We open this reading with a discussion of clean and unclean animals. This reminds us that God makes all the rules. He’s made light and dark, good and bad. He’s created everything, and now He tells His people which animals are fit to eat. He chose to give this list to His people to keep them separate from the rest of society. Even today, science tells us that the clean animals are better for us than the unclean. Regarding animals – there’s a tangential parallel – “parting of the hoof” reminds us of the separated life, and “chewing the cud” tells us to meditate on the word day and night! What kind of “tracks” are you making today? Are you meditating on God/s Word?
When Christ came and died for our sins, He took away the necessity of the law regarding clean and unclean animals. God gave us the freedom to eat what we please.
And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ 8 But I said, ‘By no means, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ Acts 11:7-9 (ESV)
We are reminded that even in our freedoms, we need to make sure that what we eat, or do, doesn’t cause another to stumble.
Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. 21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble . Romans 14:20-21 (ESV)
Why were the Israelites told not to touch the carcass of an animal? It brings forth the principle that if a person who is clean touches an unclean thing, they will become unclean themselves. (It doesn’t work the other way, of course. If the unclean touches the clean, one does not become clean. Any Mom who has allowed her kids to play outside can tell you that!).
And how does this apply to us today? We learn that we have the freedom to do what we want; however, we don’t have the liberty to allow what we do to cause a brother to stumble. And – when we’ve been saved by Christ’s atoning blood, we become clean. We should keep ourselves in the world, but not of the world, so that the sins of the world don’t make us unclean. We can’t share in the “pleasures” of the world and remain holy.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
Chapter 12 starts with purification laws. This reminds us that people are born into sin. The woman needed to purify herself because she brought a sinner into the world.
Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one. Job 14:4 (ESV)
Now we find out many many many many many details about leprosy. What’s the point here?
Leprosy, of course, is a picture of sin. In ancient times, even a small amount of suspected leprosy was brought before the priests. Likewise, any amount of sin should be brought to our High Priest).
The Israelites examined the sores very diligently. Likewise, Jesus Christ examined us very diligently. What did He find?
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes. Romans 3:11-18 (KJV)
In Chapter 14, we find that some cases of leprosy were cured (both medically and supernaturally). It was considered the worst case of disease in its day. We see here the law of the cleansing of the leper after he had been cleansed. As with all rituals set forth by God, it was very detailed. The priest was to examine the leper and pronounce him cleansed.
We see a couple examples of Jesus healing lepers, He told the man to go to the priests to be pronounced clean. It was important that the leprous person be accepted back into society, and this could be done only by the priest.
When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” Matt 8:1-4 (ESV)
What are we required to do after we’ve been made clean by Jesus’ free gift of salvation?
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (KJV)
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (ESV)
We should follow Jesus into baptism, as well.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Matt 3:13-15 (ESV)
Has your “leprosy” of sin been cleansed by the blood of Jesus? Have you cleansed your house of the “leprosy” of the world? If you need help – prayer, more information about the privileges you receive when you become a Christian – a partner to help you in your daily walk with Jesus – email me, or talk to a pastor. We’re here to help you!
I find it so amazing to see that this Book has so many meanings. We see the boring detail of how the leper was to be cleansed and think “why do I need to read about this?”, and then we see that leprosy is a symbol for our sin today. We see that we have a Great Physician and High Priest who has examined us and found us full of sin leprosy, but who graciously offers us a gift of salvation and cleanliness. Our faith should show to the world by our walking clean – not allowing the uncleanness of the world to contaminate us. We should spend each day asking Jesus to help us be more like Him.
I’ll write more tomorrow. We can read the Bible together in 2012!