Monday, 10 February 2014

(42) February 11: Leviticus 13 & Matthew 26:20-54

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the conditions for a person or fabric to be deemed unclean.

To ponder:
Every part of the law reflects God’s wisdom. Just as there may have been health benefits in the food laws, so there are in the laws about skin diseases and fabrics. Potential infection is contained. Nevertheless, we should not miss the fact that the primary purpose of these laws is to keep what is unclean, and so unacceptable to God, apart from what is holy.
            Exclusion from the camp was necessary even during diagnosis. The general rule was that skin problems that lasted more than a week or two and were more than skin deep were labelled infectious and unclean. Likewise, where raw flesh was exposed or hair discoloured. Fabric was burned if a mark could not be removed and was over a week old.
            The person with a skin disease was to display the signs of mourning (13v45-46), cover their mouth, warn people off with the cry “unclean, unclean” and live alone outside the camp (or later, outside villages, towns etc). The mourning no doubt signified the marks of death. It would have been a terrible existence. However we should remember it was a necessary act of protection for the wider community.
            We should remember too that uncleanness does not denote sinfulness. Despite how they might have been treated, such people were not greater sinners than others in Israel. Indeed, Jesus stressed it was the heart that makes a man unclean (Mk 7v18-20). And here, these regulations are a marked analogy with those who will one day be excluded from God’s kingdom. Hell exists because those who are truly unclean because of their sin just cannot be permitted in heaven. They cannot come close to the holy.
            When Jesus welcomed, touched and healed those with leprosy he was making a profound point. Their exclusion from the worshipping community of Israel was necessary, but it didn’t mean they were excluded from the ultimate worshipping community. Rather, through Jesus, God is making all who come to him clean in every way and so fit for his eternal kingdom. To those who assumed leprosy implied sin, it also taught that sinners are welcome too. Indeed, in Christ the very consequences of the fall are overcome.
Praying it home:
Praise God that he accepts all who come to him through Christ. Pray for that the gospel would come to those excluded from society today – whether due to skin disease in some countries, disability, AIDS or whatever.

Thinking further:
None today.

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