Priesthood: 26. Leper Pronounced Clean

Leviticus 14:1‑7  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Now we come to the other side, the grace that can and does cleanse the leper. What a mercy in a world of misery and suffering through sin! There is no desert in man; there is love in God. Yea God is love. Here it appears in His dealings as Jehovah with Israel. They are without doubt as the leper. Their unbelief owns not the truth: else they would now cry, Unclean, unclean, as they surely will in a day that hastens. They are without their inheritance, though Jehovah gave it to them; but their sins and iniquities, their uncleanness in a word, made it a righteous necessity that they should be chased out of it, deprived quite of their land and national being, and out of that sanctuary in the place which Jehovah chose to cause His name to dwell there. No judgment of expulsion more certain and clear than that now lying on His ancient people. Their pride rebels; their distance from Him seeks to disguise it even from themselves; but it is written indelibly on their past and present history: thank God, not forever. Leprous Israel shall assuredly be cleansed, as prophecy declares in sure and abundant and glowing testimonies.
Here however the type is so abstract that we are entitled in no way to narrow the application, but to see how grace adapts it to the need of every and any ruined sinner.
“And Jehovah spoke to Moses saying, 'This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go out of the camp; and the priest shall look, and, behold, the sore of leprosy is healed in the leper; then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed two living clean birds, and cedar wood and scarlet and hyssop. And the priest shall command to kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over living 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 killed over the living 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 go the living bird into the open field’” (vers. 1-7).
Typically viewed, the priest is the Mediator, the Savior. As the leper could not come where He was, the priest must go out of the camp to the leper. Indeed “the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” It was not only that the sinner needed such love to reach a heart steeped in the selfishness and distrust which sin produces in man, along with known rebellion against God and guilty conscience, the sad monitor of coming judgment. Infinite mercy belongs to God; and who could possibly manifest it like His own Son emptying Himself to take a bondman's form, and humbling Himself in obedience even unto death, ay, death of the cross? Thus it was that in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile..., having made peace by the blood of His cross.
Here then the priest is said to look, “and, behold, the sore of leprosy is healed.” How this was does not enter into “the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing” beyond the fact here notified. In the application it is a new life given. But the day was not come to reveal such a boon. It awaited Christ, the True Light, in Whom was life, and the life was the light of men. Life and incorruption He brought to light through the gospel. The explanation was left in abeyance. But the arrest of the plague was manifestly effected before him who saw according to God; and thereon followed the means ordained for the leper's purification. It was an immensely serious work, and thus the shadows here seen are pregnant with deep interest and weighty truth.
On the face of it, the work first of all was done for the leper, not in the least degree by himself. The priest commanded to take for him that is to be cleansed two clean living birds, and cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. Then he commanded further that one bird be killed in an earthen vessel over living water. The living bird he took with the cedar wood, the scarlet, and the hyssop, and dipped them all in blood of the bird killed over the living water; and lastly he sprinkled upon the man to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, pronouncing him clean, and letting the living bird free.
The two clean birds then set forth Christ dead and risen, the one killed, the other let loose into the open field. But there is far more here; for the bird to die was killed in an earthen vessel over living water. How plain the indication of Him who through the Eternal Spirit offered Himself spotless to God, deigning to be crucified in weakness! Again, what can be more evident than the pains taken to identify the living bird with the slain one by dipping it in the blood of the one killed over the living water? So Christ was given up for our offenses and raised for our justification, as says the apostle (Rom. 4:2525Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:25)).
Nor was this all the truth presented in this pattern of things to come. The taking of the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, the dipping them also in the blood of the bird that was slain, has a worthy meaning and like the rest is written for our admonition. The death of Christ has pronounced death for him that is cleansed on all with which man is here conversant. The chosen emblems of the highest in nature and of the lowest, along with that which figures the conventional glory of the world, were dipped in the blood; just as in Num. 19:66And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. (Numbers 19:6) they were cast into the midst of the burning of the Red Heifer. In what had not man corrupted himself, perverting all that God gave and sanctioned to His dishonor? But every evil is counteracted for the believer in Christ's atoning death. The leper was himself sprinkled with the blood seven times in token of complete cleansing, and was formally pronounced clean by the priest, with the significant mark of the living blood-sprinkled bird let go into the open field.
Yet much more, as we are told, had to follow. How sedulous is scripture to impress the solemn ways of God, even when a soul is supposed to be converted, and the deadly evil of sin no longer active but at a stay, before it can enjoy the full place and privileges of salvation! How little is this understood by revivalism or even evangelicalism!