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Finding Grace in Leviticus 

Chapters 13 & 14 - All About Leprosy

Leviticus 13- the big points
1) God is concerned with every area of our lives including our health.

2) The Jews were among the first to quarantine persons suspected of having an infectious disease.

3) This practice may have saved them from outbreaks of things like measles, smallpox and scarlet fever.

4) The initial 7-14 day isolation period was usually long enough for the diseases mentioned above to run their course. They would have been more contagious during that time.

 

Leviticus 14 - The big points

1) God has a plan and everything he does is connected. There was no natural cure for leprosy at the time yet he put a purification ritual in place - waiting for the day when Jesus healed the leper. I have new respect for the leper of Mark 1.He took a huge risk believing that Jesus could heal him.

2) The plants used in the ritual had anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. How cool is that!

Let’s talk about leprosy. Leviticus 13 & 14 go into great detail about how leprosy should be identified, what is to be done if you are not sure, what’s to be done if you are sure.

We are then told of the ritual that must be performed after a leper has been healed and what he has to do when he comes into the camp. So you’ve read it and it’s like, yawn, “There’s no grace in these two chapters.” Hmmm. Let’s find out.

Leprosy was transferred from an infected person to an uninfected one by droplets. So a cough, a sneeze – that was enough to pass the bacteria on. It was a horrible wasting disease.

The rash literally took over the person’s entire body. The nerves get damaged so the infected person often loses feeling in the limbs. After the time the limbs get deformed and the person starts wasting away. It would be like the person was being eaten alive.

A disease like that was not something you to run unchecked in a camp with millions of people. This is why suspected cases of leprosy were isolated. “But”, you’re probably wondering, “why did the isolation period vary from 7 to 14 days.” That’s a great question. There were diseases that appeared to be leprosy but weren’t.

Smallpox, scarlet fever and measles all come with body rash just like leprosy. Those diseases were highly contagious and in some cases deadly. Again, not something you want to run unchecked in a close-knit community. Those diseases, unlike leprosy, had a 3-14 days incubation period.

That means, while they were isolated the disease would run its course and be out of their system or at least past the most contagious part. Remember there was no MMR and smallpox vaccines, no antibiotic medication – isolation was the best remedy that they had at the time.

Grace is isolating the sick.Photo taken by Amar P.

There is grace in the fact that by encouraging isolation for suspected cases of leprosy, God protected the Israelites from epidemic outbreaks. By isolating one person, he protected the whole camp.

Here’s more grace – there was no natural cure for leprosy. Why then would the Great Jehovah ask the priest to risk his health (and his life) to check on a man doomed to death?

This is what I think – there was no natural cure for leprosy but we have a God who can work miracles. He is able to heal any disease on this earth.

I also believe that this ritual was put in place so that when Jesus came the people would know exactly what to do.

Even the ritual included grace: the healed leper was anointed in a similar manner to the priests. The oil symbolizing the Holy Spirit and the blood symbolizing the new life were to be placed on the right ear, right thumb and right big toe of the healed man.

Like the priests, the former leper was called to a new life. He was to act differently because he was different. God cared about his people’s health and in that, there is grace.

Prayer:

Jehovah-Rapha, we thank you for caring about our health. We are grateful that you have shown us that you are a God who heals. Heal today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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