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Leviticus 14:2.—In the day of his cleansing. Remedy and respite came to the pitiable leper. Although his case seemed forlorn and dismal—unclean, and an outcast—yet the hope was left to him that the plague might be healed, and he be again restored to society and the sanctuary. The darkest lot of human life is illumined by hope; faint may be its ray, yet it breaks the dreariest gloom. Weary indeed were “all the days wherein the plague was in him” (Leviticus 13:46), but after long waiting there might come in due season “the day of his cleansing.” Yes, the possibilities of better things cheer us in every adverse case; the promises of God alleviate the desolation of all who wait for Him, even as the outlook for “the accepted time and the day of salvation” cheers the languishing soul in its conscious misery and sin. To every plague-bound soul this solace remains—“the day of his cleansing” may perchance come.
Leviticus 14:3.—The priest shall go forth out of the camp. No restoration from banishment to God, no removal of the bane of uncleanness, except through priestly mediation. Between the soul and salvation comes the priest. And the whole work of reinstating the outcast in his lost privileges begins in this act of the priest going forth to the place of the leper’s banishment. The coming forth of Christ Jesus to us, to where we were in our banishment, that was the initial incident in our restoration to God. No one but the priest could come nigh a leper without contracting defilement; no one but the sacred person of our divine Priest could approach us “in our sins” and both Himself remain “holy, harmless, undefiled,” and also bring the unclean life back to purity and privilege.
Leviticus 14:4.—Two birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop. Symbols of ceremonial and sacrificial cleansing. The one bird was killed, the other set at liberty. The one bird dead, symbolising that the leprous life of the victim was now also dead; the other bird free, symbolising that henceforth a new life of liberty was set before the restored leper. Or the evangelical symbolism may suggest to us in the slain bird the death, and in the soaring bird the resurrection of Christ—two aspects of His perfected redemption for the sinner.
The “cedar” in Scripture is the symbol of loftiness and pride, and leprosy was regarded as God’s rebuke for arrogance and haughtiness. “Hyssop” symbolised lowliness. Tradition affirms, “Pride was the cause of the distemper, which cannot be cured till man becomes humble, and keeps himself as low as hyssop.”
“Scarlet,” a binding of crimson wool, by which the cedar and hyssop were connected; suggestive of “sins as scarlet,” and equally of the blood of atonement; or it may symbolise the now purified and healthy blood flowing in the cleansed leper’s veins.
Leviticus 14:7.—Sprinkle upon him seven times. Welcome to the leper those sprinklings of the blood; each one being a testimony of his deliverance. And to a sin-burdened life how welcome “the blood of sprinkling.” There is no impatience while the sign of cleansing is “seven times “repeated. Naaman might resent the requirement of the seven washings in Jordan; but it was in ignorance of the fact that “seven” is the sign of perfectness. The life which craves emancipation from uncleanness and banishment, frets not under the repeated application of the purifying blood; it is to him “precious blood,” and his outcry is “Wash me throughly from mine iniquity.” They who have experienced the bitterness of sin, weary not under the process of cleansing.
Leviticus 14:8-9.—He that is to be cleansed. The first process of personal purifying restored the leper to the camp, the place of acknowledged relationship to Jehovah; he entered the society of Israel. Even so does the repentant sinner, who has been recalled from his outcast life, seeks to cleanse himself from evil ways and outward defilements, and then takes his place amid the congregations of God’s people. It is the beginning of his new and better life. He ventures not yet into “his tent,” nor treads the floors of the sanctuary; for these nearer and more sacred felicities require a fuller sanctifying. He must be “clean” who would dwell in “the camp”; doubly cleansed who could enter the family of God’s people in happy “tent” fellowship; supremely sanctified if he would tread the sanctuary of holy privilege, accepted within the very presence of the Lord.
Leviticus 14:10-20.—He shall take two lambs, etc. For now, at the end of seven days the soul is to come “before the Lord” (Leviticus 14:11); and who will venture near Him without sacrifice? The priest leads him to the very “door of the tabernacle,” waves the “trespass offering” in God’s presence, slays the “sin offering and burnt offering in the holy place,” then applies the trespass-offering blood, to the person of the suppliant together with the oil of consecration, making atonement for him, that he may be clean. The priestly ministries, and the sacrificial offerings reveal to us the works of Jesus; the applied blood and oil suggest the gracious offices of the Holy Spirit. All the most effective methods of purifying are called into requisition if a leper is to be made acceptable to God. True types of the needs of guilty men. It is not by easy and superficial processes they can be reinstated in grace. The priestly offices and sacrificial merits of Christ, the direct ministries of the Holy Spirit in applying the healing virtues of redemption, are imperative for their acceptance with the Lord. The sinner needs all that Christ and the Spirit can do for him if he is to stand without spot or rebuke before God.
Leviticus 14:21-32.—If he be poor. Poverty is left without plea of inability by such concessions; and equally is saved from fear of rejection by such evidence that God thinks specially of the poor.
Leviticus 14:33-53.—Leprosy in a house. A law given in the desert which was applicable to their future lot in the Land of Promise. It is thus a hostage that they would “come into the land of Canaan.” God sees the end from the beginning. He knows the way we take, and He arranges the goal we shall reach. It is so in our earthly movements; it is certainly so in our spiritual pilgrimage.
God would have our homes pure. No care could be too minute, no toil too heavy, no sacrifice too serious, in order to keep the house clean from plague. The habitations of the righteous should be free from all impurities; the walls bared of all suggestions of wrong thoughts and passions; the house free from every enticement to indulgence and sin. Modern Art is responsible for many a plague spot on the walls of our houses; and Luxury is to-day laying decoys on our tables which allure to habits whose issue is sin. Christian houses should be free from all occasions to such defilement. At all costs, though it mean the parting with ideal pictures and valued sculpture in the adornment of our rooms, or the removing of indulgences from our board, which may encourage in our children impure thoughts or perilous habits, let us show ourselves to be God’s people by keeping our homes clean. For a Christian home is earth’s best type of the beauteous and blissful heaven.
Topic: THE LAW OF CLEANSING (Leviticus 14:1-3)
The “law of cleansing” is clearly and emphatically shown at the outset; man’s part in his own purifying is to “stand still, and see the salvation of God.” All is to be done for him, nothing done by him. The leper must make no advances, could effect no purifying; he must for ever remain unclean and an outcast if help and deliverance are not brought him. And in the redemption, in the recreation of the sinner, all must be of God, all of grace; “not of works, lest any man should boast.” [Addenda to chap. xiv., Helplessness.]
I. GUILTY MAN’S ABSOLUTE HELPLESSNESS.
1. His position. The leper’s place was outside the camp, in the place of (symbolical) banishment from God. He was consigned to solitude, dreary isolation, beyond the reach of human aid. Doubly outlawed, from God and man; all help divorced from him; far off from the agencies of healing and amelioration; shut out from divine and human regard. In the ranks of sinful men and women to-day, there are thousands equally outlawed from help; living far off from God, apparently untouched by gracious influences of heaven, never hearing of Christ, unarrested and unawakened, living as outcasts. Nor do their fellow men come to their aid; “no man careth for their soul;” they are shunned as criminals, abandoned as hopeless. Let not this be supposed true only of the lower classes of society; in the highest stations there are those of whom, so far as sacred agencies reaching them, God seems to say, “Let them alone!” and to whom no delivering help or saving word ever appears to come from those who know the way of salvation.
2. His condition. Beyond human aid, certainly the leper was beyond self-aid. How could he act to secure his own cleansing? He could only communicate defilement to everything and every one he touched. He was a defiled and a defiling leper; could make nothing clean, only unclean. Without any helper, he was absolutely helpless. Are sinners thus? Can we minimise or escape our guilt? If it were possible for us to do “works of righteousness,” they would not diminish the guilt to our past account or obliterate present sinfulness. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; “there is none that doeth good and sinneth not.” It is mournfully true that the unclean cannot act any single part for the removal of their uncleanness.
Add to this the fact that one leper could not cleanse another, and the sum of his helplessness is complete. Neither in himself nor in his fellow-men, clean or unclean, could deliverance or healing be found.
When shut out from men we are shut up to God. Grace meets us in our extremity. Jesus finds him whom men “cast out” (John 9:35), and receives sinners whom society rejects (Matthew 9:11-12).
When penitence has wept in vain
Over some foul dark spot,
One only stream, a stream of blood,
Can wash away the blot.
II. GOD’S ABOUNDING HELPFULNESS.
Since his only resource was in God, He alone devised and accomplished the plan of his cleansing.
1. The outgoing of divine help. “The priest shall go forth out of the camp.” He was in this the “minister of God,” acting out God’s purpose. In the priest God approached the leper. Later in time, to guilty men there came the Supreme Priest; man could not, in his sin, come to God, but God came to man in Christ. And still He comes, by mediatorial agencies, to the lone spirit in the misery of sin. The first step in a sinner’s salvation is taken by God. He does not shrink from leprous scenes. Where sinners are the Saviour comes. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us” (1 John 4:9-10).
2. The process of divine cleansing. Having “began a good work,” God carries it on to completion (Leviticus 14:5; Leviticus 14:7). Sacrificial bloodshedding follows (Leviticus 14:6), then the blood of sprinkling is applied (Leviticus 14:7) in token of redeeming merits communicated; followed by the soaring bird (Leviticus 14:7), symbolic of the risen life into which God’s grace calls the soul whose death is both symbolised and substituted in the offering slain.
3. Cleanness proclaimed. The priest “shall pronounce him clean,” that it may convey glad assurance to the sufferer, that he may fearlessly claim the privileges now his. A wondrous hour to the stricken spirit is that when God pronounces him clean; it brings with it the “peace of God which passeth all understanding,” it imparts strong confidence and acceptance to the long outcast life. For as truly as the leper heard, and heard with eagerness, the priest’s voice of acquittal, so to the sinner entering into the Saviour’s grace comes the “witness in himself,” the voice of blessed testimony for the Lord, “Thy sins are forgiven thee, go in peace.”
One only band, a piercѐd hand,
Can salve the sinner’s wound.
“I am the Lord that healeth thee.” [Addenda to chap. xiv., Cleansed.]
Topic: ANXIETY FOR RECOVERY (Leviticus 14:1-3)
Medicinal remedies were not prescribed for leprosy; it was treated more as an uncleanness than as a disease, and the sufferer repaired not to the physician, but the priest. From the decision of the priest there was no appeal. In the leper was expected—
I. WILLINGNESS TO BE HEALED. There was anxiety in the congregation that the diseased should submit to the required regulations, and become quickly healed. The leper must not, through feelings of shame, hide his complaint, or keep from the necessary scrutiny. He must be willing to submit frequently, if needed, and follow closely the directions given. The first step towards moral recovery is to know, and acknowledge the plague of sin in the heart; to have anxiety to be searched by the candle of the Lord, and have every evil way rooted out. It is good when an anxious inquirer exclaims from solemn conviction: “I am altogether as an unclean thing, and my righteousness is as filthy rags.”
II. CONFIDENCE IN HIS HEALER. Faith in the priest would lie at the basis of the leper’s obedience to the requirements of the Ceremonial Law; abandoning all dependence in any other means. The priest was to confirm the cure God had wrought by directing a process of cleansing, which would exercise and prove the offerer’s faith. The priest was the representative of Jehovah; the directions he gave were to be regarded as the commands of the Lord; confidence in him, and implicit obedience to his directions, were accepted as compliance with the expressed purposes of God.
To be completely recovered from the leprosy of sin, unshaken confidence must be reposed in Him who alone has power to heal, who alone can give us the inward witness that we have passed from death unto life. Meeting the priest outside the camp, as mediator between God and His people, would give comfort and composure to the suppliant for mercy; so, God coming to meet us in the likeness of man, and unattended by overawing manifestations, awakens confidence in the earnest seeker after salvation. Willingness to be saved, belief in the Saviour, personal appropriation of the blessings of redemption, are the sole and indispensible requisites for deliverance from sin and death.—F. W. B.
Topic: REMEDIAL MEASURES (Leviticus 14:4-9)
Leprosy, next to death, was regarded as a symbol of the pollution and loathsomeness of sin. The care taken in the purification of the leper may be regarded as peculiarly referring to the fact that sin separates man from all pure and holy beings, or the whole family of God, and as setting forth the restoration of the penitent to the company of all faithful people, by means of the great appointed sacrifice. The ceremony to be observed would impress the mind of the restored, not only with the fact that he had become whole, but that a fresh tide of life had started in his veins; and, as he saw the live bird escape and soar towards heaven, he would probably have suggested to his mind that, henceforth, he was to rise superior to earthly things, and seek those that are above.
I. RESTORATION TO THE DIVINE FAVOUR IS THROUGH DIVINELY APPOINTED SACRIFICES.
The leper may have wondered what connection there was between the sacrifices and the cleansing he desired; yet it was not for him to question but to obey, and accept gratefully the blessing conferred. So, in what we are commanded to do for our cleansing and sanctifying the reason may not be apparent, but, since God has enjoined obligations upon us, exceptions and questionings are excluded. These offerings certainly suggest that only by the sacrifice of the life of a substitute can we be cleansed from defilements, only by compliance with divine directions can we obtain restoration to divine favour.
II. WHEN RESTORED TO DIVINE FAVOUR, THE FACT SHOULD HAVE PUBLIC DECLARATION.
The leper was to be cleansed at the door of the tabernacle, “before the Lord,” and there he was to be pronounced whole when the rites of purification were completed. Thus the whole camp would know that the man who had been unclean and excommunicated was now recovered, and re-admitted into the society of his friends. His ear, hand, and foot having been consecrated by the priest, a pledge was given that henceforth a new life would be lived before Israel. So, when persons are restored from the plague of sin, and cleansed by the influences of the Holy Ghost, public confession is expected and becoming to the honour of God, and for the encouragement of goodness. Christ has enjoined the duty of confessing Him publicly upon all His disciples, and declared that He will be ashamed of those in the last day who are now ashamed of Him.—F. W. B.
Topic: PROGRESSIVE CLEANSING (Leviticus 14:8-20)
Until a change came upon the leper’s state which was both (a) a conscious change to himself, and (b) an evident change to the priest, nothing could be done towards his admission to God’s fold. So long as a sinner remains dead in his sin, without feeling or desire towards salvation, destitute of penitence and faith, the way of his reception to the community of Christ’s redeemed is barred: he must, in contact with the priest, prove his awakened state.
This initial movement accomplished, there follows the application of the merits of sacrificial blood, and the liberation of the soul for a freed and a resurrection life, as one “alive from the dead,” alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. These are all the basis incidents of the Christian life, upon which are superadded the fuller cleansings, the advancing experiences, the higher privileges.
I. FULLER CLEANSINGS.
The seven-fold sprinklings (Leviticus 14:7) declare the reiterated application and the abounding virtues of the atonement of Christ. But there is yet more to come. Note:
1. Human co-operation with God’s working. The priest’s acts stand for the divine operations in the sinner’s cleansing; but the man himself has to “co-work together with God”; he must shave himself and wash himself. The sinner must “put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lust” (Ephesians 4:22; comp. Colossians 3:8-10); rid himself of all sinful excresences, and taints, and indulgences, and habits. He must also apply the pure water of the Word, the truths and precepts of religion, enforcing upon himself the sacred teachings and requirements of the gospel. “Ye are my friends if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). “Sanctify them through thy truth” (John 17:17). “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
2. Repeated efforts after perfect cleansing. What was done at first before he could be admitted to the camp, the congregation of Israel (Leviticus 14:8), must be repeated seven days after, even more scrupulously and minutely (Leviticus 14:9), as a preparation for his entering his own “tent” (Leviticus 14:8) and the “tabernacle” of the Lord (Leviticus 14:11). It is needful that he who has been living in sin reform his life and cleanse his ways before he becomes even an attendant on sacred scenes, entering into the camp and society of Christians; but if he is to come into the more intimate fellowship of the saints (“tent” nearness, and family intimacy), and into personal communion with the Lord (“tabernacle” access to God), he must purge himself of every relic of his former life of impurity, get rid of his old self, and seek a more thorough cleanness by most sedulous use of sanctifying gospel aids. The sources of spiritual cleansing are Scripture, prayer, self-mortification, cross-bearing after Jesus, the Holy Spirit’s energies, the culture of a godly mind and a pure heart. [Addenda to chap. xiv., Sanctification]
II. ADVANCING EXPERIENCES.
That soaring bird was emblematic of the freed and aspiring career now set before him. The whole of the new life came not to him at a bound: he had to “go from strength to strength,” to move forward by intervals and stages.
1. Time intervals separated his experiences. Though allowed to come into the camp at once he had to put “seven days,” a slow space of time, between that event and the next,—entrance into his tent; and “on the eighth day” followed his presentation before the Lord in the tabernacle of the congregation. The soul being “made nigh,” translated “from the power of darkness into “the kingdom of God’s dear Son,” moves onward by time stages; and sometimes the intervals are wide, years coming between the successive incidents of his progress. Human nature is sluggish, cannot move rapidly into new conditions of life; and so also it is slow to apprehend the transformations of grace. They must come by deliberate advances upon the renewed life, or the soul is overwhelmed and confounded; “we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
2. Attainments follow successively. To the priest, the camp, the tent, the tabernacle. Is there any of us who can “count himself to have attained, or already perfect”? Much advance has through divine love and help been made; but there are further possibilities. “To the mark for the prize of our high calling of God.” [Addenda to chap. xiv., Progress.]
III. HIGHER PRIVILEGES.
Blessed the initial incident to the long outcast soul which brought him to the priest, in living contact with one who could declare him clean. Glad the experience of his cleansing which gave him qualification again for the fellowship with Israel.
1. According to fitness so is privilege regulated. The first cleansing only gave him access to the camp (Leviticus 14:8); the seven days’ waiting qualified him to enter his tent (Leviticus 14:8); the after purging fitted him for the tabernacle. More grace for those who aspire higher. But the successive advancements in the divine life come according to our preparedness to enter into them.
2. Spiritual favours increase as we go forward. The longer we live in Christ and press forward in the culture of Christian virtues and habits, the more blessed becomes our state; more intimate and assured enjoyments, richer delights and loftier elevations. Piety gives not its most precious fruits at the outset. The luxuries are more entrancing, the triumphs are more splendid, the satisfaction is more complete, the virtues are more Christ-like the longer we abide in grace and seek the things that are above. The most blissful sanctuary life has yet only began to “taste” how gracious the Lord is. The most ample application of the “blood” and “oil”—graces of redemption and consecration—may be exceeded by the still richer realizations; for “He giveth more grace.” So may we advance nearer yet, till we “appear in Zion before God,” and gain the highest sanctity and the loftiest bliss.”
Topic: GRACE FOR THE POOR (Leviticus 14:21-32)
“The law of him in whom is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing.”
“If he be poor”: thus opens the gentle message of Heaven to the needy. “And cannot get so much.” What then? Let him bring the lesser offering, and it shall be accepted for his atonement as readily as the larger offerings (Leviticus 14:8) of the rich man who is able to get “that which pertaineth to his cleansing.”
I. POVERTY IS NO BARRIER TO GOD’S CLEANSING GRACE.
1. Grace meets the needy one just where he is, and as he is. The atoning blood is brought within reach of the very lowest, the very feeblest. All who need it can have it. “He that hath no money,” etc. (Isaiah 55:1).
2. The lowly need fear no heedless disregard. Man may despise them, put them aside: not so our gracious Saviour. Within those whose lot is hard there may be beauteous souls, “rich in faith.”
Let us be very tender;
The lowliest soul may be
A temple of priceless treasure
That only God can see.
II. POVERTY HAS NO INFLUENCE ON THE MERITS OF ATONING SACRIFICE.
1. The value of atonement lies, not in the offerer’s social status and resources, but in the sacrificial blood. It is not what we are, but what Christ is and has done for us, that forms the sure basis of our acceptance. The sacrifice of the cross has the same efficiency to every soul that brings it before God as his offering, whether lowly or wealthy. And in the smaller offering, equally with the richer, there was exhibited the full value of the atoning work, “precious blood,” a spotless victim, a perfect substitute for man’s uncleanness.
2. The acceptance of the poor is guaranteed by this sacrifice. There need be no trepidation in the breast of the lowly, the feeble, the needy, the misgiving; all are welcomed on the ground of an offering such as they are “able to get.” Nothing beyond. Jesus said of the woman, “She hath done what she could.”
III. POVERTY AFFORDS NO EXCUSE FOR FAILING TO SEEK GOD’S MERCY.
1. Without the presentation of sacrificial offering none could be readmitted to divine favour and fellowship. God would not dispense with atonement, however straightened the individual’s case. Every one, the poorest, must come with sacrifice. Christ Jesus must be every one’s trust and hope. And there is grace in His meritorious cross for each. God will allow none to excuse themselves. Sacrifice or rejection!
2. The terms of admission to the divine life are that we bring our utmost. “Such as he be able to get.” Not pleading poverty as a reason for doing poorly, offering a meaner presentation than is justifiable. The poor may not cover themselves from God’s requirements by their penury: but must bring “such as they are able to get,” their very best. None may “offer to God that which costs him nothing.” God would reject it as a “vain oblation.” The widow’s mite was pleasing to Christ as being “all her living.”
“Little faith” is but a poor offering to bring to Christ: but if the trembling and anxious soul can only bring that, “it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not.”
Our treasury offerings to the sanctuary, our working energies in Christian service, our talents for speaking to others for Christ, or in prayers to God for blessing on sacred work; all stand on this divine principle, “such as he be able.” Then the sacrifices will be welcomed, and the soul admitted into all the fellowship and felicities of grace. [Addenda to chap. xiv., Poverty.]
Topic: PURITY IN THE HOUSE (Leviticus 14:34-53)
It awakes wonder that leprosy could cling to the walls, could fix itself upon the very stones of a house, in some cases defying purgation, necessitating, therefore, the demolition of the structure and the casting out of all its fouled materials into an unclean place. The precautions here so expressly given show the danger, and denote that God abhorred house defilement equally with uncleanness in the human person. It is not alone that “sinners shall not dwell in His sight” (Psalms 5:4-5), but unclean things were revolting to Him—“whatsoever (as well as whosoever) worketh abomination or maketh a lie” (Revelation 21:27) is hateful to Him. So God is emphatic in condemnation of any defiling thing in His people’s abodes. Themselves clean, their homes must be pure.
I. HOUSEHOLD CLEANLINESS SHOULD DISTINGUISH THE ABODES OF THE GOOD.
1. Surely a pure mind will express itself in scrupulous cleanliness in its surroundings. Virtue and piety are as sensitive plants, recoiling from every physical uncleanness.
Burns speaks of the devout Cotter’s return to
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie’s smile.
Goldsmith marks the Traveller’s delight as
His loved partner, boastful of her hoard,
Displays her cleanly platter on the board.
It would prove a pleasing study to note how character may be tested by such minute domestic purities.
2. Certainly the cleanliness of a home reflects its influence upon those who dwell therein. If the occupants’ purity stamps itself on the house, the condition of the house casts back impressions of the occupant.
Even from the body’s purity, the mind
Receives a secret sympathetic aid.
And not less so from the purity of home scenes.
3. The motive to such cleanliness will be with the Christian a regard for God’s approval. What care would not Martha feel that every spot and article in her Bethany home should be spotless and bright, knowing that the Lord Jesus might be there any hour as a Guest. Cleanliness is fostered by a spirit of reverence.
A servant with this clause,
Makes drudgery divine;
Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws,
Makes that and th’ action fine.—Geo. Herbert.
4. Such care for simple home satisfactions renders the dwellings delightful to its inmates. It is the sense of the purity and the carefulness which we find at home that leads us to rest so confidingly there. Suspicion and detraction may disturb thought and spoil enjoyment when in scenes which love and piety have not made sweet for us; but all is good and genial at home. “No little room so warm and bright” (Tennyson) anywhere in the great world, as that where gentle hands have made all so satisfactory for us.
And though, as the French proverb affirms, “to every bird its nest is fair,” yet it is not easy to believe it fair if the nest be fouled.
The sober comfort, all the peace which springs
From the large aggregate of little things;
On these small cares of daughter, wife, or friend,
The almost sacred joys of home depend.—HANNAH MORS.
II. HOME SANCTITIES WILL BE SCRUPULOUSLY MAINTAINED BY THE GODLY.
1. Impurities would force entrance into the homes of God’s people still. Not leprous spots cleaving to the structure, but moral plague spots and intellectual defilements. Nude art, and sensuous pictures, and indecent drawings, by which incautious parents adorn their rooms; books and magazines, containing articles and stories in which there is a taint upon virtue, or a sneer against truth, are recklessly laid upon the table, because it is fashionable to subscribe for such literature. Companionships press into our family enclosure, which it is difficult to refuse; friendships which are desirable for wordly ends are allowed in Christian households, but whereby is fulfilled the warning, “evil communications corrupt good manners.” Verily in all such cases “it seemeth to me there is, as it were, a plague in the house” (Leviticus 14:25).
2. Devout minds will resolutely cleanse from the family all such defilements. It would not be easy or pleasant work to “empty the house” (Leviticus 14:36), to “take away the stones in which the plague is” (Leviticus 14:40), to “have the house scraped within round about” (Leviticus 14:41); but the work has to be rigorously done in the name of God! “Abhor that which is evil!” giving no assent or connivance to what may defile. Duty, not agreeableness, is the Christian’s law. Parents are home-guardians. The husband is the house band. There may be no looseness in the keeping of the home. “If any provide not for his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8).
Home has been designated “Heaven’s fallen sister”; and it is—where pure and hallowed—the nearest similitude to Heaven. To Adam, paradise was home; to the Christian, home should be paradise. Let there be unsullied purity in the house.
Around each pure, domestic shrine,
Bright flowers of Eden bloom and twine,
Our hearths are altars all.—KEBLE.
III. HABITATIONS INCURABLY DEFILED ARE DESTINED TO DESTRUCTION.
There is no alternative. If the plague cannot be arrested and removed, the habitation must be demolished; “he shall break down the house” (Leviticus 14:45).
1. Destroyed habitations; let them warn against the faintest beginnings of error and sin, against the connivance of the slightest dereliction from sanctity. Wrong works ruin! Purest homes have become devastated by incautious inattention to small impieties. If a house is to be saved, sin must be out-barred.
2. Sanctified homes. Evil may be purged (Leviticus 14:49). Ask holy visitants to come in; not “priests” now, but the presence of the good, the virtuous, the Christian, and let the atoning blood (Leviticus 14:50) have application, and “the running water” of God’s word, the living stream of sacerd truth, be used. There is remedy for home defects and defilements; and the doom of a family may be averted, the “salvation of a house” (Luke 19:9) may be secured, by the admission therein of the Saviour Himself, and the graces of His kingdom, the agencies of religion, and the sanctifying influence of family prayer and Scripture reading; for so the plague shall be expelled, and the house “shall be clean” (Leviticus 14:53). [Addenda to chap. xiv., Home.]
OUTLINES OF VERSES ON CHAPTER 14
Leviticus 14:2.—Theme: CLEANSING THE LEPER “This is the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: he shall be brought unto the priest.”
I. THE DISEASE.
1. Its peculiar designation Leprosy the “plague of boils” (Deuteronomy 28:0), which applies very forcibly to sin.
2. Its distinguishing characteristics. Small in appearance; so in a vicious course of life. It gradually spread, as does sin spread over all the powers and faculties of a man.
3. Its pernicious consequences. The malady was injurious to society, as being infectious and pernicious; to the person himself, excluding him from all society, civil and religious. So sinners corrupt others, while their abominable ways shut them from the communion of the faithful.
II. THE CUBE OF THE DISEASE.
1. No human means could be availing. The leper would gladly have cured himself. No art of man was effectual (2 Kings 5:7). We have no remedy of man’s devising for sin (Romans 7:19; Romans 7:24).
2. If the leper was cured it was by God alone, without the intervention of human means. Comp. Luke 17:14; Isaiah 51:7. Nothing was prescribed or attempted for the removal of this distemper And none but God can remove sin, etc. Romans 7:10; Romans 7:18; Ephesians 5:9; 1 Peter 2:2.
3. But the cure was associated with blood and water. And to be cleansed from the leprosy of sin we must have applied the blood and spirit of Christ (1 John 1:7; Ezekiel 36:25).
II. THE CONFIRMATION OF THE CURE BY THE PRIEST.
1. A person was not to be pronounced clean on a sudden. The priest was to use much caution and deliberation. Caution should be exercised by ministers and office bearers in the church towards those who are candidates for fellowship.
2. When it evidently appeared that soundness had been imparted to his disordered body, this was declared with due solemnity. Here we see the pre-eminence of our High Priest; for while the priest merely declared the leper healed He most effectually heals.
Let those infected with the leprosy apply to their souls the divinely appointed remedy; and—
Let those who have been cleansed from it carefully discharge the duty enjoined on them (Leviticus 14:10, etc.).—W. Sleigh.
Leviticus 14:3 Theme: DIVINE COMPASSION EXHIBITED.
The lonely leper, desiring an audience with the priest, would go towards the camp, and wait for the opportunity to present his case. The priest, ascertaining that his services were required, would go forth out of the camp, and discharge his duty. This would indicate that the condition of the leper—
I. THOUGH HELPLESS WAS NOT HOPELESS. He could not cure himself—no mortal man could cure him, but the priest, as medium of communication from heaven, could be the channel of cleansing. Helpless in the presence of men, he was hopeful in the presence of the Lord. So, sinners, reprobated by their fellows, are renewed and restored by their Maker. The condition of the leper—
II. THOUGH REPULSIVE WAS NOT IRRECOVERABLE.
He was shunned by society, and branded as unclean; but the priest came out of the camp and met him, showing that Jehovah had not given him up, was not unwilling to heal him. God, by sending His dear Son into our world, has come forth to meet us, not to speak from a distance, and treat us as reprobates, but He has come close to us, touched us, worn our humanity, that we may be healed. Here, indeed, is divine compassion; meeting us, not in disdain or to destroy, but to sanctify and save.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 14:4.—Theme: A TYPE OF REDEMPTION.
Though the rite prescribed here was to be observed after the leper was cured, yet it may be regarded as typical of the offering made for the removal of sin from the soul of man.
I. THE LEPER’S CLEANSING WAS PROCURED BY—
(a) Infliction of death. Two live, clean birds brought to priest; one of them killed, its blood sprinkled on leper to be cleansed, seven times. Through sacrifice of life of Christ, through His blood, we have forgiveness of sins.
(b) Victory over death. The living bird after being dipped in the blood of the slain bird was let loose in the open field. Here we get, if not type—yet illustration, of conquest over the grave by Him who bare our sins in His own body on the tree.
II. THE LEPER’S CLEANSING WAS COMMUNICATED BY—
(a) Personal application. The blood was sprinkled upon the person to be cleansed. So, nothing short of actual contact with virtue of Christ’s death will cleanse from sin.
(b) Repeated application. The blood was sprinkled seven times, to denote that the cure was thorough and complete. We need the constant application of the merits of Christ’s sacrifice to remove the guilt we are constantly contracting from contact with a sinful world, and the uprising of remaining depravity in our hearts.
Thus, coming to the priest, and submitting to the ordinance of cleansing, the leper would be taught—
(1) Humility. He would be deeply impressed with his corruption and unworthiness.
(2) Gratitude. That God had devised means whereby so helpless a condition might be met, so miserable a state be changed.
(3) Responsibility. If cleansed thus he would be a new creature; expected to live a new life; under lasting obligation to Him who had given the healing. So, in redemption; those who are saved are taught humility, gratitude, consecration. “Ye are not your own,” etc.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 14:8-9.—Theme: SANCTIFICATION.
Personal efforts of the leper for himself to follow services performed for him by the priest. He to co-operate with the divine means employed. In directions given, means of sanctification are suggested, such as—
I. PURIFICATION OF ASSOCIATIONS. Leper to “wash his clothes.”
II. MORTIFICATION OF SELF. “Shave off all his hair.”
III. MEASURES OF REFORM. “Wash his flesh in water.”
IV. SCRUPULOUS SELF-EXAMINATION. “Tarry out of his tent seven days.”
V. CONGENIAL SOCIETY. When cleansed, the leper was restored to the worship of the tabernacle, publicly presented at the door before the Lord. He was then allowed to mingle with the sacred and social life of the nation.
Sanctification, a progressive work. We are “being saved” in this life. Our complete purification hinges on perseverance in use of divinely appointed means. Constant circumspection and introspection essential. Sanctification on earth culminates in presentation before the presence of the Lord in heaven, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 14:21-22.—Theme: NO EXCUSE FOR NEGLECTING MEANS OF CLEANSING.
As in other rites, provision is here made, so that even the poorest were not shut out from ordinance of healing, so that none could make excuse in justification of neglect. There was—
I. GRADATION IN THE OFFERINGS. The leper was to offer “such as he could get.’ God does not expect more than we can do. He demands the best we can offer; if we offer our best He accepts it.
II. EQUALITY IN THE OFFERERS. Whatever they brought they all stood upon a moral level before Jehovah. He makes no distinctions, in the bestowment of His mercy, between rich and poor.
III. COMPLETENESS IN THE RECOVERY. The smallness and poverty of the offering did not hinder a full blessing coming on the leper; all alike pronounced clean when conditions complied with. The merits of Christ’s sacrifice more than make up for any defects and deficiencies in our services. Though we and our works are less than nothing, He is all and in all.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 14:17; Leviticus 14:25; Leviticus 14:28-29.—Theme: COMPLETENESS OF CLEANSING.
The leper was not only cleansed from defilement, delivered from past disabilities, but introduced to a new life. He is now the servant of Jehovah, and expected to enter into solemn covenant with Him. There was to be henceforth—
I. DEVOUT ATTENTION TO DIVINE COMMANDS. The “right ear” of the cleansed leper touched with blood and oil.
II. ENERGETIC SERVICE. The “right hand” touched, etc.
III. READY OBEDIENCE. The “right foot” touched, etc.
IV. INTELLIGENT CONSECRATION. “Oil poured upon the head.” Thus all our powers should be set apart for the service and glory of Him who has interposed to save us, and who sets us apart as His peculiar people by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 14:33-34.—Theme: LEPROUS HOUSES.
Material things not evil in themselves, yet, since the Fall, they have often become vehicles of contamination, incentives to depravity. Man has disfigured the world and made it like a leprous house, so that “the whole creation groans and travails” on account of sin, syren songs are sung to beguile the unwary, and wrecking lights are held out from scenes which appear both beautiful and safe. The leprosy of lewdness, licentiousness, cling to many a dwelling in the midst even of civilised Christian society. Thus—
I. THE WORLD—AS THE HOUSE OF OUR RACE—HAS BECOME LEPROUS. Let us beware of its tempting, tainting influences.
II. THE BODY—AS THE HOUSE OF THE SOUL—HAS BECOME LEPROUS. It contains not only seeds of mortality, but of depravity. Corruption clings to all its issues and powers. The world will be purified by the final wrecking fires; the vile body of our mortality is to be changed by our risen Lord, if we live and die to Him.—F. W. B
Leviticus 14:45-49.—Theme: DEPRAVED SURROUNDINGS TO BE DEMOLISHED.
Every effort was to be made to effect the complete cleansing of leprous houses; such efforts failing, the houses were to be pulled down and the materials carried to an unclean place without the city. So—
I. STRENUOUS EFFORTS SHOULD BE MADE TO PURIFY CORRUPT SURROUNDINGS. In the world; our own homes; in our bodies; in our hearts.
II. COMPLETE DESTRUCTION MUST ENSUE WHERE CORRUPTION IS INCURABLE. At length the house was demolished, to prevent spread of infection, to show hatefulness of corruption. So, in the end, when period of probation is over, all uncured depravity will be removed to an unclean place; the finally impure, even in surroundings, will be destroyed. Purity shall ultimately triumph over corruption, and happiness over misery.—F. W. B.
ILLUSTRATIVE ADDENDA TO CHAPTER 14
A physician, attending a Christian patient, became concerned to gain such spiritual assurance and joy in Christ as the sufferer manifested, and asked how it might be secured. He replied:
“Doctor, I have felt that I could do nothing, and so I have put my case in your hands; I am trusting in you.”
He saw the simplicity of the way, absolute helplessness, but absolute trust in Christ; and he found peace therein.
“Lord, save me from my sin;
Thine is the work alone;
Come to this erring soul of mine
And make that power known.”
His garb was simple, and his sandals worn;
His stature modelled with a perfect grace;
His countenance the impress of a God.
He looked on Helon earnestly awhile,
As if His heart were moved; and stooping down
He took a little water in His hand
And laved the sufferer’s brow, and said, ‘Be clean!’
And lo! the scales fell from him, and his blood
Coursed with delicious coolness through his veins,
And his dry palms grew moist, and on his lips
The dewy softness of an infant’s stole.
His leprosy was cleansed; and he fell down Prostrate at Jesus’ feet, and worshipp’d Him.”
—WILLIS: Room for the Leper.
“Justification regards something done for us; sanctification, something done in us. The one is a change in our state, the other in our nature. The one is perfect, the other gradual. The one is derived from obedience to the Saviour, the other from His Spirit The one gives a title to heaven, the other a meetness for it. Suppose you had a son; you forbade him to enter a place of contagion on pain of losing all you could leave him. He goes, and is seized with the infection. He is guilty, for he had transgressed your command; but he is also diseased. Do you not perceive that your forgiving him does not heal him? He wants not only the father’s pardon, but the physician’s aid. In vain is he freed from the forfeiture of his estate, if he be left under the force of the disorder.”—JAY.
“Who would be cleansed from every sin
Must to God’s holy altar bring
The whole of life—its joys, its tears,
Its hopes, its loves, its powers, its years,
The will, and every cherished thing.”
“Flying birds are never taken in the fowler’s aware.”—SECKER.
“He never was so good as he should be, who does not strive to be better than he is.”—WARWICK.
“It is so with all climbing: Every upward step makes another needful; and so we must go on until we reach heaven, the summit of the aspiration of time.”—H. W. BEECHER
“All growth that is not growth towards God
Is growing to decay.”—GEO. MACDONALD.
POVERTY: THE SAINTLY POOR
“The shell may be coarse which encloses the pearl. An iron safe may hold treasures of gold. A broken frame may contain the most beautiful picture. Poor believers may be rich Christians.”—BOWES.
“There was no part of creature-holiness that I had so great a sense of the loveliness of as humility, brokenness of heart, and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for. My heart panted after this—to be before God as in the dust; that I might be as nothing, and that God might be All; that I might become a little child.”—EDWARDS.
“The Emperor heard that the treasures of the Church had been confided to St. Laurence; he was brought before the tribunal and required to confess where those treasures were concealed. He answered that in three days he would show them. On the third day St. Laurence gathered together the sick and the poor, to whom he had dispensed alms, and placing them before the tribune said, “Behold! here are the treasures of Christ’s Church.”
“God’s riches to my soul be given,
And ′tis enough for earth and heaven!”
“That life on earth may be the beat
In which by want the soul is tried;
For He whose word is ever sure,
Hath said that ‘Blessed are the poor.’ ”
“A man’s house should be on the hill-top of cherfulness and serenity; so high that no shadows rest upon it; and where the morning comes so early and the evening tarries so late that the day has twice as many golden hours as those of other scenes Home should be the centre of joy.”—BEECHER
“Oh, happy home! oh, home supremely blest,
Where Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, art entertained
As the most welcome and beloved guest,
With true devotion and with love unfeigned;
Where all hearts beat in unison with Thine,
Where eyes grow brighter as they look on Thee,
Where all are ready at the slightest sign
To do Thy will, and do it heartily.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Leviticus 14". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent