The Law of the Leper

We would like to state at the outset of this article that we believe that both salvation and restoration are a divine work. We would like to look at restoration from Leviticus 14:1-20, where we find the details of the cleansing of a leper.

The subject of departure and restoration is large and varied. It can be individual, “He restoreth my soul” (Psa 23:3), it may include a number of believers together as in a family (Gen 13:3-4), or it may involve an entire assembly (2 Cor 7:11). Discipline has taken place, and restoration is the object in view. I do trust that we do believe in restoration, and to discipline a believer is not just to put them away, but to see them recovered!

Great care was first taken to see that the person truly had the disease. This can be seen from Leviticus 13, where leprosy is described in great detail. There was to be no hasty judgment, but when it became clear that leprosy was present, the unclean person must be put outside the camp. This would be no small matter to an Israelite, redeemed from Egypt and in the good of all the blessings and privileges of the nation. Leprosy is a picture of sin and when it manifests itself, however small, it must be dealt with in order to prevent its spread, defiling the whole company This is the clear teaching of “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor.5:6) where it is moral evil. The same principle is applied to doctrinal evil in Galatians 5:9, it must be purged.

The cleansing of lepers in Scripture was the result of divine power alone. Their case was beyond the power of mere man to help. This was true of Miriam and Naaman the Syrian in the OT. It was also true of the man who was “full of leprosy,” who felt the touch of the great Physician and was instantly cleansed. The ten lepers were also cleansed then they obeyed His word and in faith went to show themselves to the priest. This indicated that the true Messiah had come.

Personal Restoration Lev 14:1-7

In Leviticus 14:1-7, there are only two people in view, the priest, God’s representative and the man who needed cleansing. True restoration as always a personal matter between God and the individual. This is most important, for departure begins when I am out of touch with God.

In the beautiful type that follows, we have a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus in His death and resurrection. The two birds remind us of the One who humbled Himself and came down from the heavenly sphere. They were killed outside the camp, for it was here that the Lord, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate (Heb 13:12). They were to be “alive and clean”, and He was clean in a sense far beyond our reckoning. One of the birds was taken and killed in an earthen vessel over running water. The unclean man watched as the bird was killed, the blood squeezed from it and its body left in the dust. We are reminded of the Lord’s words, “Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death” (Psa 22:15). For restoration to be effective, it can only be accomplished by a fresh appreciation of what was done for us at Calvary.

The priest took the living bird, along with the cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop, and dipped them in the vessel with the blood and water, as if it were buried out of sight. With the hyssop, scarlet and cedar wood, he then sprinkled the blood upon the man. The living bird is released upon the open field and flew into the heavens. The first bird is typical of the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, the second bird typified His resurrection. The man saw the first bird still in death upon the earth, but his eyes would follow the second bird as it rose up into the heavens, its feathers stained with the blood of the dead bird. We can rejoice in this great truth that Christ ascended up far above all heavens. The man is pronounced clean.

Private Restoration Lev 14:8

In verse 8, we have the cleansed man washing his clothes, shaving and coming into the camp, but he must dwell outside his tent seven days. The tent is his home, he is about to enter into a right relationship with his family After being a leper and for so long a time separated from them, what a joyous experience to feel the embrace of his loved ones again. The leper in Matthew 8 felt the touch of the Saviour’s hand, not only dispelling his disease, but bringing him into communion with the Lord. When we are right with God, we will be restored to the family circle.

Public Restoration Lev 14:9-20

On the seventh day after his cleansing, he is to shave all over wash his flesh and his clothes and be clean. On the eighth day, speaking of a new beginning, he comes to the door of the tabernacle to be presented to the congregation.

He brings three lambs, fine flow and oil. The lambs are for his trespass, sin and burnt offering. The most significant sacrifice is the trespass offering. With a log of oil the offering is waved before the Lord and the priest kills the trespass offering “in the holy place”, because even the trespass offering is said to be “most holy” (v 13).

In the ceremony that follows, the blood of the trespass offering is applied to the right ear, right thumb and the great toe of the right foot. Oil poured from the log is then sprinkled seven times before the Lord and from the priest’s hand the oil is applied where the blood had been applied, while the rest of the oil is poured upon his head. Then the sin offering and burnt offering are killed and offered on the altar for the man.

The application of the blood and the oil are typical of the ear opened, the hands active and the feet obedient to God. As a cleansed and typically sanctified man, he is restored to the congregation.

With the passing of time, his hair would grow again and he would look no different from any man in the camp. Are we prepared to let the hair grow on a restored person? or do we continue to look about him and speak of him as a former leper? Great care should be taken not to shave the cleansed man over and over, but to restore him to the full fellowship of the assembly Perhaps the public part of restoration is the most difficult, and in view of this, great care should be taken to allow a restored person to know that they may enjoy the fellowship again.