Beckett: Pastoral Thoughts – Uncleanness After Touching a Dead Body (Numbers 19)

Numbers 19 is not the only place where God details laws for purification after touching certain types of dead bodies (e.g., murdered, natural death, etc.). One possible reflection I could detail here is how Jesus fulfills this law by touching dead bodies Himself—His pure cleanness coming off on unclean things rather than the other way around. But I’ve already exhausted this foreshadowing when I covered Leviticus 13-14 in this series. Instead of repeating myself, I want to share another reflection, and that is the tragedy of death.

After reading these laws for purification here and in Leviticus (if you’ve ever been patient enough to read through them), have you ever stopped and wondered, “Why would touching a dead body make one unclean?” It makes sense with things like leprosy and certain body excretions because we can even understand these on a medical basis. The same can be said about corpses, but not immediately after they’ve died. Maybe you’ve touched the corpse of a loved during visitation hours before their funeral service. Perhaps it’s because we’re so used to death, so we forget death is a total aberration from God’s original design of creation.

Before the Fall, death did not exist. This is one major reason why evolution is not true, especially that God did not use evolution. If it were true, this would mean death came before the Fall that introduced sin and death into the world, which would defeat the whole purpose of the Son of God coming to die for the sins of the whole world. Death is not a part of God’s original design; we and the devil are the ones who introduced death into the world. To God, death is an utter abomination—it is totally unclean, unholy, impure, repugnant. It should come as no surprise, then, why God deems touching a dead body makes one unclean.

It is even more remarkable, therefore, that God in the person of Jesus Christ touches dead bodies to raise them from the dead—even more, that He Himself became dead so that He might make new life for all who believe in Him. God, the one who hates death, suffers death in Jesus. He who says touching a dead body makes one unclean touches dead bodies Himself, and He Himself became a dead body, only to take up His life again. Why? So that He might raise you bodily from the dead in a resurrection just like His (Romans 6:5).

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