December 2, 2021
I can't get the word "purity" out of my mind. Maybe it's because I've just read through the Torah ("Instruction")—Genesis through Deuteronomy—and been struck once again by the great effort Yahweh put into creating a pure people and instructing them in how to purify the land they were to inherit. He intended both the people and the land to be a blessing in the midst of the earth (Isaiah 19:24).
Their power depended on their purity (Deuteronomy 28:1; Joshua 1:8, 7:11-12). Much blood was shed, time wasted and resources destroyed proving that purity was non-negotiable to the Lord. Despite an abundance of convincing proofs, the Israelites were incapable of following God's laws and remaining pure. Even as Moses prepared to turn over leadership to Joshua and die before entering the land to which he had led the Israelites, God Himself, likening their disobedience to impurity, predicted they would forsake their covenant with Him, prostitute themselves to foreign gods and lose His blessing and protection (Deuteronomy 31:16-22).
We discover later that God had a plan to account for and cover their sin: a deliverer that would come from Zion and turn godlessness away from Jacob's descendants.
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!" (Romans 11:26-36; Also see Hebrews 8:8-12.)
Or maybe I'm preoccupied by purity because I've also been reading about Islamic revivalism. The reasoning behind it is that Muslim people groups and nations have not been experiencing the success that Islam promises because they are not accurately following the pure ways of the prophet of Islam and his disciples. Muslim missionaries whose purpose is to purify Islamic practice visit mosques to promote a more fundamentalist faith. In Islam, that means more faithfully following rules, forms and rituals required by Allah and taught and modelled by the prophet. For example, the practice of giving alms (Zakat) is said to purify the giver.
Will enhanced obedience purify Muslims?
Were the Israelites able to maintain the obedience God requires for purity?
Does obedience purify you and me without the cleansing power of Jesus' blood?
"[We] know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ." (Galatians 2:16).
"For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time." (Hebrews 10:8-10 NLT)
"Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4)
Father, what an awesome gift it is to be purified by Jesus' shed blood alone! Forgive us for ever thinking we could meet Your standard of purity by our own works.
Have mercy on those Muslims who are teaching, and on those being taught, that they can purify themselves by their works. They have zeal, but it's not based on knowledge (Romans 10:2).
Spirit, in their rituals, feasts and prayer times, point those who are longing to be pure to Jesus—“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God!" (Matthew 5:8)