What does it say?
The discussion about leprosy continues as the focus shifts to ceremonial cleansing and purification (Lev 14). Remember that leprosy refers to a rather wide range of diseases, and these rituals are designed to re-integrate individuals into society upon being healed of certain conditions. The Law also gives instruction for the quarantine and/or cleansing of dwellings possibly infected by disease and also clothing or other contaminated items (Lev 15).
What does it mean?
Leprosy pictures sin and its consequences. Some think that sin affects no one but himself or herself. The message here is that our sin spreads far beyond ourselves, infecting entire families and potentially anyone or anything we touch. Further, these chapters communicate that anyone or anything corrupted or defiled by sin must be cleansed and restored to the full purpose for which it was designed.
In the cleansing rituals, notice the continued and prominent use of running water and blood. We know that the blood of the sacrifices looks to the blood Christ shed on the cross. Water often is used as a figure of God’s word and/or the Holy Spirit. Fresh or running water is literally living water, as in water that is active, not stagnant.
The blood of Christ’s sacrificial death for us deals with the penalty for our sin (singular, our sin nature). The sins (plural) that result from our sin nature are cleansed with the water of God’s word (Eph 5:25-26) in the power of God’s Spirit that lives in us as believers.
How will I respond?
This passage corresponds in symbol to the very short chapter of 1 John 1, especially 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I have learned that God will accomplish his mission even using severely flawed people like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and me. Would it not be better to be a joyful participant in God’s mission by living a life that marks a difference between clean and unclean? Are there sins in my life that load me down with guilt and shame? Why not confess (acknowledge) any sins to God so that he can cleanse me and restore me to the full use for which I am designed? I can do this right now. Surely he will use me in someone’s life today as part of his mission. I must be ready!