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The Leper Cleansed
Chapter 13   Leviticus 14

Care to precede the cleansing . . . The two Birds . . . The Instrument of cleansing . . . The work of the Leper himself . . . Sacrifice necessary . . . Seven days of waiting required . . . The final Release.

Leprosy was not curable by human remedies, but, it did not always continue for life. It was often sent as a special judgment, as in the cases of Miriam (Num.12:1-16), Azariah (2 Chron.26:21) and Gehazi (2 Ki.5:25-27). The Jews usually looked upon it in this light. Its very name means a stroke of the LORD. This seems to imply that it may stop with the repentance and forgiveness of the smitten offender. Miriam was healed in the course of a week. Educated men tell us, that it sometimes runs its course in the system, and then dries up as of its own accord. We do know of lepers being healed, both in the Saviour's time and before, NOT by human skill, but by God’s divine power and grace.
Lev.14:1-9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest: 3 And the priest shall go forth out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper; 4 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop  5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: 7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field. 8 And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days. 9 But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean. (KJV)
It was the hope of the healing, of at least some persons infected with leprosy, that formed the basis of the provisions here laid down. They constitute "the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing" (Lev.14:2), and if there was no possibility of cure, there was no use of this law.
You must consider that these regulations were not for the cure of the leper, but for his ceremonial cleansing after the cure. The priest was first to examine "if the plague of leprosy had been healed in the leper;" and it was only in case he found the plague healed, that these laws were to go into effect. The case in Gospel history, of "a man full of leprosy, who, seeing Jesus, fell on his face, and besought him, saying, "LORD, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will, be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him." The man was cured. Everything of his disease was totally gone. But, even though he was cured, he was not yet restored to his social and religious privileges as a Jew. It yet remained for him to obey this "law of the leper." That is why Jesus told him, "Go, and show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded." We thus have the authority of Christ for it, that this law was for the ceremonial cleansing of lepers after they were cured, and NOT for their cure. The disease had first to be stopped, and then began this process of purging off all its lingering effects and disabilities.

I think the deepest intention of these rituals is to illustrate the nature of sanctification. Justification is also implied, but only when connected with sanctification. Needless to say, there can be no sanctification without forgiveness and acquittal first. Condemnation must be removed before there can be any advances in holiness. So, these cleansing ceremonies were to begin when the priest inspected the recovered leper, and pronounced him healed of his disease.

If we look at these groundworks, we will be better prepared to appreciate what was to follow.

(1). It is assumed that the leper's disease had been stayed. This healing again points to God’s putting forth His divine power and grace quite differently from anything brought to view so far, and foremost to the beginning of these services. The first motion of our salvation is from God. It begins while we are yet in the very depths of our defilement and guilt. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom.5:8). The grounds of our justification are all provided for us in the mercy of God, without any sort of co-operation on our part.

(2). The first that we know of our spiritual state, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ telling us that we have been dead in sin, and that God hath found a ransom by which, if we believe and act on His Word, "there is now no more condemnation." Our spiritual healing is begun in Christ Jesus BEFORE we are even conscious of it. The very first thing we hear on the subject is the glad tidings that our leprosy is stayed, and that all we have now to do is to go forward with what is prescribed for our cleansing. We need no longer sit brooding in despondency over our leprous condition. All is as good as cured in Christ Jesus. A full and free forgiveness of all our sins is provided. The only remaining requirement is, "go show thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded" (Mat. 8:4). When the leper, finding his leprosy stayed, was to go to the judge in the case, and claim exemption from the sentence that was upon him. And to make this easier for him, the priest had to "go forth out of the camp" (Lev.14:3), to meet him. The very moment the sinner believes in the healing proclaimed to him in the Gospel, and sets himself to move for his cleansing, Christ meets him.
The father runs to embrace the returning prodigal while yet a great way off. We have only to say to him, I have been a filthy leper. My whole nature has been corrupt and unclean. But here in this Gospel and its provisions is a complete cure. The pure white righteousness of my Saviour and Security is enough to excuse me from being any longer excluded from the society of my friends. Examine it, and see whether the disease is not healed. In the power of God’s Holy Word, I am no longer to be numbered with the outcast and condemned. Deliver me then from this terrible exclusion.

(3). And when the healed leper had presented himself to the priest, there was no alternative left. He had to be pronounced cured. And so it is that Christ has bound Himself to clear and pardon every sinner who comes to Him in the strength of the Gospel Message. There is NO further obstacle in the way. The person is justified. The sentence that was against him is cut of and taken away. Do we BELIEVE the Gospel message? Do we BELIEVE that Christ has worked out a sufficient righteousness for us? Do we BELIEVE His Sacrifice on the cross paid our penalty for our sins? IF we BELIEVE God, we are forgiven. Our sins are remembered against us no more. We are forgiven. We are justified. The process of our sanctification has begun.

But, the mere pardon of the priest did NOT fully restore the leper. Even though his disease was stopped, there was still a stain remaining to be purged off before he could join the camp or the Holy services. And so our whole salvation could go wrong . . . IF it does not also take on an active holiness, purifying our hearts and lives, and transforming us into the image of our Redeemer. How this sanctification is accomplished is what we are now to consider.

(a). To cleanse the recovered leper, the first thing to be done was to obtain two clean birds, the one of which was to be killed . . . the other was to be dipped in its companion's blood and set free. These two doves, are the gentlest of all God's creatures, and once carry our thoughts back to Christ, and His wonderful history. Like the doves, He was meek and clean . . . the "Gentle Jesus" (Mat.11:29; Tit.3:2). Like the doves, He was ripped away from His life, and made captive to the Law. The fate of the doves shows us how Jesus was severely disfigured and mutilated (Ps.22:14-17); crushed to death for the sins of the world (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2), and taken to the depths of the Earth (Ps.71:20).

The introduction of these birds, presents a great scriptural fact. As they symbolize Christ, they show that our sanctification, as well as our justification, proceeds from His cross and His Resurrection. His coming up out of the Earth, shows us how Jesus rose again from the rocky sepulcher, ascending up out of the hand of His captor, far into the heights of Heaven. Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. (KJV)
Dear one, there is a mighty power in the Blood-Doctrine of the cross!
1 Pet. 1:18-19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (KJV)
This power works in the human heart, changing and renewing it, as nothing else has ever done, or can do. Once a person truly sees and believes this, SIN at that moment loses its reign in the soul. 1 John 5:10-13 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (KJV) . . . PLEASE do NOT call God a “Liar”. We can count on our Saviour's love, intervening on our behalf, to rescue us from our condemnation to Hell (John 3:18-19, 36), because when I BELIEVE God, and accept His ONLY Way to Heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), ALL my past transgressions are buried in His grave (Rom.6:3-14).
The verdict of perfect forgiveness issues from His Resurrection, and the invitation to immortality (eternal life), is opened to us in His Ascension (Acts 1:6-11). Shouldn’t we feel a grateful impulse of obedience in our soul? God’s forgiving us, snaps the cords of sin apart, and covers our greedy lust with contempt. We must not pass God’s ultimate grace and loving kindness by! Our LORD Jesus paid a tremendous price that we might some day share His Home in Heaven with Him! HOW can we possibly pass by such a dearly-bought and great salvation brought to our very door step, and offered free of charge (Eph.2:8-9; Rom.6:23)? We can believe that all the dreadful weight of our evil sins was laid upon that meek Lamb, and expiated in His precious Blood (1 Pet.1:18-19), entitling us to be a companion of angels in the House of God, because GOD DOES NOT LIE!!!
(b). The next thing to be done for the cleansing of the recovered leper, was the arrangement and use of means to apply the cleansing blood. Three different things were to be combined into one instrument for this purpose . . . a stem of cedar wood, a bunch of scarlet wool, and a parcel of twigs of hyssop (Lev.14:49-53). The cedar wood is remarkable for its durability and fragrance. The scarlet wool, was greatly esteemed by Orientals, and may have some reference to the blood of the leper returning again to its natural color, and signify well-being. Hyssop is a small bushy plant, aromatic and warming in its medicinal properties. The stem of cedar formed a sort of handle on which the wool and hyssop were fastened, making a fitting instrument for taking of the blood of the dove, to sprinkle it upon the body of him who was to be cleansed. This reveals to us the fact that our sanctification by the Blood of the crucified and risen Saviour is not direct, but is through impartation (by conveying the goodness of Christ to a sinner when they believe!) There is always something trying to come between Jesus’ purifying Blood and ourselves, by which the effectiveness of that Blood is applied to our souls. Christ has appointed certain instruments and agencies to convey to us the purifying elements.

First of all is the cedar stem of His Holy Word, which is indeed durable and fragrant and distinct with celestial power and life, speaks through ALL the visible creation, but much more clearly and powerfully in the written Scriptures. And fastened to it, is the scarlet wool of the Holy Sacraments, absorbing the entirety of Christ crucified, and performing an important part in the conveyance of the this to our souls. And along with this scarlet wool, and bound to the same stem, is the hyssop which symbolizes prayer, with the sanctifying blood running out and hanging in drops on every point, ready to flow upon and cleanse the humble worshipper. The purifying Blood of Jesus is brought in contact with our hearts and perfects our purification.
We must exercise ourselves in the God’s Holy Word with each new day. We must make our heart fully aware of what our God gives us there for our learning. We must know and believe the Truth (1 John 5:10-13), and as it is in Jesus, so it will be in us a fountain of life (Pro.14:27), springing up into everlasting life.
We must be diligent and earnest in our prayers, and at times, be found humbly bowed at the Feet of God’s Great High-Priest in Heaven; where there will always be all necessary fellowship with that precious Blood which cleanses from all sin. Only to these who come in TRUE admiration and love, and fear of God (respect),  and gratefulness, shall the gracious Spirit of God come, as unseen as the wind, and silent as the grave, but mighty in power, breathing through all, working in all, making all alive with spiritual strength, reviving, sanctifying, blessing, and bringing great hope for an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Pet.1:4).

(c) A third requirement for the leper's cleansing was, that he should "wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water." This was his own work. It was to be done by the leper himself. Its spiritual significance is easily understood. It refers to the sinner's repentance and reformation. He must cleanse himself from all his old and base surroundings. He must separate between himself and everything suspicious. Though the leper was cured, his disease might still adhere to his clothes; he had therefore to wash them. Though clean of his leprosy in every other part, it might still have some hidden symptoms under the hair; he had therefore to shave it all off, even his very eyebrows. There was to be a perfect separation made between himself and the uncleanness which was formerly upon him. To be truly sanctified, we must cut ourselves off from all unholy associations and suspicious honors. We must break up all our old sinful habits, and relinquish all false ways. As the prophet expresses it, we must "cease to do evil, and learn to do well" (Ps.37:8). He that sinned, must sin no more. There must be a complete reform. Someone once said that he thought there was one great deficiency in many of the pulpits of modern times; that the preachers make too much of faith, and not enough of repentance; that our professing Christians trust in Christ without a sufficient surrender of themselves to obey Christ; and that the way to Heaven is often considered as too simple and easy, and that people are not as impressed as they should be with the NEED of a change in their whole way of life. I will say, that if our faith is not powerful enough to work a complete revolution in our lives, leading us to believe God (1 John 5:10-13), and follow and obey Christ and to expect salvation through Him, it will NOT benefit us before God. "Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of the Father which is in heaven" (Mat.7:21). "Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed" (Jam.1:25). Religion is not just mere sentiment.
The command is, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes" (Isa.1:16). "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil.2:12).

(d). But there is another particular entering into this ritual cleansing. After everything else had been done, sacrifices were to be offered. I need not enter into the details of this part of the service, as they were very fully before us in the first chapters. The general signification of them, in this connection, is that our sanctification, from beginning to end, depends upon "the blood of the Lamb." We must wash and repent and reform; but it avails nothing without the precious Blood of Jesus! Even the purest water that ever gushed from a mountain spring, CANNOT cleanse anyone for Heaven. NO tears of repentance, though as pure those which trickled down our Savior's cheeks, CANNOT wash out the stains of sin, unless they are mingled with the Blood that dripped from Jesus' wounds. NO moral improvement can entitle us to the eternal honors of Heaven, if they are not connected with the Suretyship and Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The source of all sanctification is in Jesus' death and resurrection, and all the glories of eternal life, refer us back to Calvary. Grace in Christ Jesus started the work of eternal life, and grace in Christ Jesus must complete it.

I notice only one peculiarity here, that of some of the blood and oil was to be touched to the cleansed leper, the same as in the consecration of the priests. The record says, "The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass-offering, and put it upon the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot;" and the same with regard to the oil. This completed the leper's cleansing, and joined him to the chosen people in all their privileges and obligations. It points to the very culmination and crown of Christian sanctity. The blood of the trespass offering stands for the Blood of Christ, and the Holy oil for the Holy Spirit. These are the two great consecrating elements of Christianity. With these our High-Priest approaches us through the Gospel to complete our cleansing and ordain us to the dignities and duties of our spiritual calling. With this Blood and Oil applied to us, we are clean, and set apart as "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people" to "show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness to his marvellous light" (1 Pet.2:9). This blood and unction are applied when we have fully submitted ourselves to Jesus, and are willing to be what He desires to make us.
The grand strangeness of a Christian, and that which sums up everything else about him is, he no longer looks upon himself as his own, but as bought with a price, and marked by redeeming blood and gifts of anointing, to be the LORD'S. His head and ears are holy. His hands and his feet are holy. His whole being is set apart to a holy calling, no longer to be given to selfishness or sin. In the entire purpose of his mind, by the force of the blood that was shed for him, and the Spirit that is poured upon him, he is brought out of the region and shadow of death (Mat.4:16), made a part of the congregation of saints, and separated from all foreign alliances to the kingdom and the commonwealth of Israel (Gal.3:26-29). Withdrawn from the realms of darkness, he has become a child of light, whose citizenship is in Heaven. He is joined to the camp of God, made to share its fate. His whole interest is embarked with the cause of righteousness. Like the trusting Moabitess of the olden time, his vow is, "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" (Ruth 1:16). Jesus has laid his hand upon him, and said: John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. (KJV) . . . Be it so, is the firm response of his soul! Be it unto me according to Thy Word is enough because with this ALL the blessings, hopes and joys of the saints are his. He is clean. Like the scape-dove in the text, once a captive and in danger of death, he now is free. His soul can spread its wings, and rise above the common world, and soar away to salvation's sunny hills, and make its nest in the everlasting mountains. When we consider a soul bounding away, like that liberated bird, to everlasting life, how fitting is the Psalmist's prayer: "O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest" (Ps.55:6).

(e) There is one point more in these ceremonies to which I will call your attention. I refer to the time which the Law required. A leper could by no possibility get through with his cleansing under seven days. One day was enough to admit him into the camp; but seven full days were required to admit him to his home. There was therefore a complete period of time necessary to the entireness of his cleansing. This arrangement was not accidental. It has its full typical significance. It refers to the FACT that no one is completely sanctified in the present life; and that a complete period of time must take place before we reach the rest to which our cleansing entitles us (I Pet.1:4). Christians now are only in the course of cleansing. Recovery has started. Leprosy has been stayed. The priest has declared the disease conquered. Its offensive tumors have all disappeared. We are absolved and justified. The blood of purification has been sprinkled upon us. We have washed our clothes by repentance and reform. We have been admitted to the camp. We are numbered with the people of God. Our names are written in Heaven (Rev.20:15). We have made great advances on what we were while rotting in our leprosy. We have reached high honors and have secured high privileges. But everything has not yet been done, and all our disabilities are not yet removed. Great services yet remain to take place when the seven days have elapsed, but until then we must wait patiently. The effects of sin still linger in the old house, and we must suffer the consequences of it until the term of this present dispensation ends. Then shall our High-Priest come forth again, and "change our vile bodies, and fashion them like unto his own glorious body" (Phil.3:21), then, and only then shall the last lurking places of defilement then be cut off. The last act of the leper's cleansing was to shave off his hair. When that was done, he entered upon all the high services of the Tabernacle, and went to his home a saved man.

So many look on death as the end of man. They think that there is no more of him after he has been turned over to the grave. A tiny seed dies, and shoots up a new body and a new harvest; the caterpillar dies, and gives being to the butterfly from the elements of his decay; the day dies, and breaks forth into a new dawn; the year dies, and nature lies dead in her white winding sheet, and then bursts into fresh vigor from her wintry grave; and yet, when man dies, they say it is an eternal sleep . . . a complete extinction! That is NOT so. Death is really our proper birth. Only then shall we enter the TRUE realities of ETERNAL life. Nature knows NO such thing as an eternal sleep. Sleep always implies a future awakening. And IF death is a sleep at all, it cannot be eternal. It is but the rest of the night that is soon to issue in eternal day. Death in itself has nothing pleasant in it. It was not an agreeable thing for the leper to have all his hair shaved off from his entire body. It was in itself a great humiliation and dishonor. But in that, he did receive the completion of his liberty. It is sad to see the cheek of a friend or spouse grow pale and sunken, his smile give place to the signs of anguish, his strong limbs become powerless, a sick look creep over his eyes, his tongue grow heavy in his mouth and the work of death going on in his manly form, and his whole being turning to offensive corruption. It makes us shudder and weep. Old age is a melancholy humiliation of the glory of man . . . but in that very waste and decay he is being born to everlasting vigor. Death is his birth to immortality. It is the last of his disabilities. From that sad scene he passes to his home. There really is something bright and joyous connected with the gloom of death. Death breaks the chains of the prisoner; bringing the exile home; cleansing away the last remains of sin; to lead the ransomed spirit to its rest; to house us with the loving and Beloved in the blissful mansions of the Father's House (John 14:2-3).

Let us praise God for the Gospel which sheds such marvelous light upon the mystery of death! Let us praise God for the hopes which bloom on a Christian's grave because these dark and gloomy doors lead to the Land of Bliss. These little mounds, under which our loved ones and fathers sleep, are the mountain peaks of another and better world. The king of terrors (death) is a messenger of peace. And when we connect death with the Resurrection which is to follow it, Earth knows of no more beautiful transition.

Dear one, we all must die, unless Jesus comes in the clouds to take us Home in the Rapture (1 Thes.4:13-18). The seven days of life are fast passing away. Soon we shall sleep our last sleep. It may sadden some and make them shudder to think of it. It requires grace to look calmly on the tomb. But, along with this is another thought . . . a thrilling thought . . . that in one of these times we shall sleep, and when we open our eyes, we shall see the pearly gates, jasper walls, and golden streets! (Rev.21). One day, we shall see these splendid places and the immortal trees, crystal streams and the white-robed hosts that sing redemption's songs! And we shall finally SEE and TOUCH our Beloved King in His awesome majestic beauty (Mat.17:2; 28:3; Rev.1:13-17), with His everlasting Throne! Oh! What a beatiful vision! What a blessed place this Heaven is! Moses clearly brings the Gospel in the Book of Leviticus!

Moses clearly brings the GOSPEL in the Book of Leviticus!
He brings us a crystal-clear picture of Jesus!
The Gospel most certainly is in Leviticus.


Leviticus, intro . . Leviticus, Ch.1 . . Leviticus Ch.2 . . Leviticus, Ch.3 . . Leviticus, Ch.4 . . Leviticus Ch.5 . . Leviticus Ch.6 . . Leviticus Ch.7 . . . Leviticus Ch.8 . . Leviticus Ch.9 . . Leviticus Ch.10 . . Leviticus Ch.11 . . Leviticus Ch.12 . . Leviticus Ch.13 . . . Home Page



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