“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, 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. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field.” ~ Leviticus 14:1-7
Okay folks. You might want to roll up your sleeves and grab a shovel. This might be a little deep but I’m trusting the Lord to help me understand this enough to offer it to you. I’m praying the Lord will open my ears to hear His voice and together, we are going to be blessed. Are you ready?
I absolutely love how the Old Testament supports the New, how the New Testament fulfills the Old. I have learned that to the ancient Jews, leprosy was considered sin acting in the flesh.
Leprosy was considered sin acting in the flesh. (I knew ya’ll were letting that sink it.)
With that in mind we can easily parallel Leviticus to our walk to the cross. I’ll show you how:
The leper was an outcast from the children of God. He or she was considered to be unclean and could therefore not associate with the things of God or His people. When the leper felt that his disease was healed and the time of cleansing had come, the priest went to him outside of the camp.
The leper had a knowing, a need for cleansing. He asked for the priest.
The sinner has a knowing, a need for cleansing, and he asks for Jesus.
The priest went to the leper.
Jesus meets us right where we are.
In the Old Testament, the priest would then prepare for the purification ceremony. Taking two living birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop, He would then command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. Can you see the image of the blood mixing with the water in preparation for the cleansing of this individual? Now, think about how this relates to Jesus. When Jesus died on the cross, a soldier pierced His side and “out of His pierced side came water and blood” (John 19:34)
The water and the blood within this vessel had significance in the cleansing of the leper. Look at the next verse, verse six: “As for the living bird, the priest shall take it, 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.” According to Jewish Law, the living bird, with a bunch of hyssop was tied to the cedar stick with a scarlet thread. Then, according to verse seven, this “bundle” was then dipped in the water and the blood and the leper was sprinkled seven times.
Are ya’ll getting excited yet? The bird was secured to the cedar with a scarlet thread. Jesus was secured to the cross, His scarlet blood – the blood of the sacrifice – held Him there. But why hyssop? Why was hyssop part of the combination that was submerged into the water and blood and then used to sprinkle and cleanse the leper? Do you recall anything else about the hyssop? Remember during the Passover? The children of God were instructed to take the blood of an unblemished lamb and, using hyssop, smear the blood over their doorposts so the angel of death would pass over them and they would live. I have learned that hyssop is a member of the mint family. Its leaves have a very strong aroma. The symbolism I see? A leper had a terrible stench from rotting flesh. A sinner has a terrible stench in the nostrils of a holy God. The hyssop represents the removal of that stench.
Once the leper was cleansed, the priest took the living bird and set it free in the open field so it could fly away. Free. Free from the sting of death. Free from its captivity. Free to soar into the heavens.
According to the theologian, Matthew Henry, the bird that was killed typifies Jesus dying on the cross, held by our sins. The bird set free is the resurrected Lord.
But, I can’t help but think that I was that bird set free. My old man was separated from God because the stench of my sin could not contaminate the holiness of God. But Jesus met me where I was and led me to the cross where I was cleansed by the water and blood pouring from His pierced side. He washed me in the blood. The aroma of Christ dissipated the stench of my flesh and the stench of my sin. Because my cleansing was complete I was set free to ride on the wings of the wind with my Lord.
Down through the ages, God made a way to set us free.
Father God, From generation to generation You have yearned to cleanse Your child and bring them into the fold. Thank You, Lord. Thank You for Your steadfastness in pursuing us. Thank You for Your love.
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