Leviticus 14:1-9 (Set Free in an Open Field)

Leviticus 14:1-9
Set Free in and Open Field

When you think of the movie The Sound of Music, surely what must come to mind before anything else is the moment where Julie Andrews spreads out her arms on the open field of the mountaintop. There is a feeling of freedom when you’re in an open space like that. No matter how far you stretch your arms, there is always more room to do so. The heart can feel a sense of satisfaction like no other in such a spot.

David wrote about that several times, noting that the Lord delivered him and brought him out into a broad place. Although the verses today might seem curious, and we might feel a tweak of sadness as we see one bird killed and another dipped into the blood of the dead bird, we still must certainly get a feeling of relief when we read about the remaining bird being set free.

I know I do. Every time that I have read that verse, I get a happy sensation. There is freedom and there is the chance to live anew in that freedom. What a blessed little bird! But the question is, what does all of this mean? It does seem rather odd, but the Lord decided these things, and all things, as we know, look forward to the Person and work of Christ. So all we need to do is take things slowly and carefully, and all will be revealed. There is a leper who is healed, and there is a need for cleansing. This much we know just from a cursory reading of the verses.

Text Verse: Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

There is a person who is healed, there is a priest who inspects, and who then performs a ritual, and then there is the cleansed person who is asked to do certain things after he is pronounced clean. Sounds like a fun study, does it not? I don’t know about you, but I was as excited as a Mexican jumping bean to get into these verses and study them as I had never done before. At the end of the day (which was a long day of study and contemplation), I was both tired and yet perfectly happy with the hours spent looking into what is presented here. Even the part about shaving the beard.

It’s not something I would personally look forward to, and so I’m glad these things are fulfilled in Christ. Unless I get the thing caught in a hammer drill again, I plan on keeping this one a long, long time. Oh, have I never told you about that? Well, I will do so and then we will get into this marvelous set of verses. Great stuff is to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. When the Leprosy is Healed in the Leper (verses 1-9)

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

Despite Aaron being the high priest, and having been addressed along with Moses at the beginning of the last major section, which comprised all of Chapter 13, the Lord now speaks only to Moses. Unlike the last section which dealt with identifying leprous outbreaks, this section deals with the purification rituals. They are words of law, and thus Moses, the lawgiver receives them. This is seen in the next words…

“This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing:

A couple things need to be seen here. First, this is referring to a person who is unclean because of leprosy, which as we saw is a picture of defilement from sin. He was unclean, and thus was separated from the Lord’s people. The leprous plagues, as we have seen, picture various types of people caught in various types of sin.

Secondly, from the outset the priest had nothing to do with the cleansing of the leper. He was unclean with leprosy, and now his condition has apparently changed. He was outside of fellowship, and now he is hopefully to be accepted into it. He had a plague which pictured sin and separation, and now he seems to be healed. This was all apart from the priest’s ability to cleanse.

As I explained in chapter 13, the word or, meaning skin, is used 99 times in the Bible, and yet 46 of them were mentioned in that one chapter. The or is the covering of the man. Having an affliction in the skin then was an outward sign of uncleanness. As you saw, it signified an uncleanness which pictures sin in man; a plague of death. Now, the word “skin” is never mentioned in chapter 14. There is life and health, leading to spiritual restoration.

(con’t) He shall be brought to the priest.

The healing precedes the inspection. The priest is not the healer, but rather the Lord is. It is the priest’s job to determine if the person is actually healed and then to perform the purification rites. The Lord, in fact, healed the man, but he was then sent to the priest according to the law.

And the priest shall go out of the camp,

Verse 2 said that he was to be brought to the priest, but this only means in the sense of inspection, not in the sense of the leper’s previous locality. The leper would be brought from his place of seclusion, as defined in verse 13:46, to a place near the camp.

It is to this place that the priest would go to outside of the camp in order to meet the leper, not the other way around. Until the leper is declared clean, he is not only separate from the priest, meaning the sanctuary as well, but he has been kept from the entire assembly, outside of the camp and outside of fellowship.

(con’t) and the priest shall examine him; 

In the decided location, the priest is to inspect the leper. It is an inspection of the eye. He is to look over the person, and to make his evaluation based on what he sees, as the word raah implies.

(con’t) and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper,

The word says, v’hinneh nirpa nega ha’tsaraat min ha’tsarua – “And behold! (If) be healed the plague the leprosy from the leper.” The words are excited and sure. The priest has looked, and his eyes have beheld the work of the Lord. The word for healing is rapha. It is the word used when the Lord claimed a special title for Himself in Exodus 15. There He said –

If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

This is seen now. The priest has gone forth not to heal, but to determine if healing has taken place. Yehovah Rapha, or the Lord who Heals, is the One who accomplishes the healing. If the leper is so healed, a particular ritual is to be conducted. It is a ritual which is actually a parable being expressed through action.

then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds,

It must be noted that this ritual by the priest is conducted outside of the camp, before the man is allowed to come in. Though healed, he is not yet cleansed. The cleansing of the once-leprous person takes on two distinct parts. The first is cleansing to come into the camp. This is seen in verses 4-8. Only after that will he then be purified to come to the sanctuary where he will perform his own sacrifices for complete restoration.

The priest now commands to bring shete tsiporim khayot tehorot, or “two birds living (and) clean.” However, no particular bird is described. The word for bird, tsippor, is the basis for the name of Moses’ wife, Tsipporah. The tsippor is used elsewhere as a picture of those who are joined as the people of God, and thus those in the church – be it Old or New Testament. The 84th psalm shows that the bird can find a home where the Lord dwells –

“Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.” Psalm 84:3

Jesus gives the same basic idea in the New Testament

“Then He said, “’What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.'” Luke 13:18, 19

The use of the bird for cleansing then is to signify acceptance into the people of the Lord.

(con’t) cedar wood,

Along with the two clean birds, he is to bring ets eretz, or wood cedar. The cedar is introduced into the Bible here. The word is derived from a root which means to be firm, or strong. It is the same word used to describe the cedars of Lebanon and even the cedars of God in Psalm 80. Thus they are large, magnificent, firmly fixed trees.

(con’t) scarlet,

u-sh’ni tolaat, or “and scarlet (of the) crimson grub worm,” is to be brought. The implication is scarlet yarn. Two words here are used to describe the color. The first is shani, which means “scarlet.” The second is tola. This is actually a worm known as the crimson-grub. However, it is used only in this manner concerning the color from it, and cloths dyed with it.

Taken together, they are translated as “scarlet,” but implying the scarlet which comes from the tola or grub worm. The double words “implies that to strike this color the wool or cloth was twice dipped” (Clarke). The scarlet, or red, in the Bible pictures and symbolizes war, blood, and/or judgment. In this case, it is judgment, as in judgment on sin.

(con’t) and hyssop.

And finally, ezov, or hyssop, is to accompany these things. The word hyssop that we use today comes from the Hebrew through the Greek. In Greek, it is hussopos, and this is a transliteration from the Hebrew ezov. You can hear the similarity ezov/hyssopos/hyssop. It is an herb native to the Middle East and elsewhere. It has antiseptic, cough relieving, and expectorant properties.

Because of this, it is used as an aromatic herb and for medicine. It is a brightly colored shrub with dark green leaves. During the summer, it produces bunches of pink, blue, or, more rarely, white fragrant flowers. It is contrasted to the cedar in 1 Kings 4, showing its diminutive size –

He spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were one thousand and five. 33 Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish.” 1 Kings 4:32, 33

And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed

And shall command the priest and slaughter the bird the one.” As has been seen, and as will be seen throughout Scripture, there is no cleansing without the shedding of blood. Likewise, there is no atonement without the shedding of blood. In order for there to be purification, something must die. In this case, one of the birds is slaughtered for the once-leprous man to be cleansed. This first bird is to be slaughtered…

(con’t) in an earthen vessel

el keli kherets, or “to a vessel earthen.” This is the only acceptable vessel for the rite. It cannot be gold, it cannot be silver, it cannot be bronze. It must be in an earthen vessel alone.

(con’t) over running water.

al mayim khayim – “over water living.” The English translation is a bit misleading. The water wasn’t running as the bird was killed. Rather, living water signifies water from a spring as it comes forth from the ground. Thus the water in the bowl is to be living water, and into it, the blood of the bird was to drip and mix. The symbolic meaning is that the water was pure, having come up from the earth, and without having gathered any impurities.

As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water.

Ancient sources state that the wings and the tail of the living bird were extended. And then, while in this position, it was tied together lengthwise with the bundle of hyssop and the cedar wood, and then dipped into the blood and water in the earthen dish. The word for dip is tabal. It means to dip or plunge. It comes from a primitive root meaning to immerse. It is, for example, used of Naaman the Syrian going into the Jordan seven times in order to be purified of his leprosy. Thus, it is an immersion. The entire handful of contents was dipped into the earthen vessel of living water.

And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy,

There are several traditions concerning this sprinkling. One says it was on the covering over the face of the leper, one says it was on his forehead, and one says it was on the back of his hand. The Bible doesn’t say, and so that is completely irrelevant. All the Bible is concerned with is that he is to be sprinkled seven times. Seven is, as we have seen many times, the number of spiritual perfection. The sprinkling is something that it referred to and explained in the book of Hebrews –

For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.” 21 Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. 22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:19-22

(con’t) and shall pronounce him clean,

Once the rite of sprinkling is accomplished, the leper is then pronounced clean. The word taher signifies that which is purified. Once this is accomplished, then a marvelous rite of freedom is conducted…

(con’t) and shall let the living bird loose in the open field.

The living bird which went through something that was certainly traumatic in the extreme for it, is set free in the sadeh, or open field. This word comes from an unused root which means “to spread out,” and thus it is an open space.

He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes,

The word for wash is kebes. It means to trample, and thus to wash by stamping with the feet, as in the fulling process. This was the first step of his own personal preparedness for returning to life within the camp.

(con’t) shave off all his hair,

The next step is to shave off all of his hair. Hair in the Bible, as we have seen many times, signifies awareness, but especially an awareness of sin. Every bit of his hair is to be shaven, and this is given in greater detail in verse 9. After this…

(con’t) and wash himself in water,

A bath for the body is in order…

(con’t) that he may be clean.

v’taher – “and pure.” Each step is in preparation for the wondrous moment of rejoining the people of God. He is to do these things and then…

(con’t) After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days.

The reason for this isn’t stated, but it seems obvious that it was to keep him from any type of defilement which could occur and thus interrupt his own purification process.

But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair

On the seventh day, after a week in his purification, the person is to shave again. This time it is defined first as all the hair…

9 (con’t) off his head

The word for head is rosh. It comes from a root meaning “to shake,” as the head is that part which is most easily shaken.

9 (con’t)and his beard

As we saw in the previous chapter, the zaqan, or beard comes from the verb zaqen, which means to be or become old, and so it can be translated as “old man.”

9 (con’t) and his eyebrows

The gav, or eyebrow, is introduced here, and this is the only time it is used to describe the brow of the eye. It simply means “rim.” It comes from a root which means “to hollow” or “to curve.” Thus it is the curves of the eyes. As this is the only instance where this is used to speak of the brow of the eye, it is actually the eyes which are the subject here. One doesn’t actually shave their eye, but they will shave the brow of the eye.

9 (con’t) —all his hair he shall shave off.

Again, hair indicates an awareness, specifically that of sin. All of the evident hair is to be shaven.

(con’t) He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water,

After the shaving, the clothes and the body are washed, and then…

*(fin) and he shall be clean.

The man plagued with leprosy is now clean. He is not yet through with the requirements he is expected to deal with, but he is now considered fully accepted into the community, and he can now proceed to the sanctuary as any other Israelite could do.

Healed from leprosy, clean and pure
I am ready to enter into a new life with my Lord
I have been cleansed, and that is sure
No longer alienated; so says the word

Freed from sin, I am whole once again
Cleansed by God and granted new life in my Lord
I have been justified and sanctified among the sons of men
Cleansed by the washing of water through the word

It is all by the grace of God that this has come about
I am free from what once confined me
Through the death of Another, I am purified, no doubt
Thank God for Christ Jesus who has set me free

II. Pictures of Christ

Here we have a passage which seems so odd, and so obscure to our modern senses, that it is actually completely foreign to anything we would consider as necessary after getting over a skin disease. But if we just remember what those skin diseases pictured in the previous chapter, then we can again look at these verses and know that we are being given more pictures.

If the leprosy was a picture of sin and death, then this must be picturing purification from that. First, we need to remember that the healing of the leprosy comes from the Lord. It did not come from a doctor or a priest. As the priest is the mediator for the people on behalf of God, and as our true Mediator is Christ, then we can make the obvious connection that the Lord is filling several roles at once.

Thus, this means that what is happening here is a process which, even though it is occurring in a set order, actually may have many aspects occurring simultaneously. Just as when a person believes in Christ, they are saved, they are justified, they are sanctified, and they are sealed with the Holy Spirit all at one time. So it is with what is occurring in these verses. A process is taking place which pictures another process in us; one that occurs instantaneously.

It needs to be noted that the killing of the live bird here does not actually denote a true sacrifice. That will be detailed in the following verses next week. However, at the same time, it pictures the same things as a true sacrifice. And so in this case, there is a representation of the state in which the leper had legally been, and it signifies what would have happened to him if there was no remedy for his affliction to be found.

But a cure was found and, as I said, it is represented by the same things which marks a true sacrifice under the law. There is the truth that one takes the place of another. This will become evident as we go on.

The person who has the leprous plague is healed; the person who is plagued with sin is healed. It is the Lord who heals. This is the person who comes to Christ by faith in His finished work. The priest, Christ, examines him, and indeed, the Lord has healed him. Christ is Yehovah Rapha, the Lord who heals. The malady of the skin which was seen 46 times in the previous chapter is no longer mentioned. There is life and health, signifying spiritual renewal.

We are told that the priest went outside the camp to meet the leper, the sinner, and all of the rites of purification by the priest are done outside of the camp. Christ left heaven in order to meet with sinners. He assumed a human nature, and came forth from His Father, going into the world to save them. Likewise, Hebrews 13:11 says that Christ suffered outside the camp, meaning Jerusalem, in order to sanctify the people with His own blood.

It is there that the priest meets with the one who is to be cleansed of leprosy; it is there where Christ meets the one who is to be purified from sin. Such is the Lord who is ready to meet with sinners. There, in his still-defiled state, the leper and the sinner are inspected. As the priest inspects the leper, Christ so reads the hearts and minds of he who calls out to Him.

And so there, at the inspection it says, “And behold! (If) be healed the plague the leprosy from the leper.” That is equated directly to, “And behold! He is cured from his sin.” He has believed in Christ. Christ has inspected, and Christ has determined.

In acknowledgment of the clean state, a ritual is now conducted which pictures the work of Christ, and it is a work of Christ which is now realized in the believer. As I said, though these are done in an order here in Leviticus, they are symbolic of that which happens at once in the believer.

Two living birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop are brought at the priest’s command. The two living birds both picture Christ. The cedar wood pictures Christ, and the hyssop pictures… Christ. The pictures, however, like all such things, picture Christ on behalf of His people, and thus it is a process which includes those “in Christ.”

As I said, the bird elsewhere in the Bible symbolizes those who are joined as the people of God. The two birds are described as living and clean. It is an obvious picture of Christ who is alone without sin. He is Life, and he is Purity. Why there are two birds will be seen as we progress.

Along with the two birds is ets eretz, or wood cedar. The word signifies firm or strong. What is occurring in this rite is something permanent. It carries the strength of the process. It is symbolic of Christ who is the strength of God for salvation. As Paul says in Romans 5 –

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:6

The sh’ni tolaat, or scarlet of the crimson grub worm, pictures Christ who is described by the same word, tola, in the 22nd Psalm, a psalm about the cross of Christ –

But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.” Psalm 22:6

As we have seen throughout Exodus, the scarlet color signifies judgment. In this case, it is judgment on sin. This is what happened at the cross of Christ, and this is what the scarlet signifies here. A description of this crimson dye, which is obtained from the tola is given to us by Henry Morris –

When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. What a picture this gives of Christ, dying on the tree, shedding his precious blood that he might ‘bring many sons unto glory.’ He died for us, that we might live through him!” Henry Morris

The hyssop, as I noted earlier, was contrasted to the cedar by Solomon to show its humble size and nature. Where cedar denoted firmness and strength, the hyssop denotes humility. Other than the one instance given by Solomon, it is always used in the Bible in conjunction with purification. Paul shows us how this humble plant, used in purification, looks forward to Christ –

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, andcoming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

After calling for these things, each of which pictures Christ, it says that the priest is to kill the first bird over living water in an earthen vessel. The earthen vessel and the living water picture Christ. He came in the likeness of man; man whom Paul describes as an earthen vessel –

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

As I said earlier, only an earthen vessel would suffice for this purification. The reason is that only Christ’s incarnation, coming as a Man in an earthen vessel, could purify the lost sinner. The living water is described by Christ Himself as that which flows from Him. It is He who is the pure and undefiled Water pictured here –

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37, 38

The slaughtering of the first bird over the earthen jar, and then mingling its blood into the living water symbolizes Christ’s death. It is this act which allows the fountain of purification and cleansing from sin.

Once that is accomplished, then the other bird is immersed into the mixture, along with the cedar wood, the scarlet, and the hyssop. It is symbolic of the burial of Christ. His strength, his judgment on sin, and his humility in coming as a human were all buried. But that isn’t the end of the story. It is this mixture which is then sprinkled seven times on the one to be cleansed. The mixture of the blood of the bird and the living water, along with the cedar, scarlet, and hyssop, is seen in John’s words of his first epistle –

This is He who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.”1 John 5:6

Seven is the number of spiritual perfection, and so the seven-fold sprinkling is symbolic of the perfect sprinkling of the seven-fold Spirit of the Lord which is cited in Isaiah 11 –

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11:1, 2

This Spirit of the Lord, which rests upon Christ, is sprinkled on all who believe. It is the sealing of the Spirit which Paul mentions in Ephesians 1:13, 14.

Once the person is so sprinkled, he is then pronounced clean. He is considered purified by this act. And so it is with the Spirit. Paul, writing to those in Rome, tells them what they once were, and what they now are in Christ. It is a perfect picture of the defiled person of Chapter 13, and the now cleansed person of Chapter 14 –

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Romans 6:9-11

The Spirit sanctifies the believer, just as the water and blood mixture was sprinkled on the leper in order to cleanse him. And after that occurs, it says that the living bird is to be loosed in an open field. It is typical of the resurrection of Christ. The bird had been immersed into death, and it was raised out of it. That death is what purified the sinner, and the resurrection is what justified him. Paul explains it to us in Romans 4 –

Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Romans 4:23-25

As I said, these things are typical of Christ, but what Christ did is then applied to all who are in Christ. The leper has gone from his place of confinement because of being unclean, to a place of freedom because of his cleansing. The bird too was confined, but it was then released in an open field. But, it was released still covered in the water/blood mixture.

It is typical of Christ who was confined in the pit for judgment on our sin, but who was released and who now fills the heavens. It is also now emblematic of the sinner who was trapped in sin and destined for the narrow confines of hell, but who has been brought out to the open expanses of heaven. He is covered in the work of Christ; the water of life, and the blood of atonement. Because of Christ, so it is also of the justified, purified, and sanctified sinner.

The believer is immersed with Christ in His death, and the sins which he bore for us die with Him. In His resurrection, man stands justified before God, just as Paul says in Romans 4:25.

After these things, the person was told to wash his clothes. It is the first active thing that he is instructed to do. As I said, the word implies to wash by trampling. It is symbolic of purifying one’s life through trampling out the sin in our lives. Jude’s words which speak of the garments defiled by the flesh explain the symbolism. In coming to Christ, we are to trample out the defilement.

It then next says that the cleansed leper is to shave off all his hair. It is symbolic of removing anything which reminds us of sin. We are to remove any awareness of sin from our lives and so bring on an awareness and knowledge of God. Paul explains it in these words –

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:34

After this comes the washing of the body. It is symbolic of purifying oneself after having the knowledge of God. This is explained in the New Testament with these words –

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27

After these things have been done, the cleansed leper can then enter the camp. He has joined to the people of God, and he is no longer an unclean outsider. But it then notes that he is not to go into his tent for seven days. It is not until the 8th day that another process needs to be conducted.

This is to be considered the time when sinners are cleansed by the Lord, but they need to not get distracted by the things of the world. There needs to be a time of being among the people of God and separate from anything distracting, thus causing them to become defiled again.

As I said, many of these things occur simultaneously in the believer, but the verses ahead, which we will look at next week, go through an elaborate process of offerings which are to be presented to the Lord. Like the previous offerings which we looked at, they will point to the work of Christ.

After they are complete, in verse 20, it will say, “And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.” He has already been declared clean, and yet there is still the need for atonement, something provided through the work of Christ, in order to be considered clean. Each step is a necessary part of the process of going from being a defiled sinner, to a cleansed member of the congregation. These Old Testament types and shadows, which really took place in Israel, typify marvelous spiritual truths which occur in each person brought into the church today.

It all points to the finished work of Christ, but each step is a process which is accomplished in the believer because of his faith in what has already been done. The last thing we saw in our nine verses today was basically an expansion of verse 8. On the seventh day, the cleansed leper was to shave off all the hair on his head, his eyebrows, and his beard.

As we have seen, hair indicates an awareness of sin. He is to again purge himself of any new hair, thus any new awareness of sin. This is to be done before the sacrifice for his atonement is made. I detailed these three body parts for you, but will remind you of them now, showing why the Lord specifically named them in verse 9.

First was the rosh, or head. It comes from a root meaning “to shake,” as the head is that part which is most easily shaken. It speaks of the attitude that the believer is to have, removing sin and holding fast to Christ, even through afflictions –

Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-4 

We are to remain firm and fixed in Christ, and not to have our faith shaken by what occurs around us.

Next is the zaqan, or beard which comes from the verb zaqen, meaning to be or become old, and so it can be translated as “old man.” Paul tells us to leave behind the old man –

But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:20-24

And then are the eyebrows. As I noted, as this is the only instance where the word is used to speak of the brow of the eye, it is actually the eyes which are the subject here. One doesn’t actually shave their eye, but they will shave the brow of the eye. Paul shows us how this precept is to be applied to our lives –

…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. Ephesians 1:17-21

Each of these is a positive precept from Paul, just as they are positive commands for the healed leper in the Old Testament. Don’t be shaken, put off the old man, and have the eyes of your understanding enlightened. This is what we are asked to do. In the end, the healed leper is me or you. It is any person who has come to God and been cleansed by the work of Christ. A New Testament example of this is found in the book of Matthew.

When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew 8:1-4

As you can see, there is the leper, there is the Lord, Jesus, who heals – and who alone can heal – and then, only then is the person instructed to go to the priest. Although this passage we have looked at today is not the offering that the leper is to offer, this rite had to be accomplished first as an acknowledgment that the Lord had accomplished this cleansing on his behalf. Only after that will the leper then make his offering.

The priest was to see and avow that the Lord had healed. But the priest was also only a picture of the Lord as the Mediator between God and man. And so it is the Lord who heals, and it is the Lord who accepts that healing. In the end, it is all about the work of the Lord. It is He who frees us from our sin.

Instead of the confining pit of hell, we have been granted the wide open spaces of heaven’s vast expanse. It was a gift for us, and it is a gift to anyone who will simply reach out and receive it. If you have never been one who is cleansed by the atoning death of Christ, please make today the day. You are a leper headed on a one- way path to destruction, but through Him, you will be a pure and spotless child of God on the way to an eternal place of glorious wonder and delight. Be wise, be discerning, call on Christ today.

Closing Verse: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

Next Week: Leviticus 14:10-32 Something required for every Ma’am and every Gent… (Purified From All Defilement) (23rd Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Set Free in an Open Field

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
These are the words He was then relaying

This shall be the law of the leper
For the day of his cleansing; yes on that day
He shall be brought to the priest
As to you I now say 

And the priest shall go out of the camp
And the priest shall examine him
And indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper
No longer is his future leprosy-filled and grim 

Then the priest shall command to take
For him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds
Cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop
According to these words

And the priest shall command that one of the birds
Be killed in an earthen vessel over running water
According to these words

As for the living bird, he shall take it
The cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop too
And dip them and the living bird in the blood
Of the bird that was killed over the running water
———So shall he do

And he shall sprinkle it seven times
On him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy
And shall pronounce him clean
And shall let the living bird loose in the open field
———-So shall it be

He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes
Shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water
———- that he may be clean
After that he shall come into the camp
And shall stay outside his tent seven days; so it shall be seen

But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair
Off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, so this shall be seen
All his hair he shall shave off; he shall wash his clothes
And wash his body in water, and he shall be clean

Lord God Almighty, how marvelous is the story
Of what Christ has done for lepers like us
We have gone from defilement unto glory
All because of the wonderful work of Jesus

How can it be that You would care for fallen man
Stepping out of eternity to walk with us
Wondrous are Your ways, glorious is Your plan
Thank You, O God, for the wonderful work of Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

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