Topic:Dealing with the Leprosy of Life
When anyone has a defiling skin disease, they must be brought to the priest.
The purpose of this chapter is to enable the detection of leprosy. When the Bible uses this term, it is not merely referring to the disease that we call leprosy today, Hansen’s disease. That is included in the term, but the Hebrew word translated leprosy here also includes other contagious and infectious skin diseases. They all were recognized to be dangerous and damaging, a serious threat not only to the individual but to the whole camp of Israel, and so they were to be detected. The process of detection was prolonged and careful inspection. The priest was to look at the symptoms, then shut the diseased person up for seven days, examine him again, and shut him up for another seven days. At the end of that time he could determine whether it was leprosy or something less serious.
All of this has its counterpart in our own spiritual lives. This passage is talking to us about the afflictions and diseases of the spirit, the hurtful attitudes we have, the burning resentments, the feelings of anger and upset we go through, and the grudges we carry around in our hearts toward one another. These are to be detected because they can be very dangerous, and the process is to expose them to a priest. Remember, now, that in the New Testament pattern all believers are priests together. We are all blind to ourselves. In my own eyes I am a very genial, gracious, inoffensive person. I don’t know why it is, but others don’t always seem to see me the same way. I find myself very blind to my own failings. We all have these blind spots. That is why we need each other. And so the Israelite was instructed, when he had a manifestation of disease, to bring it to a priest.
Transferring this to the spiritual realm, this means that the evil in question must be brought under the judgment of the Word of God in order to be cleansed. The evil must be faced and named for what it is, as God sees it. All the defenses that we have tried to build around it to protect it are to be taken down, and we must realize that it is wrong, and admit it. Then God can cleanse us from it and it goes out of our life. The scars may remain, but there is no need to fear any longer; the action of the evil has been arrested. What a beautiful picture this is of 1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. What a gracious provision this is!
Are your leprous spots being judged? Are they being dealt with openly in the light of the Word of God? Are they being brought to the One who can heal leprosy with a touch? Or are they being protected, covered over, hidden to avoid examination? Your moods, your disposition, your temperamental outbursts, your displays of anger or depression — what about them?
Lord Jesus, how often I have injured others by my leprous condition. I know that you want me to be clean and to walk in victory. So, by the faithfulness of your Spirit, please judge the leprosy in my life. Touch it and heal it, as I bow before you.
Are we open to others’ observations about our attitudes and behaviors? What about our priestly service to others who may need our insight but most of all our compassion?