Leviticus 13 – infectious skin diseases In this chapter Moses, gives

Leviticus 13 – infectious skin diseases
In this chapter Moses, gives all the regulations from the Lord to the priests about how to
examine someone with a skin disease and determine if it is an infectious disease or not. There
is an examination, a waiting period, and then another examination in order to determine if the
person has an infectious skin disease or not. If they do, they are declared ceremonially unclean
and have to reside outside the camp. In verse 45 it says that such a person has to wear certain
type of clothing, cover their face, and walk around telling everybody that they are unclean. The
reason they have to tell everybody that they are unclean is because if someone touches them
that that person also becomes ceremonially unclean.
This is probably not the disease that we commonly know of as leprosy today that you may see
pictures of from a missionary in Africa where people are missing fingers and limbs from their
body. That disease causes feeling to be completely lost limbs and the people don't even know
when they lose a limb because there is no feeling. The diseases referenced in this passage are
skin diseases and they may or may not have been diseases that were transmittable. There may
have been some underlying health benefit to keeping someone with one of these infectious
diseases isolated from the community. But the bottom line was that this disease made them
ceremonially unclean. They could not be in the presence of the Lord in this condition. Because
Jesus had not come and made the all encompassing sacrifice these kinds of diseases prevented
one from being in the presence of the Lord.
In Leviticus 14:1 – 32 Moses gives the instructions for the type of ceremonial cleansing and
sacrifice that needs to be brought to the priest when one is cleansed from one of these
infectious skin diseases. Again, it is a lengthy ceremonial process including the sacrifice of
animals in order to be ceremonially cleansed and therefore be able to be admitted back into
the camp once one was cured of an infectious skin disease. The only two people that quickly
come to mind that were cured of an infectious skin disease also commonly called leprosy is
Miriam, the sister of Moses, and Naaman, the Aramaean general, who is cured through the
prophet Elisha. Miriam had to spend seven days outside the camp in order to be ceremonially
clean again after she got leprosy because of her rebellion towards Moses and then her cure
from that leprosy by God after repenting of her rebellion. Naaman, being a foreign general,
was not going to go to the priest and offer any kind of sacrifice and go through the purification
rite. King Uzziah was probably the most famous Old Testament person who got leprosy
because of his arrogance in the temple. He was never cured and had to live apart from the
people in Jerusalem because of this even as King.
The point is that when people contracted one of these infectious skin diseases in the Old
Testament there was no cure outside of a supernatural work of God. I believe passage in
Leviticus 14 is put there specifically for the time when Jesus comes on the scene and will
supernaturally heal some lepers of their infectious skin disease. In Matthew 8:1 – 4 we see this
very thing. A man with leprosy, or one of these infectious skin diseases, comes to Jesus and
asked to be healed. Jesus does heal him and then tells him not tell anyone but could go and
show himself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded as a testimony to them.
Jesus wanted this man to go fulfill the ritual of Leviticus 14 which would be a testimony to the
priest of his supernatural healing by Jesus. It was the priest that would have examined this
man, declared him unclean, and sent him away from the rest of society because of the law in
Leviticus 13. So when this man, who had just been healed of leprosy by Jesus, presents the gifts
and the offering mentioned in Leviticus 14 it should get the attention of the priest. This man
had received a supernatural healing of his infectious skin disease.
Now in light of what someone like this leper had to go through as laid out in Leviticus 13:45 you
can understand why he really wanted to be healed. It wasn't so much that this disease was
eating away at his body although there may have been pain and distress. But the real issue was
that he was permanently separated from his family, he was separated from the worship of God
in the temple, he was isolated from society, and he had to go around shouting to everybody
that he was unclean. This would have been an awful way to live regardless of what the physical
ramifications of this disease was. Yet this was his lot under the law until Jesus showed up.
But it is also interesting to see how Jesus response to this man. This man is ceremonially
unclean and he knows it and has to declare this to everyone. Yet he comes up to Jesus and asks
to be healed. Jesus does not shy away from this man who is ceremonially unclean. Jesus
doesn't avoid him because somehow this man is going to make him ceremonially unclean
before the Father. This is the message of the kingdom of God. Jesus shows up with the
kingdom of God and the power of God and now that which makes others ceremonially unclean
does not make Jesus ceremonially unclean. On the other hand Jesus touches him and makes
him physically clean and ceremonially clean before the law. Jesus reverses everything. That is
demonstrated message of the power of Jesus Christ and of the kingdom of God. Jesus is able to
take that which is unclean whether it be socially, physically, ceremonially, morally, or in any
other way and makes them clean and pure before God and before man.