Discharging Discharges, Part 1
You’ve heard the verses read. I bet you’re all excited to get into them. Discharges and emissions and… oh boy.
The word “discharge” has several meanings depending on the context. It can be a noun, as in the act of discharging someone from the hospital or from the military. Donald Trump is famous for that. As a noun, it can also be the action of discharging something like a liquid. “Look out! The pressure in that wastewater tank might lead to an explosive discharge.” If that ever happens – I speak from experience – get ready for a long, long shower.
It can be a verb, where you take the action of expelling someone – “I am discharging you from your job as chief operator of the wastewater plant.” It can also be a verb which means to allow something to flow out when it was confined. You allowed a discharge to discharge.” See, were getting good at this.
There are noun and verb discharges in today’s verses. In the whole chapter, there are 24 total. Add in emissions, and there are 26 total. It’s obviously something that is important to the Lord, or it wouldn’t be in His word, but as always, we need to contemplate why this is so.
These things were told to those under the law. And lots of those people were in favor with the Lord. It doesn’t apply to us now, and yet we know we are loved because of Christ. And as we know, the law only points to Christ, to His work, and to the fallen state of man in relation to that. If we can just remember this, then it will all begin to make sense as we evaluate the verses.
Text Verse: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:16, 17
Paul implores us to walk in the Spirit. The flesh is what is opposed to the Spirit, and so he says to not fulfill the lust of the flesh. The word basar, or flesh, is used quite a few times in Leviticus 15. In the NKJV, it is translated as “body.” Discharges from the body, or discharges from the flesh, are what we are looking at today.
They result in a state of uncleanness. In order to remove the uncleanness, we need to end what the discharges are picturing. If that can happen, then we will be clean. In other words, we need to discharge the discharges. How, I ask, can we do that? The answer is 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. Unnatural Discharges (verses 1-12)
And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
Like verse 14:33 the address is once again made to both Moses and Aaron. What is ahead discusses defilement and ritual purification due to bodily discharges. It is a law coming from the Lord, and therefore it is given through the lawgiver, Moses, but it also deals with priestly purification, and so Aaron is addressed as well. As we continue to see, Moses and Aaron are jointly addressed at the giving of the laws which concern overall defilement.
The chapter itself is going to be divided up first, into defilement of men. This will go from verses 2-18. Next it will cover defilement found in women from verses 19-30. After this, a final summary is made in verses 31-33, highlighting the reason for the contents of the chapter.
2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:
As we have seen on several important occasions, the Lord is speaking through Moses and Aaron, but His audience is specifically the children of Israel. What is being conveyed is not simply for the priests to have rolled up in a scroll and secreted away for times of need, but it is to be regular instruction for the people at all times.
It was to be as commonly held knowledge to them as driving on the right side of the road is for us today. That is of course, unless you’re in a country where they drive on the left side of the road, which would then be the right side of the road for you to drive on, even though it’s really the left side.
2 (con’t) ‘When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean.
As I said, the first section, which now begins in verse 2, is directed to uncleanness in men. The word for “discharge” is zuv. It indicates that which flows or gushes. It is the word used first in Exodus 3:8 to describe the land of Canaan which flows with milk and honey.
The word for “body” is basar, or literally, “flesh.” It speaks of the body itself, but it is also used euphemistically of he organ of generation, as when a male is circumcised in the foreskin of his flesh. It can also mean blood relations, such as when saying, “You are my brother in the flesh.”
And again, it can be used to indicate man over against God in his fallen state as in, “Sam walks in the flesh and not in the Spirit.” And finally, it can speak of all living creatures, as in “All flesh is known to God.” Both testaments give these to some extent.
Understanding these various connotations of the word will help us to understand what the Lord is showing us in this chapter. The term “body,” or “flesh,” in this chapter is used in a couple ways. The first is that of the private parts of a person. The Greek translation of the OT translates ha’zav, or “the discharge,” as “the gonorrhea.” However, in some verses, such as verse 16, it is probably speaking of the whole body.
Because it speaks of the private parts concerning the discharge, some scholars immediately jump on it as resulting from the sin of illicit sex. However, this may or may not be the case. It could indicate that, or any other type of discharge that a person gets – whether through illicit sex or simply catching an infection in some other way. However, for a New Testament picture, it indicates something which causes spiritual uncleanness.
3 And this shall be his uncleanness in regard to his discharge—whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is stopped up by his discharge, it is his uncleanness.
Here we have a word found only once in Scripture. It is the verb rur, or run. It actually means to drool, and so by implication, it is something which runs out of his body. The other word meaning “stopped up” is new to Scripture, khatham. It indicates to seal, as a king would seal a document. Thus, by implication, it indicates the discharge is stopped up. In either case – running discharge, or one which is stopped up, the person is considered unclean.
In type, both picture sins of the flesh. One is active, one is passive. The running discharge is a sin of the flesh that is seen and noticed by all. A person engaged in making porn films might be such a person. On the other hand, the stopped up discharge would be a person who looks at pornography. One is outwardly evident, the other is inwardly so. This same concept can be seen in multiple types of sins of the flesh. In such, the person is defiled and unclean.
4 Every bed is unclean on which he who has the discharge lies, and everything on which he sits shall be unclean.
As we have seen elsewhere, defilement is not limited to people alone, but to the things a person comes in contact with. In this case, it extends to any bed upon which a person lies, or anything on which he sits. The word “everything” here is a word which indicates a utensil. Thus it extends to saddles, chairs, something as an improvised chair, a blanket, or whatever else.
The bed and the chair are both places one occupies. The bed is where one rests; the seating is where one engages in fellowship and discourse. The place that a person who is engaged in sins of the flesh lies or sits is considered as unclean because the person who occupies it is unclean. For a clean person to go to their place of rest or fellowship, is then to indicate that they have accepted their unclean state in order to participate in it. As Paul says –
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:33, 34
That is then pictured in the next verses…
5 And whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
This corresponds to the first half of verse 4. From the uncleanness which has spread from the infected person to the bed, their place of leisure, so the uncleanness transfers also to another person who would then touch that infected article. In Numbers 5:2, such a discharge was sufficient to put anyone so infected outside the camp, just as a person with leprosy was to be. Sin is an infectious disease, and it renders all who come in contact with it unclean.
To be expelled from the camp means that one is out of fellowship with the congregation. As long as the sins of the flesh are running and evident in the person, they are to be treated as one entirely out of fellowship. For such a person in the church, Paul explains what is their punishment –
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 5:4, 5
He explains what that means in verse 13 of the same chapter –
“Therefore ‘put away from yourselves the evil person.’” 1 Corinthians 5:13
For someone who is not running with such a sin of the flesh, but who comes in contact with them, they also become defiled through that contact. This is why we are told to not have fellowship with deeds of darkness, but we are to put on holiness like a garment and keep ourselves from participating in these things. We are to separate ourselves from such evil.
6 He who sits on anything on which he who has the discharge sat shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
This corresponds to the second half of verse 4. Like the bed of the first half, the same is true with anything which is sat on in the second, anyone who sits on whatever the person with the discharge sits is likewise unclean. As I said, the place where one sits is their place of discourse and fellowship. For a person to hang around and fellowship with someone who is engaging in sin would then defile that person. During the time of his defilement, he is excluded from the benefits of the sanctuary. He has touched the place which is occupied by a person engaged in a discharge of the flesh, and he has acquired his defilement as well.
7 And he who touches the body of him who has the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
Here, the same word is used which has already been seen, basar, or flesh. This may or may not be taken in the general sense of the word, indicating his body. Or, it may still be speaking euphemistically about his private parts in particular.
The many uses of the word often make it necessary to deduce exactly what is being referred to. In this instance it is probably touching the euphemistically noted part of the body which renders another unclean, and requiring to go through the same rituals as the other circumstances.
This will be explained in greater detail in verse 13. For the Israelite, this verse doesn’t give any exceptions, and so it would seem that even a priest or physician who touched the unclean person would be defiled by the touch.
To touch a person engaged in a spiritual discharge of the flesh is symbolic of actively participating in that sin with them. One could use as an example a person who is caught up in drugs. It is an open and running discharge in their life. A person in the church might slip and join together with the drug addict. This would be comparable to what is seen here.
He isn’t a drug addict, but he touched, or joined, with the person who is an addict during a moment of weakness. This is what is seen in this verse. This could go with any such sin of the flesh. They have made themselves unclean by joining with the person who is actively engaged in such things.
8 If he who has the discharge spits on him who is clean, then he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
Now is seen a verb used only here in Scripture, raqaq, or spit. From it comes the noun roq, which is the spit in one’s mouth. That is used several times, including Isaiah 50:6 which is a prophecy of Christ being spat upon by others –
“I gave My back to those who struck Me,
And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6
That is then fulfilled in Jesus’ words in the New Testament –
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34 and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” Mark 10:33, 34
As Gentiles were considered unclean, then this would be considered a source of defilement just as being spat upon by an unclean person would cause another to become unclean. What is not explicit, but which could be assumed, is that this is speaking of both purposeful and accidental spitting. It is the spit which defiles the next person, regardless as to the intent of how it got on him.
If we were to look for what this is picturing, it is that which proceeds out of the mouth, and thus unclean communication. It could be immoral, perverse, lewd, or vulgar speech. This defiles a person, but it also defiles those who hear it. In the end, just as evil company corrupts good habits, so evil communication corrupts good discourse and manners between men.
9 Any saddle on which he who has the discharge rides shall be unclean.
The merkav, or saddle, is introduced here and will be seen three times. It comes from the word rakav, or to ride, and so it is more than just a saddle, but the seat of any conveyance. It is elsewhere translated as a chariot, and as a seat in a palanquin. The word then is tied also to merkavah or chariot, which is now today’s modern tank in Israel. Anything upon which an unclean person sat which is intended for transportation was likewise deemed unclean.
Above, we saw where the place where one lays or sits is tied to their place of rest and their place of fellowship or discourse. The mode of conveyance would be a symbol of position. A rider on a donkey would be perceived as humble, a rider on a horse might be an officer. A rider on a white horse might be a general or a king. One who sits in a chariot likewise signifies a certain position as does one who rides in a palanquin.
A person who runs with sins of the flesh defiles such a position with their discharge of sin. This follows through to those who would touch what they have sat on. The position of doctrine which is pictured here is explained by Paul in Ephesians 4 –
“..that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” Ephesians 4:14
10 Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening.
This corresponds to what occurred in the leprosy verses. For example, a person who went into a leprous house would be unclean until evening, but if someone lay down in that house, they would not only be unclean, but would have to also wash their clothes.
If someone touched the thing that was under such a person, they would be unclean. To actively touch is to participate in, but only in a limited way. A person may go to a church where the pastor is preaching a false message. They have touched, or passively participated, in that. They have incurred defilement from it. Touching the thing defiled by a person with a discharge causes uncleanness until evening, but…
10 (con’t) He who carries any of those things shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
An additional requirement is levied upon anyone who carried such an unclean thing. They needed to wash their clothes, bathe, and remain unclean until evening. Here we can see that an incidental engagement with sin is treated differently than a purposeful one.
One might be in a room where a TV is playing and the person on the TV is cursing. That would defile a person’s mind, even if they were not able to avoid that. But a person who sits down to watch a TV show with cursing requires a greater amount of cleansing to be purified from their defilement.
As the seat of the conveyance signifies a type of authority, it would be more suitable to the picture to go back to the church with the pastor who is preaching a false message. Someone who actively supports that, such as giving donations, helping out in the church, and so on, would incur a greater guilt than the one who simply came in and listened. This is what is seen here.
11 And whomever the one who has the discharge touches, and has not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
There are actually two ways of interpreting this verse. Who is it that is to wash his hands? First, it could be that there is an unclean person because of a discharge. If he touches another person, it could be that it is acceptable if he first washes his hands. In this case, no defilement is transferred. But if he touches someone else without having washed his hands, then the other person becomes unclean and must then wash his clothes, bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. This, on the surface, seems right.
However and secondly, it could be that the person who is touched by the unclean person immediately washes his hands, and is thus symbolically purified. If he doesn’t do this, then he needs to wash his clothes, bathe, and remain unclean until evening.
Either way, problems arise, because only the hands are mentioned, even if a different part of the body actually touched the other person. And so either way, the transfer of defilement is symbolic. Because of this, I would go with the second possibility. If a defiled person touches a clean person, that clean person could wash his hands, symbolizing purification, and not be considered unclean.
This is the more likely in picture, because washing one’s hands elsewhere pictures innocence. The unclean person is already unclean, but the one he touches is not necessarily so. And so in order to proclaim their innocence and in an immediate rejection of the sin which has been thrust upon them, they wash their hands in acknowledgment of that. Three examples of this from Scripture will show the symbolism –
“If anyone is found slain, lying in the field in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance from the slain man to the surrounding cities. 3 And it shall be that the elders of the city nearest to the slain man will take a heifer which has not been worked and which has not pulled with a yoke. 4 The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with flowing water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and they shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled. 6 And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley. 7 Then they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it. 8 Provide atonement, O Lord, for Your people Israel, whom You have redeemed, and do not lay innocent blood to the charge of Your people Israel.’ And atonement shall be provided on their behalf for the blood. 9 So you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 21:1-9
A declaration of innocence is made, and it is accompanied by the elders, meaning the city’s representatives, washing their hands over the dead substitute. “We proclaim our innocence.”
“I will wash my hands in innocence;
So I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And tell of all Your wondrous works.
8 Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.” Psalm 21:6-8
In the Psalm David clearly ties the washing of his hands in with his innocence. He then says this allows him to go about the Lord’s altar. This is something he could not have done if he were unclean until evening. And finally, the most notable occurrence of washing one’s hands in all of Scripture is seen in Matthew 27 –
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”
26 Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified. Matthew 27:20-26
As unlikely as it seems at first, it appears that the washing of hands is actually a symbolic proclamation of innocence by the one who has been touched, rather than being a preemptive washing by the one who has the discharge in order to touch others. In all of the verses we have so far seen, there is the implied warning to those who are in Christ that they are to abstain from close relations and conversations with those who are impure in life and in doctrine. Such defilement will certainly transfer from one to another, and none are immune from becoming defiled.
12 The vessel of earth that he who has the discharge touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water.
Here we have two different vessels, the first is kheres, or earthenware. It is that which is common, porous, and absorbent. It is from the earth, and it has never been alive. The second is ets, or wood. It is more valuable, considered non-porous, and thus non absorbent. It was made from something with life in it.
It is a picture of two states of man. The first is an unregenerate person who has never been spiritually alive. They absorb into themselves the unclean sin of another, they are reprobate, and they are to be destroyed. The other is a person who is from that which is alive. Even if touched by a person who is unclean, they can be rinsed and cleansed. It is a picture of being penitent, being made alive in Christ, and being immersed through baptism.
This is certainly what is seen here, or otherwise, it would have mentioned vessels of copper, brass, and so on. But the wood is used to make a picture for us. It would then stand as representative of any non-porous vessel for the Israelite, but the picture for us is maintained by only mentioning the wood. This practice actually is noted in the New Testament in Mark 7. The Pharisees and scribes had designed an elaborate system of such washings based on this passage. What they had missed was the spirit and intent of what the passage is conveying to us. Like earthen vessels, they were set for destruction because they failed to pay heed.
I wash my hands in my innocence before You, O God
I do not know about this thing which has come about
I have been careful to walk circumspectly on this path I trod
And in this matter I am guiltless, no doubt
But who can be pure in Your eyes? Can such a thing be?
In one matter we are innocent, but in ten thousand others, guilty
Lord, how can we be freed from the guilt and be cleansed before You?
Can such a thing ever come about?
Surely You have prepared a way; it is certainly true
Of this, O God, there isn’t a doubt
Lead us to the Fount from where all cleansing does flow
Show us the way, and to there we shall go
II. Cleansing from Discharges (verses 13-15)
13 ‘And when he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his cleansing,
For the cleansing of his discharge, a set time period of seven days is given to confirm that the discharge had certainly ended. This is the set time for purification where the person continues in their defilement, just as we have seen elsewhere.
13 (con’t) wash his clothes,
The washing of the clothes, as we have seen several times, is symbolic of the outward reflection of the inward change in the person. The garments go from defiled to purified. It is the purification which symbolizes the work of Christ in us.
13 (con’t) and bathe his body
The words here say, “and bathe his flesh.” Six times so far, it says, “and bathe.” Now only it adds in the words, “his flesh.” For this reason, this is certainly referring to the euphemistic use of the word “flesh,” meaning private parts. This seems more sure because in verse 16, it will add in the words eth kol, or “all.” That verse then is set in contrast to this where only a part of the body is washed.
13 (con’t) in running water;
The Hebrew here says, b’mayim khayim, or “in living water.” The private parts of the person are where life issues from. The living water is a picture of Christ as is specifically noted in John 4 and John 7. It is from Christ where the Living Waters come. And so, a person who so washes himself is a symbolic picture of new life cleansed in Christ’s Living Water. Though it isn’t the kind of thing one would naturally teach openly in Sunday school, it is something that the Lord has placed in His word to show us the marvel of what happens to a person who is cleansed by Christ.
13 (con’t) then he shall be clean.
As we have seen in other passages, everything in verses like this occurs simultaneously. We call on the Lord, we are made spotless, we are made spiritually alive, and we receive the Living Waters of eternal life. At that moment, we are considered justified, sanctified, and purified. We are clean. The same is true with what is pictured in the next two verses…
14 On the eighth day he shall take for himself two turtledoves or two young pigeons,
On the eighth day, the day of new beginnings, the healed soul is granted the right to come before the Lord, into the sanctuary, in order to receive final atonement. With him, he is to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. As we have seen, these birds picture Christ in their simplicity, purity, and humility. Further, the affection of the dove for its mate makes it a splendid picture of Christ who is so affectionate for His people that He came to dwell among them and give Himself for them in order to purify them.
14 (con’t) and come before the Lord, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and give them to the priest.
The door of the tent of meeting means the altar of burnt offering. It is that altar which symbolically allows access for the atoned sinner into the Holy Place. There at the altar, which is before, or in the face of the Lord, the person is to give the birds to the priest.
15 Then the priest shall offer them, the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering.
Both birds picture the work of Christ. One is as a sin-offering for forgiveness of the sins of life. He found the life acceptable, and therefore He then accepts His sin offering in our place. That is seen in several places in Scripture, such as in Hebrews 9:28. The other as a burnt offering as a life wholly offered to God as an acceptable and sweet smelling aroma to Him. That is seen in Ephesians 5:2.
15 (con’t) So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord because of his discharge.
The life of sin, pictured by the discharge, is atoned for and covered over. The penalty for that life of sin is transferred to the innocent animal. In picture, the atonement and vicarious death are made by Christ on our behalf. Reconciliation has come; new life has begun.
Cleansed! Cleansed from the defilement I bore
My garments are clean, yes radiant white
I have been purified, cleansed to the core
By the merciful hand of the Lord, all is now right
The sin offering has been made; I am free from guilt
The whole burnt offering has been accepted as well
Christ’s life was offered, and His precious blood was spilt
I am saved and free, no longer condemned to hell
The Lord is gracious; He has done it all for us
He has freed us from our unclean discharge forevermore
All hail the glorious name of Christ Jesus
Now eternally cleansed, and eternally pure
III. Natural Discharges (verses 16-18)
A few things about verse 16, and those to come. First, most commentators say verse 16 is an involuntary emission. Nothing here says that. One commentator I read goes so far as to say –
“…which, though involuntary, might arise from some lustful dream or imagination. But if it was voluntary, and by a man’s own procurement when awake, it was esteemed abominable, and a degree of murder. See Genesis 38:9.” Matthew Poole
That is a complete abuse of what is being relayed in Genesis 38. If you want to know what those verses are saying, watch the sermon. The issue of whether this is voluntary or involuntary is completely irrelevant to what is being conveyed, and why it is being said.
Secondly, these verses are a part of the Law of Moses. They are done. Done means done. What they pictured is now fulfilled. The last thing Christianity needs is a whole bunch more neurotic people than we already have. Legalism has so many people, in so many churches, bound up in its claws that there is a heavy weight of guilt upon people’s shoulders that simply doesn’t need to be there. Understanding that, let’s look at these verses with a view to seeing why this is being mentioned at all.
16 ‘If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening.
In this verse, it mentions an emission of semen. The shekavah, or emission, has only been seen in one other account, Exodus 16. It was referring to the layer of dew which evaporated and left behind the manna for the children of Israel. If you want to know what that is about, go watch the sermon.
Now it is used to indicate a shikvat zara, or emission of seed. If someone had one of these, it would render them unclean. They would remain in that state until evening at the time of the new day. That terminology was carefully explained in Leviticus 11 as pointing to the work of Christ. If you missed that sermon, or if you forgot this, go watch the sermon. On a day that ended at 6pm, it didn’t matter if it happened at 8pm and thus it would go on for 22 hours, or if it happened at 5:59 pm and thus last for 1 minute. If evening on that day was 6pm, the uncleanness ended.
But why would an emission of semen render a person unclean? Before answering, this is something that is known to exist in many religions. Ancient Egypt knew this. Islam practices it. Babylonians, Hindus, and so on all knew this. Judaism obviously follows this precept if they adhere to the law. Other religions as well understand this defilement. It is something ingrained in the religious psyche. But is does not carry on to Christianity. Why?
The answer is Christ. The seed of man is how sin travels to the next generation of humans. All people are born of man’s seed, and thus all inherit Adam’s sin through the male. All of these other religions intuitively know there is inherent sin, even if they don’t understand why it is so. This is why circumcision was given to Abraham.
In cutting the male member, it pictured cutting the transfer of sin in humanity. But it was only a picture, a picture of Christ. Christ came born of a woman, but with no human father. Thus He cut the line of sin because no human seed from a father was transmitted to Him. The picture is fulfilled, the requirement in the law is ended. The neurosis can end. We are cleansed when we come to Christ, pictured by the coming of the new day at evening.
For the law-abiding Israelite, he was told to wash all his body in water. This is in contrast to verse 13 which left off the word “all,” showing us that it was speaking of his private parts only there. After washing, he remained unclean until evening. As we saw before, this then is a ceremonial defilement of the conscience. Now, in Christ, our consciences are to be cleansed. We are free from the consciousness of sin, because we are freed from all sin through the work of Christ.
17 And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water, and be unclean until evening.
The Hebrew says, “And all garments and all skin.” The garments are representative of the external appearance of a person, as we saw just a few verses back, as are items of skin. As coverings, they were considered unclean until evening because of the transfer of the seed bearing Adam’s sin. Jude understood this, and was certainly thinking of this verse when he wrote –
“And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude -22, 23
In type, our coverings are cleansed and purified though the work of Christ, pictured by the evening, or the start of the new day.
*18 Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.
A verse for neurotics if not properly understood. First point. This was not the case at the creation. Nothing is said about this in Genesis 1:28. All it says is, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’” Further, nothing is said of this until this time in history. It is a precept of the law intending to look forward to Christ.
Second point, which so many scholars seem to overlook – it is the emission of semen, and not the act which led to it, that is unclean. The act between the man and his wife (which it must be according to the Bible, in all dispensations and in all circumstances), is never considered either sinful nor to be abstained from, except when mandated by the Lord, under the law, and for specific reasons. The New Testament not only says that the law is done away with, but it further clarifies the truth that the uncleanness from the emission is no longer unclean as well –
“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Hebrews 13:4
The marriage bed is undefiled. No defilement results from the marriage bed. But the law says it does. Thus, we have another implicit reference (of the hundreds elsewhere) to the ending of the the law. The man and wife of Israel who had sex resulting in an emission became unclean until sundown in order to teach them of their need for freedom from the law, freedom from uncleanness, and freedom from sin. As there were lots and lots of Israelites, there were lots and lots of folks unclean until evening. They obviously didn’t mind the state of being unclean that much. It was a normal part of their daily lives. So much so, that it was talked about openly. When King Saul was looking for a good time to kill David, a hint of this law is evident at the table he sat at –
Then David hid in the field. And when the New Moon had come, the king sat down to eat the feast. 25 Now the king sat on his seat, as at other times, on a seat by the wall. And Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. 26 Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him; he is unclean, surely he is unclean.” 1 Samuel 20:24-26
It didn’t matter what reason he thought David was unclean, he simply thought it was so. It was a regular part of the life of an Israelite to be unclean and unable to interact with others at various times. These things had a purpose, and they have served their purpose well if… if we learn what that purpose was. It was to lead us to the knowledge that the law couldn’t save anyone, that it simply showed us how sinful sin really is, and it showed us that we need something else, something better. We need Christ. In Him, all defilement is washed away. In Him, all ills are healed. In Him, there is complete restoration and full redemption. Nothing is lacking, and all is made right.
When we read the law, we are looking at the life of Christ, because He is the fulfillment of the Law. Therefore, let us look to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Let us run the race that is set before us with our eyes on Christ.
Closing 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
Next Week: Leviticus 15:19-33 Some more discharge verses to get through… (Discharging Discharges, Part II) (26th 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.
And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying
These are the words to them He was relaying
“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:
‘When any man has a discharge from his body
His discharge is unclean
This is how it shall be
And this shall be his uncleanness in regard to his discharge—
Whether his body runs with his discharge, as I address
Or his body is stopped up by his discharge
It is his uncleanness
Every bed is unclean on which he who has the discharge lies
And everything on which he sits shall be unclean
———-as to you I apprise
And whoever touches his bed shall
Wash his clothes and bathe in water, as I say
And be unclean until evening
At the turn of the new day
He who sits on anything
On which he who has the discharge sat
Shall wash his clothes and bathe in water
And be unclean until evening, yes because of that
And he who touches the body
Of him who has the discharge shall, as I say
Wash his clothes and bathe in water
And be unclean until evening time of day
If he who has the discharge spits on him who is clean
Then he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water too
And be unclean until evening
Such as I am instructing you
Any saddle on which he who has the discharge rides
Shall be unclean, and nothing else besides
Whoever touches anything that was under him, as I say
Shall be unclean until evening; the turning of the day
He who carries any of those things
Shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, as well
And be unclean until evening
As to you I now clearly tell
And whomever the one who has the discharge touches
And has not rinsed his hands in water, as you know
He shall wash his clothes and bathe in water
And be unclean until evening; certainly it shall be so
The vessel of earth
That he who has the discharge touches, this is not good
[It] shall be broken
And shall be rinsed in water every vessel of wood
‘And when he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge
Then he shall count for himself for his cleansing seven days
Wash his clothes, and bathe his body in running water
Then he shall be clean; He has entered a clean phase
On the eighth day he shall take for himself
Two turtledoves or two young pigeons; so he shall obey
And come before the Lord, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting
And give them to the priest, as to you I now say
Then the priest shall offer them
The one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering
So the priest shall make atonement for him
Before the Lord because of his discharge; this his proffering
‘If any man has an emission of semen
Then he shall wash in water all his body
And be unclean until evening
So shall it certainly be
And any garment and any leather
On which there is semen evident
It shall be washed with water
And be unclean until evening; until the day is spent
Also, when a woman lies with a man
And there is an emission of semen, such is seen
They shall bathe in water
And until evening be unclean
Lord God, it is we who have been unclean
It is we who had walked away from You
Our sins defiled us, only stained garments were seen
Our iniquities stained us through and through
But in Your amazing love, and in your magnificent mercy
You made a way for us to be brought back to You
Through the blood of Christ, ended the great controversy
We have been reconciled! Wonderful things You did do
Hallelujah to Christ our Lord!
Hallelujah to the Purifier of our souls
For each person cleansed by His precious blood
Who have been recorded there in heaven’s rolls
We praise You, our matchless King
We praise You now and for all of our days
To you forever will the saints break forth and sing
And to You, O God, we give all of our praise
Hallelujah and Amen…