The Law of the Leper

The discovery of leprosy is described in Leviticus chapter 13 and the cleansing of it in chapter 14. It appears that the leprosy described here referred to a wide variety of skin diseases as well as a direct judgment of God. It is treated as an uncleanness rather than a disease. It was different from the leprosy known to medical science today, which is called Hansen’s Disease. Two people were directly stricken with it in the Old Testament, these being Miriam (Num. 12:10) and Uzziah (2 Ch. 26:19).

Following are some of the lessons from these chapters:

(1) The leprosy signifies the sin that has corrupted man and that reveals itself in manifold ways and renders us unclean before God (Mark 7:20-23).

(2) Sin’s corruption has spread everywhere and touches everything man does, as signified by the leprosy in the body, the beard, the head, even in garments and houses (Lev. 13:2, 29, 42, 47; 14:34).

(3) Our great high priest, Jesus Christ, is always observing His people and interceding for them and reproving them and cleansing them, as signified by the priest who examined the people (Lev. 13:2-3; Heb. 2:17; 4:14-16; 7:24-27) We see Christ exercising this ministry in Revelation 2-3, where He walks among the churches and reproves sin (Rev. 2:1; 3:19).

(4) As priests in a holy priesthood, believers are to be skilled in discerning sin and its effects. We are to prove all things so as to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:21-22). We are to exercise our senses to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:14).

(5) As priests, believers are to exercise the ministry of cleansing one another by prayer, exhortation, reproof, forgiveness, and restoration (Rom. 15:14; Gal. 6:1-2; Col. 3:13; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 3:13; 10:25; 1 John 5:16). “The spirit of chapters 13 and 14 is that there would always be the desire that the leper might be healed, cleansed, and restored to his tent and his privileges among the redeemed” (Unger).

(6) There were pre-leprous conditions which could either dissipate or could grow into full-blown leprosy (Lev. 13:2-8). This signifies various types of sin and how the believer handles sin. Not every sin is a cause for breaking fellowship and church discipline, but if “small” sins aren’t dealt with and are allowed to grow they can result in greater sins with greater consequences. See James 1:14-15. For example, a man who nurses lust in his heart can commit fornication and adultery in his physical life, and a man who nurses bitterness can ruin many people (Heb. 12:14-15).

(7) Leprosy in the garment signifies the defilement that comes through one’s environment and associations and activities (Lev. 13:47-59). “The symbolism here represents sin working not exactly in the believer, but as closely identified with his person, such as his possessions, occupation, habits, or associations. What an illustration of the care that must be taken to avoid inlets to sin as to where he permits himself to go or what he allows himself to do, or what associations and alliances he permits himself to make. Any garment tainted with leprosy was to be burned in the fire, illustrating how rigidly sin is to be put away in a believer’s associations” (Unger). See 2 Corinthians 7:1; Ephesians 5:11; James 1:27.

(8) Leprosy in the house (Lev. 13:33-53), signifies the defilement of the home and family through sin. Marriage is the foundational institution in society, being the first institution establish by God on earth (Gen. 2:21-25). The husband and wife are to bear children and raise them to God’s glory. Today the institution of marriage and the family are under attack as never before, and God’s people need to learn God’s instructions about marriage and home-life from the Bible and live it out. We deal with this in the book
Keeping the Kids, which is available in print and eBook formats from Way of Life Literature -- www.wayoflife.org.

(9) Leprosy of the head was the worse type of leprosy. For it alone was the man called “utterly unclean” (Lev. 13:44). This signifies error in thinking. Heresy refers to a self-willed choice of error. It is not a sin of ignorance but a sin of willful rebellion against the truth (Titus 3:10-11). The New Testament warns repeatedly about the danger of false teaching (e.g., Acts 20:28-31).

(10) Full-blown leprosy caused the individual to be put out of the camp (Lev. 13:45-46), signifying the defiling effect of sin. In the Christian life, sin puts the believer out of fellowship with God and man (1 John 1:5-7) and can result in being disciplined by the church (1 Cor. 5). There is even a sin unto death (1 John 5:17).

(11) Complete cleansing was provided for leprosy, signifying the full salvation we have in Christ. First, there were the two birds, the one killed and the blood shed and the other released (Lev. 14:4-7). The slain bird and its blood signifies Christ’s atonement on the cross and the living bird His resurrection, which was the evidence that God had accepted the Sacrifice (Romans 4:25). Just as the living bird was released and flew away, the believer’s sin has been carried away and buried in the deepest sea (Micah 7:19). “The living bird in its upward flight bore the blood heavenward upon its outstretched wings as the badge of a finished redemptive work, Heb. 9:22” (Unger). Then there were the three lambs of the trespass offering, the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and the meal and the oil (Lev. 14:10-20), signifying Christ as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). The believer is accepted in Him. The anointing of the ear, thumb, and toe with blood and oil signified our salvation by the blood and the Spirit (Titus 3:5-6; Heb. 9:14). Having been cleansed by the blood and sanctified by the Spirit, we are to walk in newness of life.

(12) The leper was also to cleanse himself (Lev. 14:9). Though full salvation is provided in Christ, the believer is to work out his salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). He is to put off the old man and put on the new (Eph. 4:22-24). He is to devote himself to Christ, renewing his mind by God’s Word, not being conformed to the world but pursuing God’s perfect will (Rom. 12:1-2). God has provided “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” but we must appropriate it and live it out (2 Peter 1:3-11).

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