clothes and containers

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (24)

Leviticus 13:53-59

Lev 13:53 “And if the priest examines, and if he notices that the disease has not spread in the clothes, in the warp or the woof or in any container made of skin,
Lev 13:54 then the priest will command that they wash the thing in which is the disease, and he will shut it up for another seven days.
Lev 13:55 And the priest will examine the diseased thing after it has been washed. And if he notices that the appearance of the diseased area has not changed, though the disease has not spread, it is contaminated. You will burn it in the fire, whether the rot is on the back or on the front.
Lev 13:56 “But if the priest examines, and if the diseased area has faded after it has been washed, he will tear it out of the clothes or the skin or the warp or the woof.
Lev 13:57 Then if it appears again in the clothes, in the warp or the woof, or in any container made of skin, it is spreading. You will burn with fire whatever has the disease.
Lev 13:58 But the clothes, or the warp or the woof, or any container made of skin from which the disease departs when you have washed it, will then be washed a second time, and be clean.”
Lev 13:59 This is the law for a case of leprous disease in wool or linen clothing, either in the warp or the woof, or in any container made of skin, to determine whether it is clean or contaminated.

clothes and containers

The rules regarding rescue of clothing or containers infected by leprous disease show a balance between two extremes. Instead of requiring immediate destruction, or disregarding the external factors altogether, the rules indicate that these external things are important enough to be saved if possible. In the Israelite community on the move in the wilderness, possessions were highly valued. The concern about these possessions by the priests are a reflection on the fact that God cares about what matters to us.

LORD, thank you for caring about what matters to us.

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hope without compromise

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Leviticus 13:45-52

Lev 13:45 “The leprous person who has the disease will wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he will cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘contaminated, contaminated.’
Lev 13:46 He will stay contaminated as long as he has the disease. He is contaminated. He will stay alone. His dwelling will be outside the camp.
Lev 13:47 “When there is a case of leprous disease in clothes, whether woollen or linen clothes,
Lev 13:48 in warp or woof of linen or wool, or in a skin or in anything made of skin,
Lev 13:49 if the disease is greenish or reddish in the clothes, or in the skin or in the warp or the woof or in any container made of skin, it is a case of leprous disease, and it will be shown to the priest.
Lev 13:50 And the priest will examine the disease and shut up that which has the disease for seven days.
Lev 13:51 Then he will examine the disease on the seventh day. If the disease has spread in the clothes, in the warp or the woof, or in the skin, whatever be the use of the skin, the disease is a persistent leprous disease; it is contaminated.
Lev 13:52 And he will burn the clothes, or the warp or the woof, the wool or the linen, or any container made of skin that is diseased, because it is a persistent leprous disease. It will be burned in the fire.

hope without compromise

Because leprosy had been chosen by God to symbolise the horrible reality of sin and its effects, any clothing found to be persistently contaminated with the disease was to be burned up, consumed by fire. This is the exact judgement that God himself has reserved for sinners.

Yet, God did not command his people to execute that judgement upon those who had leprosy. There was hope for any person who had leprosy to be healed of the disease, and restored to the camp. So, God commanded the priests who had diagnosed a person with leprosy to send that person outside the camp to dwell. This command showed God’s grace toward those infected with leprosy, and implied God’s grace toward those presently infected with sin. Because God is a God of grace, there is hope for the lost. But because God is a God of holiness, there will be no eternal compromise with sin. The fire of Gehenna hell consumes utterly. Sinner, turn to the God of grace in repentance before he comes to judge your sin.

LORD, show us how to proclaim your gospel of grace without denying your condemnation of sin.

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false diagnosis

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (22)

Leviticus 13:38-44

Lev 13:38 “When a man or a woman has spots on the outer layer of their skin, white spots,
Lev 13:39 the priest will look, and if he notices that the spots on the outer layer of their skin are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out in the skin; he is pure.
Lev 13:40 “If a man’s hair falls out from his head, he is bald; he is pure.
Lev 13:41 And if a man’s hair falls out from his forehead, he has baldness of the forehead; he is pure.
Lev 13:42 But if there is on the bald head or the bald forehead a reddish-white diseased area, it is a leprous disease breaking out on his bald head or his bald forehead.
Lev 13:43 Then the priest will examine him, and if he notices that the diseased swelling is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, like the appearance of leprous disease in the outer layer of his skin,
Lev 13:44 he is a leprous man, he is contaminated. The priest must pronounce him contaminated; his disease is on his head.

false diagnosis

We have seen that the priests had to be very cautious not to allow leprosy to remain in the Israelite community, without taking action to prevent it from infecting others. As such, leprosy served as an apt analogy for sin, and is used as such elsewhere in the Bible (2 Corinthians 6:16-17; Revelation 21:27). As the covenant community, the Israelite camp had to avoid all appearance of evil, so when something threatened the purity of the camp, action had to be taken to remove it.

Yet, there were conditions (as we have also seen) that mimicked the symptoms of leprosy, but were not to be treated the same way as leprosy. Two more such conditions are highlighted in today’s text: leukoderma (a pigmentation irregularity), and mere baldness. The priests were held responsible for correctly diagnosing each case, so that someone with only the appearance of leprosy would not be unfairly treated and isolated from the camp.

Here, as well, we find some helpful implications for those of us seeking to represent God’s holiness in the new covenant community. There are some who, simply because they appear different that other Christians, are often unfairly judged and criticised. We must learn to stop judging people by their mere outward appearance, and accept those whom God has accepted, because he sees the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

LORD, give us a discerning mind, so that we can welcome all those whom you have welcomed, and avoid any false diagnosis of their spiritual condition.

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fortnight itch

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (21)

Leviticus 13:29-37

Lev 13:29 “When a man or woman has a disease on the head or the beard,
Lev 13:30 the priest will examine the disease. And if he notices that it appears deeper than the skin, and the hair in it is yellow and thin, then the priest will pronounce him contaminated. It is an itch, a leprous disease of the head or the beard.
Lev 13:31 And if the priest examines the itching disease and notices that it appears no deeper than the skin and there is no black hair in it, then the priest will shut up the person with the itching disease for seven days,
Lev 13:32 and on the seventh day the priest will examine the disease. If he notices that the itch has not spread, and there is in it no yellow hair, and the itch appears to be no deeper than the skin,
Lev 13:33 then he will shave himself, but the itch he will not shave; and the priest will shut up the person with the itching disease for another seven days.
Lev 13:34 And on the seventh day the priest will examine the itch, and if he notices that the itch has not spread in the skin and it appears to be no deeper than the skin, then the priest will pronounce him clean. And he will wash his clothes and be clean.
Lev 13:35 But if the itch spreads in the skin after his cleansing,
Lev 13:36 then the priest will examine him, and if he notices that the itch has spread in the skin, the priest need not seek for the yellow hair; he is contaminated.

fortnight itch

Another problem that tended to be misdiagnosed as leprosy is itching skin on the scalp. When people walked around scratching their heads raw, it tended to cause concern. So, the priests were instructed to isolate these victims of (probably) lesser skin conditions as well. After a period of seven days’ observation, the victim was instructed to shave all his hair, except the part on the scalp where the itch was located. After another seven days, it would be clear whether it was actually leprosy, or some lesser irritation. The whole thing — especially the shaving part — was an ordeal of humiliation and shame for an Israelite, but the seriousness of leprosy made it necessary.

Is there some problem you are having that is making you and those around you wonder about your spiritual health? Maybe you are not sure whether you should bother getting help for your problem, wandering whether it is really cause for concern. Why not try seeking help? A counsellor or pastor or Christian friend might be able to help you, and all it will take is a bit of humbling.

LORD, give us courage to seek help when we need it.

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from burn to worse

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (20)

Leviticus 13:24-28

Lev 13:24 “Or, when a body has a burn on its skin and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a spot, reddish-white or white,
Lev 13:25 the priest will examine it, and if he notices that the hair in the spot has turned white and it appears deeper than the skin, then it is a leprous disease. It has broken out in the burn, and the priest will pronounce him contaminated; it is a case of leprous disease.
Lev 13:26 But if the priest examines it and notices that there is no white hair in the spot and it is no deeper than the skin, but has faded, the priest will shut him up seven days,
Lev 13:27 and the priest will examine him the seventh day. If it is spreading in the skin, then the priest will pronounce him contaminated; it is a case of leprous disease.
Lev 13:28 But if the spot remains in one place and does not spread in the skin, but has faded, it is a swelling from the burn, and the priest will pronounce him clean, because it is the scar of the burn.

from burn to worse

Scorch marks in the skin were particularly problematic for the Israelites. They often presented themselves with the same immediate visual symptoms of leprosy. In such cases, the priests were instructed to treat the burn marks the same as if the origin of the blemish were unknown. After the victim was isolated for six full days, the priest would make the determination whether the burnt skin was healing, or leprosy was advancing.

The new covenant community also has to deal with the danger of appearance of sin (1 Thessalonians 5:22). There will always be misguided souls who want to give everyone the benefit of a doubt. But there needs to be those among us with the prophetic insight to stop those who are walking too near the line.

LORD, give us the wisdom to listen to your prophets who are trying to help us stay away from every form of evil.

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boils and scars

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (19)

Leviticus 13:18-23

Lev 13:18 “If there is in the outer layer of someone’s skin a boil and it heals,
Lev 13:19 and in the place of the boil there comes a white swelling or a reddish-white spot, then it will be shown to the priest.
Lev 13:20 And the priest will look, and if he notices that it appears deeper than the skin and its hair has turned white, then the priest will pronounce him contaminated. It is a case of leprous disease that has broken out in the boil.
Lev 13:21 But if the priest examines it and notices that there is no white hair in it and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest will shut him up seven days.
Lev 13:22 And if it spreads in the skin, then the priest will pronounce him contaminated; it is a disease.
Lev 13:23 But if the spot remains in one place and does not spread, it is the scar of the boil, and the priest will pronounce him clean.

boils and scars

In cases of chronic leprosy, it was not always easy to tell if a person was experiencing a new problem, or scars of past infections. For such cases, the priests were told to prescribe a temporary isolation of the victim for seven days, so that he could tell whether the boil was healing or spreading.

In the community of Israel, leprosy had to be taken seriously, and that meant sometimes making a judgement call that temporarily resulted in someone’s loss of personal freedom. In the new covenant community, we often have to make such judgement calls ourselves. Sin is a serious problem, and while freedom is important to us, we sometimes have to put that important principle aside, to deal with the more important issue of holiness.

LORD, give us courage to make tough decisions about who we associate with. Keep us from being contaminated by sin.

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chronically contaminated

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (18)

Leviticus 13:9-17

Lev 13:9 “When a human is afflicted with a leprous disease, he will be brought to the priest,
Lev 13:10 and the priest will look. And if he notices there is a white swelling in the skin that has turned the hair white, and there is raw flesh in the swelling,
Lev 13:11 it is a chronic leprous disease in the outer layer of his skin, and the priest will pronounce him contaminated. He will not shut him up, because he is contaminated.
Lev 13:12 And if the leprous disease breaks out in the skin, so that the leprous disease covers all the skin of the diseased person from head to foot, so far as the priest can see,
Lev 13:13 then the priest will look, and if he notices the leprous disease has covered all his body, he will pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is pure.
Lev 13:14 But when raw flesh appears on him, he will be contaminated.
Lev 13:15 And the priest will examine the raw flesh and pronounce him contaminated. Raw flesh is contaminated, because it is a leprous disease.
Lev 13:16 But if the raw flesh recovers and turns white again, then he will come to the priest,
Lev 13:17 and the priest will examine him, and if he notices the disease has turned white, then the priest will pronounce the diseased person clean; he is pure.

chronically contaminated

Two interesting details of this prescription stick out to me. First, when dealing with chronic leprosy, the priest would not require the victim to be isolated. It is an advanced stage of the disease, and the victim is no longer contagious. He still has the disease, and it is still a problem for him, but not for those around him.

Secondly, in this stage of his contamination, he can still become contagious again, and when he does his flesh will become raw. He can recover from this, going back to the advanced, dormant stage. In which case, the priest can declare him pure — but only in the sense of no longer contagious.

There are realities about sin that correspond to these details as well. Chronic sin changes us. After a while, a sinful activity tends to pervade our existence, and there seems to be no hope of any immediate cure. By then, we are usually absolutely convinced that the activity is wrong, and are ashamed of it. We do not want to even talk about our problem, because we are ashamed of it. At this stage, we usually do not wish to pass this sin on to others. We realise what it has done to us, and just want to hide.

Interestingly enough, hiding is not prescribed. A Chronic leprous person was not to be isolated. He could rejoin society ostensibly, since he was not contagious. But such a person would usually prefer self-isolation because of the stigma that the disease has put on him. By not prescribing this isolation, the priest made sure that the community saw the lasting affect of this terrible disease.

LORD, there are many around us who have been ravaged by chronic sin. Help us to embrace them, not fearing their sin, nor condoning it, but trusting that your gospel of grace can prevail even in their case.

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deeper than the outer layer

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (17)

Leviticus 13:1-8

Lev 13:1 Yahveh spoke to Moses and Aaron, and this is what he said,
Lev 13:2 “When a human has on the outer layer of his skin a swelling or an eruption or a spot, and it turns into a case of leprous disease on the outer layer of his skin, then he will be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests,
Lev 13:3 and the priest will examine the diseased area on the outer layer of his skin. And if the hair in the diseased area has turned white and the disease appears to be deeper than the outer layer of his skin, it is a case of leprous disease. When the priest has examined him, he will pronounce him contaminated.
Lev 13:4 But if the spot is white in the outer layer of his skin and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest will shut up the diseased person for seven days.
Lev 13:5 And the priest will examine him on the seventh day, and if he notices in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest will shut him up for another seven days.
Lev 13:6 And the priest will examine him again on the seventh day, and if he notices the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest will pronounce him clean; it is only an scab. And he will wash his clothes and be clean.
Lev 13:7 But if the scab spreads in the skin, after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he will appear again before the priest.
Lev 13:8 And the priest will look, and if he notices the scab has spread in the skin, then the priest will pronounce him contaminated; it is a leprous disease.

deeper than the outer layer

Leprosy could not be tolerated in a people who were intended to show forth the perfection of the LORD. It was a particularly insidious disease, because it was a deep infection that spread and defiled wherever it went. That made it particularly helpful as a warning against rebellion and sinfulness.

The priests first job was to decide whether the spot was merely a temporary scab, or a growing disease. In other words, the priest had to determine whether the victim was healing, or getting worse. By visually observing the victim after a period of isolation, the priest was to determine whether the blemish was deeper than the outer layer.

Sin is deeper than we think. It is rooted in our weakness, and takes advantage of our ignorance. To properly deal with sin in our lives, we will need a healer who knows what is really going on with us.

LORD, thank you for being aware of all our needs, especially the ones that are so deep, we often fail to admit them

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she will be clean

marmsky devotions pics August 2016 (16)

Leviticus 12:1-8

Lev 12:1 Yahveh spoke to Moses, and this is what he said,
Lev 12:2 “Speak to the people of Israel, and this is what you should say, if a woman conceives and bears a male child, then she will be contaminated seven days. As at the time of her menstruation, she will be contaminated.
Lev 12:3 And on the eighth day the foreskin of his penis will be circumcised.
Lev 12:4 Then she will stay for thirty-three days in the blood of her purifying. She will not touch anything holy, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying are completed.
Lev 12:5 But if she bears a female child, then she will be contaminated two weeks, as in her menstruation. And she will stay in the blood of her purifying for sixty-six days.
Lev 12:6 “And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she will bring to the priest at the entrance of the conference tent a lamb a year old for an ascending offering and a pigeon or a turtledove for a mistake offering,
Lev 12:7 and he will offer it in Yahveh’s sight and provide reconciliation for her. Then she will be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female.
Lev 12:8 And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she will take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for an ascending offering and the other for a mistake offering. And the priest will provide reconciliation for her, and she will be clean.”

she will be clean

Life begins at conception, and the entire process of bringing another life into this world is a miraculous thing. But these instructions also draw our attention to the fact that even this miracle is tainted by original sin. Thus, the process of ritual purification of the mother is a reminder of our need for reconciliation from the very beginning of our lives. There is no age of innocence where God in his holiness does not hold us accountable for depravity. There is only the grace of our God who offers cleansing because he loves us, even while we are still sinners.

LORD, thank you for your grace, which begins to touch us long before we draw our first breath, and offers forgiveness for the sin we are born with, as well as the sins we commit.

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wash and wait

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Leviticus 11:39-47

Lev 11:39 “And if any animal which you may eat dies, whoever touches its carcass will be contaminated until the evening,
Lev 11:40 and whoever eats of its carcass will wash his clothes and be contaminated until the evening. And whoever carries the carcass will wash his clothes and be contaminated until the evening.
Lev 11:41 “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it will not be eaten.
Lev 11:42 Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you will not eat, because they are detestable.
Lev 11:43 You will not make your souls detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you will not contaminate yourselves with them, and become contaminated through them.
Lev 11:44 Because I am Yahveh your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, because I am holy. You will not contaminate your souls with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground.
Lev 11:45 Because I am Yahveh who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You will therefore be holy, because I am holy.”
Lev 11:46 This is the law about beast and bird and every living soul that moves through the water and every soul that swarms on the ground,
Lev 11:47 to divide between the contaminated and the pure and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.

wash and wait

The word “soul” does not indicate a separate disembodied self. The soul is the self. That is how an Israelite’s soul could be contaminated by the soul of a prohibited animal, or even by an animal that is allowed, if the Israelite touches its dead carcass. Here the reason for these restrictions is laid out. Touching a prohibited animal, or a dead animal, leads to contamination of the soul by that animal’s soul. A living, non-prohibited animal may be appropriately slaughtered and eaten for food, and such does not contaminate the human soul. But a non-living soul (a dead soul) contaminates, and a prohibited soul contaminates.

Religions are constantly getting the soul wrong. To take one’s theology from Plato, and assume that souls are immortal, just destroys the purpose of this text. You cannot be contaminated by a dead soul if the soul never dies.

The Bible says that God breathed life into Adam and Eve, and they became living souls. Then it says sin made them mortal, and they died — not just their bodies, but their whole souls. That is why our souls need a Saviour. If they were immortal, they would not need a Saviour.

The prescription for soul contamination was to wash one’s clothes and wait until evening. This wonderfully demonstrates the process of the Holy Spirit’s sanctification.

LORD, thank you for giving us an answer to the problem of sin’s contamination.

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