Leviticus 14 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence
Yesterday we learned about the laws of leprosy in determining whether or not a particular skin infection or eruption had risen to the level of making an Israelite unclean in the eyes of God. Uncleanness did not necessarily imply that a particular sin was involved, but it always symbolized the need for purification and reconciliation with a holy God in order to enter into His presence. We must remember that the Lord was dwelling in the midst of their camp, thus when the Israelites drew near to the tabernacle, they were, in a sense, entering into paradise. And because the holy of holies was in their midst, the Israelites continually needed to maintain at least a ritual holiness and cleanliness that symbolized that they had a right to be within God’s camp.
As we have already seen in the last few chapters, there a number of ways in which a person could be considered ritually unclean in the eyes of God. Because skin diseases were so obviously seen as a disorder in terms of health and cleanliness, they were easy to point out by the priests and could keep an individual away from the tabernacle and even away from the camp altogether if they were not remedied over time.
It’s hard for us to understand how a sovereign God could give such a disease to a person and then exclude him from his presence in order to maintain a high regard for His holiness amongst God’s people. The woman who had the discharge of blood for twelve years is a case in point. She could not enter into the fellowship of God and His people because of her disorder, nor could all the lepers that came to Jesus. Of course, we know that God does everything for His own glory. Even these maladies were given to individuals to magnify God’s holiness amongst his people.
But we also must remember that this is the law of God and not the gospel. The law is meant to condemn, not to save. It is meant to point out the disease. It is designed to point out the disorder, to shine a light on the stain, and to cast blame on the blemish. The law is incapable of healing. It is incapable of cleansing. Of course, the sacrifices were a foreshadowing of the gospel that is found in Christ. Although the law condemned, if the right conditions were met, the priest could make atonement for one’s disorder and allow them back into the presence of God. If healing occurred, atonement was possible. However, if healing did not occur, the hands of the priests were tied.
That is what is so marvelous about the accounts in the gospels concerning those with leprosy who had come into contact with Jesus. In one such account found in three of the gospels, a leper comes to him in great desperation, probably after years of living by himself cut off from God’s people. He falls to the ground on his face before Jesus, and begs him, saying, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” After reading this passage in Leviticus, it is obvious that the leper would never ask such a question of one of the priests of Aaron, for the priests could not grant such a request without breaking the law of God. The priest could offer the leper no consolation at all. But the Son of God, the giver of life and the one who forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases, the only one in whom there is no uncleanness, takes pity upon this helpless soul, stretches out his hand and touches the unclean man and says to him, “I am willing, be clean.”