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. (10) He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. (11) And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
(Hebrews 11:1-6) “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report. (3) Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (4) By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (5) By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (6) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
That is what the law of jealousies teaches us. — “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” — “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” — “He that hath the Son hath life!” — “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!” — “Lord, thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love thee!”