And the priest shall see the raw flesh, and pronounce him to be unclean: for the raw flesh is unclean: it is a leprosy. — Leviticus 13:15
One summer day, when I was a young boy, my mother dressed my older sister and me for a special occasion and told us not to get dirty. However, we soon forgot our mother’s instruction. We went to a nearby playground, found a mud puddle, and before long, both of us were covered from head to toe with mud. All of a sudden, we realized that we had gone way too far and, if caught, the consequences would be bad. We tried to make it to the bathrooms in our house before being seen by Mom. We sneaked through the back door and my sister made it to the first bathroom. I had to try for the bathroom next to my parents’ room, but I didn’t make it. My mom caught me! There was no hiding my guilt: it was all over me.
In the time of the Children of Israel, God had a plan for dealing with unclean conditions. In the case of leprosy, precautions were needful so that the disease would not spread. Left untreated, it not only brought death to the individual, but it spread and infected those around him or her.
Leprosy is symbolic of sin. The Bible teaches that we are all born in the unclean state of sin. All of us are stained by the inherited sinful nature. Like my inability to hide my guilt as a young boy, our depraved condition cannot be hidden from God. Just as He had a plan for dealing with the unclean conditions in our text, God made a way for us to be cleansed from the condition of sin through the provision of Jesus’ death on Calvary.
Imagine how the Children of Israel felt when a priest declared them clean of disease! We can experience greater joy than they felt by having our sins forgiven.
These two chapters deal with physical conditions that caused a person or garment to be classified as clean or unclean.
In chapter 12, the cleansing process was designated for women after they had given birth. If a male child was born, the purification time was forty days. If the infant was a female child, it was eighty days. Atonement for the women was made by a lamb of the first year being sacrificed as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering. If she was not able to bring a lamb, then two turtledoves or two pigeons could be substituted. The priest would make atonement for her, and she was then pronounced clean.
The pattern of the priest inspecting individuals’ symptoms, diagnosing, and giving the verdict of clean or unclean is repeated seven times in chapter 13. Those declared to be leprous had to tear their clothing, bare their heads, cover their mustaches, and live in a solitary dwelling located outside of the camp. They would warn any one passing by of their condition by crying out, “Unclean! Unclean!” This chapter ends with the priestly duty of inspecting clothing to prevent diseases from spreading. If a garment was declared to be unclean, it was burned.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The way of access to God
C. By ceremonial purity
2. Separations concerning childbirth (12:1-8)
a. The period of uncleanness (12:1-5)
b. The offerings (12:6-8)
3. Separations concerning leprosy
a. The diagnosis of leprosy (13:1-44)
b. The requirements of a leper (13:45-46)
c. The garments with leprosy (13:47-59)
Leprosy separated an individual from society. Similarly, sin separates us from God. Unlike those who were declared unclean, however, we have a cure for the condition of sin. Through Jesus’ shed Blood we can be made clean, and stay unspotted from the world.