What a voice to all is the next appalling type of sin, as a living death, and an uncleanness which God alone could meet! For there was no healing naturally. It was for the priest to pronounce on; but not a word about a cure: if healed by preternatural means, offerings were prescribed for cleansing, and this in a wonderfully precise and careful way. It is the standing type of sin in the law; to which the Gospels add palsy, as destroying all strength., the great moralist among the Synoptics, brings the two together in Luk_5:12-26, as was his manner, guided by the inspiring Spirit. Here it is set out in a fuller form than any other subject singly in the book; and no wonder: sin in the first man is all pervading, and has dismal consequences in his surroundings and his home.
" 1 And Jehovah spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2 When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a swelling, or a scab, or a bright spot, and it becometh in the skin of his flesh a stroke of leprosy, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons the priests. 3 And when the priest looketh on the stroke in the skin of his flesh, and the hair in the stroke is turned white, and the stroke looketh deeper than the skin of his flesh, it [is] the stroke of leprosy; and the priest shall look on him and pronounce him unclean. 4 But if the bright spot [be] white in the skin of his flesh, and look not deeper than the skin, and the hair be not turned white, the priest shall shut up [him that hath] the stroke seven days. 5 And the priest shall look on him the seventh day; and, behold, in his sight the stroke remaineth as it was, the stroke hath not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up seven days a second time. 6 And the priest shall look on him again the seventh day, and, behold, the stroke [is] become pale, the stroke hath not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it [is] a scab; and he shall wash his garments, and be clean. 7 But if the scab have spread much in the skin, after he hath been seen by the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen again by the priest; 8 and the priest shall look and, behold, the scab hath spread in the skin; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it [is] leprosy" (vers. 1-8).
Even in the type it was a holy rather than a medical question. Leprosy was not a malady so much as a stroke or plague; and the priest looked on the suspect with minute direction from Jehovah. It was not the diagnosis of a physician. As the consequence was most serious to an Israelite, the most scrupulous care was due in the priest. Uncleanness from birth was a fact patent, and there Jehovah spoke to Moses for what concerned every mother and child. For leprosy He spoke to Moses and to Aaron. The leper represents, not a Christian but man in the flesh, Israel under the first covenant. Sin works and manifests itself; but haste to pronounce on evil when manifest or at work, is as far from God as indifference to it; both the reverse of grace. The priest, or spiritual man conversant with the presence of God, judges according to the written word.
There might appear in the skin of the flesh a swelling, or a scab, or a bright spot. The issues of leprosy differed in look like the motions of sin; but any of them indicates what is hateful to God; and the man must be scrutinised by Aaron or one of his sons. For us it is the mind of Christ, and as the judgment is of those within divine privilege, it involves the responsibility of pleasing God. We are not in the flesh like Israel, but the flesh is in us; and therefore we must mortify our members which are on the earth. All scripture is profitable to us, even if it be not about us.
The priest then was to look on the suspected plague or stroke in the skin of the man's flesh; and if the hair in the stroke were turned white, and the appearances of the stroke were not superficial but deeper than the skin of his flesh, leprosy was too surely indicated. Jehovah requires, not report, but personal inspection on the priest's part; and if there be proof of a present energy of evil at work, and yet more of no mere passing outbreak, but of persistent and deliberate and deeply penetrating evil, doubt is precluded, and the man must be pronounced unclean. There might be "the bright spot," but no deep purpose underneath, and no active evil in result. In this case the priest shut up the case seven days, though he could not dismiss it as clear, for there was an appearance of evil plainly enough; but as there was no more, he waits patiently. On the seventh he looks again, and if there be no spreading in the skin but the stroke be at a stay, he shuts the man up seven days more. Then he looks, and if the stroke be pale and dim, and no spread of it in the skin, the man is pronounced clean. It is but a scab; and he is to wash his clothes, and be clean. But if the scab spread, after he had shown himself to the priest for cleansing, he shall show himself to the priest again, and the priest sees the spreading, the truth must be spoken, for the evil is at work; and the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is leprosy. It must not be hid. "Thy will be done."
We are thus taught, as having access to God, to judge according to the light of His sanctuary; but in that judgment due patience is enjoined, in care for man that there be no exaggeration, and in reverence for God that His rights be maintained faithfully.
LEPROSY TRIED, AND ALL OUT.
Here we have on the one hand cases where the priest has only to see and pronounce unclean: so distinct are the symptoms. On the other hand others are presented of the saddest appearance when the priest on looking has to pronounce the person clean. How important to have sure instruction from above! To judge by appearance, and not by the word, is sure to be unjust and unwise. We have to walk by faith, and this can only be by God's word and Spirit.
" 9 When a sore of leprosy is in a man, he shall be brought to the priest; 10 and the priest shall look on [him], and, behold, [there is] a white rising in the skin, and it hath turned the hair white, and a trace of raw flesh [is] in the rising: 11 it [is] an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh; and the priest shall pronounce him unclean; he shall not shut him up; for he [is] unclean. 12 And if the leprosy break out much in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the skin of [him that hath] the sore, from his head even to his feet, wherever the eyes of the priest look, 13 and the priest looketh, and, behold, the leprosy covereth all his flesh, he shall pronounce glean [him that hath] the sore: it is all turned white; he [is] clean. 14 But on the day when raw flesh appeareth in him, he shall be unclean. 15 And the priest shall look on the raw flesh, and shall pronounce him unclean; the raw flesh [is] unclean; it [is] leprosy. 16 But if the raw flesh change again and be turned white, he shall come to the priest, 17 and the priest shall look on him, and, behold, the sore is turned white, then the priest shall pronounce Glean [him that hath] the sore; he [is] clean" (vers 9-17).
In the first instance the combined proofs of leprosy rendered the priest's sentence indubitable. There was a white tumour in the skin, the hair was turned white, and a trace of raw or living flesh was in the tumour. All pointed to the fatal evil in the man, and an actual activity of evil. Waiting is needless in such circumstances. It is too plainly au inveterate and energetic plague in the man. To shut him up would mislead: he is unclean, and the priest pronounces so. To wait, when evil is manifest, is trifling with God and man.
Immediately follows what to most would seem utterly hopeless; yet Jehovah prescribes quite a different judgment. Here the leprosy has broken out much in the skin, and covered it all from the man's head to his foot, so that before the priest's eye the leprosy has overspread all his outside, and all is turned white. Yet, strange to say, the priest on looking at a sight so deplorable was directed to pronounce him clean, as indeed he was. Where sin abounded, grace over-exceeded. It is the denial of sin, and the assertion of one's own righteousness, which cut off hope. Where there is no hiding, but the sin is out and the sins laid bare all over, God delights in saving. So it was that the cross displayed all the iniquity of man, and God's love to the uttermost. See in the crucified robber a living application of this great principle: "We indeed justly" adjudged to a death of torture; yet the man who concealed nothing of his sins going that day to be in Paradise with the Saviour Son of God.
Quite different is it when "raw flesh" appears in the man (ver. 14). For the evil is active then, and indicates a deep-seated source. Sin is still reigning within, a surer sign of ruin than any thing on the surface. "He shall be unclean," says the word; and the priest when he sees the living flesh can but pronounce him unclean; for so it is, leprosy beyond mistake.
But after that we hear in ver. 16 of the raw flesh changing again, and turned white. This is encouraging enough for the man to "come" to the priest; who sees him, and that the sore is really turned white, whereon he pronounces him clean. The sore instead of working with energy within is turned white without; and he himself comes in the consciousness that he is clean, that it may be certified according to God's will. Divine healing produces liberty of spirit.
Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor pathics, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. And these things were some of you; but ye got washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1Co_6:9-11). How real and great is the depravity of man left to himself and Satan! How real and still greater is the delivering grace of God in the name of the Lord Jesus and by His own Spirit! In Jesus He has revealed Himself to us; and, as we were the slaves of lust and passion under the power of Satan, He by Jesus wrought a work to rescue all who believe with a sure title, and made it good in our souls by His Spirit. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, as well as power, love, and a sound mind.
OCCASIONS OF LEPROSY.
But we have next to consider how leprosy might disclose itself, and the care which should be taken not to confound other symptoms with that loathsome sore. Zeal for God is not to extinguish tenderness toward man: Jehovah Himself maintains and requires both.
"18 And when the flesh hath in the skin thereof a boil, and it is healed, 19 end in the place of the boil is a white rising, or a white reddish bright spot, it shall be shown to the priest; 20 and the priest shall look, and behold, it looketh deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof is turned white; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it [is] the sore of leprosy broken out in the boil. 21 But if the priest look on it, and, behold, no white hairs [are] therein, and it [is] not deeper than the skin, and [is] pale, the priest shall shut him up seven days; 22 end if it spread much in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it [is] a sore. 23 But if the bright spot have staid in its place and have not spread, it [is] the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean."
" 24 Or when the flesh hath in the skin thereof a burning inflammation and the place of the inflammation becometh a bright spot white-reddish or white, 25 then the priest shall look on it, and, behold, the hair is turned white in the bright spot, and it looketh deeper than the skin, it [is] a leprosy that is broken out in the inflammation; and the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it [is] the sore of leprosy. 26 But if the priest look on it, and, behold, no white hair [is] in the bright spot, and it [is] no deeper than the skin, but [is] pale, the priest shall shut him up seven days. 27 And the priest shall look on him the seventh day, [and] if it have spread much in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it [is] the sore of leprosy. 28 But if the bright spot stay in its place, not spread in the skin, and [is] pale, it is the rising of the inflammation; and the priest shall pronounce him clean; for it [is] the scar of the inflammation" (vers. 18-28).
An ebullition of temper or other extreme excitement, when passed, may leave effects in evil ways and words, and not a few might be disposed to judge severely. But here the standard is the sanctuary of Jehovah, and the judge is he who is familiar with His presence. In the case first named the boil is healed; but in its place there may be a white rising, or a bright spot white-reddish. This is too serious to pass over. It must be submitted to the priest. The boil was not to prove, but it may give occasion for, leprosy, hitherto latent, to betray itself. And there is enough ground to call for the inspection of the priest: for indifference is according to God as intolerable as the meddling of what has no divine sanction.
Merely human considerations are out of the question; even to be an Israelite cannot bar the due intervention, but rather the contrary. The word and will of Jehovah must rule in His appointed way. And the priest must submit to the divine directions as carefully as the Israelite. Does the mischief look deeper seated than the skin? Is the hair turned white? If so, the energy of evil lies therein and works; and the priest shall pronounce the man unclean. It is the sore of leprosy broken out in the boil. On the other hand, if the inspection of the priest finds no white hairs, and nothing but a superficial appearance, there is no off-hand clearance, but a remand for seven days, when the suspected person is again examined. Then if there be much of a spread in the skin, the sore is plain, and the priest must not hesitate to say so; but if there be no spread and the bright spot remain simply as before, it is only the scar of the boil, and the priest shall declare him clean.
The next case is not that of an ulcer, said to be healed. There is a burning inflammation, and the raw flesh that burns has a bright spot, white-reddish or white, for symptoms may differ a little. Here again the inflammation is no more leprosy than the boil or ulcer; the suspicion of worse is in the bright spot. Here too the priest must look on according to the command of Jehovah. Is there an active energy at work turning the hair white? Does it seem deeper than the skin? These indications tell the fatal tale. If so, it is a leprosy that is broken out in the inflammation. The priest cannot rightly shirk from his painful but bounden duty. Magnanimity in such a case is wholly misplaced, and a yielding to the devil. It is the sore of leprosy, and the man must be pronounced unclean. But if when the priest looks, and there is no sign of activity or of an evil seat underneath the surface, but rather of a fading away, the priest is entitled to wait and hope that it is but a passing evil and not a persistent habit. After the seventh day that the suspect is shut up, he looks again, and if it has spread much in the skin, it is too clearly the sore, and the man is unclean. Whereas, if there was no such spread, but the bright spot remains in its place, the priest is called to pronounce him clean.
Compare with these cases the brother sinning "against thee" in Mat_18:15-17. It may be a fault unknown to any other soul; and grace goes and seeks the erring man's good. But he refuses, not only the one, but one or two more, and at last to hear the assembly. Slight as the occasion may have been, the issue is to prove self reigning, sin unjudged and increasing, and the man disqualified for all fellowship of saints. "Let him be to thee as the Gentile and the tax-gatherer." It is quite a different occasion from that of which we read in 1 Cor. 5: where the wickedness was plain and known, and not a sin against another, unsuspected by others.
LEPROSY OF THE HEAD OR THE BEARD,
Another case appears, evil indications on the head or on the beard. This at once arrests attention. For the comely was thus turned into its opposite, and deadly evil darkened what should manifest beauty of its kind.
" 29 And if a man or a woman hath a sore on the head or on the beard, 30 and the priest look on the sore, and, behold, it looketh deeper than the skin, and yellow thin hair [is] in it, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it [is] a scall, leprosy of the head or of the beard. 31 And if the priest look on the sore of the scall, Sand, behold, it looketh not deeper than the skin, and no black hair [is] in it, the priest shall shut up [him that hath] the sore of the scall seven days. 32 And when the priest looketh on the sore on the seventh day, and, behold, the scall hath not spread, and no yellow hair is in it, and the scall doth not look deeper than the skin, 33 he shall shave himself, but the scall shall he not shave; and the priest shall shut up [him that hath] the scall seven days a second time. 34 And the priest shall look on the scall on the seventh day, and, behold, the scall hath not spread in the skin, nor looketh deeper than the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; and he shall wash his garments and be clean. 35 But if the scall hath spread much in the skin after his cleansing, 36 and the priest shall look on him, and, behold, the scall hath spread in the skin, the priest shall not seek for yellow hair: he [is] unclean. 37 But if in his eyes the scall be at a stay, and black hair hath grown up therein, the scall is healed, he [is] clean; and the priest shall pronounce him clean."
" 38 And if a man or a woman, hath in the skin of their flesh bright spots, white bright spots, 39 and the priest look, and, behold, in the skin of their flesh [are] pale white spots, it [is] an eruption that hath broken out in the skin; he [is] clean. 40 And if a man's hair have fallen off his head, he [is] bald; he [is] clean. 41 And if his hair be fallen off from the front part of his head toward his face, he [is] forehead bald; he [is] clean. 42 And if there be in the bald head or bald forehead a white-reddish sore, it [is] a leprosy that has broken out in his bald head or his bald forehead. 43 And the priest shall look on it, and, behold, the rising of the sore [is] white-reddish in his bald head or in his bald forehead, as the appearance of leprosy in the skin of the flesh, 44 he is a leprous man, he [is] unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his sore [is] in his head" (vers. 29-44).
The suspected evil here infected what in part characterised a woman, as it wholly did a man. The priest must see to it and discern. Was it in appearance deeper than the skin? Still more, was there in it yellow hair? If so, there was an energy of mischief at work, contrary to the constitution in its normal state. As the presence of black hair was an indication of health, yellow thin hair showed the fell disease in an active form, and the priest had only to pronounce unclean. It was not only a scall but leprosy of the head or of the beard. If however the priest on looking saw the sore to be on the surface, though no black hair was in it, there was hope. But he was to be shut up for a full term of waiting; and if on the seventh day under the priest's inspection, there was no spreading and no yellow hair, and the scall was only skin deep, he must shave himself (not the scall), and again be similarly shut up. If after the fresh time of seclusion, the priest on looking found neither spreading of the sore nor deepening, the person was entitled to be pronounced clean, as he was called thereon to wash his clothes and be clean.
Every thing, it is plain, marks the holiness Jehovah demanded in His people; and this, not under a man's estimate of his own state, nor yet on the perfunctory opinion of a fellow Israelite. What was offensive in His eyes and unfitted for any part in His congregation must be subjected to him who was used to His sanctuary and bound to judge by His word according to that standard; for there Jehovah dwelt. The same principle applies still, and more fully since Christ came and accomplished redemption. He too is the ever accessible and vigilant priest who cannot fail to discern and act to God's glory.
But there is also provision against a morbid judgment and despair, which Satan knows how to work for injury and ruin, as well as the more common danger of too light and self-sparing a scrutiny. A man or a. woman might have in the skin of their flesh "bright spots, white bright spots." Here again priestly discernment is prescribed; and if they were of a pale or dull hue, it wee not leprosy, but a different eruption that had broken out in the akin. The person was clean. Grace is as opposed to severity as to laxness. It is holy, but neither hard nor careless or compromising. God is light, and God is love.
Another case comes next, which there was still less reason to confound with leprosy. Weakness is nothing of the sort. A man's hair might fall off his head in general, or from the parts of his head toward his face. He might be bald, or forehead bald; but in either instance it was no more than infirmity; and infirmity is not sin, any more than sin should be called infirmity as is too often done. The apostle gloried in his infirmities, his trials and sufferings. No saint could make light of a single sin; still less could he glory in sins. Whoever coca so proclaims himself a leper; and his pretension to be a saint is utter delusion.
But where there is weakness, as here in a bald head or forehead, there might be worse, "a white-reddish sore." Then it is most serious, and none other than leprosy breaking out there; and the priest looks on him, and sees it to be really so. "He is a leprous man; he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his sore is in his head." It is a hopeless case. Delay was uncalled for; waiting, an idle form. Human mercy, or magnanimity, in such a case would be of Satan "Holiness becometh thy house, O Jehovah, for ever."
THE LEPER OUTSIDE.
In these verses is set out the diseased condition of the convicted leper. It was, while he lived, death to all the privileges of the people of God; the standing type of a sinner, not only before Him, but under command to declare it to man.
" 45 And the leper in whom the sore is, - his garments shall be rent, and his head shall be uncovered (or, go loose), and he shall cover his upper lip or beard, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean! 46 All the days that the sore [shall be] in him, he shall be unclean: he [is] unclean; he shall dwell apart; outside the camp his dwelling [shall be]" (45, 46).
Thus vividly did Jehovah, while prescribing for the solemn separateness of an Israelite under this fell disease, look onward to the discovery of what every man is in the light of Christ. For Be alone gives us the full truth of every one and of every thing. It is not that the law did not indicate much that was true, and the prophets yet more. But, as Joh_1:9 so strikingly tells us, the Word, even Jesus, is the true light, which, coming into the world (for this is the only legitimate rendering), pours light on every man. It is not limited like the law to Israel. It shines on Gentile as well as few. It is no lightning flash as of death like the effect of the same law; yet it discovers, fully and at once, the true state of each. No prince is exalted above its penetrating power, any more than the most abject slave is beneath it. It was the Word incarnate here below, divine light yet in man, having its range universal on the race here below. Far from any boasting of Him as Light of east or west, north or south, such was the unbelief that not even Palestine owned Him, though born its King with a title pure, perfect, and indisputable, alike human and divine, Immanuel. He was in the world and the world had been from Him, and the world knew Him not. He came to what was His own, and His own people received Him not, guiltier than the besotted world. Yet was He love, as well as light; grace and truth (in contrast with the law) came into being through Jesus Christ; and thus was "every man" the less excusable. None received Him but such as were born of God; only these were enlightened by Him.
Yet here the shadow is now at least plain enough. The sinner according to God's figure before us is of all men most miserable; and now we can say that such in God's estimate are all men, if we read the type in the light of Christ. Hence the leper's apparel was to declare his misery and his grief. "His garments shall be rent, and his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean!" Sorrow for others or at their evil it is not, but the deepest mourning for himself. The goodness of God leads the sinner to repentance. Despise not then the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering: why in presence of this, if hitherto unconcerned, perish for ever? Why, according to one's hardness and impenitent heart, treasure up to oneself wrath in a day of wrath? It is the way of mercy, because it is the way of truth; and if one be in the humbling truth of his sins before God, will not He be found in the truth of His grace? The Lord Jesus gives the soul both repentance and faith. To be a sinner, refusing to own it at God's call, is a place of the utmost danger. The presence of Jesus the Son of God lays bare my real evil; His going away to the Father, the rejected One, demonstrates righteousness only there, and nothing but sin left in the world. If I heed God's word, I cease to deny or excuse my sins, frankly confessing my ruin, with the cry, Unclean, unclean, in His ears.
To be light-hearted and indifferent is to defy the just sentence of God. Nor will it do to betake oneself to the external trappings of woe. We are not Jews: rites and ceremonies are but letter, and avail not. The gospel meets the sinner expressly as lost, powerless, ungodly, and His enemy; but all this is dire reality, and no mere form of speech. If we are insensible to our state, it is worse than form; it is hypocrisy. Christ came not to call righteous ones; but He will have sinners feel and own their sins; and if they do not, a worse thing befalls them than if they professed not His name. Hence the all-importance of life, eternal life, which where possessed makes our evil intolerable; and whether at the beginning for our state, or afterwards for particular acts, it leads the believer to be grieved unto repentance. For grief according to God works out repentance unto salvation not to be regretted; whereas the grief of the world works out death.
Where the conscience answers to God's call, the outer signs of the leper's distress are reproduced in the depths of one's moral being. As the Corinthians broke down and cleared themselves in the matter of their sin and shame, which, if unjudged, would have unchurched them as corporately denying Christ's name, so one only bears aright His name individually as a Christian by inward and true renunciation of evil, each of his own. Where faith is genuine, repentance is; and this makes the truth taught by the bearing of the leper as plain as it is impressive and important. It is rending of the heart for the converted soul, rather than of his garments; real acceptance of his dishonour by his sins, bitter as it is, instead of claiming honour for his "head"; it is the "beard" no longer a display of his vigour as a man, but covered in spirit with shame. He owns himself defiled irreparably as far as he is concerned. He betakes himself to solitary confession, instead of presuming to mingle with the faithful; he truly feels that he is but a dog, and not a sheep. So the Canaanite woman was brought by grace to own the simple truth, and thereon was blessed beyond her hopes. It is the turning-point for establishment in grace, and spirituality of mind, though dependence withal on God is ever requisite.
So apt to spread is the taint of sin, that the concluding paragraph of our chapter is devoted to leprosy in raiment made of any material, or a skin serving the like purpose.
" 47 And if a sore of leprosy is in raiment, in woollen raiment or linen raiment, 48 either in warp or in woof, of linen, or of woollen, or in a skin or anything made of skin; 49 and the sore is greenish or reddish in raiment or in the skin, or in the warp or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; it [is] the sore of leprosy and shall be shown to the priest. 50 And the priest shall look on the sore, and shut up [what hath} the sore seven days. 51 And he shall look on the sore on the seventh day: if the sore have spread in the raiment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in the skin, whatever work is made of skin, the sore [is] a corroding leprosy; it [is] unclean. 52 And they shall burn the raiment, or the warp or the woof, of woollen or of linen, or any thing of skin, wherein the sore is; for it [is] a corroding leprosy; it shall be burned with fire. 53 But the priest shall look, and, behold, [if ] the sore hath not spread in the raiment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in any thing of skin, 54 then the priest shall command that they wash [the thing] wherein the sore [is], and he shall shut it up seven days a second time. 55 And the priest shall look on the sore after the washing; and, behold, [if] the sore have not changed its appearance (lit. eye), and the sore have not spread, it [is] unclean: thou shalt burn it with fire: it [is] a fret [on what is] threadbare or napless (lit. bald in head or forehead). 56 But if the priest look, and, behold, the sore be dim after the washing thereof, then he shall rend it out of the raiment or out of the skin, or out of the warp or out of the woof. 57 And if it appear still in the raiment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in anything of skin, it [is] a breaking out: thou shalt burn with fire that wherein the sore [is]. 58 But the raiment, either the warp or the woof, or whatever thing of skin which thou hast washed, and the sore departeth from them, it shall be washed a second time, and tee clean. 59 This [is] the law of the sore of leprosy in raiment of wool or linen, either in the warp or in the woof, or in any thing of skin, to pronounce it clean or to pronounce it unclean" (vers. 47-59).
Thus according to the law of Jehovah leprosy might betray itself in a man's external circumstances, typified by his apparel, whatever this might be, as well as in his person. Everywhere it must be dealt with, but not on such moral grounds as an Israelite might apply. Its appearance was for the priest to discern. It was for him to see and pronounce according to the law of Jehovah which bound him as well as the suspected thing. The appearance of leprosy externally as well as in the person were too serious to be ignored or put off. In Israel the priest must be consulted without fail or delay; but he must look into it as before God and speak accordingly.
We have the authority of the inspired Jude (23) for giving this type a present bearing. For what else is the allusion in "hating even the raiment spotted by the flesh?" Of course the language is figurative in the Epistle; but figures are used in scripture as in all other communications, not for enfeebling the sense but to make it vivid and impressive. So it is in the scriptural phrases, derived from O.T. types of washing us, whether in water or in blood: both are used and carefully distinguished, and the truth meant by each is of the greatest moment. But the allusion in that solemn warning of the departure, not only from righteousness but from grace and the faith once delivered to the saints, may help souls to see that every scripture is not only God-breathed but profitable as the apostle says.
The surroundings of a man lay bare his leprosy. Our ways may display even more than our words. People talk about the heart being all right as an excuse for what stumbles in the eye, the hand, or the foot. The Lord, who really searches the heart and can alone judge as He soon will, pronounces now that each or all must be got rid of at all cost, rather than keeping all to be sent into the everlasting fire, the Gehenna of fire. Habits disclose the deadly taint very plainly; but it is the spiritual man who alone can truly discern. Such have the mind of Christ, who indeed is "the priest" to pronounce absolutely. But even with Him, though unfailing, there is no haste. He did not speak from Himself, but the things which He heard from His :Father. He would impress on us the divine authority of the word, that what we say or do be in obedience. If the circumstances are persistently bad, they must be absolutely judged. Nothing less than "burning" will do as ordered by the priest on God's part. If "washing" avail to correct, a further application is enjoined, and if the change more appear, the priest pronounces clean. If not, all is wrong, for it is leprosy. The standing type of sin, at least in the O.T. aspect, is thus carried out beyond the person to his environment; and there the surroundings might disclose the fatal taint. Wherever it was discerned by the spiritual eye, immediate and unsparing judgment must follow.