When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot…
I. THE LOATHSOME AND GHASTLY SPECTACLE OF A LEPER.
1. A leper was extremely loathsome in his person. But let me remind you that this, fearful as it seems to be, is a very poor portrait of the loathsomeness of sin. If we could bear to hear what God could tell us of the exceeding wickedness and uncleanness of sin, I am sure we should die. God hides from all eyes but His own the blackness of sin.
2. The leper was not only loathsome in his person, but was defiled in all his acts. If he drank out of a vessel, the vessel was defiled. If he lay upon a bed, the bed became unclean, and whosoever sat upon the bed afterwards became unclean too. All that he did was full of the same loathsomeness as was himself. Now this may seem to be a very humiliating truth, but faithfulness requires us to say it, all the actions of the natural man are tainted with sin. Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatsoever he does, he continues to sin against his God.
3. Being thus the medium of contagion and defilement wherever he went, the Lord demanded that he should be shut out from the society of Israel. Living apart from their dearest friends, shut out from all the pleasures of society, they were required never to drink of a running stream of water of which others might drink; nor might they sit down on any stone by the roadside upon which it was probable any other person might rest. They were, to all intents and purposes, dead to all the enjoyments of life, dead to all the endearments and society of their friends. Ay, and such is the case with the sinner with regard to the people of God.
4. Once more, the leper was wholly unable to come up to the house of God. Other men might offer sacrifices, but not the leper; others had a share in the high priest's great sacrifice, and when he went within the veil he appeared for all others; but the leper had neither part nor lot in this matter. He was shut out from God, as well as shut out from man. He was no partaker of the sacred things of Israel, and all the ordinances of the Tabernacle were as nothing to him. Think of that, sinner! As a sinner full of guilt thou art shut out from all communion with God. True, He gives thee the mercies of this life as the leper had his bread and water, but thou hast none of the spiritual joys which God affords to His people.
II. I shall now BRING THE LEPER UP TO THE HIGH PRIEST. Here he stands; the priest has come out to meet him. Mark, whenever a leper was cleansed under the Jewish law — the leper did nothing — the priest did all. My text asserts that if there was found any sound place in him, he was unclean. But when the leprosy had covered him, wheresoever the priest looked, then the man became by sacrificial rights a clean leper. Now, let me bring up the sinner before the great High Priest this morning. How many there are, who, as they come up hither, are ready to confess that they have done many things which are wrong, but they say, "Though we have done much which we cannot justify, yet there have been many good actions which might almost counterbalance the sin. Have we not been charitable to the poor, have we not sought to instruct the ignorant, to help those that are out of the way? We have some sins we do confess; but there is much at the bottom which is still right and good, and we therefore hope that we shall be delivered." I put you aside in God's name as unclean lepers. For you there is no hope, and no promise of salvation whatever. Here comes a second. "Sir, a month or two ago I would have claimed a righteousness with the very best of them. I, too, could have boasted of what I have done; but now I see my righteousness to be as filthy rags, and all my goodness is as an unclean thing. As for the future, I can make no promise; I have often promised, and so often lied. Lord, if ever I am made whole, Thy grace must make me so."
III. Having thus brought the man before the priest, we shall now briefly turn our attention to THE CEREMONIES WHICH THE PRIEST USED IN THE CLEANSING OF THE LEPER.
1. You will perceive, first, that the priest went to the leper, not the leper to the priest. We go not up to heaven, first, till Christ comes down from His Father's glory to the place where we as lepers are shut out from God. Thou dost take upon Thyself the form of man. Thou dost not disdain the Virgin's womb; Thou comest to sinners; Thou eatest and drinkest with them!
2. But the coming of the priest was not enough, there must be a sacrifice, and on this occasion, in order to set out the two ways by which a sinner is saved, there was sacrifice mingled with resurrection. First, there was sacrifice. One of the birds was taken, and its blood was shed in a vessel which was full, as the Hebrew hath it, of "living water" — of water which had not been stagnant, but which was clean. Just as when Jesus Christ was put to death, blood and water flowed from His side to be "of sin a double cure," so in the earthen vessel there was received, first, the "living water" and then the blood of the bird which had just been slain. If sin is put away it must be by blood. There is no way of patting sin from before the presence of God except by the streams which flow from the open veins of Christ. The leper was made clean by sacrifice and by resurrection, but he was not clean till the blood was sprinkled on him. Christians, the Cross does not save us till Christ's blood is sprinkled on our conscience. Yet the virtual salvation was accomplished for all the elect when Christ died for them upon the tree.
IV. THAT AFTER THE LEPER WAS CLEANSED, THERE WERE CERTAIN THINGS WHICH HE HAD. TO DO. Yet, until he is cleansed, he is to do nothing. Tim sinner can do nothing towards his own salvation. His place is the place of death. Christ must be his life. The sinner is so lost that Christ must begin, and carry on, and finish all; but, when the sinner is saved then he begins to work in right good earnest. When once he is no more a leper, but a leper cleansed, then, for the love he bears his Master's name, there is no trial too arduous, no service too hard; but he spends his whole strength in magnifying and glorifying his Lord. I will not detain you further than to notice that this man, before he might further enjoy the privileges of his healed estate, was to bring an offering, and the priest was to take him to the very door of the Tabernacle. He never dare come there before, but he may come now. So the pardoned man may come right up to God's mercy-seat, and may bring the offering of holiness and good works. He is a pardoned man now. You ask me how? Not by anything he did, but by what the priest did, and that alone.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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:
WEB: "When a man shall have a rising in his body's skin, or a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes in the skin of his body the plague of leprosy, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest, or to one of his sons, the priests: