CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS
Deu 23:12-14 (12) Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: (13) And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: (14) For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee. In the book of Deuteronomy, the LORD gives the Israelite warriors a rather earthy commandment regarding the burial of their excrement in times of war. While it is recognized that the prevention of disease and pollution of water supplies are accomplished by such a practical statute, it is evident that the LORD has much more in mind here than the possibility of dysentery. Dung is a dirty and an unclean thing. We all do our best to keep away any trace of it in our homes and avoid it on our clothes and persons. We would consider ourselves to be under judgement to live next to a sewage plant. It was the prerogative of ancient kings to turn the homes of their enemies and those who transgressed their commandments into filthy and smelly dungheaps (Ezra 6:11, Dan 2:5; 3:29). Similarly, it is also a fitting punishment for the enemies of the Great King and those who transgress His laws. Ahijah the prophet foretold how that the house of Jeroboam was to be taken away as dung (to the dunghill) for Jeroboam's idolatry and provocation (1 Kings 14:7-10). The ungodly painted queen Jezebel who spread idolatrous Baal worship throughout the kingdom of Israel ended her life splattered "... as dung upon the face of the field ..." attractive only to dogs (and flies) (2 Kings 9:35-37). Nations and cities under the judgement of God for their sins and idolatry are promised war of such totality that the dead will lie unburied like dung in the fields (Psalm 83:10, Isa 25:10, Jer 8:2; 9:22; Jer 16:4; 25:33). The day of the LORD, His coming in judgement upon the unrighteous, is characterized by the flesh of the sinners being poured out as dung (Zep 1:17). Sin is a dirty and unclean thing. In the Old Testament (Mal 2:1-3), the priests of God who had turned aside from God's commandments and would not hear His word, would not lay His word to heart, and would not give glory unto his name fell under the curse of God. Neglecting the very tasks that were given unto them as priests, the LORD did not see "Holiness unto the LORD" (Exo 28:36) on their heads but instead saw the dung that He had caused to be smeared on their faces. As a holy priesthood and stones in a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5) we ought to do those things that the priests in Malachi's day did not do. Let us be quick to hear His word (and not be hearers only, but doers (James 1:21-25)), lay up His word in our hearts that we might keep far from sin (Psalm 119:11), and give glory unto His name by offering the calves of our lips and the sacrifice of praise which He desires to hear from His children. He has washed the dung from our faces and made us "... clean every whit ..." (John 13:10), let us be vigilant to keep our lives continually unstained by sin. The saintly Hannah in her prayer recognized that it is the LORD who lifts the beggars from the dunghill and gives them a glorious inheritance fit for princes (1 Sam 2:8). Has the Lord brought you up from an horrible pit of death or a dunghill of sin (Psalm 40:2; 113:7)? Has He answered your prayers as He answered Hannah's (Psalm 113:9)? Let us sing our praises of Him in the camp (Psalm 40:3), the assembly of the saints, the church of the living God and remember that it was He Who delivered us and scattered our enemies and as we war a good warfare in this world, let us maintain a tidy camp that He might see holiness when He looks upon our lives and not turn away from us and give us up to uncleanness (Rom 1:24).