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Leviticus 14:1-20 - Homilies By S.r. Aldridge

Thorough purification.

Spiritual disease is often neglected by persons who are extremely anxious respecting some disease of the physical frame. For the former they seek no remedy, and display no concern as to its ultimate issue, whereas the latter is viewed with unceasing distress. Would that every spiritual leper entertained just conceptions regarding his state! The ceremonies of this chapter are pregnant with interest for us today. Two stages in the leper's cleansing are set before us.


1 . The supposition that the leper might recover from his leprosy and be clean shows man's superiority to inanimate nature. When endeavours are being made to confound matter and mind, and to reduce man to a level with the earth on which he lives, it is not unworthy of notice that the legislator here marks a vital distinction between a man and a dwelling. The latter, if on investigation pronounced utterly unclean, was destroyed ( Leviticus 14:45 ), and so with garments ( Leviticus 13:52 ), but the leprous man ever contained possibilities of recovery. Let us hold fast to the truth here imaged, and delight in the thought that no sinner is beyond hope of amendment.

2 . As the priest journeyed outside the camp to the leper ( Leviticus 14:3 ), we are reminded of him who "suffered without the camp," who in his condescending love left his Father's throne to dwell with the outcasts of earth, and who in his abode with men selected not the richest and purest, but the poor and the sinful, as the recipients of his intimacy and favour.

3 . The death of the one bird showed forth the condition from which, by God's grace, the leper had been rescued; the flight of the other bird, previously dipped in the blood, symbolized the enjoyment of life granted through the death of the appointed victim. How aptly does this apply to our deliverance through Jesus Christ, so that "we have passed from death unto life"! Delight in our present position should be combined with thankful remembrance of the means by which it has been secured to us.

4 . The concomitants indicated the completeness of the new life received. There is no reason to reject the general interpretation that the cedar wood was an emblem of uncorruptness, the scarlet wool or braid of freshness and fullness of life, and the hyssop with its detergent properties of cleanness. These were employed in the preparation of the "water for separation" ( Numbers 19:1-22 ). Jesus Christ came that we might "have life, and have it more abundantly." He brought "life and incorruption to light through the gospel." He quickens those "dead through trespasses and sins." Life that invigorates the entire spirit is his "free gift."

5 . What trouble was necessary, and would be willingly incurred, in order to regain temporal advantages! Unless cleansed by ablution of himself and clothes, and the removal of hair from the head, no entrance into the assembly of his brethren was permissible. Yet how readily would all be performed, just as today no efforts are deemed too great to allow of participation in valued social or political movements! But for the cleansing from sin any commandment is accounted vexatious! Few care to sacrifice time or labour to become citizens of the heavenly commonwealth.


1 . The provision for restoring the leper proves that God has no desire to exclude men unnecessarily from religious privileges. The seven days' interval served to guard against a possible error on the part of the priest, and impressed the leper with a deeper conviction of the holiness of God. It is only sin that bars men from the light of God's presence, and only obstinate persistence in sin that need cause despair of forgiveness. "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life" was our Lord's indictment of men's impenitent folly.

2 . See, once more, the function of the priest to appear between man and God. "The priest that maketh him clean shall present the man before the Lord," and "the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord." We have our Advocate with the Father, in whose name, and sheltered by whose intercession, we may approach boldly the throne of grace. Hereafter he shall present us holy and without blemish, and unreprovable before him ( Colossians 1:22 ; Jud Colossians 1:24 ). Having Christ to introduce us, who can be afraid?

3 . The cleansing not complete without an atonement. All marks of disease may have disappeared, or at least the fear of infection may have vanished, and yet to enter upon the fresh period of existence is not sufficient unless the past transgressions be remembered and atoned for. To forsake sin is well, but, in addition, the sin of the past must be confessed and pardoned. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ enables the sinner to start upon his pilgrimage with shoulders eased from the burden of guilt. A gulf separates him from the land of iniquity and stumbling; he is free to commence again under happier auspices. The old score is wiped out; a clean tablet marks the returned prodigal's position.

4 . The purification must be coextensive with the disease. Leprosy affected the whole man; hence the tips of the ear, the hand, and the foot must be touched with the atoning blood, that all parts may be redeemed from corruption. All spheres of activity must be brought under the power of the cross of Christ.

5 . The cleansing becomes a consecration of the entire man. The resemblance of this rite to that enjoined at the setting apart of the priests to their holy office cannot fail to be observed. The leper offered a trespass offering to compensate for breaches of the commandment committed by reason of his absence through sin from the sanctuary, a sin offering because of transgressions inadvertently committed, a burnt offering as an act of individual worship in which there was self-surrender to the Lord, and a meat offering, the natural accompaniment testifying grateful homage. And, besides blood, oil also was sprinkled upon the leper, and poured upon his head, and sprinkled seven times (the covenant number)before the Lord, so that we have here a recognition of the truth that Israel was intended to be a "kingdom of priests." Typical of the sanctification required in the people of God, reaching to every part of their character, until all is brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. "As ye presented your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now present your members servants to righteousness unto sanctification.''

6 . The consecrated man is fit for the discharge of ordinary duties and the enjoyment of lawful pleasures. After the sacrifices, the man could once more enter his tent and mingle with his family, and pursue his wonted avocation. Jehovah proved himself in these regulations the God of the families of Israel. He protected their relationships and imparted to them his blessing. It is a mistaken idea to place affection for our kindred before love to God. Regard for God is the surest guarantee for the performance of human obligations. Well for the land if this were oftener remembered in the establishment of households and in the contracting of domestic ties!

CONCLUSION . Only when "clean" could the leper send for the priest. We go to Jesus Christ with all our guilt; he looks upon us and pronounces us clean, he touches us, and lo! we are healed; for there is sanatory power in his look and touch. What the Saviour exemplified when on earth, he is constantly effecting now from heaven.—S.R.A.

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