Leviticus 15 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
2-18 Male Discharge
2-12 Long term
13-15 cleansed by sacrifice
18 and intercourse
19-30 Female Discharge
24 and intercourse
25-27 Long term
28-30 cleansed by sacrifice
31 Purpose of Law
It could be that the structure of this passage (chiasm – like an X) points us to the middle section. This literary device named after the Greek letter that resembles an X, “focusing . . . on the unity of mankind in two sexes. Form and content here compliment each other to express the idea that “God created man in his own image . . . male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). The unity and interdependence of the sexes finds its most profound expression in the act of sexual intercourse, and very fittingly this is discussed in v. 18, the midpoint of the literary structure” Wenham p. 216.
This insight will prove important for carefull Bible readers as we read God protecting this act, the deep mystery of marriage, and the sanctity of God bringing a man and a woman together to form the three estates or hierarchies (one of Luther’s contributions to theology): family, church and government. This insight will help us understand both the protection of proper intercourse and the strong condemnation of improper intercourse.
The long term male discharge (15:2ff) may refer to gonorrhea. The uncleanness is much more “infectious” than the skin diseases of chs. 13-14. The emission of semen only requires washing. The women’s menstrual discharge is treated first. She is unclean for 7 days. If a man has intercourse with his wife during this time he is considered unclean in the same way as the woman. Sexual intercourse during a woman’s menstruation is forbidden in Leviticus (18:19; cf. Ez. 18:26; 22:10).
In v. 31, the purpose of these laws is to separate us from uncleanness. This is also protection and grace since uncleanness provokes God’s wrath. In Exodus when God appears on Mt. Sinai, he prepares the people and warns them in Ex 19:10, they were told to wash, to refrain from sexual intercourse (19:15) on pain of death (vs. 12, 21, etc). Uncleanness is a serious sin that is always meet with God’s wrath unless the person follows God’s prescribed cleansing.
Commentators have numerous suggestions why these conditions are unclean. Hygiene is a favorite suggestion. Calvin and older expositors consider these discharges symbolize sin and death. Douglas makes interesting observations. “Holiness is symbolized by physical perfection” Wenham p. 222. She makes interesting connections with Israel’s politics and morality. Certainly these laws are meant to restrain sexual expression outside of marriage.
Let’s also consider an event in the N.T. recorded in Mark 5:25ff, an unclean woman touches our Lord in a crowd in hopes of being healed where she is proved right. Reflecting on Leviticus, she had to fearful that the Lord may have turned to her with a rebuke, even anger, for making Him unclean. Yet, we see His power because His holiness and utter (uber?) cleanness turning her uncleanness into cleanness. And His cleanness is not tainted by her uncleanness which would normally make the person she touches unclean.
This could not have happened in any time prior to Christ. No high priest, by his inherent sanctified life, could make an unclean person clean. No person was righteous in himself. Our righteousness is extra nos – outside of us. Our righteousness is an alien righteousness. It comes from someone else. Before and after Christ, we receive another’s righteousness. How truly glorious this is.
Father, I do no understand everything I read in Your word. But what I do understand is that are so many different ways I have sinned against You and make myself unclean before Your blazing glory. There are not enough bulls and goats to make me or anyone clean enough to enter Your presence. But there is a spotless, eternal lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Thank you for this book of Leviticus. Help me to deepen my understanding of worship and my need of a Savior. In Christ’s name, Amen.