Leviticus 13-14

Infection in the Camp

The whole time he has the infection he will be continually unclean. He must live in isolation, and his place of residence must be outside the camp. – Leviticus 13:46 NET

Chapters 13-14 are some of the most detailed portions of the book of Leviticus and they deal solely with the disease of leprosy. At first glance, it appears to be a topic that has little to do with us today. Evidently, it was a huge problem in their day. Due to the nature of their time spent wandering in the wilderness, exposed to all kinds of heat, infection, insects, and skin disorders, it was very important that they be able to spot infectious diseases promptly. The last thing they needed was for a disease to spread throughout the camp. It could be devastating. Leprosy was greatly feared. It was an infectious disease characterized by disfiguring skin sores, nerve damage, and progressive debilitation. People usually didn’t die from leprosy, but from other diseases contracted as a result of it. Because it attacked the nerves, people infected by leprosy were prone to burning themselves in fires or cutting themselves and not knowing it. Those wounds would then get infected leading to further issues. All forms of the disease eventually cause nerve damage in the arms and legs, which causes sensory loss in the skin and muscle weakness. People with long-term leprosy may lose the use of their hands or feet due to repeated injury resulting from lack of sensation.

So you can see why this was serious. And why God has Moses spend so much time warning the people about it. They were not to take the presence of this disease in their midst lightly. Which makes me think that leprosy is representative of the sin that so often exists in our lives and in our faith communities. It begins subtly. Like leprosy, it starts small and inauspiciously. But it is no less dangerous. Even small sins usually lead to more significant ones. Leprosy spread. So does sin. The Israelites were to take it seriously. We are to take sin seriously.

These instructions regarding leprosy given to Moses by God Himself are full of details regarding not only the identification of the disease, but for the cleansing of it. As long as someone had the disease they were to remain apart from the rest of the camp. They were separated, living in isolation and outside the rest of the community. Leprosy separated. So does sin. It is a serious, spreading infection that takes its toll not just on the individual, but on the community at large. Paul took sin seriously and warned about it. “If anyone is causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with that person” (Titus 3:10 NLT). “And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people” (Romans 16:17-18 NLT). In regards to the Corinthians believers, Paul was pretty blunt. “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you, something so evil that even the pagans don’t do it. I am told that you have a man in your church who is living in sin with his father’s wife. And you are so proud of yourselves! Why aren’t you mourning in sorrow and shame? And why haven’t you removed this man from your fellowship?” (1 Corinthians 5:1-2 NLT). Sin was serious to Paul. He knew how to spot it and he knew how to deal with it. Because he knew how dangerous it was to the body of Christ. Just as leprosy was dangerous to the people of God in Moses day. It could spread. It could wreak havoc. It could destroy from within. So it had to be dealt with. Just as sin should be dealt with today. In our individual lives and within the faith community. We are not to tolerate it or take it lightly. It is dangerous. We are to lovingly confront the sin in our camp. “My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back again, you can be sure that the one who brings that person back will save that sinner from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins” (James 5:19-20 NLT).

Father, help us to fear sin just as much as the Israelites feared leprosy. Help us to take it seriously and see it as dangerous in our midst. Give us a boldness to confront one another lovingly, but persistently about the presence of sin in our lives. So that we can enjoy forgiveness and cleansing. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

Leviticus 12

In Need Of Purification

“When the time of purification is completed for either a son or a daughter, the woman must bring a year–old lamb for a whole burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a purification offering. She must take her offerings to the priest at the entrance of the Tabernacle. – Leviticus 12:6 NLT

We would all agree that the birth of a child is a happy occasion that usually brings joy with it. But in this twelfth chapter we see an interesting illustration played out for us. In chapter 11, God spent a great deal of time talking about unclean versus clean, holy verses unholy – when it comes to animals. Now He switches and begins addressing this issue in regards to human beings. And He starts with childbirth. God tells the people that when a woman gives birth, she is to be considered unclean because of her contact with blood. She would be required to go through purification. Until she did, she could not enter the Tabernacle. And the child born to her, if a male, was not to be circumcised until the eighth day, one day after she would have been pronounced clean. Why? The Matthew Henry Complete Commentary On the Whole Bible says this,

“This ceremonial uncleanness which the law laid women in child-bed under was to signify the pollution of sin which we are all conceived and born in (Psalms 51:5). For, if the root be impure, so is the branch, Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? If sin had not entered, nothing but purity and honour had attended all the productions of that great blessing, Be fruitful and multiply; but now that the nature of man is degenerated the propagation of that nature is laid under these marks of disgrace, because of the sin and corruption that are propagated with it, and in remembrance of the curse upon the woman that was first in the transgression. That in sorrow (to which it is here further added in shame) she should bring forth children. And the exclusion of the woman for so many days from the sanctuary, and all participation of the holy things, signified that our original corruption (that sinning sin which we brought into the world with us) would have excluded us for ever from the enjoyment of God and his favours if he had not graciously provided for our purifying.

The mother had to be purified before the child could be circumcised. The mother had to bring a burnt offering and a sin offering. These were not-so-subtle reminders to the parents that there is such a thing as original sin, and that the child born to them had inherited a fallen and sinful nature. The sin nature of man is passed down from one generation to the next. Our kids are born with sin natures. And it doesn’t take long before it becomes apparent.

Sin is significant in God’s eyes. Purity is serious to Him. Sin always separates us from God and His desire is that we would be pure. And thankfully God came up with a once-for-all way to solve this dilemma through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. He paid for our sins once and for all. He offers us a way to stand as clean before the Father without the need for further sacrifices or rituals of purification. Our children, though born into sin, still have a hope, because there is still a Savior. “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing what is right” (Titus 2:14 NLT).

Father, You take sin seriously. Help me to do the same. I know I am forgiven and have been cleansed from all unrighteousness, but I still sin – daily. And my sin must be confessed. You are faithful and just to forgive my sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness, but I still need to confess it. Thank You for sending Your Son to make this all possible. No more sacrifices. No more rituals for purification. Just forgiveness freely given. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men