Study Notes

Leviticus 13:1-14:57

The Disease Of Leprosy

Chapters 13 and 14 are the laws regarding leprosy. Leprosy was a terrible disease. It started small, but led to a lethal ending. Between that small start and deadly demise was a horrible progression of pain, ugliness, and loss.

Dr. William Thompson, who was a missionary over 100 years ago, wrote, "(Leprosy) comes on by degrees in different parts of the body: the hair falls from the head and eyebrows; the nails loosen, decay, and drop off; joint after joint of the fingers and toes shrink up and slowly fall away: the gums are absorbed, and the teeth disappear; the nose, the eyes, the tongue, and the palate are slowly consumed; and, finally, the wretched victim sinks into the earth and disappears."

The nerve endings would cease to function, so your body becomes dead to pain. You could pour boiling water on your feet and not know it. You could cut your hand open and not feel it. You were so completely desensitized, that you could do terrible damage to your body and not know or care.

Leprosy As Sin

In its horrific progression, leprosy is a picture of sin. Sin starts small, but as it progresses unchecked, it desensitizes us. We lose parts of ourselves as we continue on in sin. We become hideously ugly to those who are clean. And then, the inevitable:

James 1:15 ...When sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

The ultimate result of both leprosy and sin is the death of someone who is much less than they used to be.

13:1-3 A Small Start

As we've stated, leprosy starts small. The three symptoms that would cause a suspicion of an infection of leprosy were a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot.

Notice that the one with the small symptom didn't "go" to the priests. He was "to be brought" to the priests. Often, when a person has a small sin problem, they're sure they can handle it themselves. "It's no big deal. I'll keep an eye on it myself. I don't need your help."

But we need to be faithful to bring people even with small symptoms, to the priests. Let's hold one another accountable for sin - even sins that we think are small. Now don't drag them in to see me and the church leadership just yet. Jesus has instructed us how to deal with sin in Matthew 18

Matt. 18:15-17 "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer."

I will be happy to sit down and talk with your spouse, your friend, your relative about their sin if (and only if) you've followed the directions Jesus gave you in Matthew 18.

13:4-8 Quarantine

Now if it is unclear as to whether this spot, scab, or swelling is going to progress into leprosy or just fade away, isolation is required. Jesus has given us this same standard. Remember that He told the disciples,

Mark 6:31 ..."Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a while."...

If you're on the verge of a possible sin problem, it's time to get alone with the Lord. Just you and Him. If, after you spend that alone time, nothing's changed, spend more alone time with the Lord. I guarantee after two weeks of isolation with God, you will be different. The sin will have either faded away because you completely submitted to God, or it will have spread because you have completely rebelled against God.

13:9-11 Obvious Infection

An obvious infection of leprosy is described here. Notice that isolation wasn't necessary because of the advanced state of his disease.

There is an important lesson here for us. Remember that the the writer of the book of Hebrews acknowledges the fun that sin can be for a season. Speaking of Moses, he said,

Hebr. 11:24-25 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin;

Sin does have its passing pleasure. And when people are enjoying their sin, they are among the most dangerous people on earth to be around. Remember,

1Cor. 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

Your association with mildly carnal people will bring you down into their pit sooner than you will bring them out of it. But to the one who is so consumed in sin from their head to their feet, there is nothing attractive about their sin. There is no danger of falling into their pit when they are that completely repulsive.

This is precisely why the apostle Paul told us,

1Cor. 5:9-11 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I {did} not at all {mean} with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler - not even to eat with such a one.

When fellow Christians are having fun in their sin, it is deadly dangerous to associate with them. But the unsaved drunken man in the alley lying in his own vomit is no temptation to you to go get drunk.

(13:12-17) Raw Flesh

This part deals with a new outbreak of raw flesh (open wounds). If there is raw flesh, he is unclean. When it goes away, he is clean again.

(13:18-23) In A Boil

This section instructs the priests what to do if it looks like leprosy might be breaking out where a boil was formerly.

(13:24-28) In A Burn

These verses give the priests instructions on how to recognize leprosy that might be breaking out where someone has been burned.

(13:29-37) On The Head Or Beard

God here instructs them on how to recognize leprosy in an infection on the head or the beard.

(13:38-39) Eczema

Here God tells them how to differentiate between leprosy and exzema.

(13:40-44) Losing Hair

These verses indicate that there's nothing unclean about going bald unless leprosy breaks out on the bald head.

13:45-46 The Leper

The leper was not to defile anyone else with his uncleanness. Therefore, he had to tear his clothes, uncover his head, and cover the lower half of his face. Wherever he went, he had to cry "unclean, unclean!" He had to live alone, outside the camp.

Tearing your clothes, and uncovering your head were signs of grief - mourning for the dead. The leper was the walking dead - he had no hope for anything but his impending death. Covering your face at the upper lip was a sign of shame.

This is what sin will do to us as well - it separates us from God and from His people. We have grief, we're as good as dead, we walk in shame, and the words out of our mouths warn people of our sinful state. Sin is so terrible - why do we play around with it so much?

(13:47-59) In A Garment

Verses 47 through 59 tell the priests how to deal with strange marks that appear in wool or linen garments.

(As you read that, you'll see the term "whether in warp or woof." The warp was the threads that ran lengthwise in the loom. The woof was the threads that ran perpendicular to the warp.)


Notice that this entire chapter dealt with the priests diagnosing leprosy, but not medicating or curing it. In truth, they had no ability to heal leprosy.

Although there was no cure for it, God did make provision for the miraculous healing from it. That is what this first section of chapter 14 deals with...

14:1-7 In The Day Of His Cleansing

On the day of the leper's cleansing, he was to perform this strange ritual: The cleansing ceremony required two birds, cedar wood, a scarlet string, and hyssop. The first bird was slain in an earthen vessel, so that the blood and water would mix in the vessel. Then the live bird was fastened to the wood, and with the scarlet string and the hyssop, was dipped into the blood of the first bird. The leper would be sprinkled 7 times with the blood and water. Then the live bird would go free.

Just like every other thing we've seen in the offerings and rituals, this is an amazing, prophetic picture of Jesus Christ. These things represent the cleansing work of Christ - cleansing us from our infection and affliction with leprosy - our sin.

1) Birds in the Bible are frequently referred to as "birds of the heavens." These two birds in the ceremony represent Jesus Christ, Who has come from heaven.

2) Although Jesus came from heaven, when He came to earth, He placed Himself in an earthen vessel - the form of a man. In 2Corinthians, Paul was talking about the treasure of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God that we have in these human bodies, saying

2Cor. 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels

Jesus placed His heavenly self inside of an earthen vessel in order to be slain for our cleansing.

3) Just like the bird, He was slain at the hands of the priests.

Luke 24:20 ...the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him up to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.

John 19:6 When therefore the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify, crucify!"...

4) Just as the blood and water mixed in the vessel, so too, after Jesus had died on the cross,

John 19:34 ...One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.

John wrote in his first epistle,

1John 5:6 This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood.

5) The bird was fastened to the wood, just as Jesus, too, was fastened to the wood of the cross.

6) What does the scarlet string represent? When Tamar was giving birth to twins, we read...

Gen. 38:27-28 And it came about at the time she was giving birth, that behold, there were twins in her womb. Moreover, it took place while she was giving birth, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet {thread} on his hand, saying, "This one came out first."

In Genesis 38, the scarlet thread marked the first-born. In the book of Joshua, we read that Rahab hid the two spies in her house before the destruction of Jericho.

Josh. 2:17-19 And the men said to her, "We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father's household. And it shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood {shall be} on his own head, and we {shall be} free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood {shall be} on our head, if a hand is {laid} on him.

So in Joshua 2, the scarlet cord was an escape from death and a mark of deliverance. All three of these descriptions are attributes of Jesus Christ - He is the firstborn from the dead, he is our escape from the second death, and He is our deliverance.

7) Hyssop was the long-stemmed plant that the Israelites used to apply the slain passover lamb's blood to their doorposts at the points of the cross (Exodus 12). It is also interesting to me that when Jesus was on the cross,

John 19:29-30 A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit.

The bird, the wood, the scarlet string, and the hyssop were all soaked in the blood and water.

8) In Scripture, the number 7 represents completeness. In sprinkling the leper seven times, he was experiencing a complete cleansing.

1John 1:7 ...The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

All sin is cleansed - we are completely clean.

9) Then the live bird is released again to the heavens. Jesus, of course, rose from the dead, then ascended to heaven.

Each and every one of these details points to the perfect work and Person of Jesus Christ.

14:8-11 Washed In Water

Although the sacrifice that typified Jesus Christ was complete, it was up to the cleansed leper to continue in his cleanliness. He would shave off all his hair, and wash himself and his clothes in water. What did this symbolize? When someone's been cleansed from sin by what Jesus did for them on the cross, they look different. Their face changes, their expressions change. They were also washed. The Bible points to water as being symbolic of the Word of God.

Eph. 5:26 ...having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word

John 15:3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you."

After you receive the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it is essential that you continually wash yourself with the word of God.

(14:12-32) Making Offerings

Once cleansed, the person could finally worship God in all the ways that He had commanded.

(14:33-57) Leprous Houses

The rest of the chapter deals with what the priests should do when it appears that there is an infestation of leprous mildew in a house.

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