Whoever touches the dead body of any person shall be unclean seven days. He shall cleanse himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so be clean. But if he does not cleanse himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not become clean. Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him. Numbers 19:11-13, ESV.
One of the most revealing things about our faith is the way we think about death. In Numbers 19, God made it clear to Israel how they were to think about it. The person who touched a dead body was declared unclean and not allowed to come into God’s presence in the tabernacle until they had washed. Death is such an intimate companion of sin that when an Israelite encounters death up close it leaves the stain of sin on them.
Death is the consequence of sin. Were there no sin, there would be no death. While specific sins are not always the immediate cause of death, like it is when a drug abuser dies of an overdose, sin is always the ultimate cause of death. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, death became every man’s end. Paul writes, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and that “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
It is time for us to understand death rightly. We must see death as an enemy to be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26). We must not minimize its sting in our effort to make the grief associated with it go away (1 Corinthians 15:55). Instead, we must look to Jesus, our Savior. He willingly faced death head-on as our representative and came out victorious, walking out of His tomb. For us to understand the magnitude of Christ’s accomplishment and celebrate the joyous victory we have over death in Christ, we must first see it as the sin-infested enemy that it is.
It is my prayer for you that you will be strengthened to face the reality of death, be it your own or that of one you love, with the joy and hope that belong to all who rest in Christ.