Conviction and Confidence: Leviticus 8:38-46

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 10
EV 8:38-46{NOTHING can be more wonderful than that we should be able to say to a poor sinner here on earth, in the midst of his leprosy and misery, “Well there is one on the throne of God who loves you," "there is one up there in glory whose heart is full of pity for you." Just conceive for a moment what such tidings would be to a poor, friendless, hopeless, homeless rebel, whose sins and sorrows had reached to such a height that nothing but despair was left, for him to hear that any one thinks of him, or cares for him, is good news so wonderful that he almost fears it too good to be true. A Savior in glory who died for rebels on earth is a contrast indeed, and yet such is the testimony of God at this moment-a testimony to be repeated wherever there is a sinner, a rebel, a lost one, on the face of the whole world. In calling attention to the scriptures above quoted, my object is to point out as simply as I can the place the word of God has in convicting and assuring the soul-to press upon the conscience the all-important fact that the discovery of our misery, or of the one who has heart and power to meet us in it, are in no way consequent upon our feeling or sense, but upon the unchanging word of the living God. I have heard the question asked, “Do you feel you are a sinner? " Yet I could not say it is the first question. It would be felt, no doubt, if the testimony of God about man as a child of Adam were believed. Let my reader be assured that the testimony of God is as clear and distinct as can be. By nature man is a leper before God, without Christ, without hope, without God in the world; an unclean rebel, with a mind and will set against God. Hear His word "-There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues have they used deceit, the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness, their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their way, and the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Rom. 3:10-1810As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17And the way of peace have they not known: 18There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:10‑18).)
Nothing could be more decisive or convicting. It is the great antitype of the leper, who is convicted and shut out of the camp of Israel by the word of the priest. It was not a question of his feeling his leprosy; the question was what the priest had said, or his word, who knew the fatal plague spot. The leper in Israel, with rent clothes, his head bare, a covering upon his upper lip, crying, Unclean, unclean, goes outside the camp, that is, takes the position the priest of Israel by his word placed him in. What a solemn picture of the condition of man as a child of Adam now! God has shut every man's mouth, has pronounced man unclean, unfit for His presence; but along with this (of which no adequate picture could be given), that same blessed God assures man that there are in Himself springs of compassion and mercy, of which He has the heart to make guilty rebels, loathsome lepers, the object. This, God has announced to sinners, has demonstrated in His Son the Lord Jesus, and bestows now wherever there is the faith that casts itself on Him. How wonderful to know that I have a Savior in glory! A Savior who came to earth and died for me, rose again from the dead, having in death closed my history as a leper before God; and because He righteously met all the claims of the throne of God, took His seat on high in glory, from whence He lets His voice be heard and His light seen, from whence all that I need comes, and to which glory it is the purpose of His heart to bring me. It is the word of God that convicts me of my condition as seen and judged by Him in righteousness, and it is the same word that bids me take comfort, because He who shuts my mouth, if I may so say, opens His, to tell me of the grace and mercy that is in Himself for me, as well as the full provision He has made in the blood-shedding of Christ, to take me out of the state in which by nature I am at a distance from Him, and to bring me unto Himself. What a message to be put in trust with to poor man in this world, declaring to him in his leprosy and ruin, a love so wonderful, that it rests satisfied with nothing short of his complete deliverance from condemnation and death, and his full satisfaction in the place where God would have him, justified from all things, accepted in the beloved, and united by the Holy Ghost to Christ in heaven. Oh! how wonderful this is, God's own joy, accomplished in and through His own Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Once again, let me press it upon my reader, all this is on the testimony of God, borne in the word of God to man's ruin and God's love; the picture of the former being the le per in Israel placed outside the camp by the word of the priest.
I turn now to look at the second scripture, and there we shall find the same in principle. The leper being cleansed is once again to be brought back; but how? "Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed, two birds, alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water; as for the living bird he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water; and he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field." (Lev. 14:4-74Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop: 5And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water: 6As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water: 7And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field. (Leviticus 14:4‑7).)
In the above verses which describe the cleansing of the leper, we have a striking picture of the principle on which God now justifies the ungodly; namely, on the ground of the death of Christ, by which sin is put away, and righteousness established, and the resurrection of Christ, which proclaims God's satisfaction and our justification.
The bird killed in an earthen vessel, over running water, is, in picture, Christ crucified, and the living bird let loose, Christ risen and glorified, and all this the result of that which was in God's heart respecting poor sinners on earth, helpless and hopeless in their ruin. What a comfort to be able to show all this to a poor sinner as God's testimony, that the word which silences him on his side opens the door of hope on God's side. Wonderful message, yet more wonderful messenger He who came from heaven to make it all good in His death and resurrection for us.
One point more and I close: we have seen, I trust, that it is God's testimony to man's ruin, not man's feelings or thoughts about it; and that God has likewise given testimony to all that was in His heart in the gift, death, resurrection, and glory of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. There is one other point of testimony to which I would direct attention-how did the leper know he was cleansed? On the same authority as that which convicted him of leprosy. As at first he was pronounced unclean by the priest, so now being cleansed, he is "pronounced clean." As at first, on the word of the priest, he took his place outside, so now on the word of the priest, he takes his place inside; in both cases it was the word of the priest. How important, how blessed is this! Many a soul perplexes itself from want of simply taking God at His word, which is the true source and spring of all known enjoyment, as it is written, "The God of hope fill you with all joy, and peace, in believing." And on the other hand many a soul is blinded and deceived, judging its state by its own apprehension of it, or its own feelings, and not the complete ruin all are in, and the wonderful provision God has in love made in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to meet us where we are. Should any such eye fall on these pages, may it be opened to see the ruin and the Savior; a "Savior, and a great one," who died on the cross for sinners, even the chief, who by His death has made atonement, and has risen again from the dead and gone into heaven, the author of eternal salvation to all who look to Him. W. T. T.