The Lord gives the Israelites instructions regarding childbirth. He tells women to rest forty days after the birth of a male and eighty days after the birth of a female allowing them a period of healing before re-engaging. The boy is to be circumcised on the eighth day as the Lord first told Abraham – “and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:11-12).
Then the Lord lays out some pretty detailed instructions regarding skin diseases, identifying leprosy, protecting the community, and treating contaminated items. God provides guidance on how to properly handle people with skin diseases and leprosy in order to protect the person and the community. The priests are the ones who are responsible for caring for the people spiritually and physically. They are to use God’s word as a medical resource to examine the sick. Did you notice that God’s health care plan allows everyone to receive care? “But if he is poor and can not afford it he shall take one male lamb…” The Lord still requires the poor to pay something but not as much as those with more.
God also provides instructions on cleansing a leper who has been healed. Note that the cleansing doesn’t heal the leper; it’s a ceremonial purification where the blood of an animal will be shed on behalf of a leper who has been healed. The lepers should be healed before presenting themselves to the priest. We have read about the Lord turning Moses’ hand leprous and then back to normal (Exodus 4:6-7). And we will soon read about the Lord striking Miriam with leprosy and healing her seven days later (Numbers 12:10-15).
When Jesus arrives on the scene, He too will supernaturally heal lepers. Jesus will not shy away from people with leprosy. He will actually draw close to a man with leprosy and put his hand on the leper and say 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 8:4). And when Jesus encounters ten lepers, He will tell them “‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed” (Luke 17:14). So we see that Jesus is not made unclean when he encounters the lepers. Quite the opposite. The lepers are healed by Jesus before going to the priest for the cleansing. Jesus Christ obeys His Father’s instructions given in Leviticus 14 when he tells the lepers to go to the priest for the ceremonial cleansing.
Jesus’ healing of the unclean lepers, who are separated from community, is a beautiful picture of why His Father is sending Him. Jesus is obediently coming as the final sacrificial Lamb to die in order to heal unclean sinners who are separated from His Father and to restore us back to Him. Tomorrow we learn about bodily discharge and where the name scapegoat originated, so keep reading. (Leviticus 12:1-14:32)