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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

December 12, 2018

Leviticus 14:1-22

  1. Verses 1-3. Traditionally the term for skin disease was leprosy, but the Hebrew word used here and other places was an umbrella term for various skin diseases that were easily transmitted. What we will notice is that there is a difference between the healing and the ceremonial cleansing. God does the healing, but the priest was to perform the cleansing ritual. These infectious skin diseases ranged in severity with leprosy being the worst. Leprosy is a horrible bacterial disease that destroys nerves and tissues. Because a leper can feel no pain, sores are unattended. Scabs form, but never really heal. The oozing invites more infection and weakness. Lepers die a slow agonizing death, and he is constantly aware that death is stalking him. It is difficult to describe the miserable life of a leper. The place of the leper was “outside the camp” (14:3). He lived alone or with others who had the same condition, away separated from the rest of the community. Everything he touched was unclean. No man could help him. No doctor could cure him. No pill could alleviate the pain. He could not help himself. He could not cure himself. He could not cleanse himself. He could not make his way to God. Everything had to be done for him. The text says, “The priest shall go outside the camp.” It does not say, “The leper shall go to the priest.” He was defiled and helpless. However, God loves lepers and the Bible anticipated that many would be healed and restored.

  2. Verses 4-7. Before the healed leper could be pronounced “clean,” a work had to be done for him. The priest left the camp to inspect this person. The priest offered a sacrifice. The priest sprinkled him with blood. The priest did it all. The leper did nothing. The Bible is not about what man must do to reach God, but about what God has done to reach mankind. The priest did not merely inspect the leper. If mere inspection could qualify the healed leper to enter God’s camp, God would have done it. But more than an inspection of lepers was needed. Blood needed to be shed: “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrew 9:22). Likewise, inspecting a sinner and telling him about his faults or even his good points is not what a sinner needs. He needs a Savior. The bird had to be killed in a clay pot over running water. We have here a type of Christ “who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14). The clay pot was a type of body, the bird was type of God’s Heavenly Gift and the water was a type of the eternal Spirit that empowered the Savior to leave heaven and to fulfill His commission on earth--His death on the cross. How terrible sin must be that God had to send His Son to die the cruel, painful death of Calvary. And, what a type of sin we have in leprosy. Who would imagine that that first red spot of leprosy (like a small sin) would have disqualified him from being in the camp and eventually would have covered his whole body? “And he shall dip the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over running water” (14:6). The priest could give orders to kill the one bird, but now the priest acts himself to dip the living bird in the bowl of blood and to set him free. Here we have one of the most beautiful types of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The two birds are a single shadow of two aspects of our one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ— His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave.

    1. First, the living bird was not set free until the first bird was killed. Likewise, the Lord Jesus could not leave this earth until His blood was shed for our sins. Once His work on the cross was finished and death substantiated by His burial in the tomb, then He could rise from the grave. Second, the bird could not be set free until his wings were dipped in blood. A thousand birds could be set free and not one of them would qualify the leper to enter God’s camp. Only the living bird with blood on its wings could satisfy the claims of a holy God. We have here a beautiful picture of Christ ascending into the heavenly tabernacle. The blood on the wings of the dove is a symbol of His glorious, achievements at the cross. It was at the cross the Savior faced all the forces of evil, all the infantry of Satan’s vast armies, and all the filth of man’s sins. The bird’s flight into heaven is a symbol that our justification was complete and that Jesus was set free from His sacred trust. Romans 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

    2. It should be noted that three ingredients were placed into this bowl of blood: scarlet, cedar, and hyssop. The Bible speaks of cedar and hyssop. (l Kings 4:33.) In the minds of the Hebrews, cedar was the largest living tree and hyssop was one of the smaller plants known to man. They represent two extremes of nature. Cedar represents the glory of man, the pride of man, or the grand sins of man (Jeremiah 22:15). The Bible says that even our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Hyssop represents that which is tiny and small and sometimes hidden from the view of man. Big sins or little sins, all disqualify a man from entering heaven. All sins, small and large, must be cleansed by blood. The scarlet thread represents the brilliance of sins in the eyes of God; that is, sin is something that stands out in the eyes of God like the red vest of a highway flagman. You can’t miss it. (Isaiah 1:18) “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” We have here a beautiful picture of man being delivered not only from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but from the nature of sin; that is, from sin’s power. When the Bible says that “He came to save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21), it means that Christ not only saves a man from the penalty of sin, but the power of sin. Both are contained in the accomplishments of Christ. The setting free of the living bird is a glorious picture of the risen, ascended, triumphant, glorified Christ passing into the heavens to present to the Father the accomplishments of redemption. Here the Father smiled and said, “Well, done!” The angels burst into a song exulting in His glorious achievements. Our sin cleansed and righteousness bestowed, heaven’s gates are open wide for thousands upon thousands of sinners.

  3. Verses 8-22. After a person has been healed and declared clean on the outside of the camp, they are allowed to enter the camp after they washed their clothes, cut their hair and bathed. This is a picture of repentance. The clean person is to walk among the people for a complete seven days to show that they are clean. In the same way, we should show everyone that we are changed, healed and clean from sin. On the seventh day (a symbol of grace), he or she cuts off all the hair, wash their clothes again, and takes a bath. On the eight day (a symbol of new beginnings), they are cleared to enter the sacred tent area with an offering of lambs, fine flour, and oil. The priest presents the person and their offering to the Lord and pronounces them clean before the Lord. The new beginning starts with worship. The priest slaughters one of the lambs and wave the slain lamb with oil before the lord as a guilt offering. The priest is then to put some of the blood on the right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe of the clean person. The priest then takes the oil and puts it in his left palm and with his right hand puts oil on the right earlobe, right thumb, and right big toe of the clean person. The priest then sprinkles the oil seven times before the lord and puts the remaining oil on the head of the clean person. The blood and oil on the ear, hand, and feet are all symbolic of renewal. The blood cleansed and the oil renewed. The cleansing of the ear (thoughts), the hand ( actions) and feet (righteous paths) are symbolically cleansed by the blood that takes away the guilt and they are then renewed by the oil which is a symbol of the spirit of God which now makes us fit to serve God. Oil is a picture of sanctification or being set aside for God’s purpose. The priest did a final sin offering, burnt offering, and grain offering for cleansing and atonement. If a person didn’t have enough money for the offering, there was a way to give an offering of lesser value instead. God didn’t want anyone to think that getting right with God was something that only a rich person could do. The goal was to help the people see what was required to be cleansed. This helps us see what God has to do to get us right when we sin. God has to cleanse us from the power of sin and renew our minds for service.

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