And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,…
That leprosy is a type of sin is evident from David's allusion in confessing his own horrible offenses (see Psalm 51:7)? This also appears from the words of Jesus to the only leper, out of the ten cleansed by him, who returned to give glory to God: "Thy faith hath saved thee" (see Luke 17:11-19). The others had faith which availed them to remove the leprosy of the body; but this man's faith availed to remove the leprosy of the soul. Hence this plague often came as a judgment from Heaven upon sin (see Numbers 12:10; 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Chronicles 26:19), from which circumstance, perhaps, it had its name (צרעת), tsaraath, from (צרע), tsaro, to smite. As there is no disease whose description engages so much space in Scripture, leprosy must be regarded as a very special type of sin.
I. IT IS A PLAGUE MOST LOATHSOME.
1. So it is described.
(1) According to Scripture it appeared in a "rising," or "scab," or "bright spot" (verse 2). From one or more of these centers it "spread" (verses 8, 12, 22, 36), exhibiting "quick raw flesh" (verses 10, 15), and this as it dried turned to a white scurf (verse 13). Job is, by some, supposed to have been afflicted with leprosy (see Job 7:5).
(2) Travellers give frightful accounts of it. Maundrell describes it as he witnessed it in Palestine, and states it to be "the utmost corruption of the human body at this side the grave."
2. Is not this a true picture of sin?
(1) View it in the haunts of the "criminal classes." What spectacles are witnessed in police courts! what distortion of features, what mutilations, the humanity almost battered out of them through the violences of dissipation!
(2) No less loathsome to the eye of God are the hearts of many who outwardly seem respectable (Jeremiah 17:9). Sin is called "corruption," and seducers to sin "corrupters" (Ephesians 4:22; 2 Peter 2:19). Learn to loathe sin.
II. IT IS A DISEASE DEEPLY SEATED.
1. Surface evils may be mistaken for sin.
(1) When symptoms go no deeper than the skin, they are no proof of leprosy (verses 4, 34). Errors of judgment sometimes arc mistaken for sins. Sincere Christians should be careful not to condemn themselves when God does not condemn them.
(2) Surface evils may be very painful, There were "burning boils," which did not compromise the cleanness of the sufferer (verses 23, 28). So may we smart under reproaches and scandals raised by the malignity of enemies, and perhaps sometimes through our own unwisdom, which God will not impute to us for sin.
2. When the evil is in the flesh there is uncleanness.
(1) This was a capital test of leprosy (verses 3, 20, 30). This disease may be handed down from father to son (see 2 Kings 5:27). So sin is "that which cometh out of the heart" (Matthew 15:18-20; 1 Corinthians 8:7; Titus 1:15; Hebrews 12:15, 16), Like its type, sin also is hereditary (Romans 5:12).
(2) Mental rebellion against God is of the worse kind. Hence the emphasis with which the uncleanness of the leper is pronounced whose leprosy is in his head (see verses 43, 44). Satan is intellect without God. Keep a pure faith and it will keep you.
III. IT IS A MALADY FEARFULLY CONTAGIOUS.
1. Such was the figure.
(1) Leprosy works secretly at first, and for years may be concealed. Its early appearance may be limited to a pimple; but so rapidly does it spread that "seven days" may be sufficient for it to become pronounced (verses 22, 27, 36),
(2) It may pass from the leper to his neighbor. Robinson says, "That it was contagious, all histories, sacred and profane, agree" ('Theological Dictionary'). It was therefore necessary to provide that lepers should dwell apart (verse 46; Numbers 12:15; 2 Chronicles 27:21).
(3) Property as well as persons caught the plague. Garments had to be destroyed for it (verse 52). Houses also (chapter 14:45).
2. The reality answers to the figure,
(1) Sin in the individual gathers strength by habit, and infects the faculties until the heart is sick, the head faint, and the whole man is a mass of moral putrescence (Isaiah 1:6).
(2) By precept and example he demoralizes his neighbours, and brings down the judgments of Heaven upon them (Joshua 7:1, 11, 12; Ecclesiastes 9:18).
(3) The plague of sin affects the material prosperity of individuals and of nations. No wonder the leper should be accounted ceremonially unclean, and the sinner avoided by the holy universe. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,