The Poor and the Leper: Leviticus 12:6-13:8

Leviticus 12:6‑13:8  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Leviticus 12:6-13:86And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: 7Who shall offer it before the Lord, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. 8And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean. 1And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying, 2When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: 3And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean. 4If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days: 5And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more: 6And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark, and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean. 7But if the scab spread much abroad in the skin, after that he hath been seen of the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again: 8And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy. (Leviticus 12:6‑13:8)
At the end of the period of the mother’s uncleanness for the birth of a child, she was to bring a sin offering and a burnt offering to the priest, who was to offer it before the Lord. Thus she acknowledged, in figure, that the only ground of blessing was through the death of Christ.
Provision for the Poor
It is blessed to notice here that God made provision even for those who were so poor that they could only bring a turtledove or a young pigeon. Nevertheless, only through the shedding of blood can sin be put away — nothing else would do, for “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:2222And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:22)). Of course we know that now it is not the blood of lambs or pigeons, but the precious blood of Christ which has been shed on Calvary, and it alone has power to cleanse from sin. The blood of animals and birds is only a type and shadow of this.
It is a most wonderful expression of “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, [who] though He was rich, yet for [our] sakes He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:99For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)), that when He was born, His mother offered two turtledoves or young pigeons on the eighth day. He was born among the poorest, but, blessed be His name, He was the holy, harmless, undefiled one who knew no sin, having been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. How our hearts worship as we think of the grace that brought Him so low to lift us so high!
We now find two long chapters devoted to details about leprosy. It is a terrible disease which was utterly incurable, and God has used it in His Word as a type of something far worse — the disease of sin. Not only was leprosy incurable, but it was also very contagious, so that the one who touched a leper was almost sure to catch the disease himself. Surely this, too, is like sin, for when it is allowed, it spreads so rapidly.
Leprosy among the children of Israel was never to be treated with indifference. It was a frightfully serious thing, and if there was any suspicion whatever of a man’s having it, he was to be brought to the priest who was to look at the suspicious spot. It might be a rising, a bright spot, or a scab, and whether it was small or large, it was to be carefully examined by the priest. Unless the priest was very sure it was not leprosy, he was to shut the man up for seven days so that he could look at the spot again at that time and see if there was any change. He was not to put the feelings of the man in question first, but was responsible to maintain that which was for God’s glory in the care of Israel, because God dwelt among them. This is very important, for too often the feelings of friends and relatives are put before the glory of God. Alas, we would rather displease the Lord than offend our friends, and so sin is hushed up and the attempt made to hide it. The priest in Israel was to act for God, and so the man was to be shut up for seven days to see if the doubtful spot was spreading and if it was a real leprosy. At the end of the seven days if the case was still uncertain, then the man was to be shut up again.
Unjudged Sin Spreads
In these instructions we can see two things: first, that if sin is left unjudged, it spreads and defiles others, and secondly, that we should never act in haste. It is always well to remember these two things when seeking to act for God in such matters, whether as parents or in the assembly.
For Further Meditation
1. What did Mary’s offering, eight days after the Lord’s birth, tell about the family’s finances?
2. What are some of the ways that leprosy makes a good figure of sin?
3. The Law of the Leper by G. C. Willis is a simple and very easy-to-understand exposition of Leviticus 13-14. You will probably find it a very refreshing introduction to those two chapters of Scripture.