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AM Bible Study Archives
Wednesday AM Bible Study
September 20, 2006
Theme: This passage illustrates the detection of sin in our being.
J.A. Seiss has written that, concerning these two chapters on leprosy, “and the regulations concerning it, God has pointed out the most vivid and impressive exhibition of the nature and consequences of sin that has ever come under the contemplation of mortals” (p. 222). Andrew Bonar has suggested that sin is like leprosy in that it will “at length deface the whole image of God, and every faint vestige of comeliness that was left. And death is the sure end” (p. 240). Today, we'll just consider the detection of leprosy in a man.
I. THE GENERAL LAWS (13:1-3).
A. Here, the priests serve as “health inspectors”. It was their task to see the signs and detect the condition of those who may have leprosy. How much pain would we spare ourselves in life if we were to take the time to examine ourselves and detect sin in ourselves while it was still in the early stages?
B. Note the three indicators: (1) a swelling (suggesting something below the surface); (2) a scab (suggesting something covered over); (3) a bright spot (suggesting something small and seemingly insignificant).
C. It requires observation of the things that indicate the presence of leprosy. It is deep- seated; and shows itself by the way it affects other things on the surface. Sin shows itself, if we are looking carefully. We need to call it what it is when it is discovered. It is, in a way, a mercy to call it what it is; because then, we can go to God for the cure (Matthew 8:1-4).
II. THE SPECIFIC CASES (vv. 9-44).
A. The bright spot (vv. 4-8).
1. There is no immediate proof of a deep-seated corruption in this bright spot. But time must be set aside for further observation. “Truth” is “the daughter of time” (Trappe; see also 2 Peter 3:9). If there is no spread, then there still must not be a hasty decision. Even further investigation is necessary (v. 5). Detecting sin cannot be done in a hurry. If, after more time, it appears again, then the truth is revealed (vv. 6-8).
2. This teaches us that sin may appear as something small and insignificant at its first appearing; but then, in time, prove itself for what it really is (1 Timothy 5:24-25).
B. The swelling (vv. 9-11).
1. This time, examination of the leprous sore reveals something deeper; a swelling on the skin. It's not just the outward manifestation on the surface, but the clear indication of the leprosy deep within—below the surface (vv. 9-10). This is an old leprosy—something that had been there fore a long time; but that is only now revealing itself. There is no need for further examination; the leper must be put out of the camp.
2 Sometimes, what appears to be a new sin is, in reality, the fresh manifestation of something that was always there—just below the surface (2 Peter 2:20-23).
C. The re-appearing raw flesh (vv. 12-17).
1. If a man, on examination, is covered from head to foot with leprosy which has all turned white, it is most likely a surface condition. The man is to be pronounced clean (vv. 12-13). But if afterwards raw flesh appears, this is an indication that leprosy has made a reappearance on him (vv. 14-15). If that raw flesh changes again and turns white, he is clean (vv. 16-17).
2. A man who has sinned and was pardoned may yet again stumble; but then immediately repent. This is not fatal. But if he falls again—and does not repent as before—he is overcome by sin and his condition is even worse (Hebrews 10:26-31).
D. The boil (vv. 18-23).
1. Here, an ulcer—something from within the man in a natural way-- may become healed; but then become infected and become the source of an outbreak of leprosy. It goes deeper than the surface—where the boil once was (vv. 18-21). The imperfection must be watched. If in time it stays healed and unchanged, then the man is clean. If it spreads, then the man is leprous.
2. Our natural imperfections may be the cause of great sin. We can't even trust ourselves with mere “self-improvement”. An old imperfection may be replaced with a new depravity (Matthew 12:43-45).
E. The burn (VV. 24-28).
1. Here, something from the outside of the man becomes the cause of the spread of leprosy—a burn to the skin, an injury from without (v. 24). The burn is examined for indications of the opportunistic disease. If it hasn't spread, the man is set aside for further examination. If it still hasn't spread, it is the healing of a wound and the man is clean. If it spreads, the man is unclean (vv. 25-28).
2. All suffering has the potential of causing us to sin—even the harm that others may do to us (Ps. 73:1-3).
F. The sore on the head and beard (vv. 29-37).
1. The head and beard are parts of the body that are considered most presentable (1 Cor. 12:24). And yet, even there, leprosy may be hidden. It begins with a sore that is examined and that appears to be leprous. If it is found to be deep, the man is declared unclean (vv. 29-30). If it does not appear deep, the man is set aside and watched (vv. 31-32); and even exposed to close scrutiny (vv. 33-36). If after examination, it has not spread and the hair is restored, the man is clean (v. 37).
2. Even in those who look good on the outside, sin may be hidden (James 3:1; 1 Tim. 5:19-22).
G. Light spot and baldness (vv. 38-44).
1. A mere light coloration on the head (vv. 38-39) or the loss of hair (vv. 40-41) may not be the indication of leprosy. They may simply be the normal processes of the body. There should not be a hasty declaration of uncleanness. But this shouldn't mean that real leprosy can be ignored (vv. 42-44). A leprous man should be declared unclean.
2. There needs to be care to seriously examine even what seems normal.
III. THE PUBLIC DECLARATION (vv. 45-46).
Torn clothes mean mourning; a bare head means humility; a covered mustache means silent shame; the cry “unclean” means confession; and aloneness means separation from what is holy.