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.
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.