Topic:The Need for Cleansing
The priest is to go outside the camp and examine them. If they have been healed of their defiling skin disease, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the person to be cleansed.
In Chapter 14 we move into a further development of this whole matter of handling leprosy. Here we have the cleansing of the leper. Notice that the leper does not go through all the ritual which follows in order to be healed; he does it in order to be cleansed. He is already healed. Healing is something only God can do. It is the sovereign act of God and it takes place in the inner life of a believer. His cleansing of a person allows the one who is healed to understand God’s basis and purpose for the healing. God wants the inner cleansing to be reflected in the outward life and actions of the person who is healed. That is the picture which is drawn here.
You and I can’t heal our leprous hearts. If there is some wrongful attitude within us, if we burn with envy or jealousy or resentment toward one another, if we are impatient and upset and angry at heart — we seldom see these things in ourselves until God puts us into circumstances where they are brought out — and then the only thing we can do is take them to him because we are helpless victims caught up in these dangerous attitudes. When you finally see yourself like that, then you can say, Lord, heal me! And God does! With a touch of his grace he changes our attitude. We stop being defensive about it and we admit it. And then the leprosy is arrested, its action is stopped, and we are healed.
But then we need cleansing. We need to understand the basis on which that inward healing occurred so that our outward behavior can now be adjusted to a new pattern. That is what is brought out here in the cleansing of the leper. There was a prescribed ritual consisting of several steps which he had to go through before he could resume a normal life. Obviously, the basis for healing is always blood. God never heals, never blesses, never arrests the action of evil, apart from the shedding of blood.
This blood, of course, is a picture of the blood of the Lord Jesus. The death of Christ, which ends the old nature, the old life, is what is constantly being pictured for us in these sacrifices. God is not in the business of putting Band-Aids on cancer. He strikes at the very root of the cancer. He never deals with mere symptoms. He eliminates the whole problem. That is why God is never content merely to clear up a few symptoms in your life. He wants you to see that these problems are arising out of an evil nature which has to be ended by death — either of the individual himself or of an innocent substitute on his behalf. There is no other way. So the shedding of the blood of this bird is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus and his death for us.
Lord, I want to be whole, fulfilled and complete and healed. Deal with me, so that I might understand and apply these principles. With David I pray, May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalms 19:14)
Do we presume to heal ourselves and others of sins of the spirit? Why must we keep the focus on Jesus’ atoning blood? Are we dealing honestly and compassionately with the cleansing process in addressing the outward symptoms of inner sins?