On The Border
Numbers 15:37-41 (37) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (38) Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: (39) And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: (40) That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. (41) I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God. God here established a unique fringed border in the garments of the Old Testament church members. Our Lord Jesus Christ, being “...made under the law” (GAL 4:4) would have had such a border in His garments. The sick could be healed by touching that border, His virtue extending from His person (MAR 6:56; LUK 8:43-46). He arose according to the prophecy, “...with healing in his wings...” (MAL 4:2), the Hebrew word translated borders in NUM 15:38 here being rendered as wings. To this day He “...is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him...” (HEB 7:25), power to save even believers on the fringes. His blood's cleansing power extends far enough to redeem His Israel “...from all his iniquities” (PSA 130:8), “...having forgiven you all trespasses” (COL 2:13). All His elect are within His borders. The New Testament teaches us that the Law of Moses with its varied ordinances was a shadow of Christ (COL 2:14-17; HEB 9:1-12). It is interesting that there was “...upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue” (NUM 15:38). The color blue was specifically incorporated into the O.T. tabernacle's curtain (EXO 26:4), vail (EXO 26:31), the covering of the ark of the covenant (NUM 4:5-6) and the furniture and instruments of the sanctuary (NUM 4:7-12). Blue also was featured in the high priest's garments (EXO 28:4-6). Perhaps (and I say only, perhaps) this was somehow speaking of Christ, Who was “...bruised for our iniquities...” (ISA 53:5), and the blueness of His wound cleansed away evil (PRO 20:30), the evil of our sins. Looking with the eye of faith upon Christ's sufferings is an excellent incentive to remember His commandments and do them while ceasing to be ruled by our heart and eyes, similar to NUM 15:39. Peter put it this way: (1 Peter 4:1) Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; (1 Peter 4:2) That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. The garment border for Israel was to remind them of God's commandments that they might be a holy people set apart from the nations (DEU 14:2). Indeed, “...the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself...” (PSA 4:3). But in Christ's day, the Scribes and the Pharisees had perverted the original intent. They enlarged the borders of their garments (MAT 23:5) to set themselves apart from their own brethren. Their enlarged borders served not their holiness but their haughtiness and (unwittingly) were a token of their addition of many unscriptural traditions: “...many other things there be, which they have received to hold...” (MAR 7:4). Had it not been for the fact that they laid aside God's commandments (MAR 7:8), their borders might have been even larger. Israel was to look upon the fringe of the border “...and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them...” (NUM 15:39). When they got to the border they were to think on the law, a useful maxim for when we get close to the edge. The commandments of God accordingly were their defined limits, the very border: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you” (DEU 4:2). This border for obedience to God remains in place for us today. Jesus commanded that believers should be taught “...to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...” (MAT 28:20). We are obliged to observe all His commandments and only His commandments. The garment that a Christian is to wear to please God is Christ. Paul wrote, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (ROM 13:14). This speaks of putting on Christ in practice. What others see when they look at us should be Christ. Sometimes the thought of measuring up to the sinless, harmless Son of God can be overwhelming. But recall that Saul of Tarsus was once about as far away from Christ as a man could be, seemingly beyond His border, so to speak. Yet Christ loved that sinner and by mercy and grace saved him, even putting him into the ministry (1TIM 1:12-15). The Spirit of Christ was in Paul to such a degree that believers could be assured that they were pleasing God by following his example: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (PHIL 4:9). When redeemed sinners look upon that redeemed sinner, when they read of his faith and struggles, when they follow his teaching, they are comforted that “...where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (ROM 5:20). They are also assured that victory over a deceitful heart and lusting eyes (note NUM 15:39) is not only not futile, it is possible. Paul is thus a good border agent of Christ's kingdom, an inspiring reminder of the bearable nature of Christ's law and that “...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1TIM 1:15). Of course, if one follows Paul diligently, processing God and one's relationship to Him as Paul sets forth, he is likely to viewed by a carnal world as Paul was viewed: “...thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad” (ACT 26:24), someone in the lunatic fringe.