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Spiritual Leprosy

By Elie Nessim, April 18, 1998 Printer Friendly Version

Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
This verse 45 from the 13th chapter of the book of Leviticus leads us into a subject that receives little attention, but one that is full of instruction.  I am referring to the laws concerning leprosy, which are found in both the 13th and 14th Chapters of Vayikra (Leviticus).  The reason for this discussion is that leprosy is compared in the Bible to sin, so that we can learn from the similarity of the physical disease to that of the soul.  Sin is the leprosy of the soul.

In the 13th Chapter of Vayikra, the various symptoms of leprosy are described: the scab, the swelling on the skin, the boil, the bright spot, the sore on the head or the beard, etc.  The only exception recorded is a white spot on the skin similar to the freckle.  What were some of the causes for this disease of leprosy?  In one case it was sedition, by no less than Miryam, the sister of Moses (Numbers, Chapter 12, verse 1): 'And when the cloud had departed from above the Tabernacle, suddenly Miryam became leprous, as white as snow.'  In another instance, it was sacrilege by Uziyahu, the king of Judah (2 Chronicles, Chapter 26, verse 19): 'Then Uziyahu became furious, and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense; and while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead.' In yet another case, it was covetousness on the part of Geichazi, servant to the Prophet, Elisha (2 Kings, Chapter 5, verse 27):   'Therefore the leprosy of Na'aman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.  And he went out of his presence leprous, as white as snow.' 

In each case, it was a punishment for sin.  The rules for the lepers were as follows.  They had to rend their garments as a token of mourning.  In this situation, they were mourning their own living-death.  They also had to stay separate from the worshipping community of GOD's people, and they had to declare their uncleanness to all who approached them. 

Our text from Leviticus Chapter 13 verse 45 is a picture of what sin does to us; every sinner, and that means all of us, is dying on his feet.  His sin has separated him from GOD, and has disqualified him from the people of GOD.  Isaiah, Chapter 64, verse 6: 'But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.' When David confessed his double sin of adultery and murder, he asked GOD to cleanse him in the same way that a leper is cleansed, only spiritually.  Psalm 51, verse 7: 'Purge me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.'

Perhaps in listing the characteristics of leprosy, we can get a more adequate idea of what its spiritual counterpart of sin is.  There are eight characteristics common to both.  One: it is loathsome.  Though it begins small, inevitably the little seed grows into the fruit.  GOD's Word warns us of the root of bitterness that causes trouble, and defiles many.  Two: it may lie dormant for awhile, but at the first trace of it, the victim was declared unclean.  GOD's Word warns us of the little leaven hidden in the dough that leavens all the dough.  Three: it is progressive, spreading through the whole body system, like an evil habit that is indulged until it dominates the whole person's mind, heart and will.  Four: it finally affects the whole man and consumes him.  GOD's Word tells us that evil men wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.  Five: it is incurable.  No part of the body that has been consumed by it can be restored; and GOD's Word tells us that the leopard might sooner change its spots, than the sinner do good who has been accustomed to do evil.  Six: the victim of leprosy becomes increasingly insensitive.  He loses feeling in his body.  So it is with sin.  GOD's Word tells us that habitual sinners suffer from a conscience seared with a hot iron.  Seven: the result of the disease was exile and exclusion from the community.  GOD's Word tells us of those cast out into outer darkness for their sin, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Lastly, eight: the priest's verdict was final.  There was no appeal allowed; and the leper was excluded from society.  So it will be on the Judgement Day, when GOD will pass sentence on small sinners as well as great ones.

Where do you stand in all this?  Are you ready to come to our Messiah for cleansing?  A leper came to YESHUA saying, 'LORD, if You are willing, You can make me clean.'  So can you!  And then you will hear the same reply that He gave to the leper, 'I am willing, be cleansed.'  Your sin will be cleansed at that moment, just as the leper's disease was.  Shalom.

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