The Book of Leviticus, Part III
Today, we’re continuing our survey in the Book of Leviticus, covering chs. 13-15.
Now for those of you who are joining us for the first time, the purpose of preaching through the entire Book of Leviticus …
… is to give you the keys to understanding the general layout, structure, & key points of one of the more difficult to understands books in the Bible …
Today, we’re dealing with the part of the book where most people tend to get bogged down …
… because it’s a technical part of Leviticus, dealing with the laws for leprosy & natural hygiene.
But we’re gonna cover it & make it more interesting by looking at some of the cases of leprosy in the Bible …
The Bible is actually full of lepers …
… These are the outcasts of society, the ones that have been forgotten, separated from their loved ones, their families, and their community …
And they are the ones in the New Testament that Jesus had great compassion on & was not afraid to touch …
& by touching them, they were healed.
Jesus said, in Matthew 5:17: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
This was the central teaching of what’s been called Jesus’, “Sermon on the Mount”. “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
But immediately after Jesus finishes his sermon, in the beginning of Matthew Chapter 8 … even though the Israelites were not supposed to touch lepers, lest they become “unclean” …
… a leper comes up to Jesus & Jesus touches the leper & says:
“… be thou clean.”
Touching a leper would make you “unclean”, according to the Law of Moses.
You would have to go & offer a sin offering to become clean again.
But when a leper who is UNCLEAN touches God, that leper becomes CLEAN, by the very nature of Him that is without sin.
That’s why Jesus says to the leper that He healed, in Matthew 8:4: “And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.”
The leper was already CLEAN.
It was only “for a testimony unto” the priests that Jesus told him to go and offer the sacrifices for cleansing, according to Leviticus 13.
READ LEVITICUS 13:1-3.
And the leper would be isolated from the camp.
And so as we survey the Book of Leviticus, it’s amazing to see how many exciting passages are actually contained within this one book.
Just very briefly to review what we covered in the last sermon:
- In ch. 10, we read about the death of Nadab & Abihu, Aaron’s sons, when they offered “strange fire” in the tabernacle.
- In ch. 11 we covered the food & dietary laws & explained how the “clean” and “unclean” animals represented a separation & consecration of God’s people from the unbelieving world around them, the saved from the unsaved.
- In ch. 12 we covered the purification laws after birth, and we showed how even Mary, the mother of Jesus, offered a sacrifice for her sins, because although she is blessed among women, she still had sin, like any other man or woman on this earth.
And so the next 3 chapters get a little more technical, dealing w/ leprosy, diseases, & hygiene.
And it’s amazing as we get into this section … to see how the Bible is structured …
We’re talking about leprosy, death, sin, sickness.
This is one of the darker parts of the book of Leviticus …
But this section immediately precedes Leviticus 16 which takes us to THE BLOOD ATONEMENT, THE YEARLY SACRIFICE FOR SINS, WHICH ULTIMATELY CLEANSES, REDEEMS & GIVES US ETERNAL LIFE!
Inherent within the structure of Leviticus is DEATH, DECAY, & ISOLATION (which we’re covering today, represented by LEPROSY) …
… followed in the following chapters by ETERNAL LIFE & RESTORATION through the BLOOD ATONEMENT.
DISEASE, DEATH, & DECAY are a part of the curse brought upon mankind as a result of Adam & Eve’s transgression in the Garden of Eden.
When the first father & mother of mankind sinned … death & decay were introduced into the world for the first time …
15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Of course, most people today are familiar with what happened next.
Eve partook of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil and enticed her husband, Adam, to do the same …
& in disobedience of God, man exchanged the free gift of eternal life for everlasting punishment and death … in Hell.
One of the first Bible verses that we use when we go out soulwinning, knocking on doors, and delivering the Gospel, encapsulates this stark choice between life & death:
Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Wages, as we know, are what we earn when we work. Pastor Jiminez put that so well. It’s so clear to understand.
When we sin … we receive death for our wages …
It’s what we deserve …
And even if we were to try to work our way to heaven, the sin nature inside of us, would always lead us on the path to death & Hell.
So a perfect substitute was needed.
We see this explained in Romans 5:12:
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
And that’s what all of these sacrifices in the Book of Leviticus have been leading up to and describing …
The once and for all sacrifice for our transgressions …
And leprosy, really, represents the worst kind of Death: separation, isolation, & disease that a man could endure.
Symbolically, it represents in every way the wages of sin …
Leprosy is a picture of our condition without Jesus Christ.
… not always because a leper sinned more than someone else in this life, not because the lepers were more wicked and were stricken of God …
… but because the sin nature which we inherited from Adam & Eve is present in our mortal bodies today …
& it effects everything, from God’s natural creation … to our bodies … to our relationships … to our work … to our churches … to everything under the sun!
In John 9, Jesus healed a blind man, & said that it wasn’t because of his sin or his parent’s sin that he was born blind, but so that the work of God could be manifest in him:
1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind fromhis birth.
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Now, Leviticus chs. 13-14 gave the Israelites, God’s people at the time, the laws to distinguish & protect the people from leprosy.
Ch. 13 specifically deals w/ identifying the plague of leprosy & ch. 14 deals w/ purification & restoration of a leper back into society, if a leper is healed.
Now, today, leprosy is not very common in Western nations, but is more prevalent in India, parts of Africa, Brazil, Indonesia … and other nations.
But surprisingly, there are about 100 cases of leprosy reported in the US each year.
That’s compared to over 200,000 cases reported worldwide.
So leprosy is still with us, but is rare in the U.S.
But for the purpose of this SURVEY, let’s just touch on a few key points, rather than getting into all the technical ordinances for leprosy during the time of ancient Israel.
The leprosy laws are the longest chapters in the Book of Leviticus. So I can see how people get bogged down here.
BUT THE LEPER was identified by the priest & pronounced “unclean”, which meant that he would be isolated outside the camp in the wilderness, where the Israelites had reared up the TABERNACLE.
And we went through the steps of worship in the tabernacle in previous chapters.
But LOOK at verses 45 & 46 in LEV. 13.
READ LEV 13:45-46
The leper would be instructed to warn others by his dress & mouth the words, “unclean, unclean”, if anyone came near.
This was to prevent leprosy from spreading to the camp.
So you can imagine what a total life of separation must have meant: from your friends, your family, your place of worship, your community …
It was complete segregation from the main camp.
So this is the worst of the worst, because on top it, you were likely going to die lonely and miserable & shut out from everybody else.
So that’s what would happen if you were identified as a leper.
NOW, CHAPTER 14, deals with cleansing if a leper is healed, so that he can come back into fellowship with the rest of God’s people.
LET’S READ LEVITICUS 14:1-4
And a sacrifice is made for the leper.
And what was once “UNCLEAN” & quarantined from society is now pronounced “CLEAN” and restored back into the camp.
So leprosy, like I mentioned, is symbolically, spiritually, representative of death & decay, of broken fellowship between God and man, and man and his neighbor.
It represents the condition of the world without Christ.
There are many incidences of Lepers in the Bible: from the ones that Jesus healed in the New Testament to Naaman the Syrian … in 2 Kings 5 …
… whom the Bible calls “a mighty man of valour”, & the captain of the host of the king of Syria …
… but who was A LEPER that received God’s healing when the prophet Elisha instructed him to wash seven times in the Jordan river … & he would be cleansed.
- But Naaman at first refused to get healed, because of his pride.
His story is found in 2 Kings 5:9:
9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
10And Elisha sent a messenger unto him [NAAMAN WANTED ELISHA HIMSELF, BUT ELISHA SENT HIS MESSENGER], saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
11But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, HE will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
12Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
[NAAMAN WANTED GOD’S HEALING TO COME ON HIS TERMS].
13And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
He’s saying the healing is simple, it’s right there for you, if you will receive it.
The answer is often so clear and in our sight, and in our means to receive it, but oftentimes it doesn’t come the way we want it, and we let our expectations and our pride get in the way.
But Naaman listened to the reasonable voice of his servant.
14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
[And in v. 15 he swallows his pride & returns back to Elisha and praises God].
15And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.
And so many people today, let pride stand in the way of their salvation.
So often, we’re out soulwinning, & when we offer people the FREE GIFT of salvation (we’re not asking for anything in return, we’re not selling anything).
We’re just offering the FREE GIFT & and we tell people to simply believe in Jesus and to be cleansed, like the LEPER, & it boggles the mind …
BECAUSE people think THAT THEY HAVE TO WORK FOR IT!
Naaman washing in that river represented being cleansed, freely, by faith alone … being restored whole and healed from head to toe!
There was no “great thing” that he had to do, as Naaman’s servant told him … he just had to wash!
There’s also the story of King Uzziah, who’s mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26 …
… who though he was a righteous king … got lifted up with pride …
… & transgressed against God by offering incense upon the altar of incense in the tabernacle …
… when it was not his place to do it as a king …
… that work was reserved alone for the sanctified priests of God who had been consecrated for the work (like we talked about in Part I of this series).
2 Chronicles 26:4 says that King Uzziah: “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD …”
& in v.5 that: “… as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper.”
Now, that was at the beginning of his career as king.
But in 2 Chronicles 26 we read:
16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
17And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the LORD, that were valiant men:
18And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the LORD, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the LORD God.
19Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the LORD, from beside the incense altar.
20And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the LORD had smitten him.
21And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD
And so King Uzziah was struck with leprosy his entire life for denigrating the office of the priesthood & being lifted up with pride …
The altar of incense (like we covered last time), represented the prayers of the Saints ascending up to God ….
… and only the priests at that time – under the provisions of the LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD …
… were consecrated and set apart for the work & therefore able to stand as mediators between God and man.
Today, of course, we no longer require priests to stand as mediators between us and God …
We have Jesus Christ now has our sole mediator.
1 Timothy 2:5 says: “For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”
The Bible says that WE ARE ALL now both KINGS & PRIESTS by the GRACE of JESUS CHRIST, and can now function as ministers before God.
We don’t need man’s approval, but God’s!
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 4:16 says: “LET US therefore come BOLDLY unto the throne of GRACE, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to HELP in time of need.”
Another instance of leprosy in the Bible is when John the Baptist was locked away in prison before his martyrdom, & wanted to know if Jesus really was the Christ!
In perhaps a moment of doubt & isolation before his death, John the Baptist asks Jesus if he is really the Messiah that they had been awaiting, & Jesus answers him in Luke 7:22:
“… Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.”
This is in reference to Isaiah 35:5 and a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy:
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. 6Then shall the lame [man] leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
And also Isaiah 61:1: ““The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”
And Jesus also commanded the apostles in Matthew 10:8: “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils; freely ye have received, freely give.”
Jesus had come to bring healing to the sick, restoration & cleansing to the OUTCAST LEPERS, resurrection of life to the dead, and to set free those in bondage to the snares of the devil.
This was the mark & the sign that He was the Messiah … which all the OT Testament sacrifices pointed to.
But Jesus Himself was an outcast.
He understood perfectly what it meant to be rejected of men and cast out of society.
Isaiah 53 says of Him as a fulfillment of prophecy:
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Let’s look at Luke 17:11-19 to conclude the section on leprosy, and then we’ll close the sermon w/ a brief explanation of Leviticus 15.
READ LUKE 17:11-19
Hosea 6:6: “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD more than burnt offerings.”
It is KNOWING GOD that saves, it’s putting your FAITH on JESUS, not empty ritual or sacrifice or good works or trying to earn your way to heaven!
Let’s finish today with Leviticus 15.
This will be a brief section.
It deals with hygiene for physical, natural, bodily functions of a man and woman.
And this is something you can read on your own.
I don’t want to get graphic here.
But this is a survey of Leviticus, so I want to at least briefly explain every single chapter … & this will put us at just over the halfway mark for the whole Book, as there are 27 chapters in the Book of Leviticus.
So Chapter 15 deals with hygiene for natural relations between a man and a woman.
We see this described as “the seed of copulation” for a man in Leviticus 15:16 and the “flowers” of a woman in v. 24 …
& “flowers” is the Biblical word for “flowing” or when a woman comes into the “flower” of her age … and is now able to become pregnant.
A woman was unclean for 7 days during her flowing (which is the average time for a woman).
And if it was a normal “issue”, she was unclean only for those 7 days (mainly for health and cleanliness).
So it was a matter of hygiene. There was nothing innately sinful about it; and we know this, because there was no sacrifice offered for a normal, natural flow.
It was just your unclean during the 7-days.
… BUT IF THE FLOW WENT BEYOND beyond 7 days or there was some kind of health issue or abnormality: “if it run beyond the time of her separation” (Lev. 15:25) …
… she would have to also then offer a sacrifice to the priest to be ceremonially cleansed, but only if there was a sickness or abnormality.
Of course, this was all Old Testament, Levitical laws … and we are as Christians today, under the grace of the New Covenant, and no longer bound by these carnal, physical ordinances.
The same was true for a man’s natural functions, when things were normal, he would be unclean for 1 day and night & washing & hygiene instructions were given.
But if there was an abnormality, indicating some kind of sickness or disease, the man would be unclean & have to offer a sin & a burnt offering.
Finally in v. 18, the Bible says: “The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.”
So again, showing that these were natural, normal functions, there was nothing innately sinful about them, within the lawful confines of marriage between a man and a woman.
So that covers chapter 15 …
& so all of this has been leading up to the next chapter that we’ll be covering next time, ch. 16 …
… dealing with the once-per-year all-important blood atonement performed by the High-Priest …
… for both himself and the whole nation of Israel …
… which would deliver them, and ultimately us, from the wages of sin …