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.
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