Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that has an issue…
Redemption was the basis of God's dwelling in the midst of His people. But we must remember that discipline was essential to His continuance amongst them. He could not dwell where evil was deliberately sanctioned. It may, however, be said, in reply, "Does not God the Holy Ghost dwell in the individual believer, and yet there is much evil in him?" True, the Holy Ghost dwells in the believer, on the ground of accomplished redemption. He is there, not as the sanction of what is of nature, but as the seal of what is of Christ; and His presence and fellowship are enjoyed just in proportion as the evil in us is habitually judged. So also in reference to the assembly. No doubt, there is evil there — evil in each individual member, and therefore evil in the body corporate. But it must be judged; and, if judged, it is not allowed to act, it is rendered null. We are not to judge motives, but we are to judge ways. The very moment a man enters the assembly, he takes his place in that sphere where discipline is exercised upon ever, thing contrary to the holiness of the One who dwells there. And let not the reader suppose, for a moment, that the unity of the body is touched when the discipline of the house is maintained. We frequently hear it said of those who rightly seek to maintain the discipline of the house of God, that they are rending the body of Christ. There could hardly be a greater mistake. The fact is, the former is our bounden duty; the latter, an utter impossibility. The discipline of God's house must be carried out; but the unity of Christ's body can never be dissolved. And why, we may ask, was this separation demanded? Was it to uphold the reputation or respectability of the people? Nothing of the sort. What then? "That they defile not their camps in the midst whereof I dwell." And so is it now. We do not judge and put away bad doctrine, in order to maintain our orthodoxy; neither do we judge and put away moral evil, in order to maintain our reputation and respectability. The only ground of judgment and putting away is this, "Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord, forever." God dwells in the midst of His people.
(C. H. Mackintosh.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: