Read & Study the Bible Online - Bible Portal

Leviticus 14:1-32 - Homiletics

The cleansing of the leper represents the absolution of the sinner,

as his exclusion from the camp represented spiritual excommunication.

I. THE LAW OF CHRISTIAN EXCOMMUNICATION AND ABSOLUTION , "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" ( Matthew 16:19 ). "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" ( Matthew 18:18 ). "Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained" ( John 20:23 ).


1 . To admit.

2 . To shut out.

3 . To readmit.

1 . The spiritual keys are used by God's ministers for the purpose of admission, whenever they introduce into Christ's kingdom, the Church, a new member by the use of the initiatory rite of baptism, which they are commissioned to employ for that end.

2 . They are used for the purpose of exclusion, whenever the Church, or any duly constituted section of the Church, following the example of the Corinthian Church, as instructed and guided by St. Paul, shuts out from its fold one who has been guilty of gross immorality ( 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 ) or of depraving the faith ( 1 Timothy 1:20 ), and continues obstinate in his sin.

3 . They are used for the purpose of readmission, when the Church has become satisfied that the sinner whom she had excluded from her fold has ceased to be a sinner, and thereupon, like the Corinthian Church, once more under the direction of St. Paul, "forgives him and comforts him, lest such an one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow," and confirms its love towards him ( 2 Corinthians 2:7 , 2 Corinthians 2:8 ).

III. THE FORMS FOR ADMISSION , EXCLUSION , AND READMISSION IN THE OLD AND NEW DISPENSATIONS . The form of admission into covenant with himself is, as we should expect, fixed by Divine authority in both dispensations. In the old dispensation it was circumcision. "Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations,… and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant" ( Genesis 17:10-13 ). In the New Testament it is baptism in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. "Go ye therefore, and teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" ( Matthew 28:19 ). "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ" ( Galatians 3:26 , Galatians 3:27 ). These forms are unchangeable by any human authority.

The form of exclusion from the covenant people was not so definitely fixed under the old as the new dispensation. In the former it is ordained that for various transgressions a soul shall be cut off. "The uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant' ( Genesis 17:14 ). "If a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, both of them shall be cut off from among their people" ( Leviticus 20:18 ). But it is only in the case of leprosy that the method of exclusion is given in detail. There we have seen that it is to consist of a careful examination on the part of God's priest, and a pronunciation by him of the undoubted existence of the uncleanness in the person suspected, after which the latter is to exhibit all the signs of one mourning for himself as dead, to dwell alone, and" without the camp shall his habitation be" ( Leviticus 13:45 , Leviticus 13:46 ). So in the New Testament the power of "binding" as well as of "loosing," and of "retaining" bound as well as of "forgiving," is granted, and the obligation of exerting this power is involved in its grant; but no especial form by which it is to be done is given. It is only in the case of the incestuous Corinthian that we have an example of the way in which St. Paul judges that it shall be done. From thence it appears that the decision is to be passed by the chief Church officer, in the name of Jesus Christ, and promulgated by the assembled Church, the result being that the offender is translated from the kingdom of Christ to the outer world, the kingdom of Satan, "for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" ( 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 ).

Nor is there any form definitely appointed either in the old or in the new dispensation for the readmission of those that had been cast out. No doubt in the old dispensation, it was always effected by the means of sacrifice, but we have a definite statement of the form adopted only in the case of reconciliation after leprosy. This form we have seen to be very elaborate and significative. Similarly in the new dispensation, we find no form authoritatively given for the restoration of the penitent; only we have, as before, the instance of the incestuous Corinthian, from which we learn that after sufficient punishment such a one is to be forgiven and taken back to the love of the brethren; and we have the general principle laid down elsewhere, "If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted" ( Galatians 6:1 ).

The fact of a divinely authorized form being given for admission into covenant with God, but none for exclusion from it by excommunication or readmission to it by absolution, is significant. The first is under the new dispensation a sacrament ordained of Christ; the others are ecclesiastical rites, valuable for the well-being of the Church, but not appointed by its Founder as a necessary condition of its existence.


1 . He did not cure the leprosy.

"If the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper" ( Leviticus 14:3 ), then the priest shall begin the cleansing ceremonies. The healing of the disease was the work of God.

2 . The action of the priest is necessary for the cleansing. If the healing is the work of God, the cleansing is the work of the priest. It is a complex ceremonial act, the result of which is not to deliver from the leprosy, but to serve as an assurance to the man himself and to the whole community that he is delivered from it, and therefore fit to be reinstated, and by that act reinstated, in the position of full communion which he had lost. So with absolution; it is God alone that forgives and heals sin. But after this has been accomplished, still it is necessary that a solemn ecclesiastical ceremony should reinstate in the communion of the faithful one who has been formally severed from it. And where the formal act of severance has not taken place, but a man's distressed conscience tells him that he has separated himself from God, and can hardly allow him to believe in his forgiveness, the solemn declaration of that forgiveness by God's minister serves as an assurance to the trembling soul, and restores to him the sense of peace which was lost.

Be the first to react on this!

Scroll to Top

Group of Brands