Priesthood: 24. Leper Outside

Leviticus 13:45‑46  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
In these verses is set out the diseased condition of the convicted leper. It was, while he lived, death to all the privileges of the people of God; the standing type of a sinner, not only before Him, but under command to declare it to man.
“And the leper in whom the sore is,-his garments shall be rent, and his head shall be uncovered (or, go loose), and he shall cover his upper lip or beard, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean All the days that the sore [shall be] in him, he shall be unclean: he [is] unclean; he shall dwell apart; outside the camp his dwelling [shall bier (45, 46).
Thus vividly did Jehovah, while prescribing for the solemn separateness of an Israelite under this fell disease, look onward to the discovery of what every man is in the light of Christ. For He alone gives us the full truth of every one and of everything. It is not that the law did not indicate much that was true, and the prophets yet more. But, as John 1:99That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9) so strikingly tells us, the Word, even Jesus, is the true light, which, coming into the world (for this is the only legitimate rendering), pours light on every man. It is not limited like the law to Israel. It shines on Gentile as well as Jew. It is no lightning flash as of death like the effect of the same law; yet it discovers, fully and at once, the true state of each. No prince is exalted above its penetrating power, any more than the most abject slave is beneath it. It was the Word incarnate here below, divine light yet in man, having its range universal on the race here below. Far from any boasting of Him as Light of east or west, north or south, such was the unbelief that not even Palestine owned Him, though born its King with a title pure, perfect, and indisputable, alike human and divine, Immanuel. He was in the world and the world had been from Him, and the world knew Him not. He game to what was His own, and His own people received Him not, guiltier than the besotted world. Yet was He love, as well as light; grace and truth (in contrast with the law) came into being through Jesus Christ; and thus was “every man” the less excusable. None received Him but such as were born of God; only these were enlightened by Him.
Yet here the shadow is now at least plain enough. The sinner according to God's figure before us is of all men most miserable; and now we can say that such in God's estimate are all men, if we read the type in the light of Christ. Hence the leper's apparel was to declare his misery and his grief. “His garments shall be rent, and his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean!” Sorrow for others or at their evil it is not, but the deepest mourning for himself. The goodness of God leads the sinner to repentance. Despise not then the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering: why in presence of this, if hitherto unconcerned, perish forever? Why, according to one's hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up to oneself wrath in a day of wrath? It is the way of mercy, because it is the way of truth; and if one be in the humbling truth of his sins before God, will not He be found in the truth of His grace? The Lord Jesus gives the soul both repentance and faith. To be a sinner, refusing to own it at God's call, is a place of the utmost danger. The presence of Jesus the Son of God lays bare my real evil; His going away to the Father, the rejected One, demonstrates righteousness only there, and nothing but sin left in I the world. If I heed God's word, I cease to deny or excuse my sins, frankly confessing my ruin, with the cry, Unclean, unclean, in His ears.
To be light-hearted and indifferent is to defy the just sentence of God. Nor will it do to betake oneself to the external trappings of woe. We are not Jews: rites and ceremonies are but letter, and avail not. The gospel meets the sinner expressly as lost, powerless, ungodly, and His enemy; but all this is dire reality, and no form of speech. If we are insensible to our state, it is worse than form; it is hypocrisy. Christ came not to call righteous ones; but He will have sinners feel and own their sins; and if they do not, a worse thing befalls them than if they professed not His name. Hence the all-importance of life, eternal life, which where possessed makes our evil intolerable; and whether at the beginning for our state, or afterward for particular acts, it leads the believer to be grieved unto repentance. For grief according to God works out repentance unto salvation not to be regretted; whereas the grief of the world works out death.
Where the conscience answers to God's call, the outer signs of the leper's distress are reproduced in the depths of one's moral being. As the Corinthians broke down and cleared themselves in the matter of their sin and shame, which, if unjudged, would have unchurched them as corporately denying Christ's name, so one only bears aright His name individually as a Christian by inward and true renunciation of evil, each of his own. Where faith is genuine, repentance is; and this makes the truth taught by the bearing of the leper as plain as it is impressive and important. It is rending of the heart for the converted soul, rather than of his garments; real acceptance of his dishonor by his sins, bitter as it is, instead of claiming honor for his “head"; it is the “beard” no longer a display of his vigor as a man, but covered in spirit with shame. He owns himself defiled irreparably as far as he is concerned. He betakes himself to solitary confession, instead of presuming to mingle with the faithful; he truly feels that he is but a dog, and not a sheep. So the Canaanite woman was brought by grace to own the simple truth, and thereon was blessed beyond her hopes. It is the turning-point for establishment in grace, and spirituality of mind, though dependence withal on God is ever requisite.