For the LORD your God walks throughout your camp to protect you and deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, lest He see anything unclean among you and turn away from you.
1. Moral pollution (ver. 9).
2. Ceremonial pollution (vers. 10, 11).
3. Natural pollution (vers. 12, 13) - M. Henry.
This, because God was in its midst. He was there to work for their deliverance and for the confusion of their enemies. We are taught -
I. THAT MILITARY LIFE IS NO EXCUSE FOR LAXITY IN MORALS, OR FOR A LOWERED STANDARD OF PROPRIETY IN CONDUCT. The opposite opinion too commonly prevails. Immoralities are winked at in soldiers and sailors which would not be tolerated in ordinary society; nay, are sometimes half justified as a necessity of their situation. When public opinion is in this easy state, we cannot wonder that the individuals themselves are not very strict about their behavior. They find Acts passed, e.g. to protect them in their evil courses, and they naturally suppose that they have a kind of sanction for their immorality. Officers do not always set the men the best example. This is in every sense to be deplored. Immorality does not change its nature in the barrack-room or on the march. Rather, when "the host goes forth' we should try to put away from us "every wicked thing." Only then can we confidently expect God's presence to go with us, or look to him for aid in battle. Compare Carlyle's account of Cromwell's army ('Cromwell,' vol. 2., at end), and the "prayer-meeting" of the leaders. See also Baillie's account of the encampment of the Scotch Covenanters at Dunse Law ('Letters,' 1:211).
II. THAT PURITY IS REQUIRED IN THE CAMP OF THE CHURCH, IF HER WARFARE IS TO BE SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED. In spiritual conflicts, above all, we must look to spiritual conditions. The Church is an army of Christ. She is organized for aggressive and defensive warfare. Her only hope of success lies in the presence of the Lord with her. But can she hope for this presence if she is not careful to maintain her internal purity? True, she has no commission to search the heart, and must be content to allow tares to mingle with the wheat (Matthew 13:24-31). But it is within her province, in the exercise of discipline, to remove obvious scandals, and by rebuke and censure, as well as by positive teaching and persuasion, to keep down worldliness, irreligion, and sensuality, when these make their appearance m her midst. She ought to pray, labor, and use her authority for the maintenance of her purity. The purer she is internally the more resistless will she be in her assaults on evil without. - J.O.
The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp.I. AN INSTRUCTIVE COMPARISON. The Church of God is in many respects comparable to a camp.
1. It is a camp for separation. We are crusaders, and are separated from the mass for the service of the Cross which we bear on our hearts. We are in an enemy's country, and we must keep ourselves to ourselves very much, or else we shall certainly fail of that holy military discipline which the Captain of our salvation would have us strictly enforce.
2. It is a camp, because it is on the defensive.
3. It is a camp, especially, because it is always assailing the powers of darkness. We have a world to conquer, and we cannot afford to loiter. We have a kingdom to set up for the Lord of hosts, and we must not sleep, for the adversaries of the Lord are ruing. We are an army, sworn to war against the Canaanites of error and sin, to cast down their walled cities, to break their idols, and to cut down their groves.
4. It is a camp, because we are on the march. We ought to be advancing in grace, in knowledge, in earnestness, in holiness, in usefulness, and if not we scarcely realise the figure of a camp.
5. Yet, once more, no doubt, a camp, as formed for temporary purposes, was a token of the Church; for although the Church stands still and abides, yet in her individual members she is subject to the same law of decay, and death, and change as the rest of the world. Soon shall the camp cease, and the soldiers become citizens, and the tents be exchanged for mansions.
II. A SPECIAL PRIVILEGE.
1. God is present in the camp of His people with a special presence of love. The Church is the garden of the Lord, His paradise. Where is a father most at home but with his children?
2. God is present in the camp of His people with a special presence of observation. He sees all things; but His eyes are, in the first place, fixed on His Church. With burning glance He searches the very heart of professors.
3. The peculiar privilege of Israel is to have a special presence of salvation. "The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp to deliver thee." God is with His people, to help them in their times of trouble, to rescue them out of danger, to answer their cries in their necessity, to save them in the hour of temptation.
4. The Lord is with the camp of His" people, as a special presence for victory.
5. It is a special presence in covenant. "The Lord thy God.
III. A CORRESPONDING CONDUCT.
1. This rule, that the camp be holy, applies to the commonest places wherein we are found. The Holy Spirit arrays you in the white raiment of holiness, that you may shine out bright and clear and distinct before the sons of men.
2. While this holiness pertained to their commonest things, it was also ordered that every unclean thing was to be put from them. Let us come continually to the washing place — even to the fountain opened. Let us beseech the cleansing Spirit to operate as with fire, and burn His purifying way through and through our souls.
3. Note well the fearful warning which is added. If there be in the camp an unclean thing tolerated and delighted in, and He see it — if it becomes conspicuous and grievous to Him, then the worst consequences will follow — "Lest He turn away from thee." Oh! what would happen to us if the Lord were to turn away from us as a Church?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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