Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cleaning

"You don't get anything clean without getting something else dirty." 
                                                                                                                                         -Cecil Baxter
 (I lifted that quote above from a friend's blog.)

I've started on my second time, reading the Bible through in a year as quickly as I can. Right now, I'm in the middle of Leviticus. Laws, laws, lotsa laws. Right now, I'm in the "leprosy laws." Did you know there are two l-o-n-g chapters, just on how the Israelites were supposed to handle somebody in their group who might have leprosy? 

And the reader asks, "What in the world am I reading this for? Leprosy isn't even a big deal anymore! And if somebody did have it, you wouldn't do all these crazy tests with your preacher; you'd take him to the doctor!" And that's all true.

But of course the Lord wasn't just addressing leprosy. He was addressing what is represents in the human soul:  Sin. Uncleanness. The dirtiness inside us that makes us unacceptable to God.

Anybody want to know how to get rid of that?

I found the reading fascinating. First, the possible leper comes to the priest to be examined. The priest looks at his skin condition. The priest scrutinizes the skin, to see if the white spots -- the infection -- are only on the surface, or have they gotten deeper, into the flesh. The patient is isolated for a week, to see what the skin does. If the leprosy seems only on the surface still, a minor condition like a scab, or even eczema, then the man is declared clean. He washes himself, his clothing, and he can go home. But if the skin becomes raw, and infected, and it has spread, he's declared unclean. He's isolated from everyone, until he gets well, or he dies. Any man with a skin condition is watched closely, examined regularly, and carefully monitored to guarantee that he does not infect anyone else.

The laws are much longer and more complicated, but that's the gist of it. 

Jesus is my priest. Do I go to him with my sin? Do I present my uncleanness to him and admit my infection? Sin is dangerous, and insidious. It must be monitored, examined, and re-examined. It's influence spreads easily from person to person. Once it settles deep into a person, it's hard to eradicate. Do we want our sin cleansed, healed, gone? Only in Jesus. These leprosy chapters in Leviticus also tell about the sacrifices that the men had to bring to the tabernacle, little animals that had to die, before the man could present himself as clean again to the people. Isn't that odd? I wonder if the Israelites scratched their heads at that one. I mean, the fellow has a skin condition, and he has to sacrifice a guilt offering? What's up with that?!

I hope some of them understood all the pictures God was painting for them, in their lives. That uncleanness digs deep into us, killing us. That God wants us clean. That our sins must be examined, and evaluated. That healing is possible. That no matter what -- even if our sin is conquered, and God declares us clean -- a sacrifice, the very Lamb of God, must die. 

You can't get anything clean without getting something else dirty. So true. Jesus took our sin on himself, became unclean and filthy in our place, so we can present ourselves to God, clean and pure, and ready to live in His kingdom. What a loving sacrifice!

3 comments:

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  2. Please keep posting on Leviticus. I've just finished it and found myself shrugging my shoulders multiple times.

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  3. I'll try, Carolyn. Much of it is rather mysterious to me too :)

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