The Bible Speaks
“… you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined …” Numbers 15:49
This verse from the book of Numbers instructs all of God’s people to make tassels and attach them to their clothing to be reminders of God’s desire for them to know and keep his law. A reminder to keep the law of God makes sense because they didn’t have their own personal Bibles to read each day, radio stations that offer biblical preaching and devotions, calendars with the verse and thought of the day, etc., etc. The tassel was with them wherever they went to remind them of his law and the blessings of keeping it.
What is most interesting in this relatively obscure verse in Numbers is the reason given for the tassel: “that you may NOT follow the harlotry of your own heart and eyes to which you are inclined.” Each Israelite, and each of us as well, is inclined to go astray from God’s law, from his ways and from his truth. Our sinful nature is our “default” nature, and our natural inclination in every situation is sin and not righteousness. Israel, without the reminder to know and obey God’s law, was ripe for committing the sins of the eyes and heart. Like a child left alone in a room full of toys he is not supposed to touch, so is the human heart when it is isolated from the reminders of God’s commandments.
Reminders are given to keep us on track; to walk the straight and narrow, to obey the laws and abide by the rules. I, for one, am thankful that speed limit signs are posted more than once. Many a time that second or third sign has reminded me to slow down and watch my speed. The tassel for the Jews was their “speed limit” sign and regular reminder of their tendency to disobey God and the need to remember His law to keep them. He would look at it often and allow it to redirect his thoughts, words and actions.
The Bible speaks of our inclination to wander from God and the need to be brought back to him through his regular reminders. Is your Bible open each day? Is God reminding you of his truths? An hour a week on Sunday will never be enough. Sew that tassel on, and be reminded every day.
The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor at Turner’s Chapel.