“Anything the ritually unclean man touches becomes unclean, and the person who touches what he touched is unclean until evening.” Numbers 19:22 (MSG)
“Wash your hands,” we are told incessantly from the time we are young children. We are told to do it before we eat, after being outside, when we’ve been around someone who is sick, and when we are preparing food. It’s a matter of hygiene, but even the most menial of daily tasks carries with it a spiritual word picture.
Things that make us sick, both physically and spiritually, have a tendency to spread their ill effects. We can either become fanatical about avoiding anything that might make us dirty, or we can learn the self-discipline of washing ourselves of those things which may make us sick.
Throughout God’s message, water is used a physical word picture of spiritual cleansing.
- God cleansed the earth with a flood.
- Israel walked through the water of the Red Sea when escaping Egypt, and then those who enslaved them were washed away in the waters.
- Ritual cleansing and washing was prescribed in the laws of Moses for anything that made people “unclean” both physically and spiritually.
- Jonah tried to rebel by escaping God’s call over water, then was carried through the deep to the place of obedience.
- Baptism, literally defined as plunging forcefully, is prescribed as a public sign of their spiritual transformation for anyone who has cleansed their hearts by placing their faith in Him.
Jesus washed His followers’ feet, then told them to do the same for one another. The word picture is clear. We are expected to follow Jesus’ example. We are to walk through this world and actively love others in tangible ways. The journey carries us through some dark and dirty places. It is important that we are regularly cleansed and refreshed by one another. Otherwise, the dirt may pile up and have gravely ill effects.
Today, as I wash my hands, I’m reminded of the deeper meaning of being cleansed.