Lord, it seems to some that Leviticus would be an out of place book when we deal with the Christmas season, the holiday season, as some like to call it. First, it's Christmas. It's all about the babe in the manger, and the wise men, and the shepherds watching over their flocks, the great announcement that was made to Mary and Joseph, the birth of Jesus, the angelic choir singing. We celebrate all of that, though we are hard pressed to know exactly when Jesus was born.
But Leviticus fits perfectly. Especially when we realize that when our Lord rose from the dead, he went back through the writings of Moses which would include this book, and taught his disciples all of the things that were written by Moses and the prophets concerning himself. These things anticipate the birth of the Messiah. How grateful we are, how thankful we are that you sent your Son into this world to take our sins and to rescue us.
And so, Father, give us ears to hear, a mind to concentrate and to understand, and not to marginalize certain things in the Word simply because they're not practiced anymore. We're getting your words given to Moses, who then spoke them to Aaron and the children of Israel. And they were there for a purpose, and one of the grand truths that people learn is that you care about every aspect of human activity, and our lives. And you have made provision for those who are sick.
And so, Father, I pray, Lord, that as we go through this chapter or so of this book, that we would understand behind the words, the Spirit of the words, the heart of the One who gave them. That our relationship with you would be deeper and better because of it, we pray in Jesus' name, amen.
I'm a leper. I was born a leper. In fact, my whole family was a colony of lepers. What's weird is when I went around my neighborhood; I discovered that all my neighbors were also part of that leper colony, that it was quite extensive, that it wasn't just me, it wasn't just my family; it was the neighbor down the street, on the block next to that one, the entire town was filled with lepers.
We didn't really admit that we were. We really never even knew that we were. The only hint we got that we were unclean is when someone entered our space who was perfect. He came from heaven; He was the only perfect one. He entered our world and because He was so perfect, we started looking at ourselves and at each other, and we had thoughts like, "Unclean. Man, you're dirty."
And then I looked in the mirror one day and I thought, "And so am I." But I never would have known it. We never would have known it unless that One came and showed how perfect He was, and how far we had to go. He was the only clean one, but He said He came to take away our leprosy.
Now, with that little opening set of remarks, you see where I'm going with the whole leprosy thing. Leprosy in the Bible is portrayed as a picture, a portrait, a type of sin. There was no known cure for it. If you had full blown leprosy, you were going to die of it unless there was a miraculous intervention. It was incurable; it was your death warrant.
Not only that, but it brought separation. It separated you from the rest of the community. You would be quarantined outside. You would be in a mandatory state of crying out to anyone who would seek to come near you: "Unclean." In other words, "Stay away, I'm not fit to have any interchange with you at all." No intimate fellowship whatsoever, no cure, separation, and eventually total destruction.
And so it is with sin. There's no cure for sin. I can't rehabilitate myself. I can't work really hard at cleansing my sin, even though religions say you can—you can't. I'm hopeless. I'm going to be destroyed in my sin unless there is an intervention, intervention from God, and I am separated. Separated from God and separated from the fellowship of other believers unless the Lord intervenes.
Now, we've been looking last week in the previous chapter, chapter 13, about a priest spotting a leprosy on the skin of the people of Israel and what to do about it. You remember in the New Testament when Jesus healed a man who had leprosy? And you would think that would be the best advertising, that you're the Messiah, you know. You think Jesus would say, "Now, go show yourself to everybody and tell everyone what happened." "Dude, this is so cool." Jesus said, "Don't tell anyone. But rather go show yourself to the priest and offer those things which Moses commanded to be offered."
I don't know if you've ever read that verse and asked the question: "What things did Moses command to be offered?" Because if you did, they are only answered in chapter 14. Chapter 14 of Leviticus shows us those things Moses commanded to be done for the leper in the day that he was cleansed.
Now, I just want to refresh your memory a little bit with last week's study, because these are, you know, fifty—, fifty five minutes, sometimes an hour studies on Wednesday nights, and you don't always retain everything that is shared. So let me just recap something.
The word in chapter 13 and 14 for leprosy is the Hebrew word tsara’at. Tsara’at, and it means one of two things, in fact, it means both things, but it's important to differentiate. It means on one hand a general, generic set of dermatological diseases, skin diseases, which may get better over time or may worsen over time.
But it also includes something that was more prevalent in the New Testament, or at least something we see more often recorded, and that is the most fatal form of tsara’at, leprosy, caused by something, a bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae; that is the most foul, fatal kind of leprosy. That's where your limbs fall off. That's where you don't have any feelings left. And that's where you die slowly as they say, "by the inch."
So, chapter 14, verse 1, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'This shall be the law of the leper for 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 indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, 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, you shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water."
And then in verse 7, "And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field." It's an unusual ritual. It's a weird ceremony. It's something we don't practice here at Calvary. [Laughter]
But there is symbolism behind the two birds. Probably the bird that was killed was to symbolize what would happen to the leper unless God would have miraculously intervened; he'd end up like that bird, dead. The living bird was probably symbolic of a do over, a new chance, restoration, freedom. He has been confined. He's been separated for so long. Now that bird spreads its wings and flies, and now that leper is reintroduced into the community, into the fellowship. It's a do over. It's a new start. He spreads his wings and he has a second chance at life. That's probably, in part, part of the symbolism.
Now, I don't exactly know why these elements are mentioned: the hyssop; the scarlet thread, as some translations say; and the cedar wood. Except to say, probably they were all used together; that is, the cedar wood was probably made into a handle, the hyssop branches were affixed to it with a scarlet thread, and it became a little brush of sorts with which to apply the blood.
What's interesting is that the priest had to be the one to pronounce him clean. He had to go to a priest or—excuse me, that was wrong. The priest had to go out to him. Remember, he's confined, he's separated, he cannot go into the camp. He has no fellowship. He has to remain outside. Here the priest goes out to him. Why? To inspect, not to heal him. The priest can't heal him, but just to see if God has healed him. Why must a priest do it? Well, it was the priest that pronounced him unclean, and so it's the priest who will pronounce him clean.
Now, if we're dealing with that first meaning of the Hebrew word tsara’at, which is general dermatological diseases, you can understand that probably a lot of these lesser diseases, hives, psoriasis, and some of the other things we talked about last week would run their course. And the person would get better, and the priest would frequently pronounce people like that cured, clean, healed.
However, if we're dealing with the second type of leprosy, specifically that loathsome kind known as Hansen's disease historically, where there was no known cure, then you have a very interesting text. You have a provision in the law that we never read about historically ever happening except in the New Testament.
Well, with one exception. There was somebody in the Old Testament, his name was Naaman. He was a Syrian commander, he was not even Israelite. And you remember the story, I think it's in 2 Kings 5. Naaman, the Syrian commander has leprosy, and he has a wife, and his wife has a servant girl. And the servant girl who is from Israel, taken captive by the Syrians, hears that her master has leprosy and she says, "Oh, if only we could get him down to Elijah the prophet. Elijah would cure him of his leprosy."
Well, Naaman hears about it, goes down with a lot of money, a lot of gifts, sends a letter to Elijah. Elijah has an interesting response, he goes, "What? Am I God, that I could heal him? I can't heal him. Go tell him to dip seven times in the Jordan River and he'll be cured." Which made Naaman angry because he was filled with pride. He goes, "The Jordan river? I mean, honestly, the Jordan River—if you blink, you'll miss it."
If you're thinking of the mighty Jordan River like the mighty Mississippi, that's why it's probably good that we live here in Albuquerque, because we have a fine example. A lot of people think, "Wow! The Rio Grande, I've heard about that. It's in all, all those old songs. Let me check it out." And then you show it to them and they go, "You're kidding me, right? That's not a river, that's a rivulet." Well, the Jordan is very similar to that in many places.
So Naaman was angry, but finally he gave in, dipped seven times, and he was cured. So that's the exception, though we don't know what form of leprosy he had. But certainly these verses anticipate what would happen in the New Testament when Jesus the Messiah would come and heal on many occasions those who had the loathsome disease of leprosy.
Notice the priest went outside the camp, left the service of the Lord, the tabernacle of the Lord, the presence of the Lord, so to speak, and went out, out of the camp to the one who had leprosy. Jesus did that in a greater way. He left heaven, came here to earth to the unclean place where everyone's infected with the disease: spiritual leprosy. We have the S I N virus, and we're all fatal unless there's an intervention of divine, miraculous power, we're all sunk.
We can't make it up to God, we can't make it up to heaven, so God came down to the earth. He went into our camp. As the writer of Hebrews said, "God made him [Jesus] a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor."
So the eighth verse continues the thought: "He who is to be cleansed," this is now after the sprinkling, after the proclamation. "He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent for seven days. On the seventh day he shall," here it is again, "shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows and all his hair he shall shave off."
Again, this is something we don't practice here at Calvary. We would be in all newspapers nationwide if we did. But this happened then, this was common practice then.
"He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and shall be clean. And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, one ewe lamb," a female, "of the first year without blemish, three tenths of an ephah of fine flour," a couple of dry quarts, "mixed with oil as a grain offering, and one log of oil." A log is three fifths of a pint, a small amount of oil.
It's interesting to me that after the blood is applied, after the proclamation is made, "You are now clean," that the cleansed leper washes, sacrifices, shaves all the hair, and stays outside the tent for seven days. After seven days he does it again; the ritual happens all over again. Shaves the hair, even the eyebrows, I mean, just, you know, he'd be as hairless as a grape, just every bit of facial hair gone.
The apostle Paul in the New Testament alludes to the fact that a person's hair is symbolic. In 1 Corinthians 11, he speaks about hair is the glory of a woman. So, husbands, when your wives spend a lot of time on their hair, and they primp it up and do it, and you're going, "Oh, come on, let's just go." It's the glory of a woman. Let her be as glorious as she wants to be. Enjoy the glory, bask in the glory.
For a man it's a sign of maturity; in the same chapter, chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians alludes to that fact. Jewish boys love the fact when they can start growing their side curls longer even if they don't have any beard yet, you know, they're working their way there. And then when the facial hair comes on, and even if it's a scruffy, little three hairs coming out, they're just elated. They're maturing. It's one person's glory, it's another person's maturity. And back then it was all important, all important.
Let me tell you a story. You know this story, some of you. Second Samuel, chapter 10, David is the king. David hears that Nahash the Ammonite king has died, and Hanun his son has taken over for him. So David wants to send a congratulatory message to the Ammonites, and he sends a band of men to come and give congratulations to Hanun, and greetings of peace and condolences because Nahash has died, the father of Hanun. So it was part to comfort, and part to congratulate, just a goodwill mission.
When the band of David's men get close to the Ammonite camp, the princes of the Ammonites tell King Hanun, "See those Israelites? They're probably spies. They want to check out your house, see what you have, so they can come later on and steal the stuff." So they went out to that band of Israelite men and they cut their robes off midway, and they cut half their beards off. It was a shameful act, and they felt ashamed the Scripture says.
When they came back home, David went out to meet them, and David looked at them and said, "Oh, man, you do look pretty gnarly; stay in Jericho. Don't even come back home. Stay in Jericho, buddies. Let your beards grow back, and when they're grown back, then come back home. It'll take away your shame." He was honoring that.
So here is the shaving of the hair, the taking away, the stripping away of the maturity, if you will, the identity of the glory of a person. Perhaps, and I don't know, perhaps, it was to give that person the appearance of a newborn baby. This was, after all, a second birth, a second chance: "I'm being readmitted back into the community. I, I'm being born again. I have a second life."
But what's interesting is they don't do it once. They do it once, they're pronounced clean, sacrifice has been made, sprinkled with blood. They have to wait another seven days, shave again, more sacrifices, then they're admitted into the community.
You know, after we are pronounced clean by the Lord, you're a Christian. We still walk through this world, and our, our walk in this world gets our feet dirty. Remember Jesus washed the disciples feet, and Peter said, "Oh, no. You're not going to wash my feet." And Jesus said, "Peter, if I don't wash you, you have no part with me."
You've been cleansed; however, you and I as believers need to be continually cleansed by the confession of our sins, getting our accounts right with God on a daily basis. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness," 1 John 1:9. So even though we've been cleansed, born again, there's the need for that cleansing, that shaving to get right again.
This reminds me of a story I once heard. There was a small town where there was only one church. It was a Baptist church, and the, the pastor, Bill, was also the local barber. He did that just so he could have a second income so that he could live. And one morning a rich fellow in the county woke up and he was about to go in the mirror, and he was about to shave, and he, he looked in the mirror and he thought, "I don't need to do this, I have plenty of money. I can go down to Pastor Bill the local barber, and he can give me those hot, wet, straight razor shaves that feel so luxurious. I'm just going to go down and have him shave me."
So he went down to the barbershop, hopefully he would see Pastor Bill. But walked in and Bill wasn't there that day. He was on a hospital visit, because he was not just the barber but the local pastor. His wife, however, named Grace—it was Bill and Grace, they ran the barbershop, said, "Well, listen, I'm the one who gives the shaves anyway. He just gives the haircuts. So I'd be happy to do it."
He said, "Great. How much will it cost?" She said, "Twenty five dollars." He thought, "That's a little steep for a shave, but again, I have the money. No big deal." So Grace sat him down, put the towel on him, put the lather on, shaved him clean. He paid the money, went home.
The next day when he woke up, he went into the mirror thinking he needed to shave, but he felt his face and it felt as close and as clean as yesterday when he went to the barbershop for a shave. He thought, "That's interesting, that was worth twenty five dollars."
Went through the day. The next day he woke up, it was just as close as the day it was shaved. He went through the day. The next day he woke up; again, no growth. It's like, "Wow! This is unreal. I've never seen anything like this." So he went down to the barbershop to sort of get some answers, and this time Bill was there. And the man explained what had happened, and Bill smiled and said, "Oh, you've been shaved by grace. Once shaved, always shaved." [Laughter]
Well, that only works in a joke. That only works in a story. The truth is once you're saved, or "shaved" in this case, you don't need to get saved again, but you do need to get shaved again, because things cling to us. The feet need to be washed, the beard needs to be taken away, the growth needs to be removed and dealt with.
So it happened twice and then he was admitted into the community, eventually. Verse 11, "Then the priest who makes him clean shall present the man who is to be made clean, and those things, before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And the priest shall take one male lamb and offer it as a trespass offering, and the log of oil," or the three fifths of a pint of oil, "and wave them as a wave offering before the Lord.
"Then he shall kill the lamb in the place where he kills the sin offering and the burnt offering, in a holy place; for as the sin offering is the priest's, so is the trespass offering. It is most holy."
An interesting little side note, and that is verse 11 all the way through verse 20; just look at it in your Bible. Verse 11 all the way down to verse 20 in the Hebrew is one continuous sentence. One really long sentence. I would have gotten in trouble for that in my English class. Moses gets away with it. Why? Because he's describing one continuous ceremony for the cleansing of the leper. This happened, then that, and this, and that, then this, then that. That's how it's written in English, but it's all one sentence describing the cleansing ceremony.
I want you to look at verse 11. I love the wording of this: "Then the priest who makes him clean." I love that. I have a question for you? Who's the priest who makes us clean? Jesus Christ. We have a "High Priest" the writer of Hebrews says over, and over, and over again in chapter after chapter. A Great High Priest who presented his blood to God and presents us to God.
Now back to those two birds. Remember one was killed and one flew heavenward. I believe even there is symbolism of the death and resurrection of Christ. The first bird: death. He was killed, blood was shed, that's the death of Christ. Atonement was made. The second bird flew heavenward after being dipped in blood, flew upward with blood on him. The Bible says in Hebrews that Jesus Christ ascended with the blood of the covenant to present it in the heavenly tabernacle, according to the Book of Hebrews.
Now, we have the priest who goes out, and it's "the priest who makes him clean shall present the man," notice, "before the door of the tabernacle." Now, hold that thought. Let me read you a verse out of the New Testament, one, one verse, this is the Book of Jude, verse 24, "Now unto him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."
Even as the priest would present the leper at the door of the tabernacle, and then to the community, the door of the tabernacle, the house of the Lord, the meeting place people had with God over the sacrifices; so Jesus Christ who can keep us from stumbling even though we stumble, he can keep you from that continual bondage of sin, and even if you do stumble, he will present you to the Father at the heavenly tabernacle spotless, faultless.
And I love this, "with exceeding joy." Whose joy will it be? Will it be your joy? Wow! I'm going to be happy; I'm going to have a lot of joy. Certainly it's going to be my joy, but it's also going to be mixed with his joy. Right? What does Hebrews tell us? "For the joy that was set before [Jesus], he endured the cross." The joy that Jesus has of seeing me with him in heaven, and you with him, and the joy we have because we made it by his grace. That's exceeding joy. You put all of us together with Jesus, that's exceeding joy.
Verse 14, "The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot." Now, does that ring a bell? Takes us back a couple of chapters when the priests were anointed for service in the tabernacle, the same ritual.
Now we have a leper: blood on the ear, blood on the thumb, blood on the foot, or on the big toe of the right foot; what I hear, what I do, where I walk. All of that is to be brought under the blood and covered and cleansed. It must be.
"And the priest shall take some of the log," that small, almost pint, three fifths of a pint, "log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. Then the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord."
What does "before the Lord" mean? Probably in the area toward the holy place in the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, that tent structure in the middle. He sprinkles it seven times toward that direction. Blood is applied. Oil is applied. Blood is sprinkled on the person who has leprosy after the cleansing; oil is also sprinkled.
Now, we know something from the Scripture, that oil is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit, often a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit can only be applied where the blood has been applied. Cleansing must take place.
I often hear churches, Christians, Christian leaders talk an awful lot about "the anointing": "Do you have the anointing?" "That person has the anointing." The idea of anointing means to pour or to smear oil on somebody, originally, but you understand what they're talking about?
And they stress the need for you to be filled. You got to be "filled with the Spirit." Which is true, but rather than just seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit, some people first need to be emptied of sin. Blood, cleansing has to take place before the anointing can enter into that life, because God deals with the character of a person, not just the giftedness of a person.
A person can sometimes operate with incredible giftedness, as an evangelist or as a musician, and they've got the gift, but there's not the character that corresponds with it. And eventually it's going, it's going be, it's going to come forth, it's going to be known, and it will be a train wreck when it happens. So, yes, there needs to be a filling of the Spirit, be there needs to be an emptying of sin, and of self, and cleansing from sin. So, the oil is applied where the blood is applied.
Verse 17, "And the rest of the oil in his hand," the rest of the oil, watch this, "the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed," the oil now, "the thumb of the right hand, the big toe of the right foot, the blood of the trespass offering. The rest of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord."
So you get the idea. This is sort of the stage by stage, blow by blow, play by play cleansing of a person with leprosy, either general skin diseases or full blown leprosy.
Something I don't want you to miss: The leper, they take the oil, whatever is left, and they put it on his head; they pour it on his head. In the Scripture there are only four groups of people that are anointed with oil.
Number one: kings were anointed with oil. God said to Samuel the prophet, "Get a flask of oil and go find Saul, and pour oil on his head; thus anointing him for service." And then after Saul blew it, God said to Samuel, "I'm sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite; take your oil with you. You're going to anoint a king, a man after my own heart." So kings were anointed for service.
Number two: prophets were anointed. The Lord told Elijah to bring oil and anoint Elisha his successor, as well as the next prophet of Israel, a different man. So, kings, prophets, we've already seen the third group: priests.
Priests were anointed for service. There was a whole ritual for how they're anointed, and the symbolism of the Spirit of God coming upon the priest to perform that function. So you have kings, prophets, and priests.
Incidentally, Jesus fulfills the role of all three. He's the Prophet, Priest, and King, the Bible indicates that; he's the King of kings, the Lord of lords.
And as I mentioned before, the idea of anoint means to smear or rub or pour with oil, that's the idea of anoint. The Hebrew word for smearing with oil or anointing with oil is mashiach, "messiah." Mashiach, messiah. The Greek word Christos, our word "Christ" means the anointed one or the one that has been smeared with oil. So Jesus fulfills prophet, priest, and king.
Back to what I was saying, four groups of people anointed, prophets, priests, kings, and a fourth: lepers. Now, isn't that weird? It's the only other group that we find oil being poured upon. A leper? It's like, "No, you don't put them in the same category as a king." Ah, but God does. Isn't it just like the Lord to put lepers in the same category with a king?
By the way, you are "a royal priesthood," you are a "chosen generation," Peter said. You are royalty. You are sons and daughters of the king. You were once lepers; he cleansed you and he put you in the category with him. Beautiful.
Go down to verse 21, "If he is poor and cannot afford it, then he shall take one male lamb as a trespass offering." Before you had to have three; if you could afford it, you had to have three. Now, if you're poor, you still have to bring a lamb; one lamb is always essential. And, of course, you see the symbolism in our case: the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. One lamb was always essential.
"If he can't afford it, he has to take one male lamb as a trespass offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, one tenth of an ephah of fine flour," or two dry quarts, "mixed with oil as a grain offering, and a log," or three fifths of a pint of oil, "and two turtle doves or two young pigeons." They're easily available, readily available, cheap. "Such as he is able to afford: one shall be a sin offering, the other a sin offering. He shall bring them to the priest on the eighth day for his cleansing, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, before the Lord."
Now, I don't know, but I just have to read a little bit of emotion into this scene. I, I imagine that to wake up as a leper every day was a pretty hopeless way to wake up. I don't know if you have ever seen the movie, years ago, Groundhog's Day? That alarm clock goes off, that same Sonny and Cher song hits the radio; it's the same scenes played out every day. It's, "Oh, man, boring."
For a leper who has been separated, segregated, isolated, pushed away, not being able to be with his family, loathsome sores and disease, to wake up every day—just imagine the emptiness, the sadness, the hopelessness. But then once you're cleansed and you're healed after the ritual, and you've been pronounced clean, to wake up, "I'm restored. I'm refreshed. I'm renewed. "Wow!"
I, I told you the story before that when I was first saved I was trying to figure out an expression to describe how I felt. I didn't quite know how to put it into words. I didn't have a good explanation when people said, "You're different. What happened to you?" And then, and then I got the word, I got the phrase when a friend of mine came up to me and said, "Heitzig, have you ever been born again?"
He was trying to witness to me. And I said, "Stop right there. Where did you get that phrase?" "He goes, "What are you talking about?" "The phrase born again." He says, "Jesus said in John 3, 'You must be born again.' " I said, "That's in the Bible?" He goes, "Yeah."
And I thought, "That is the perfect description of what has happened to me. I've been born again." And I woke up every morning with that newness, that feeling of wow, like a leper must've felt.
Now, I'm going to take you down to verse 33, because the same rituals are applied, the same two birds thing happened, and the process is repeated. Down to verse 33, "The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: 'When you have come into the land of Canaan.' " Now, watch this: " 'When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give you as a possession, and I put the leprous plague in a house in the land of your possession, and he who owns the house comes and tells the priest, saying, "It seems to me that there's some plague in the house."
Okay, now notice first of all, he's talking about a house. At this point they're not living in houses; they're living in tents, because the leper was to be outside of his tent for seven days. So, they, they for forty years lived in tents. That was a long camping trip. No, thank you. I love to camp, but after a couple days—done. Want to go home. Love, love a house. Like the shower. Like the refrigerator.
So he's anticipating the day when they're going to leave the wilderness, come into the land, and have built homes. But something is going on in the house: "It seems to me there's some plague in the house." Commentators will tell you this idea of plague or leprosy in the house probably refers to some sort of mold, or mildew, or fungus that's among us. And they got to deal with it.
"He who owns the house," oh, I already said that. "It seems to me there's a plague," verse 36, "the priest shall command that they empty the house before the priest goes into it to look at the plague, all that is in the house may not be made unclean, and afterward the priest shall go in to look at the house. And he shall look at the plague; and if indeed the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish," yuck, "which appear to be deep in the wall." Not just on the surface. It's now deep into the plaster.
"The priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house for seven days." So it's quarantined like a person who had leprosy. "The priest shall come again on the seventh day and look; and indeed if the plague has spread on the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take away the stones, that they take away the stones in which is the plague, and they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall cause the house to be scraped inside, and all around, and the dust that they scrape off they shall pour it in an unclean place outside the city. And they shall take other stones put them in the place of those stones, and shall take other mortar and plaster the house."
So renovate a portion of the house. Why? Because they want to save the house. If they don't have to condemn the whole house and bulldoze it, not bulldoze it, but tear it down, then good, let's try the renovation. Let's try localized and see if that works.
Verse 44, "Then the priest shall come and look; and indeed if the plague has spread in the house, it is an active leprosy," the King James calls it a "fretting leprosy." I just like that. "It is unclean. And he shall break down the house, its stones, its timber, and all of the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them outside the city to an unclean place," or to the dump.
Now, the same two birds thing, with the hyssop, and the oil, and water, and blood is applied. Same thing as with leprosy. So I'm going to take you to the summary statement, verse 55. Verse 54, "This is the law for any leprous sore and scale, for the leprosy of a garment and of a house, for a swelling and a scab and a bright spot."
Notice this next verse, "To teach," that is, to instruct. I want you to get this lesson God is saying, "All of these things I'm imposing on you, and giving you these regulations are for a reason, it's to teach something." "To teach when it is unclean and when it is clean. This is the law of leprosy."
The book closes with an admonition for them to know, to discern, and then to teach what is clean on the body in terms of any kind of a disease, the clothes that one wears on the body, or the house that one lives in. "Make sure that you're clean personally. Make sure that what you wear and how you present yourself is clean, and make sure that every spot in your house is clean. That you would teach and know the difference between what is clean and what is unclean."
You personally and us corporately; we are called the temple of the Lord, the house of the Lord, if you will, the temple of the living God. The Spirit of God dwells in us. Now, what is the one activity that takes place in the temple? Worship, worship. So I'm the temple of the Holy Spirit, so are you. And especially when we gather together that's what we're called to be and to do. We're a temple, it's all about worship. We got to make sure that there's a cleanliness, there's a certain standard, a certain character, a certain integrity in our own lives.
In Ephesians, chapter 3, Paul has a prayer for the Ephesians. He says, "That Christ might dwell in your heart by faith." The word dwell means "to live." But really it means to settle down and make himself at home. So here's Paul, saying, "My, my desire for you, Ephesians, is that Jesus Christ would come into your lives and he would settle down and feel so at home in your life, in your manner of life, in what you do, in how you act, in what you think, in, in how you conduct yourself."
So the question is: Does Jesus feel at home in you? I didn't ask you, "Is he in you?" Of course, he's in you if you are a believer. Revelation, chapter 3, the Lord said, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will open the door, I will come in and have fellowship with him." So he's come inside. You answered the door. You invited him in. Salvation has taken place. He's in you.
But does he feel at home in you? Or are there areas in your house, in your life, in your heart, those little places that you just want to keep the Lord—"Look, Lord, this is just my little deal, okay? This is my little room. I've given you, like, many of most of the house. I've given you most of my life, but I have this little area, this little thing I like to do, I like to practice. It's just who I am. It's my temperament." Whatever excuse you have, "It's just, it’s just been a part of my family for years." So do you bring the Lord to that place? And if you did, would he feel at home there?
He comes in and he wants to redecorate your house, you, the pictures on the wall, what you see, the music in your entertainment center. Do you say, "Well, I love the Lord. I'm a Christian. But you know, I see these kinds of movies. I expose myself, but I can make a difference between what's clean and unclean." Really? But you're bringing the unclean in your house? Or the music in your house, in your ears? I, I preach this to myself as well as to you. We need to know the difference and be able to teach the difference between what is clean and what is unclean.
I recommend a booklet to you; it's a booklet I've read for years. It came out before I was born. It came out 1954. It is called My Heart—Christ's Home, by Robert Moyd Bunger—wait a minute, Robert Boyd Munger. Excuse me. I was a little lysdexic [sic] there. [Laughter] Robert Boyd Munger, My Heart—Christ's Home. We have just a couple of minutes; I'm going to share a few words as we close our study tonight. We're only going to be able to make it through chapter 15.
But let me read just a few parts of it: "I will never forget the evening I invited him [Jesus] into my heart. What an entrance he made. It was not a spectacular, emotional thing, but very real, occurring at the very center of my soul. He same came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire in the cold hearth and he banished the chill. He started music where there had been stillness and harmony where there has been discord. He filled the emptiness with his own loving fellowship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will. This, of course, is the first step in making the heart Christ's home.
"After Christ entered my heart, in the joy of that new found fellowship, I said to him, 'Lord, I want this heart of mine to be yours. I want you to settle down here and be fully at home. I want you to use it as your own. Let me show you around and point out some of the features of the home so that you may be more comfortable. I want you to enjoy our time together.' He was glad to come and seemed delighted to be given a place in my ordinary little heart.
"The first room we looked at together was the study; that is, the library. Let's call it the study of the mind. Now in my home this room of the mind is a small room with thick walls. But it's an important room. In a sense, it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books in the bookcase, and magazines on the table, and the pictures on the wall.
"As I followed his gaze, I became uncomfortable. Strangely enough, I had not felt bad about this room before, but now that he was there with me looking at these things, I was embarrassed. There were some books on the shelves that his eyes were too pure to look at. On the table there were a few magazines a Christian has no business reading. As for the pictures on the walls—the imaginations and thoughts of my mind—some of these were shameful.
"Red faced, I turned to him and say, 'Master, I, I know this room really needs to be cleaned up and made over. Will you help me shape it and change it the way it ought to be?' 'Certainly,' he replied. 'I'm glad to help you. I've come to handle things like this. First of all, take all that material you're reading and viewing which are not good, and true, and pure, and helpful, and throw them out.' "
Like taking the stones outside the city, take them to the dump.
"Now, put on the shelves books of the Bible, fill the library with Scripture and meditate on them day and night. As for the pictures on the walls, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but I have something that will help.' He gave me a full size portrait of himself. 'Hang this centrally,' he said, 'on the wall of the mind.' I did, and I have discovered through the years that when my thoughts are centered on Christ, the awareness of his presence, purity, and power causes wrong and impure thoughts to back away. So he helped me bring my thoughts under control, but the struggle remains."
Then he shows the Lord the dining room, then the living room where he had quiet time and open the Bible every morning and the workroom and the rec room. I'm skipping several pages because here's how I want to close.
"One day I found Jesus waiting for me at the front door. An arresting look was in his eye. As I entered he said to me, 'There's a particular odor in the house. Something must be dead around here. It's upstairs. I think it's the hall closet.' As soon as he said this I know what he was talking about. Indeed there was a small closet up there on the hall landing just a few feet square. In that closet, behind locked door, I had one or two little personal things I didn't want anybody to know about. Certainly I didn't want Christ to see them.
"They were dead and rotting things left over from the old life; not wicked, but not right and good to have in a Christian life. Yet, I loved them. I wanted them so much for myself. I was really afraid to admit they were there. Reluctantly, I went up the stairs with him, and as we mounted the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed at the door and said, 'It's in there! Some dead thing!' "
"It made me angry. That's the only way I can put it. I've given him access to the study, dining room, living room, workroom, rec room, bedroom, and now he's asking me about a little two by four closet. I said to myself, 'This is too much. I'm not going to give him the key.' "
" 'Well,' he responded, reading my thoughts, 'if you think I'm going to stay up here on the second floor with that smell, you're mistaken. I will take my bed out on the back porch or somewhere else, but I'm certainly not going to stay around that.' And I saw him start down the stairs. I had to give in. 'I'll give you the key,' I said sadly, 'but you'll have to open the closet and clean it out. I don't have the strength to do it.' 'I know,' he said. 'I know you haven't. Just give me the key. Just authorize me to handle that closet and I will.' "
I love the story. I love the meaning behind the story. What's in your life that you need to peel from the wall? Those stones need to be thrown out in the dump. They've been plaguing you too long. There's a rotting smell in the house. Get rid of it. "I can't." Then ask the Lord. Hang the picture of him centrally and make him the Lord, but give him the key to every part of your life. That's surrender.
These chapters teach us how intricately involved God wants to be in daily activities so that you and I can never compartmentalize a relationship with the Lord. "Well, here's my church life, here's my family life, and here's my fun life." God doesn't see it as a compartment.
God will not be the spoke on your wheel that you add to all the other spokes in your life. He wants to be the hub that everything rotates and revolves and is centered around.
And, Father we close with that. Not only are we at closing time, but we're at the end of the chapter, and the place where we now apply these ancient truths that have modern, relative principle. You've spoken to us Lord. You are dealing with us, Father, in the depths of our being.
You want us to know, and discern, and to teach the difference between what's clean and unclean. To know as believers what is right and what is wrong, and to live with a clear set of parameters in a very fuzzy world where values are fixed upon whatever the individual thinks, rather than what the Bible declares. Help us to know and help us to teach the difference. Moreover, help us to live the difference, in Jesus' name, amen.