"Unclean! Unclean! "
Leviticus 13-14; Introduction
Wednesday AM Bible Study
September 13, 2006
Theme: The laws concerning the detection of leprosy give us a picture of the pervasiveness of sin in us.
We continue a look into the portion of Leviticus that highlights the reality of sin in us. Chapters 1-7 highlighted the provision for sin, chapters 8-10 highlighted the priesthood for the sinner, and chapters 11-15 highlight the pervasiveness of that sin. It ends, wonderfully, with the good news of God's grace conveyed in the Day of Atonement (chapter 16) and in the sanctity of the atoning blood (chapter 17).
Chapters 13-14 deal with the laws concerning leprosy. Leprosy is a picture of the pervasiveness of sin in us (see Psalm 38:3-5; Isaiah 1:5-6; Romans 3:9-18). Leprosy is like sin in that:
-- It begins deep within a person, and is hard to detect at first.
-- Its first appearance is very small and seemingly insignificant.
-- It develops and spreads gradually.
-- It ends up covering and contaminating every part of the victim, making him wholly unclean.
-- It is loathsome, making the victim repulsive to the sight.
-- It is dangerous, carrying the potential of being spread to others and requiring the victim to be forced outside the camp.
-- It is grievous, bringing terrible misery upon the victim.
-- It is humanly incurable, placing the victim completely at the mercy of God.
Andrew Bonar writes this description of a victim of leprosy: “The pale, ghastly face—the covering spread up to the sunk and hollow eyes—the unsightly form muffled up from view to hide corruption and putrefying sores—all conveyed the idea of one already cut off from the number of living men, lingering at the gates of death and hanging about its door-posts, impatient for entrance there. He is forced to dwell alone, 'as those who have long been dead;' permitted to come only within sight of the camp, but not to enter; tantalised by seeing afar off the happy tents of healthy, holy Israel. He sits without, in mourning and sadness, pining away in his woe—every vein in every limb running down with putrid blood, his head sick and pained, his countenance disgusting the on-looker by the sallow hue of death, his mind filled with sad remembrances and gloomy imaginations. A gray blister, indicating the rising boil, now and then spots his temples; the hair hangs dry, lank, and sapless on his brow; the nails of his bony fingers are discoloured and tainted. He moves his body slowly, tottering along on feet that are nearly powerless; and men 'hid their faces from him' (Isaiah 53:3) as he draws near. Even the wild Arab, scouring past on his swift steed, starts at the loathsome spectacle, and hastens away. The leper himself feels life ebbing slowly; the blood still flows, but it is not with the freedom of health; and the arteries have no longer their full floods, like rushing torrents, but are clogged with thick, clammy, sluggish moisture.
“Here is the state of the sinner, not in the second death, but in this world; in his exclusion from the Lord's presence and dead in sin. The inner man has lost every principle of holiness; his powers are withered, and every sinew shrunk. Attempts at spiritual motions move on slow and lifeless. Streams of putrid impurity burst forth in his soul. His eye has none of the brightness of one gazing on a holy God and a reconciled countenance, but indicates an absence of all that can really cheer or delight. The deathlike hue of the whole form proclaims the total departure of the breath of God and the divine nature. From such a soul, God turns away His face. Nor can the sinner pretend to any fellowship with the saints, nor any right to a place in the camp of Israel. Often he sees their joy; he is present in spirit at their solemnities, and looks on from afar, and feels his misery deepened by the contrast of these happy multitudes. His own conscience compels him to cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!'” (from A Commentary on Leviticus, pp. 256-7).
Chapter 13 describes the detection of leprosy; and chapter 14 the cleansing from leprosy. Leprosy is not given a cure in these chapters; but only a proceedure for the sanctification of the lepor after cleansing had occurred. 13:1-46 describes the detection of leprosy in a man; 13:47-59 the detection of leprosy in garments; 14:1-32 the ritual for cleansing; and 14:33-53 the whole matter of leprosy in a house. 14:54-57 gives a summary statement; showing that 13 and 14 go together as a unit.
Principles we will discover:
1. Sin is deeper than what appears on the surface (Matthew 15:19-20).
2. Sin spreads throughout the whole man (Romans 3:9-17; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
3. Sin contaminates us (Isaiah 64:6).
4. Sin results in seperation (Isaiah 59:1-2).
5. Sin can be healed and the sinner cleansed (2 Corinthians 7:1).
6. The redeemed sinner is healed and cleansed, not for himself or for herself, but in order to belong to God (1 Peter 2:9-10).