Years ago when I was in sales, I walked up to a scheduled appointment at a very nice looking condominium. As I knocked on the door my expectations were very high
(this was a ‘hot lead’) until the door opened. The putrid aroma that flew out of the home nearly bowled me over. It reeked.
Being in difficult financial straits, I chose to proceed inside to meet with the occupant and found a reasonably nice home, well decorated and pretty. The glaring problem was the dozens of piles of dog poo and pee stains all over the carpet. Seriously. A hazmat suit and breathing apparatus would not have been enough. The place needed a four alarm fire.
I didn’t vomit, but I didn’t make the sale either. I got out as quickly as I could and immediately went home for a shower.
There are three verses in Deuteronomy 23 that directly relate to this and hold some serious thoughts for us. Let’s read,
Deu 23:12 “You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13 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. 14 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.
Here we have a very interesting instruction that might easily be minimized through some ‘health’ or ‘sanitary’ justification, but in reality, this has deeper spiritual and physical implications that tie to dozens of Scriptures.
From the purely physical standpoint, a latrine, or port a john, can be a particularly repugnant stench, especially in the heat of the desert. I recall many months of out houses in Saudi Arabia and Iraq… but, I digress.
Here in these verses, Yehovah declares not only that He “walks in the midst of the camp,” but that He doesn’t want to smell excrement as it is a stench that He finds repulsive. My long time readers may remember this gem of a post: He Judges By… Smell? I recommend it and the multiple Scripture tie-ins.
Besides the physical element, how do our sins become the spiritual equivalent of poo in the midst of the camp? If we are to ‘be holy, even as I am holy’ and we are to be ‘living sacrifices, a pleasing aroma unto God,’ how do our sins affect His ‘walking in the midst of the camp?’
I submit that when we sin, it is the equivalent of soiling our pants. Yehovah doesn’t want to smell that as it is a displeasing aroma. That is why He desires our repentance so that He may cover it over (with the blood of the Sacrifice) and remove it as far as the east is from the west.
The other night as my family sat around the kitchen table having the post dinner Torah discussion, these verses were part of the topic. I explained how the sin of one person in the camp can affect the Presence for everyone else. As a community, it is imperative that we help each other to walk in righteousness because it benefits the whole community. Achan’s sin hurt the rest of the camp. This also explains why we are to cover a multitude of sins and we are not to be unequally yoked. Paul’s conclusion on the discussion is that we are not to be defiled in flesh (physical) or spirit.
Numerous other instructions on camp life come to mind…
- Miriam being sent out of the camp.
- Soldiers and their booty being held outside of camp.
I hope this has triggered some thoughts in you, my readers. Please share…