Law of the Leper Lev. 13-14" /> Law of the Leper Lev. 13-14" /> Law of the Leper Lev. 13-14" />

The Law of the Leper  Leviticus 13, 14.
G C Willis.  (via Stem Publishing/Bible Truth Publishers)

[This, and other books of G Willis (also in Chinese) with illustrations, may be obtained from Bible Truth Publishers and other Bible book distributors.]

  • Go . . . As ye go, preach, . . . Cleanse the lepers. Matthew 10:6,7,8.
  • Go and show . . . the lepers are cleansed. Matthew 11:4,5.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the LORD JESUS, and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11.


The following pages were prepared at the suggestion of a Chinese brother, for publication in Chinese. They are now sent forth in English with the hope that they may be a help to some who are not at home in Chinese writings, but who wish to know what the Chinese edition contains. It is hoped also that they may be for the edification of the church of God at large.

An effort has been made to make this beautiful picture clear to those who have not had the privilege of knowing the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and so may not be so much at home in them as those should be who have been brought up in Christian lands. To some this will make the present exposition seem unduly verbose, and filled with needless repetition. A somewhat peculiar style may also be noticed. The article has, however, been left unchanged in spite of these defects, and we would ask our English readers to bear in mind that these pages were written for their Chinese brethren, and to have patience with what may not appeal to themselves.

Perhaps a word should be added with regard to the illustrations. [These are omitted from this on-line edition.] They have been prepared by Mr. Tang Chin Tsang, with suggestions from the author, who gladly acknowledges that he has learned much from them and their preparation. It is hoped that they may not be despised by some who might regard them as only suited for a child's picture book. It is scarcely to be hoped that they are correct in every detail, but it is hoped that they may convey suggestions and ideas that otherwise might be passed over. The importance of the unnamed friend who does so much for the leper would probably have been missed, had we not seen him appear so often in the pictures.   G.C.W.

Part 1 The Leper and His Plague


The Plague of Leprosy

Most of our readers know that the Bible, especially the Old Testament, is full of most wonderful pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of those things which concern Him. In the New Testament these pictures are spoken of as "shadows." (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5.) "The law having a shadow of good things to come." Hebrews 10:1. Some of these shadows are so plain, and in such wonderful detail, that as we gaze upon them, we are amazed at their clearness and beauty.

Of all these beautiful shadows, few, if any, are more beautiful, or shown out in greater detail and fullness than the "Law of the Leper."

Leprosy is the most hateful and loathsome of all diseases. It is a disease which not only ends in death, but more than any other disease is a picture of death working in life, for the parts of the body affected really die, while the man lives on.

The beginning of leprosy is like the beginning of sin. It is small and insidious, and at first not alarming. We see in Leviticus 13:2 that sometimes it even looks "bright" — just as sin at the beginning does not frighten us; and, instead, often appears bright and attractive — but in reality death is there. The wages of sin is death, just as the certain end of leprosy is also death.

Leprosy may affect almost any part of the body. It was not what the leper did that made him unclean, but what he was. We must each say, "I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Psalm 51:5. We were born unclean. It is what we are, as well as what we do, that makes us unclean. Therefore the leper had to go to the priest (not to the doctor) to make him clean. Note, it was not only a question of being healed, but cleansed. So we may see leprosy is a most fitting picture of sin.

And as sin, and its cleansing, is the theme of the Bible from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation, so in Leviticus 13 and 14 we will find the same theme manifested with such power and skill that we are compelled to bow in worship, and confess that none but the hand of God could draw such a picture and none but the love of God could devise such a means of cleansing. Not only is leprosy a picture of sin, but we will find that these two chapters are full of other, most wonderful pictures, if only we have eyes to see them.

As we read these chapters together, we will seek, with God's help, to point out some of the beautiful details in this picture of sin and its cleansing.

First let us notice and always remember that GOD — not man — gave us this wonderful picture.

The introduction to the whole subject is in chapter 13, verse 1: "And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying." Let us, as we write, or read, remember we are considering the very words of the true and living God.

In chapter 13, verse 2, we read, "When 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." "A rising, a scab, or bright spot." How much these words express! "A rising." Does this not tell us of pride that puffs up every one of us? Pride that causes contention? Pride that is the root and core of so very many sins and evils? Probably not one of us is free from these hateful risings, and often those who believe themselves to be most humble are in reality proud of their humility.

The Word says, "Knowledge puffeth up" (1 Corinthians 8:1), and how striking to see that the "knowledge" spoken of here is a knowledge of the Word and ways of God. It surely should make us stop and consider, when we realize that even a knowledge of the Bible may puff us up, and bring out one of those "risings" that hides leprosy. Someone has said that there is Pride of race, Pride of place, Pride of face, but the worst pride of all is Pride of grace. And so there may be many kinds of risings, but certainly one of the worst, and one of the commonest, is the rising that is puffed up through our knowledge of God's own Word. The Pharisee in Luke 18:11 had a very bad rising of this sort. Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar are others who were afflicted with a "rising," but of another kind, and our readers can doubtless think of many others who are troubled with the same kind of leprosy, possibly themselves included.

"A scab." This covers up some old wound or sore. How many of us are troubled with scabs! Somebody has treated us badly in the past and it still sticks in our hearts. We have never really forgiven them, though we have tried to cover up the old sore. It is like the root of bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), hidden away in the ground, covered up, but liable to spring up at any time and "defile many," just as the scab is liable to hide leprosy at any time, and also defile many. Oh, friends, do be careful about these scabs; they are most dangerous things. King Saul is an example of a man terribly ill with "scabs."

"A bright spot." We read in Hebrews 11:25 of "the pleasures of sin." Sin does have its pleasures. Often sin looks very bright. We read in Hebrews 3:13 of "the deceitfulness of sin," and that is always true. Sin is deceitful. Satan would turn our eyes from the danger of sin, and would tell us how very profitable, how very bright it is. Do you remember how the first sin entered this world? Satan presented it to the woman as a "bright spot." She saw the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She saw it was "good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise." Genesis 3:6. It all looked so bright, that she took the fruit and did eat.

Satan has been busy preparing "bright spots" ever since that day, and they are intended by him to end up in leprosy. The brightest spots on the streets of Shanghai at night are generally the most sinful. They are dens of wickedness, saturated with leprosy. Oh, my friends, beware of the "bright spots" down here. There is a far brighter spot, the bright home of the Savior, awaiting His own at the end of the way, and they can well do without the bright spots down here. They will surely break out into leprosy.

Please notice especially those words, "He shall be brought unto Aaron the priest." These are very important words and we find almost the same words in Leviticus 14:2 when it was a question of cleansing. No matter whether it is a question of deciding whether a man has leprosy or not, or whether a man is ready to be cleansed from his leprosy or not, the whole matter depended on the priest. The man and his friends had nothing to say about it. The man who had a rising, a scab or a bright spot might say, "I do not consider these things of any importance. In my opinion, and in the opinion of all the great scientists, these things do not matter." Friend, the first thing this man must learn is that his own opinion and the opinion of every other living man, except the priest, is of absolutely no value or importance, and is even of no interest whatever. The whole question is, "What does the priest say?"

Perhaps he was not willing to go to the priest. Perhaps he thought he could decide himself about the rising, the scab or the bright spot; perhaps he thought the small spot on his body would soon get better. But the Word of God stands sure, "He shall be brought unto the priest." The Word does not even say, He himself shall go to the priest — but, "He shall be brought unto the priest."

Therefore those words, "He shall be brought unto Aaron the priest," are most important words. Dear reader, have you ever been brought unto the Lord Jesus Christ, the great High Priest? Have you ever submitted your life to the gaze of His eyes, which are "as a flame of fire?" Revelation 1:14. There may be things in your life which you know are not quite right: What about them? Has the Priest "looked" at them? Considered them? You know He must pronounce them "unclean." Perhaps your friends have brought you by prayer many times to the Lord Jesus: but if you have never been brought to that Priest before, God grant that this little book will bring you to Him this day. Perhaps you say, "Oh, those things are of no consequence. It is only a rising, a swelling." But is it a swelling of pride? Is sin at the root of the trouble? The priest alone can decide this. Go to Him, friend, go quickly, while there is time and hope — far better for you to know the truth now, than to drop into hell without even knowing you are on your way there.

You will not find the Priest impatient or cruel. You will find One who is filled with love and sympathy. He will look on those risings or swellings — that scab which marks some old trouble, maybe some old quarrel, or bad feeling; those bright spots which you rather like, but which tell of something wrong within, perhaps some self-indulgence which you love. He will not look hurriedly. His eye will never mistake, and if there is any question He will shut up the one with these complaints for seven days — or even for still another seven days if need be. (See vv. 4-7.)

But has not our Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, already shut up man, already given man every chance to clear himself of the charge of being a leper? Surely He has. He tried Adam in the garden of Eden, in innocency; but soon the leprosy appeared, sin came in. He tried man before the flood with conscience as his guide, and when God "looked" on him, He found such terrible leprosy that all were destroyed but eight persons. There was no other way for such a disease. He tried Noah and his sons, but again sin appeared. Then He took Abraham and his descendants, shut him up from other nations, but still out came the leprosy. Then He gave them the law, but that did not help.

Finally He sent His own dear Son, and man murdered Him. Now what does God say? The trial is over. No need to shut man up any longer. Read Romans 3. Look at verse 10: "There is none righteous, no, not one." Verse 12: "There is none that doeth good, no, not one." Verses 22 and 23: "There is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." And see also Romans 11:32 and Galatians 3:22. Every mouth has been stopped (Romans 3:19), so that even you can have not one word to say. The Priest has already pronounced you, and every man, to be unclean.

The Priest is looking on you, friend, and that is what He says. He pronounces you a sinner. He says you are not righteous. He tells you that you do not do good. Your mouth is closed. The best thing you can do is to "cover" it, and cry "Unclean! Unclean!" You have been brought to the Priest now. He has looked on you. He sees that the plague in the skin of your flesh is leprosy. He sees the hair is turned white. What does that mean? It means there is the sign of decay and death. He tells you that already decay is in your blood; that to His eye there are already in you the marks of death, with judgment to follow, and then "the second death." Revelation 20:14.

Friend, the plague is deeper than the skin. (Leviticus 13:3.) It is not only a surface trouble with you. No, the real trouble is far deeper. It is in our heart, and the Priest pronounces it "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Jeremiah 17:9. And He adds, "Who can know it? I the Lord search the heart." v.10. He knows well you do not know your own heart. Only the Lord knows how bad you really are. He knows well that you are not willing to believe that your case is so desperate! He knows well that you are not able to know that your leprosy is so terribly bad that it is "incurable." (See Jeremiah 17:9 J.N.D. Trans.) But this is the truth. This is your condition.

We read in the Bible that God looks on this world and the men in it. In Genesis 1:31, we read, "God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good." This described man before sin appeared, but soon, alas, sin came in, and we read, "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. . . . And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt." Genesis 6:5,12. And again we read, "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Psalm 14:2-3. Plainly we may see our Priest has looked, and has seen that every man in this world has the disease of leprosy.

The priest has looked on you and pronounced you unclean. Reader, that Priest can never make a mistake. That Priest loves you far too well to say such terrible words if there was any way out of it. A few years ago I had dinner with a doctor. He was an authority on leprosy. He told me that a day or two before a young man came to his office, and showed him a sore on his hand that would not heal. The doctor questioned him, examined the hand, and found that the man had leprosy. He was young, and apparently in good health. He had a wife and young children. He had not the slightest suspicion that he had leprosy, and as the doctor told me the story, and of how he had to pronounce that young man unclean, the tears rolled down his cheeks with grief for that poor, unclean man. And our great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, has wept over those who are unclean but unwilling to come to Him for cleansing.

Reader, the Priest must pronounce you unclean, because you are unclean. You may not have a suspicion that you are lost and ruined and unclean and on your way to hell, but this is truly your state and condition unless that same Priest has already cleansed you.

You say, perhaps, "But I do not feel unclean." That has nothing to do with it. There is a story that many years ago M. Damien went to labor among the lepers in Molokai, of the Hawaiian Islands. He worked there in good health for many years. Then one evening while he was washing his feet, some hot water dropped on his toes; it did not hurt at all, but the water was so hot that it blistered the skin. Instantly he knew that he had leprosy, for one of the early symptoms of leprosy is that the diseased part loses the sense of feeling. Just so, you, poor sinner, have lost your sense of feeling, or you, too, would immediately know that you undoubtedly have that awful disease. You can stick a needle in the part affected by leprosy, but the man does not feel it. So the man going on in sin no longer feels the pricks of conscience and does not know he is a sinner. The Priest, the Lord Jesus, has pronounced you unclean. He says of you, "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10) — not even you. The leper might reply, "But I feel in excellent health; I never felt better in my life." "I am sorry," the priest replies, "but it is my sad duty to pronounce you unclean." The man's feelings and opinions had nothing to do with the case; all rested on the word of the priest. "The priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean." v.3. That ended the matter. That settled the case. The man knew he was unclean, because the priest said so, not because he felt unclean, or thought he was unclean, or his friends had that opinion. All rested on the word of the priest.

When it was decided to isolate the lepers in the Hawaiian Islands to a rugged triangular piece of land known as Kalawao, on the Island of Molokai (where M. Damien labored), "then it was resolved to deport every person, young or old, rich or poor, prince or commoner in whom the slightest taint of leprosy could be found. The law was carried into effect with the utmost rigor. All over the islands lepers and those suspected of having leprosy were hunted out by the police, dragged away from their homes, and if certified by a doctor as touched by the disease, at once shipped off to the leper settlement as if to a state prison. Children were torn from their parents and parents from their children. Husbands and wives were separated for ever. In no case was any respect of persons shown, and a near relative of the Hawaiian Queen was among the first to be seized and transported." (Missionary Heroes in Oceana.) This is just what SIN does to us. Husbands and wives, parents and children, nearest and dearest of friends, must part forever, if sin is not cleansed.

All Covered

Let us now go down to verses 12 and 13. There we read a most extraordinary statement. "If a leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot, wheresoever the priest looketh; then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: it is all turned white: he is clean."

Strange! Strange!! Strange!!! When a few months or years before he was brought to the priest with only one tiny rising, scab or bright spot, the priest pronounced him unclean, and he had to go outside the camp and dwell alone. Now he is all covered, and what says the priest? "You are clean!" Strange indeed! What can the meaning be of this?

It tells us of a poor sinner, who has not one word of good to say about himself. We may see many lepers who were all covered with leprosy in the Bible, and all were cleansed. Look at Peter in Luke 5. He finds out for the first time he is covered with leprosy. Hear him: "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man" (or, "a man full of sin"). Luke 5:8. If you have a cup full of water, you have no room for anything else in it. If you have a man full of sin, you have no room for any good in him. Such was the apostle Peter. Look further in the same chapter, verse 12: "It came to pass, when He was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy; who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And He put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean." Luke 5:12-13. Never was a man full of sin or full of leprosy who need wait longer to be cleansed. The Priest, our Savior, is just waiting for such men. Look at the thief on the cross: "We receive the due reward of our deeds." Luke 23:41. And that day he was in paradise with his Savior and Lord. See the prodigal son in Luke 15:21 — "I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight," and instantly the father's arms were round his neck and he "covered him with kisses." Luke 15:20 J.N.D. Trans. Look at the publican in Luke 18:13 — "God be merciful to me a sinner," and he went home justified. Look at Paul: "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing." Romans 7:18. Look at Job: "I am vile; what shall I answer Thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth." Job 40:4. And again: "I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Job 42:6. But, justified at once. See, again, Isaiah: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips." Isaiah 6:5. Instantly: "Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged." Isaiah 6:7.

Yes, friend, all these men got cleansing in the same way. They all found out that not only were they lepers, but that they were full of leprosy, from the top of their heads to the sole of their feet. Not one of these men will be in heaven by his own good works. They all stand up and witness that "there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Romans 3:12. Dear reader, where Peter and Paul and Job and Isaiah and every other saint in glory has failed, you cannot succeed. They were each one lost and ruined and on the way to hell, and they all owned it and took their place as poor lost ruined sinners, and in that place alone did they obtain pardon and cleansing. In that state alone can you also obtain pardon and cleansing.

We read in Job 33:27-28 (J.N.D. Trans.): "He will sing before men, and say, I have sinned, and perverted what was right, and it hath not been requited to me; He hath delivered my soul from going into the pit, and my life shall see the light." There will not be one person in heaven who will sing, "I have never sinned, and so I have gotten here myself." The song up there tells of our hopeless ruin — and of the grace of God.

Come then! Come now! Come just as you are to that gracious Priest. He is waiting. He says, "Come now, let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Isaiah 1:18 J.N.D. Trans. He knows you are full of leprosy — full of sin — but will you believe His testimony of yourself? Will you take that place of a lost sinner, full of sin? If so, cleansing, pardon, peace and blessing are yours.

But one word more before we turn from these verses. We read, "But when raw flesh appeareth in him, he shall be unclean. And the priest shall see the raw flesh, and pronounce him to be unclean: for the raw flesh is unclean: it is a leprosy." vv. 14-15. This tells us of the man who is willing to go on in sin, even though he owns himself to be a sinner. He is all covered with leprosy, but there is raw flesh, sin, actively working in him. It is very remarkable that although there are many men in Scripture who take the place of saying, "I have sinned," yet not all of them obtain cleansing. David (2 Samuel 12:13), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 9:33), Job (Job 40:4; 42:6), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5; 64:6), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 14:7,20), Daniel (Daniel 9:5), Micah (Micah 7:9), the prodigal son (Luke 15:21), and the thief on the cross (Luke 23:41): These all took the place of sinners and all got cleansing or blessing. But look at Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27; 10:16), Balaam (Numbers 22:34), Achan (Joshua 7:20), Saul (1 Samuel 15:24; 26:21), Shimei (2 Samuel 19:20), and Judas (Matthew 27:4): These all confess they have sinned, yet they perish. These all admit the leprosy, but they have the raw flesh appearing. There was no hatred of the sin. There was no desire to turn from it and give it up. There was no true repentance. But the active evil was still working in their flesh.

When we know the wonderful grace of God that takes me, a poor sinner full of sin, and in that terrible condition cleanses and pardons me, and brings me to God — this grace makes me long to be holy, and long that sin shall not have dominion over me. (See Romans 6:14.) If I allow active sin to go on working in me unchecked, it is a proof that I do not know the grace of God that cleanses and pardons. John writes, "He that practices sin is of the devil." 1 John 3:8 J.N.D. Trans.

This does not mean that after we are saved we will never sin again. The apostle John plainly writes of people who say this, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." 1 John 1:8. Note that we do not deceive God, or other people, but only ourselves.

Nor does this verse in Leviticus mean that if we sin, it is a proof that we never were saved. How often the devil has tormented young Christians in this way. A sheep may fall into the ditch and get dirty, but that does not mean it is not a sheep, and it is unhappy till it gets out and is clean once more. A pig delights in the dirt and filth of the ditch. The one "practices" dirt, the other does not but hates it. A sow that is washed will always return to its wallowing in the mire. (See 2 Peter 2:22.) But it has always been a sow — it never became a sheep.

The one whom the Lord Jesus cleanses is changed, not only on the outside, but also on the inside, when he is born again. The Lord gives him a clean heart, a new nature that hates and loathes and abhors sin, and is never happy if the one in whom that nature dwells has fallen into sin, until he is restored.

"Utterly Unclean"

We must now notice verses 42-44. These are most solemn, and should have a voice to many in our day. "And if there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead. Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head, or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh; he is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague is in his head." Lev. 13:42-44

The forehead is a common place for leprosy to show itself. How many there are today who have the plague of leprosy in their heads, yet have not the least idea that they are "utterly unclean." They have their own ideas. They reason things out with their own mind. They trust to their own heads, instead of to the Word of God. Pride, and especially pride of intellect, is the root of the trouble when the leprosy is in the head. How many "men of science," as they call themselves, are in reality men with leprosy in their heads. We may see a terrible example of this in Uzziah whose pride made him take the place that belonged alone to the priests. "His heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense. . . . The leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar. And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead." 2 Chronicles 26:16,19-20.

"Unclean! Unclean!"

"And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be." vv. 45-46.

These sad verses give us a vivid picture of the sinner. It might be that formerly he was able to use his clothes to cover the spots of leprosy. But now his clothes must be rent. There is no way now to cover his defilement. "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." Hebrews 4:13. Adam tried to cover himself with fig leaves, but he failed, and when God came down into the garden he had to own, "I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." Genesis 3:10.

Poor sinner, your clothes are rent to the eyes of God; He sees you naked. Every spot of sin and defilement is clear and plain to Him. You cannot cover it. Where Adam failed, you have no hope to succeed, and remember, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Proverbs 28:13.

"And his head bare." There is nothing to cover your guilty head. Between you and high heaven there is nothing to shelter you. All the wrath of a sin-hating God rests on your bare, unsheltered head. "The wrath of God abideth on him." John 3:36. The priest uncovers the head of the unfaithful wife in Numbers 5:18. There is nothing under which she may hide.

We read of some who can say, "Thou hast covered my head" (Psalm 140:7), but the poor leper must take off any covering he may have had. "His head bare" tells forth one of the most awful and one of the most solemn truths about the defiled sinner that it is possible for the mind of man to comprehend.

Dear reader, is your head covered? Or does the eye of God see nothing but uncleanness and defilement — with nothing under which you can hide?

"And he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean." Though his head must be bare, his mouth must be covered. The very breath of the leper can only bring defilement. There is not a suggestion that by doing his best he may someday be fit for the presence of a holy God. No, he is not even fit for company with his fellow men who are not likewise defiled. His only cry is a sad wail of warning, "Unclean! Unclean!" What folly for any poor sinner to suggest that he can cleanse himself when he is in such an awful condition that every breath he takes is defiled and defiling.

The rest of the chapter speaks of leprosy in a garment or a skin. If the Lord will, we may look at these verses later on, but now we will follow the path of the poor defiled leper, and see God's way of cleansing — when man is hopeless and helpless, when he has no way to cleanse himself.

Part 2 The Leper Cleansed

God's Way of Cleansing

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself tells us that there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. See Luke 4:27.

Although none of these lepers in Israel in the days of Eliseus were cleansed, yet all this time there was a long chapter in the Old Testament giving minute instructions as to exactly the way, and the only way, that leprosy might be cleansed.

Surely it is the same in our day. There are hundreds of millions of sinners in our time, and any of them, or all of them, might be cleansed, if they were but willing to come and be cleansed in God's way.

God introduces the way of cleansing with almost the same words that He used about the way for a man to know he had leprosy. "The Lord spake unto Moses, saying." Leviticus 14:1. These words that tell of the way of cleansing are the very words of the living God, and are true and faithful. Let us listen to them with all our hearts.

"This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest." Leviticus 14:2.

Do you remember the day when that swelling, rising or bright spot first appeared, and you were brought to the Priest? Do you remember how unwilling you were to go to Him? Do you remember His sad decision, "You are unclean?" Do you remember the time when first you found out you were a sinner? Perhaps you thought like many, "I am not as bad as a lot of others," but still you knew that the hidden plague that ends in death was there.

But now things have gotten worse. The disease has spread. In those old days you could cover it up with your clothes — but even so you had to go outside the camp, your clothes rent, your head bare, and cry, "Unclean! Unclean!" But still the disease spreads. It covers your face and head, your body, legs and feet — all, all is covered! All is turned white! You are in a sad way indeed! There is not a spot where you could put the point of a pin without leprosy. Truly you are "full of leprosy."

What happens now? Perhaps a friend meets you outside the camp, sad and weary and discouraged, yes, hopeless. Your friend's eye looks you over: he says, "Come, I will take you to the priest. You are all covered with leprosy. You may be made clean." You reply, "No, there is no hope for me; I am worse than I have ever been. There is not a leper outside the camp as bad as I am. See, I am all covered." "Yes, I see," replies your friend, "and that is the very reason you are now ready to be cleansed. Come away to the priest at once."

Perhaps you fear that piercing eye that once before has found your spot of leprosy, and banished you outside the camp. Perhaps this fear would keep you away from the priest, but your friend insists, and now he brings you to him. His heart is glad for he knows what is in store for you. Perhaps your heart is filled with shame and fear and dread, as you go along that road to meet the priest.

Have you, dear Christian reader, any unsaved friends or relatives? Have you brought them to the Priest? Have you brought them to Him in prayer? Or have you brought them to hear the gospel preached as you have had opportunity? These are blessed privileges of which you and I are all too slow to avail ourselves. May the Lord give us each one to be more faithful towards our unsaved friends, who in reality are just poor, unclean lepers, far off, outside the camp.

We have a lovely record in John 1:41-42 of a man who did this very thing. He found the Lord — or the Lord found him — and what does he do? "He first findeth his own brother Simon." I love that little word "first." It was already long past the "tenth hour:" the day was done: but Andrew did not stop for food or drink or rest, or anything else, but away to hunt for "his own brother." And he found him, and what did he do with him? "He brought him to Jesus." We never hear much of Andrew, but "his own brother" was Simon Peter, and what a blessing Andrew's brother has been to every one of us! What a debt we all owe to Andrew for that evening's work!

And though it is true we do not hear much about Andrew, what we do hear is very, very lovely. This seems to have been a special line of work with Andrew. The next time we see him is in John 6:8, and there he is bringing "a lad" to the Lord Jesus. Again we find him at the same work in John 12:22, where he is bringing the Greeks to Jesus. Happy work! May the Lord teach every one of us to bring others, one by one, to Himself. It was not until we drew the pictures of the leper that we even realized that the friend who brought the leper to the priest was of so much importance. May we be more like him, unnamed, almost unmentioned, and yet the link in the chain without which the leper could not have been cleansed.

We have seen the leper and his friend hurrying along the road to seek the priest. But, stop! The poor leper cannot enter the camp. He is defiled and unclean. How can he meet that priest? That priest's home is the house of God, the very center of the camp. But the Priest Himself has devised a way, and so we read in verse 3, "The priest shall go forth out of the camp." The great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, went forth out of His glory more than 1900 years ago. He came down to this sad wicked world, and even down here, "He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull." John 19:17. Yes, the Priest has already gone forth without the gate. (Hebrews 13:12.) He sees you, poor defiled sinner, and He has already gone where you are. (Luke 10:33.) He is waiting to cleanse you. "Wilt thou be made whole?" John 5:6. That is the question now. Oh, poor sinner, reply immediately, "With all my heart, I am willing to be made whole."

"And the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in the leper." Leviticus 14:3. Those eyes of flame search you once again. Before they searched you to find if there was one spot of leprosy, and the priest had to pronounce you unclean. Now they search you to see if there is one spot without leprosy, and if you truly are "all covered," the priest may pronounce you clean. Then he looked to see if you were entirely clean of this awful plague; now he looks to see if you are entirely covered by it. In the same way, our Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, searches the sinner who comes to Him. Is he truly coming as a poor, lost, ruined, guilty sinner? Has he no good word to say for himself? Is he full of sin? The Priest shall look, and if the sinner is in this condition, then he may be made clean. He is a "sinner that repenteth," and over him there is joy in the presence of the angels of God. (Luke 15:10.)

But if there is still a little whole flesh without the plague — if the leper can still turn to his other leper friends, and say, "I am better than you! I have not so much leprosy on me as you have!"; if he still has some goodness of his own in which he can glory — then back to his old place outside the camp he must go. He is not ready for cleansing. The apostle Paul could say, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." Galatians 6:14.

Two Birds, Alive and Clean

But let us follow the leper who is truly all covered with leprosy. The priest looks — not to see if the leper is cleansed. but to see if he is healed. And now he does not find a spot anywhere without the plague, and joy, oh joy, now he can be made clean.

Now, dear reader, please note particularly what the leper must do to be cleansed. Somebody else brought him to the priest. The priest goes out of the camp, he looks and decides if the leper is in a condition to be cleansed. Now, listen! The priest speaks; he commands to take for him that is to be cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. (v.4.) The leper was far too poor and helpless to obtain those birds and other things for himself; nor does the priest tell him to get them. No, he tells somebody else to provide those two birds alive and clean. He tells somebody else, not the leper, to get the other things needed for his cleansing.

It reminds us of Isaac's question: "Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" And we think of Abraham's answer: "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." Genesis 22:7-8. God must always provide the offering. We poor sinners must die in our sins, if we have to go in search of a suitable sacrifice, for we could never, never find one. But God's Word says, "The priest shall command to take for him."

God has provided those two birds alive and clean. Both together make one lovely picture of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. "And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running [or, living] water." v.5. Again the poor leper stands by while another not only provides the offering, but another kills it. Look, a moment, at that picture. An earthen vessel; inside that earthen vessel, a pure spotless bird. The heavens are the home of the bird — the heavens are its native air — but it comes down and enters into a vessel of earth. It leaves its native air, it leaves its home above, for this poor sad earth. And in that earthen vessel it is killed. What a picture of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He leaves His home in the heavens, He leaves His throne above, He comes down to this sad world and takes a body of earth. For truly our bodies are but "earthen vessels." You know "Adam" means "earthy" or "red earth." So our Lord took an earthy body. How we love to watch that heavenly Man walking this world in His body of earth! And in that same body He was killed. Wicked men nailed that body to the cross, and His precious blood was poured out.

But the bird was killed in an earthen vessel over running, or living, water. Running water has life and power in it. What amazing power there is in the running water at Niagara Falls! Water in the Bible very often speaks of the Word of God. (See Psalm 119:9; Ephesians 5:26.) And the running, or living, water tells us of the living Word of God, applied by the Spirit of God to our hearts. That Word is "living and powerful." Hebrews 4:12. (See also J.N.D. Trans.) It takes the death of Christ, and tells me in the living power of the Spirit that the Lord Jesus Christ died for me, that it was for my sins that He suffered. You have often heard the story of His death, perhaps. You have often seen that bird killed in the earthen vessel: but, dear reader, have you ever realized that it was for you? Have you ever seen Him killed over the running water? "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Romans 10:17. It is from the living Word that you get living faith.

From the pierced side of our Savior there flowed down "blood and water." John 19:34.


"Rock of Ages! cleft for sin,
Grace hath hid us safe within!
Where the water and the blood
From Thy riven side which flowed
Are of sin the double cure:
Cleansing from its guilt and power."


So there was in that earthen vessel both blood and water, speaking of the life of that dead bird. 1st. ed. 1938.


Verse 6: "As for the living bird, he shall take it, and 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."

It has been remarked that the two birds make one picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have seen Him come down from heaven and take that body that was prepared for Him, and in that "earthen vessel" He died on the cross for us. He did not stay on the cross, but still bearing those marks of death in hands and feet and side, He was laid in the grave — but on the third day He rose again, still bearing those same marks of death. And so we see the living bird going down into the blood of the dead bird and coming up with its pure feathers all marked with death. What a wonderful picture of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ! But still the bird is held in the hand of the priest. It is not yet free to ascend up to its native home in the heavens.

But not alone was the living bird dipped in the blood of the dead bird: cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop were also dipped in that blood. The cedar wood tells us of the greatest and highest things of nature: the hyssop tells us of the meanest and the lowest and the most bitter things of nature. Solomon spoke of "trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall." 1 Kings 4:33. That which is greatest by nature must all go under that precious blood. The most clever, the most brilliant man or woman: the kindest, and most humane person on earth, the most honest and true-hearted man living — all alike can only get salvation through the blood. And again the poorest and most miserable coolie, whose life is bitter with hard labor — he also must go under the blood if he is to obtain salvation. Even "him that is simple" must have the blood for his only title. (Ezekiel 45:20.) The scarlet speaks of royalty, and it tells us that those who occupy the highest place on earth must go down into the blood along with the lowest.

But these things tell us something more. They are things which belong to this world: and when Christ was crucified the world was crucified unto me, and I unto the world. (Galatians 6:14.) This world is stained with the blood of the Son of God, my Savior, and it and I can never be friends again. The cross stands between it and me. Indeed the Word tells me plainly that "whosoever . . . will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4.

"We are but strangers here, we do not crave
A home on earth, which gave Thee but a grave,
Thy cross has severed ties which bound us here,
Thyself our treasure in a higher sphere."

Verse 7: "And he shall sprinkle upon him that is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose into the open field."

Lovely verse! Just gaze on that wonderful scene. The poor leper has been brought from outside the camp, the priest has gone out to him. Another has provided two birds alive and clean. Another has killed one of those birds, and now its blood is in the basin, the living bird's feathers, the cedar wood, the scarlet and the hyssop are all stained with the blood of the dead bird. The poor leper has gazed on all this scene, but there has been no change in him or his condition. But now the priest sprinkles the blood seven times on the leper himself — once, twice, three times . . . on, on six times, and still no change, but now the seventh time — and the man is clean! The blood has made him clean. Without the blood there was no way of cleansing for the poor leper. And without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. (Hebrews 9:22.) But that blood had power to cleanse the leper from every bit of defilement. The clean bird can cleanse the unclean leper. It mattered not how vile and loathsome the poor leper was, provided the bird was clean. Seven times tells of the perfection of the cleansing. And now the precious blood of Christ has power to cleanse the vilest and most defiled and loathsome sinner from every trace of sin. Please be perfectly clear about this. It was the blood, and the blood alone, that cleansed the leper. It is the blood and the blood alone that cleanses any poor sinner today.

But how did the leper know that he was cleansed? Did his leprosy suddenly vanish when the blood was sprinkled on him the seventh time? I do not think so. I do not think that he felt one bit different after the blood was sprinkled to what he felt before. I do not think that he looked any different after the blood was sprinkled to what he looked before.

How, then, did he know that he was clean? The moment the blood is sprinkled the seventh time, the priest pronounced him clean. As you stand by and watch that wonderful scene, you may hear the priest make that blessed pronouncement, "Be thou clean." The blood of the bird made him clean, the word of the priest makes him know he is clean. It was the word of the priest that made him know once before that he was unclean, and so in exactly the same way, it is the word of the same priest that makes him know that he is clean.

But that is not all; the moment the priest pronounces the poor leper to be clean, then he takes that living bird, stained with the blood of the dead bird, and lets it free into the open fields. The work of the sacrifice was finished, the leper is cleansed and knows he is clean, and now there is nothing to keep that living bird down here.

In just the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, bearing the marks of death upon Him, and after a brief stay amongst men down here, He ascended up into the heavens, still bearing those same marks — proof that His work is completed; His victory won; our sins put away; and He Himself, and we with Him, are now accepted on high. In a coming day He will present His church to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. (Ephesians 5:27.) The wounds and scars of her warfare down here will all be gone up there, but to all eternity our Lord Jesus Christ will bear those marks of death in His hands and feet and side.

If His work on the cross had not been complete — if He had not truly cleansed our sins — if one of our sins had remained upon Him — He never could have come up from the grave and ascended into heaven. But, praise be to God! His work is complete. It has been accepted on high, and He has returned to His home in the heavens, in positive proof that all is done.

Suppose, now, an old neighbor meets the cleansed leper, and says to him, "What are you doing around here? You are a leper! Get away from here!" The leper replies, "Yes, truly I was a leper, but now, thank God, I am cleansed!" "Cleansed!" replies the neighbor. "You are not cleansed! On the contrary you look worse than ever! You appear to be all covered with leprosy!"

"Just so, but the priest has sprinkled the blood of the bird upon me, and has pronounced me clean, and I know that I am clean, because he said so."

"Nonsense! You have misunderstood him. He probably told you that you were not clean! Anybody can see you are a leper!"

"Ah, no. There is no possibility that I misunderstood him. First I had the blood sprinkled on me, and then I myself heard the priest's own voice telling me that I was clean; but that is not all — with my own eyes, I myself have seen the living bird — with its feathers covered with blood — fly away into the open heaven. You know the law. You know the living bird cannot fly away until the priest has pronounced me clean."

"But," continues the neighbor, "do you mean to tell me that you feel yourself to be clean, when you admit that you are all covered with leprosy?"

"Friend, that is not the point. The priest said I am clean, and that settles the matter. As you know, he, and he only, has authority to pronounce any man clean, and he has pronounced me clean, so now I know that I am clean, no matter how I feel."

The neighbor is silenced, and the leper is filled with joy and peace and triumph, as he recalls that sight of the living bird, flying away free, back to its old home.

Even so is it with you and me, dear fellow-sinner, cleansed in the blood of Jesus? As we watch, by the eye of faith, our Lord and Savior returning back to His home in the heavens, we know that He is accepted, and we know that we also are accepted in Him. (Ephesians 1:6.)

But that living Savior, gone back to heaven, tells us more than the fact that His work of cleansing is complete. His resurrection and ascension tell us that He is Conqueror, He is victorious over death and the grave. The mightiest battle of the universe has been fought and won, and now He can sing in triumph, and we with Him, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" 1 Corinthians 15:55.

"Oh, show me not my Savior dying
As on the cross He bled,
Nor in the tomb, a captive lying,
For He has left the dead.
Then bid me not that form extended
For my Redeemer own,
Who, to the highest heavens ascended,
In glory fills the throne.

"Weep not for Him at Calvary's station!
Weep only for thy sins;
View where He lay with exultation;
'Tis there our hope begins.
Yet stay not there, thy sorrow feeding
Amid the scenes He trod,
Look up, and see Him interceding
At the right hand of God.

"Still in the shameful cross I glory,
Where His dear blood was spilt;
For there the great propitiatory
Abolished all my guilt.
Yet what, 'mid conflict and temptation,
Shall strength and succour give?
He lives, the Captain of salvation;
Therefore His servants live.

"By death, He death's dark king defeated,
And overcame the grave;
Rising, the triumph He completed,
He lives, He reigns to save.
Heaven's happy myriads bow before Him:
He comes, the Judge of men;
These eyes shall see Him and adore Him:
Lord Jesus, come and reign."
J. Condor

Washed and Shaved

Verse 8: "And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days."

Now, in the eyes of God, the poor leper is clean and spotless. The priest has pronounced him clean, and that pronouncement comes with all the authority and certainty of God Himself.

What follows? The man immediately seeks to cleanse everything about him, and to bring all into conformity to that wonderful standing, in which he now stands before God — even clean and spotless.

You may recall that we asked you to note particularly what the leper had to do to be cleansed. If you have followed the seven verses of this chapter in Leviticus that we have just been considering, you will have noticed that the man has not to do one single thing. Everything was done for him. His part was to accept what others did for him, and to put his confidence in the shed blood, and believe the spoken word of the priest. There was not the smallest thing else for him to do, except to stand by in wonder, amazement and thanksgiving for God's wondrous plan of cleansing. But now all is changed. Now the leper starts to work. Let us stand by and watch him.

First he washes his clothes. Before, perhaps, they were so vile and loathsome that nobody would touch them. Some of us have seen lepers begging at the roadside, and we know how filthy their clothes are. They themselves are hopelessly unclean, why should they seek to keep their clothes clean? But now all is changed. The man is clean in the eyes of God, and by faith he is clean in his own eyes. Now he must appear clean in the eyes of other men.

Or, it might be, in the old days that he had succeeded in keeping his clothes cleaner than most lepers, so that they wondered that he should be able to keep his clothes so nice; and he himself was probably well satisfied with the condition of his clothing. But now, clean and spotless in the eyes of God, he finds that his clothes are far from what they should be. They must be washed.

The clothes tell us of that which touches us — our associations — that with which we have to do, that which the world around sees as connected with us. Perhaps men have been accustomed to see us in the gambling halls, or in other evil places. All these associations and ways must be "washed." How do we wash our ways and associations? We get that question answered for us in Psalm 119:9 — "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?" That is the question. Here is God's own answer: "By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word."

Leviticus 13:47-59 tells us of leprosy in the garment. This speaks of sin in a person's surroundings, even when the person himself was free from the plague. It is not enough that we ourselves are cleansed from sin: we may not go on with those things around us which are sinful, no matter whether they are business affairs, religious associations, or any other matters with which we are connected.

What happens next? He shall "shave off all his hair." It was against the law for an Israelite to "make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard." Leviticus 21:5; 19:27. It was a mark of shame and reproach; see Isaiah 15:2 — "On all their heads shall be baldness, and every beard cut off." (Also see Jeremiah 41:5, 48:37; 2 Samuel 10:4-5.) But now all this hair must come off. All his own natural beauty and glory must go. Everything that might shelter any uncleanness must be cut off, at any cost.

The one cleansed by the blood will find that he is called to share the Lord's reproach and shame, as he seeks to walk a path that is according to His Word. In China where we are accustomed to shaved heads and faces, it is hard for us to realize what shame and reproach and contempt this shaving would bring. We read of those who in the early days "were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions." Hebrews 10:33. The Word tells us that Moses chose "rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." Hebrews 11:25-26. We, too, are exhorted to bear His reproach. (Hebrews 13:13.) The Lord Himself knows what reproach means. It was He who could say, "Thou hast known My reproach, and My shame, and My dishonor: Mine adversaries are all before Thee. Reproach hath broken My heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none." Psalm 69:19-20. None have ever tasted reproach and shame as deeply as He has done; but you and I, dear fellow-believer, have the privilege of bearing in some measure His reproach. May He grant us to esteem it greater riches than this poor world can offer!

In a land where every man had a fine head of hair, and a big bushy beard, the cleansed leper without either hair or beard would indeed be a gazing-stock. As he walked down the street many a finger would be pointed at him, many a joke would be cracked at his expense. But was it not worth while? Was it not infinitely better to be cleansed and in the congregation of the Lord's people without a beard, than to be wandering with a beard outside the camp, crying "Unclean! Unclean!" And he must tarry abroad out of his tent seven days, but soon, very soon, the seven days will pass, and he can retire to that loved home of his, away from the reproach and shame and dishonor, to enjoy the peace and joy and love of his own dear ones. Then let him boldly bear witness to all around, while he has the opportunity, of the grace and power that has cleansed him, and brought him back to the congregation of the Lord.

But there is still more. The leper is to "wash himself in water." "Wash himself." What does that mean? I think that is nearer home than washing his clothes: something more intimately connected with himself than cleansing his ways and associations. This touches every habit of my life. It cleanses even my thoughts, and the effect reaches out to my words, my deeds, and all my habits — "myself." For as a man thinketh, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7.) All are to be cleansed now, not by blood, but by water.

The bird was slain only once. The blood was sprinkled only once, but the water may be applied many times. As we go on in our chapter, we will find that on the seventh day he must wash again, not be cleansed again in blood, but in water. You will recall that in the tabernacle, the laver with water in which the priests washed their hands and feet, stood between the altar and the tabernacle: and at that laver the priests continually washed, before entering the tabernacle for service. This showed the continual need for cleansing from the defilements of this world — not by blood — that has been done once, and once only — but by water — the water of the Word.

Do not these words, speaking of washing in water, remind us of many verses in the New Testament? For instance, in 2 Corinthians 7:1, after giving us the beautiful promise that the Lord Almighty will be a Father unto us, the Word continues, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Again, Ephesians 5:2 tells us, "Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor." Then after gazing at that wondrous offering that has cleansed us from our sins, immediately we read, "But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks." vv. 3-4.

Does this not exactly correspond to washing our clothes, shaving our hair, and washing ourselves in water?

We will speedily find that a refusal to indulge in foolish talking and jesting will bring plenty of reproach, and make us a "gazing-stock." What a natural ornament is a quick wit, or a clever reply! But harmless as it may seem to us, there is very grave danger of defilement lurking here. "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin." Proverbs 10:19. And again, "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savor: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor." Ecclesiastes 10:1.

So this mark of ability and beauty must come off. The Word exhorts us again and again to be sober and grave. See, for example, 1 Thessalonians 5:6; 1 Timothy 2:15, 1 Timothy 3:2, 4, 8, 11; Titus 1:8, Titus 2:12.

There are multitudes of passages in the New Testament that stress the urgent need of what corresponds in the leper to this cleansing of clothes and self. One feels that this very important truth has not been stressed as it should have been. We have delighted to stand by and watch the grace of God that has cleansed that poor vile leper, without him so much as moving a finger, but we are often very slow in our washing and shaving. But if we realize what it cost our Lord and Master to cleanse us, how can we do less than seek to walk to His glory while He leaves us down here? From verse 1 to the end of verse 7, as we have seen, the leper does nothing. All he brings to the priest is his leprosy and uncleanness, everything is done for him. But the moment the priest has pronounced him clean and has let the bird loose — from that moment the leper begins to work, not in order to be cleansed before God — he is clean before God already — but to bring his outward condition into keeping with his standing before God.

We get these two sides beautifully brought out in Titus 3:4, 5, 8. "But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; . . . This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works."

Again, please ponder Colossians 2:20 and Colossians 3:1-14 — "If ye be dead with Christ" and "If ye then be risen with Christ." That spotless little bird had done nothing to merit death. It had no uncleanness nor defilement, yet it died instead of the defiled, unclean leper. In God's sight the leper deserved death — indeed, was dead while he lived. (Numbers 12:12.) In God's sight the leper died with that bird — but in His sight the leper rose again with that living bird, which has told us so plainly of the resurrection of Christ. In God's sight the leper is a new man with a new life. So God sees us "dead with Christ," and "risen with Christ," new men with a new life, and He continues in Colossians 3:3, "Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." When that living bird died, I, the poor vile leper, died with it. When it rose (in type), I rose with it, a new man with a new life, and as it flew back to the open heavens it took my life and hid it up there with Christ in God.

Out of His Tent

"After that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days." v. 8.

Cleansed, and shaved, and washed, the man may now return to the camp. What a happy day for him! Formerly he was far off, outside the camp, but now he is brought nigh by the blood of that clean bird. Does it not remind us of Ephesians 2:13? "But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." Now, no man can say him nay, as he enters the precincts of that camp, from which all uncleanness must be expelled.

But he may not enter his own home. He must tarry abroad out of it for seven days. What does this teach us? Many of us, when we know our sins are all cleansed, would gladly go home at once to be with Christ, and escape all the troubles and trials and reproach that come to us in this world. But this must not be, even though it is true and deep affection to Christ Himself which would make us long to be with Him forever. You remember that the man, out of whom the Lord cast the legion of devils in Mark 5, prayed Him that he might be with Him. But what did the Lord say? "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." v.19. The Lord sent him back to be a witness for Himself, and I think that the cleansed leper, with clean clothes, and shaved head, was a mighty witness to the power and goodness of God. For seven days he must walk the streets and paths of the camp. He has nowhere to hide from the reproaches and sneers of those whom he meets; but without even speaking, he says to every one, "Here is a leper that has been cleansed and brought nigh." Seven in the Bible is a perfect number, and tells of the perfect length of time that the Lord chooses to leave each one of us "at home in the body, . . . absent from the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:6. For the dying thief the time was but a few hours but what a witness he gave! His witness has echoed down through the centuries, and many a poor defiled leper has found hope and cleansing through that clear, ringing testimony, when all the world was against the Savior, or afraid to bear witness to Him. For others those seven days have lengthened out into many, many years, covering a long life. But for each one the time is perfect, and is decided for us by our Priest.

Had the leper been allowed to do so, he would gladly have hidden in his own home from the reproach of men, until his hair and beard had grown again. But God had chosen him for a witness to Himself, and as the hair grew, it must be shaved again, as we will presently see. And God has chosen you, my reader, if you also are a cleansed leper, to be a witness for Himself. It is for this reason that He has left you down here. It is because He wants you to be a witness to Him in a world that has rejected Him and cast Him out, that He still leaves you down here, and does not take you home at once. The Lord Jesus Christ was the faithful and true witness. (Revelation 3:14.) Oh, beloved friends, let us search ourselves and see what sort of witnesses we are to Him.

More Washing and Shaving

"But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean." v. 9.

The days of witness pass, and now the last of those seven days draws nigh. What must he do? Does he need more blood to make him fit to enter that longed-for home? No, we have seen already that the blood was only shed once, and only offered once. "By one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Hebrews 10:14. But he does need to shave and wash again. As long as we are down in this world, and not at home with the Lord, we will find the constant need for shaving and washing. And did you notice that the description of the shaving is more minute and careful than when he shaved the first time after the priest had pronounced him clean? This tells us that as we go on in our life as a Christian, and learn to know our Lord better, we will be more and more conformed to Him, and less and less conformed to the world.

Perhaps the hair of his head speaks of his natural intelligence; the beard, of experience; the eyebrows, of power of observation. Intellect, experience and observation all need to be conformed to Christ and His death.

But not only does he shave afresh, but he again washes his clothes and his own flesh. This tells us of the need for constant cleansing by water in thought and word and deed. May you and I, dear reader, be more careful about this needed washing and shaving, for we are in a world that is filled with defiling influences on every hand. Soon we will be home, then we will hear no more of washing in water. The "sea" before the throne in Revelation 4:6 was a sea of glass like unto crystal, telling us of fixed and settled purity that never could be defiled, and needed not to be used for cleansing.

But we have another lesson in this "seventh day." The seventh day in Scripture tells us of the Sabbath, the day of rest. We read, "Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest." Exodus 23:12. But the sabbath rest of this seventh day is broken into by the defilements that need cleansing, and instead of rest we find work. Instead of enjoying the sabbath of rest prescribed by the law, we find the man busy shaving, bathing and washing his clothes. Does this not tell, to the opened ear, that where sin and defilement have come in, the seventh day of rest has passed away, and a new order of things has been brought in?

The Eighth Day

"And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil: And the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man that is to be made clean, and those things, before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." vv. 10-11.

That long-looked-for day has dawned at last. The seven days are past and gone, and now the eighth day has come. Now he may return home to the happy family circle, where all is peace and joy and love. The reproach is a thing of the past. His days of witnessing are done; and home, sweet home, is before him.

"The eighth day" in Scripture seems to have a special significance. Seven days completed the week, ending with the Sabbath on the seventh day. The following day was "the morrow after the Sabbath" or the first day of a new week. But here it is not called the first day, or "the morrow after the Sabbath," but "the eighth day." If we turn on to Leviticus 23 we may notice the difference. In verses 11, 15 and 16, we read of "the morrow after the Sabbath." These verses tell in type of the resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. But when we go on to verses 36 and 39, we do not get "the morrow after the Sabbath," but "the eighth day." In these verses we have typically an entirely new beginning. Christ has reigned on this earth for a thousand years, all sin is put down, the devil is banished forever and an eternity of joy and peace begins. It is truly a new beginning for all: as the Lord says, "Behold, I make all things new." Revelation 21:5.

And surely that eighth day was a new beginning for that poor leper. The days of wandering alone outside the camp are gone forever. Now no more need for shaving and washing. No longer absent from home and loved ones, but a life of love, joy, peace and worship has begun. Now with every offering (but the peace offering) in his hand (telling out all the various aspects and excellencies of the mighty sacrifice of Christ Himself), that man who so recently was an outcast leper, comes to be presented before the Lord. The trespass offering, meat offering, sin offering and burnt offering are all included, as well as the log of oil, telling of the Holy Spirit, through whom Christ offered Himself. (Hebrews 9:14.) In virtue of these offerings the man once so far off, approaches so near, so very near to God. I do not recall any other Israelite (except the priests and Levites) who came so near the Lord, or who had this wondrous privilege of being presented before the Lord, in this way.

I love to stand and gaze on that scene. That man only eight days before had been a vile leper, outside the camp, his head bare, his clothes rent, his lip covered, while he himself cried, "Unclean! Unclean!" Now he is brought, not only inside the camp, but to the house of God, and there presented before the Lord. Happy, wondrous, blessed place! Yet that place is ours. "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight." Colossians 1:21-22. "Alienated and enemies in your mind" just describes the leper outside the camp. "Yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death" tells of the leper cleansed and brought back into the camp by the death of that clean bird. And to what does it all lead? "To present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight."

You know how certain favored individuals are presented at court to the king — but you and I, dear fellow-Christian, have the wondrous and blessed prospect of being presented to the King of kings!

And I love that expression, "the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man." It is no Stranger who will take me, stranger I in courts above, stranger to all those glories and wonders of that bright home: No, it is the Priest who made me clean; the Priest whom I have known and loved so long down here, He Himself, and no other, it is He who takes me and presents me to the Lord. Will I fear as He takes my hand and leads me up those courts of glory to present me before the Lord? It is His hand, that same blessed, pierced hand, that has led me all these years through the wilderness, that now takes me, and presents me before the Lord.

We were reading in 1 Peter 2:11, and someone turned to a dear old Chinese saint, and asked, "Mr. Chang, how is it that Peter says, 'I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims,' and Paul says, 'Ye are no more strangers and foreigners'?" Ephesians 2:19. Mr. Chang was puzzled for a moment, and the question was put, "Are you a stranger down here?" "Yes, even my own family hardly knows me." "When you meet the Lord Jesus, will He be a stranger?" A bright smile lit up his whole face, as he replied warmly, "Oh, no, He is my best Friend; I have known Him for over forty years." We may truly sing,

"There no stranger God shall meet thee,
Stranger thou in courts above,
He who to His dwelling greets thee,
Greets thee with a well-known love."

And the more we have been strangers down here, the more carefully we have kept ourselves shaved and washed, the less we have been conformed to the world, the less we will find ourselves strangers up there. Another could sing,

"'Tis the treasure I've found in His love
That has made me a stranger below."

We think of the joy and honor and privilege of that moment, but, beloved friends, what is our joy to His? As He takes us and presents us before the Lord, does He not see of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied? Here is another poor sinner, cleansed by His own most precious blood, and now brought into the very presence of God. Nothing short of this would satisfy the heart of Christ, even though you and I would have been perfectly satisfied to be saved from the punishment of our sins, and get the least place inside the door of heaven. But this would not satisfy Him. Such is our Savior!

And what is our joy to His? Do we not get a little glimpse of His joy at this time in Jude 24? "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." Once He could say, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful." Matthew 26:38. Now that "exceeding sorrow" is turned into "exceeding joy." When He had found the lost sheep, He laid it on His shoulders rejoicing: but now having brought it home, He presents it before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. All the journey to that home on high He has guided it with the skillfulness of His hands (Psalm 78:72), He has upheld it and kept it from stumbling, and now the end of the journey has come, and with exceeding joy He presents the trophy of His grace and power.

But how can He present "faultless" one so faulty as I? It is in virtue of those three lambs that the leper holds in his hand, as the priest presents him. You will note that as each of those lambs is offered the Word records, "the priest shall make an atonement for him." vv. 18, 19, 20. Atonement means "covering." Covered by the blood of the trespass offering; covered by the blood of the sin offering; and, covered by the blood of the burnt offering: not only not a fault or flaw or spot or stain can ever be found in that man so lately an outcast leper, unfit for the company of even his fellow-men, but God sees him in all the excellencies, beauty and righteousness of the One those lambs represented. That threefold covering tells of the one offering of the body of Jesus Christ in its threefold character, nor could those offerings be separated from the meat offering which told of His spotless life on earth, nor from the oil. If the man had tried to come into the presence of God to be presented before Him without those offerings, God never could have accepted him, but with them, the man who was unfit for company with his fellow-men, is fitted for the presence of God. It was not the washing and not the shaving that fitted him for that wondrous Presence, though those were right and needful, but the blood, and the blood alone. So we, too, who sometimes were far off, are brought nigh by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13), and we, too, are "accepted in the Beloved." Ephesians 1:6. In Him alone, and in virtue of His blood alone, can we ever be accepted.

In 1 John 3:2-3 we read, "We know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure." We do not purify ourselves in order to see Him and be like Him, but we purify ourselves, because we have the sure and certain hope of seeing Him, and being like Him, by the sacrifice of Himself, and through His own most precious blood. We purify ourselves, not by blood, but by the water of the Word.

The Eighth Day

"And he sprinkled . . . seven times . . . and he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head." Leviticus 8:11-12.

"And the priest . . . shall sprinkle . . . seven times .. . and the remnant of the oil . . . he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed." Leviticus 14:16,18.

"Behold! the sons of Aaron fail:
But, lo! the leper now
Doth find the precious blood avail —
The unction on his brow.

"Beneath the ceremonial law
Who wore this holy crown?
The leper and high priest it saw
Anointed thus alone.

"Abounding grace! Amazing love!
The sinner, cleared by blood,
Rejoices with the priest alone,
A saint — brought nigh to God.

"Thrice blessed truth! Our God to know,
His Christ in fullness see,
And then to seek our tent below
In power of life set free.

And thus upon our head we find
The gladdening oil descend;
First, leave the things of old behind,
And then — among them blend.

"The longed-for eighth-day morn arose,
The door the outcast nears,
Where glory's light in blessing flows,
And God Himself appears.

"How many toil to find the path
For pilgrimage on earth,
Ere yet they know the joy of faith
Above the scene of dearth.

"They pitch the tent before they pass
Beyond time's days — the seven;
And thus they wander on, alas!
Without a view of heaven.

"Through grace the circumcision, we
Our joyful altar raise:
Then here, as buried, Lord, with Thee,
Our tent must hear Thy praise.

"To walk — a new creation band,
Its perfect 'rule' to own,
Once lepers in the Adam-land,
Now here for Christ alone."
(Author unknown)

The Lamb of the Trespass Offering

"And the priest shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord." Leviticus 14:12.

What an unutterable joy to the Lord to have presented to Him, with the poor leper, that lamb of the trespass offering. It told of that Lamb, of God's own providing, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29.) It told of God's only begotten Son. And with it was the log of oil, speaking of the Holy Spirit. The three Persons of the Trinity we find all engaged in welcoming the ransomed sinner to His home above.

"And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the priest's, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy." v. 13.

We see that not only was leprosy accounted unclean, but it was also counted an actual trespass against the Lord, calling for the trespass offering. So we need to realize, not only are we defiled by sin, but we have each one individually "sinned against the Lord." It is well when we are brought to cry, "Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned." Psalm 51:4. The poor prodigal had to learn that lesson, as we see when he cried, "I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight." Luke 15:21.

{If you will recall the different cases of leprosy mentioned in the Old Testament amongst the people of Israel (Miriam, Numbers 12; Gehazi, 2 Kings 5; Uzziah, 2 Chronicles 26), you will note that in every case this terrible disease was sent as a punishment for a great sin each committed. In the case of Gehazi the leprosy was to cleave unto his seed for ever. There is no suggestion of sin in the case of Naaman (2 Kings 5); but he was not of the people of Israel. If, as it would seem, God used leprosy as a punishment for His people, it may be that the trespass offering atoned for the sin that had caused the disease. But I have no doubt that in the type, the trespass offering tells us of the death of Christ that atones for the acts of sin that we commit.

But the trespass offering, like the sin offering, was the priest's. When the priest eats the trespass offering he makes the trespass of the man who offers it his own. What unspeakable grace! And this is just what our great High Priest has done for us. 2nd. ed}

"And the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot." v.14.

The blood of the trespass offering that has blotted out all our trespasses, now marks the ear and thumb and toe of the cleansed leper. It is the badge, or insignia, that marks every one who enters those courts of glory. There is not one but must own that his head, with all his intellect and ability, has had need to be cleansed by that precious blood. His hands have many times been used to sin against the Lord, but now the blood on the right thumb is the mark, the sign, that all has been forgiven. How often have our feet carried us astray, to go our own way (Isaiah 53:6), but now the blood on the right toe tells to all that the Lord has laid on Him all their iniquity.

How wonderful that the One who down here stooped to wash His people's feet, again stoops to mark those feet with His own precious blood.

His holy head was once crowned with thorns, and His visage was so marred more than any man's (Isaiah 52:14), His precious blood once stained His head and brow, and now it marks my head as His, and His alone, forever. His hands and feet were pierced for me, and to all eternity He will bear the marks of those cruel nails: and now my hand and foot bear the mark of the blood that bought them.

{A girl who called herself a Christian asked an old Christian friend if he thought it would be wrong for her to go to a dance. The old man replied, "It all depends whether there is blood on your toe or not." The girl was puzzled, but the old man then told her about the leper who was cleansed, and had his ear, his hand and his foot marked with blood, as a sign that all had been bought by his Saviour. When the girl realized that her toe was marked with her Saviour's own precious blood, she knew at once she could not use it for dancing with the world. The day is coming when we will have "music and dancing" (Luke 15:25), but it is not down here. 2nd. ed.}

As we look around that countless throng in those courts above, we find every one bears the same marking; every one will delight to join in that new song: "Thou hast been slain, and hast redeemed to God, by Thy blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation." Revelation 5:9 J.N.D. Trans.

The Log of Oil

"And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand: and the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his finger seven times before the Lord." vv. 15-16.

We have seen that the oil speaks of the Holy Spirit. Now the priest turns away from the leper, for the moment he is forgotten, and the oil is "sprinkled before the Lord." The leper, as we have seen, was presented before the Lord, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in virtue of the sacrifice of Christ. But now the oil is sprinkled before the Lord. I think this tells us of the perfect delight that God has in His Holy Spirit. Sometimes we are apt to forget that the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead, and is not merely an "influence," but is the true and living God.

Seven speaks of perfection, and how wonderful it is to remember, when we look around this world, with all its sorrow and sin and suffering, that in spite of all these things, there is One who dwells down here now, who is altogether well-pleasing to God in heaven. You remember how God the Father delighted to look down from the open heavens when His Son dwelt upon this earth, and of Him, and Him alone, say, "Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Mark 1:11. In like manner can God look down now upon the Holy Spirit, and to all eternity He will be His delight in heaven. Although He dwells in every believer, and is their strength and power for all things of God, yet we need to remember that first of all He is down here for God, and for His glory.

"And of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering." v.17.

We believe that the oil put on top of the blood of the trespass offering tells of the power and energy of the Holy Spirit for the believer's life and song and service in those courts of glory. The Lord promised that the Comforter should abide with us forever, and surely all the activities of heaven will be in His power.

"And the remnant of the oil that is in the priest's hand he shall pour upon the head of him that is to be cleansed." v.18.

It is lovely to see the way that oil never fails. Although sprinkled before the Lord seven times, and put on the ear, thumb and toe of the leper, there is still more left. It reminds us of the word, "God giveth not the Spirit by measure." John 3:34. Whatever need we have for His power and energy, we may be sure that the Spirit of God is more than sufficient for our every need. And after every requirement of the oil towards God, and towards men, has been fully met, there is still more, and this is poured on the head of the man that is to be cleansed. Those in Israel who were anointed were the priests, the kings, and, in one case at least, a prophet — and the cleansed lepers! What a wondrous company into which he is brought! And does it not tell us of the place into which the Lord has brought us. In Revelation 1:6 we read, "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father." In 1 Peter 2:9 we are called a "royal priesthood." The new song of Revelation 5:10 (J.N.D. Trans.) says, "And made them to our God kings and priests."

It is all so far beyond our comprehension or our dreams. Who could have ever conceived the thought that one who was a poor, vile, despised, unclean outcast should be brought into a place which no other Israelite possessed, even that of a priest and a king! That thought was God's, and His alone. We can but bow in adoration and wonder, as we gaze upon this lovely scene.

"And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the Lord." v. 18.

I think this verse completes the wonderful picture of the trespass offering and the oil, a scene which began in verse 12. It was not, I think, the oil that made the atonement, but the blood of the trespass offering. In Leviticus 17:11 we read, "It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul." Blood, not oil, makes atonement. Blood alone can cover sins. But this pronouncement, being placed as it is at the end of verse 18, at the close of the section which includes both the trespass offering and the oil, shows us clearly how intimately connected the Spirit of God is with the offering of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 9:14.) We see the "man that is to be made clean" not only cleansed by the blood, but also sheltered by the blood, and all his trespasses covered by it. Truly we may exclaim, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." Psalm 32:1.

What more could be added to such a picture? We would think that one more stroke might spoil it, but we find that there still are needed two more scenes to complete its perfection.

"And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the burnt offering." v. 19.

What a perfect and complete work our Savior accomplished at the cross. Not only are all the trespasses blotted out by the blood of the trespass offering: but even that old incurable root of sin, was judged. The sin offering told out that nothing but death could deliver us from this. That old nature is not forgiven, it is judged. Our Sin Offering has died, and we have died with Him, and with Him we are risen; and when in that home in the glory, never again will we be troubled with that old, sinful nature, that often causes us so much sorrow now.

There is but one scene more, and the picture is complete and perfect. "And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he shall be clean." v. 20.

In the trespass offering, the offerer put his hand on the head of the offering, and all his sins and trespasses passed over from him to it; and he was left clear and free from guilt. In the burnt offering, the offerer again put his hand on the head of the offering, but now all the efficacy and virtue of the offering passes over to the offerer. The burnt offering is especially God's part in that mighty offering at the cross. The burnt offering was not brought because the man had sinned, but it was brought as the highest mark of worship that man could offer to God. The meat offering (or meal offering, as it might more correctly be termed) tells of the pure and holy life of our Lord Jesus Christ down here.

Now, the cleansing of the leper is completed. He looks back over the history of those days, the old life outside the camp, his cleansing, his presentation to the Lord, his marking by the blood that had blotted out his trespasses, that wondrous new place of the priest and the king into which he has been brought, that sin offering that had delivered him from his old self. What a story it has been! What can he offer now to the One who has done all this for him? His heart overflows in worship and praise and thanksgiving, and he brings that which gives the greatest joy to the heart of God. He offers the burnt offering and the meat offering. He offers to God the sacrifice of His own dear Son, in the way in which that sacrifice was specially God's part, and he brings to Him also that spotless undefiled life down here, so very, very different to his own. Not only has the cleansed leper come into the place of the priest and the king, but now he has become a worshipper, and we leave him bowed before that altar, with the burnt offering ascending to God as a sweet savor, and we hear him exclaim:

"Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over!"

True worship is the overflow of the heart to God — a heart so full that it cannot be held back, and it overflows in praise and worship and adoration. This, we believe, is what the burnt offering and the meat offering, both going up as a sweet savor to God, tell us here.

We have sought in a feeble way to follow the leper from outside the camp to his place as a worshipper before that burnt offering, going up as a sweet savor to God. What a path it has been, and yet, dear fellow-Christian, it is your path and mine. What infinite grace! May it move our hearts to a more burning love to the One who has done so much for us!

The Present Application

Psalm 119:96 says, "Thy commandment is exceeding broad." And we believe that this wonderful history has another interpretation, with another lesson for us in it. We believe that many passages of Scripture have a double meaning: one, perhaps, for the present time, and one for a coming day. We have been looking at that meaning that tells us of our "home-coming" when we reach the glory above. But we know from such passages as Ephesians 2:6 that God looks at us even now as raised up from the dead and seated in the heavenlies. "God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace, in His kindness toward us, through Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-7. Note, these are not what He will do in the future, but what He has already done.

So we may see that in one sense we have no need to wait till we reach our home in the glory to enjoy the blessings of the "eighth day." Even now, God has made all things new for us, even now we are accepted in the Beloved. Even now we are presented holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight. It is surely now that He is able to keep us from stumbling, and even now He delights to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jude 24.) The fullness of the type, we believe, will only be fulfilled when we actually reach our home above, but how blessed to know that, in one sense, even now we may prove and enjoy all these blessings.

Even now we enjoy the blessings from the acceptance of that trespass offering, and even now we bear the blood of that offering on our right ear and thumb and toe. Oh, dear fellow-believer, may the Lord give us grace in this defiled scene to walk worthy of that badge, that mark, that we wear even now, down here. May we be careful that nothing shall pass that blood-marked ear that would be dishonoring to that One who shed His blood for us. May all we hear and say and think be conformable to His death — for surely the blood on the ear is representative for the whole head.

But not only has it a negative side, so to speak, but there is the positive side as well. May that head of mine, with my intellect, my ears, my mouth, my eyes, my all, be His, and His alone, and His forever. May they be used for Him! May we hear and think and speak for Him. They are stamped and sealed with the mark of death, the price that has been paid to purchase them for His own. May God grant that not one of our faculties may ever be used for another.

That hand of mine, that once was used to serve His enemy, now is bought with that same precious blood, and gladly will it work and war for the One who has purchased it for His own. He can say of it, "Let him that stole steal no more:" (that was what I used it for once) "but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." Ephesians 4:28. Once that hand of mine took my neighbor's things. Now it labors to give to the one from whom I once stole, or to any in need. Such is the effect of that blood on my right hand.

That foot of mine once delighted to go its own way, but anointed with that precious blood it becomes beautiful, as it goes to preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things. (Romans 10:15.)

That blood tells me that I am not my own, that I am bought with a price, and it says to me, "Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. That blood on ear and thumb and toe says to me, "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Romans 6:13. As I gaze on that blood, I cry,

"Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee!"

As we ponder all this we are constrained to say, "Who is sufficient for these things?" 2 Corinthians 2:16. And the better we know ourselves, the more fervently will we answer, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves ... but our sufficiency is of God." 2 Corinthians 3:5. And this brings us to the next scene, where the priest, after sprinkling the oil seven times before the Lord, puts it on our right ear and thumb and toe, upon the blood of the trespass offering. Never could we venture to walk through this defiled and defiling world with the blood of the trespass offering upon us, were it not that that blood is covered with the oil. This tells us of the power of the Holy Spirit to carry us through every circumstance, to keep us, not only from falling, but even from stumbling, all through this wilderness pathway. The Holy Spirit alone can keep us from bringing dishonor on that precious blood that marks us who are Christians. The Holy Spirit alone can give power to take these instruments and yield them to God, to use them in His service, and for Himself. How can we ever thank God enough for the oil upon the blood?

And we may thank God, too, that even now down here, we have the good of the sin offering. Even now down here we are dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God. (Romans 6:11.) And even now down here we are brought into that wondrous place of royal priests. True, we share the rejection of our absent King, but it is to us now that the Holy Spirit writes, "Ye are a . . . royal priesthood." 1 Peter 2:9.

Yes, and it is even now down here that we are worshippers. In John 4:23 we find that the Father is seeking worshippers. (He does not say He is seeking worship, but worshippers.) Who would have thought that He would have found them in poor, defiled lepers, now cleansed and brought nigh? But so it is. Yes, even now, you and I, dear fellow-Christian, have the privilege, the infinite privilege, of bringing our Burnt Offering (from which we must not separate the Meat Offering). We bring them with overflowing heart, and offer them to the One who has done all for us. Truly even now we may exclaim with burning hearts,

"Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over."

And as we look onward to the future, we may sing with perfect assurance, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." Psalm 23:5-6.

Then at home in the house of the Lord, the "Father's house," we will know in all their inconceivable fullness and glory, all these blessings we have sought to gaze upon and enjoy even now down here, and we will say: "It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of Thy acts and of Thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it; and, behold, the half was not told me: Thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are Thy men, happy are these Thy servants, which stand continually before Thee, and that hear Thy wisdom." 1 Kings 10:6-8.

My Leanness, My Leanness

(Isaiah 24:16)

We have finished considering this most exquisite section of God's holy Word. And yet almost every time one reads it, one seems to see some fresh ray of glory and beauty shining from it, so that we can never truly speak of having "finished considering" any portion of that Word.

Perhaps we wonder how much, or how little, God's people of old saw wrapped up in this precious portion, and how highly they valued it. Should we not rather ask, how much do we comprehend of the glories and the excellencies and the worth of our own precious Savior, who has been revealed to us in such a different measure to those in days of old? And this brings us to the next section of our chapter.

"And if he be poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil; and two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering. And he shall bring them on the eighth day for his cleansing unto the priest," etc. Leviticus 14:21-23.

How often we are "poor"! Our apprehension of Christ is often so poor! But yet, if we do trust in His precious blood, we have pardon and cleansing. Thank God, it is not my estimation of His worth, but God's estimation, that is so important. Instead of the lambs for the sin offering and burnt offering, I can, perhaps, only afford pigeons: but my acceptance and my cleansing are not affected thereby. None who come in that precious name of Jesus are ever turned away. Our faith may be terribly small, our appreciation of His worth utterly insignificant: but if we come in that name, the One to whom we come knows His true worth and value, and we are accepted in Him. Keenly as we may feel our poverty, never let that keep us away from God. Come as we are, in that worthy name, and all will be well.

"For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. . . . And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Hebrews 10:14,17.

"Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Notice how the Spirit of God, in Leviticus 14:23-32, delights to recount again in all its fullness and detail the wondrous picture over which we have just been pondering. And that picture is worth repeating! It is as if He Himself would never weary of gazing on those sights that He has, in infinite grace, just been revealing to us. May we never weary of those sights either, but may we ponder them, feed on them, delight in them, and make them our own. It is no accident that two long chapters in the Bible are devoted to leprosy and its cleansing: May the Lord give us to learn more and more of the depth and fullness of these wondrous pictures, and ever value them more and more highly as, by His Spirit, we ever see new beauties and glories in them. Like their Author they are infinite.

Lord, "open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law." Psalm 119:18.

Leviticus 14:33-53 tells us of leprosy in a house, and its cleansing. This would apply when Israel reached the land of Canaan. This speaks of sin in an assembly of God's people. It is a most solemn and most important subject, and one that every Christian person should seriously consider. It goes beyond the scope of this little book, but we would earnestly commend our readers to read and ponder with prayer this portion of God's Word.