What does it say?
The second part of the book (Lev 11-27) details practical applications of the Law. God divides land animals, water creatures, birds, insects and reptiles into categories of clean and unclean, as well as giving precautions for dealing with dead bodies (Lev 11).
Chapter 12 explains a woman’s purification process following childbirth. Chapter 13 is a lengthy discourse on proper identification of leprosy.
The purposes in these chapters are both practical and symbolic. Don’t try to force understanding, but simply observe how God cares for the practical details of life and teaches his truth through daily living.
What does it mean?
Old Testament Israel was a theocracy, meaning that religion, government and society blend together. This is why these regulations cover such a range of issues. Some seem strange to us, such as this long discussion about clean and unclean animals. For now, see that the fundamental issue is to know the difference between clean and unclean (11:47).
The purifying power of a woman’s blood following childbirth is a medical marvel designed by the Creator. Symbolically this reminds us that, despite the wonder of human birth, there is a problem with the first birth that can only be rectified by the second birth, and that remission of sin (human sin, not the woman’s) comes only through the blood.
Leprosy in the Bible had broader meaning than today’s specific medical definition and covered a range of several possible conditions. Leprosy often symbolizes the spread of sin and its horrible consequences. It was incurable by human means, just like sin. Many parallels exist between sin and leprosy as described in Leviticus 13. For those interested, Dr. Paul Brand, a leprosy physician and follower of Jesus, wrote several insightful books from his experiences and knowledge of scripture.
How will I respond?
The word holy appears often in Leviticus, meaning set apart to someone or something, and is frequently misunderstood to be a list of things to do and not do. Israel is blessed to be a blessing and to witness to God’s truth by making a difference between clean and unclean, right and wrong, good and evil.
We tend to blur the line between good and evil. I don’t live under the law (Rom 6:14-15) and all things are lawful to me (1Cor 6:12); but, not all things are expedient. I should also witness the power and truth of God by living a life that makes a difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Are there practices, habits or words I should deal with that are not expedient for God’s mission?