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Passage: Leviticus 14-15

On Thursday, February 14, 2013 (Last Updated on 1/30/2020), Yujin wrote,

Thus you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in their uncleanness by their defiling My tabernacle that is among them (Leviticus 15:31).

Leviticus speaks of a separation between what is clean and unclean so that God's sanctuary would not be defiled by the things that He has designated as unclean. As mentioned before, this kind of separation has a direct relationship to the holiness of God, so that just as God is holy, the people of God were expected to be holy. And being holy meant separation from what God designated as unclean. Thus, we read earlier,

I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holyDo not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves along the ground. I am the Lord, who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45).

We have a parallel thought in the New Testament with respect to believers and unbelievers. In fact, some of the same language from the Old Testament is carried over into the New. 

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

There are singles that still think that it's okay to date and even marry non-believers. It is not. God calls unbelievers "unclean" in the text above, at least until they come to Christ. While we are called to witness to them, we are not to do this in the context of dating or marriage (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:39, speaking of widows being allowed to remarry, but only to Christians). 

Many Christians think that they can convert their boyfriend or girlfriend, but they impugn the wisdom of God by breaking His command in order to fulfill their own desires. Even Israel probably imagined that they could convert the pagan Canaanites, but over time it was Israel that fell away from the faith. As the saying goes, "It's easier to bring someone down than to lift them up."

It is not politically correct to speak of discrimination and separation from others; however, this is precisely what the Bible commands in both the OT and the NT. When Israel came into the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, this was the foremost command of God:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites,Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you... Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you... For you are a people holy to the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 7:1,3-4,6).

It is the violation of this command that caused God's holy people to become unclean. They were contaminated by the idolatry and immorality of the people of Canaan, so that instead of worshipping the LORD exclusively, they combined the worship of God with the worship of idols.

Passage: Leviticus 14-15

On Tuesday, February 14, 2012 (Last Updated on 2/15/2012), Misty wrote,

What is the purpose of these rituals for cleansing? The purpose is made clear at the end of this passage. They had to offer up a sin offering, a blood sacrifice, and do this specific task, and then they were cleansed. Why is it so important to God for these people to be cleansed?

‘Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them. 32 This is the law for one who has a discharge, and for him who emits semen and is unclean thereby, 33 and for her who is indisposed because of her customary impurity, and for one who has a discharge, either man or woman, and for him who lies with her who is unclean.’”

It is pretty clear that the Lord is not being picky here; His purpose is so that all can come to the tabernacle cleansed as verse 31 says. No one can come to the tabernacle who is unclean, or they will die! They have to be purified, it's not some meaningless ritual it is a process whereby anyone with any kind of impurity can come to the tabernacle.


Passage: Leviticus 14-15

On Tuesday, February 14, 2012 (Last Updated on 2/14/2014), Yujin wrote,

Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “When you arrive in Canaan, the land I am giving you as your own possession, I may contaminate some of the houses in your land with mildew (Leviticus 14:33-34).

Did you catch this? Here we find that God intervenes into the affairs of men to "contaminate some of the houses." It is very possible that God initiated the skin diseases as well, even as He did with Job, who suffered from painful boils. Is it not interesting that God would initiate uncleanness and then give specifications for handling it? 

Does this surprise you? Do you realize that in the wilderness of Sinai when the Israelites were hungering for food, thirsting for water, and seeking anything other than "manna," that it was God who initiated the hunger, the thirst, and the drab food? 

Now, it is not true that all these things were done as judgment for sin. This was certainly not the case for Job, who God Himself declared was an upright man. And this was not the case for Israel in the wilderness either. Consider Deuteronomy 8:2-3,

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that people do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Why does God initiate things like hunger, thirst, disease, uncleanness, etc.? He does this to test His people, to see whether they will obey Him or not. When they are without food and drink, will they remain faithful to Him? Will they say, as Job did, "The LORD gives and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the Name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). 

When they find their housees are afflicted with mildew, would they carefully follow all the procedures God outlined for them in the Law? Would they do this with the manna? Or would they complain and desire to return to Egypt?

Remarkably, we even read that God allows the prophecies of false prophets to come true in order to test His people:

If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).

You may ask, then, how will a person know the truth about God when even false prophecies are allowed to come true? There is only one way. Everything must be tested by what God has already revealed in His Word. In every case God is testing His people's faithfulness to what He has already revealed. And in the progress of revelation, everything that comes after must remain consistent and true to what has been revealed before. 

This is also the sense we get from what Jesus revealed about the end times:

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time (Matthew 24:24-25).

Jesus taught that in our day it would not be signs and wonders but the Word of God that would be the evidence for truth. The Scriptures are what have been given "ahead of time" to test the so-called "new revelations" that some are proclaiming today.

We live in a dangerous and confusing time, when self-proclaimed "apostles" and "prophets" are going around giving new revelations from God. Oftentimes, what they speak is merely a repetition of what we already have in the Scriptures; however, there are also signficant departures from the Scriptures. Friends, be wary of them. They are hard to detect because their words often mix truth with falsehood.

Remember, in the days of the judges, before Samuel and King David came on the scene, it appeared that Israel was slipping into some weird synthesis of Yahweh worship and idol worship, where self-appointed priests and prophets spoke just what the people and those in power wanted to hear (Judges 17-18). When you read these last chapters of Judges, you should notice that while the people thought they were following God, they were really following idols. Though they thought they followed God's Law, they had twisted it to fit their idolatrous and immoral agenda.

I fear that we are facing something similar today. Some of this is heralded by the Kansas City "prophets" (of IHOP) and the so-called neocharismatic, apostolic movement (or "Jesus Movement"). They are taking portions of Scripture and combining them with so-called "new revelation." The manifestations they parade is not bibically supported, but they find their origin in pagan rituals and ecstatic experiences (e.g. Google "Kundalini and Christianity" for evidence). They are claiming apostolic authority through undocumented "miracles," which includes alleged claims of the blind being healed and the dead being raised. They are mixing mysticism, psychology, and pagan rituals and attempting to conform biblical truth to them. 

I am trying to warn my brothers and sisters to stay true to God's Word? We recently heard a message on the need for unity in the church from 1 Corinthians 1. The text teaches against "boasting about human leaders" (1 Corinthians 3:21). It is not about doctrinal division but division over personalities. But a pure doctrine that arises from the Word of God should be what unites Christians. Yet, holiness demands Christians separate from those that deviate from biblical truth.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have departed from the truth (2 Timothy 2:15-18).

 In fact, the Bible is to provide the boundaries for all Christian teaching and experience:

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other (1 Corinthians 4:6).

These words conclude Paul's discussion on division in the Corinthian church. Paul boiled everything down to a well-known saying in the Christian church, namely, "Do not go beyond what is written." This is the basis for Christian unity, such that whatever was unbiblical (i.e. contrary to the Bible) or extrabiblical (i.e. goes beyond the Bible) should not be pursued by Christians. Paul wrote that he and Apollos, the two most famous leaders for the Corinthian Church, have put themselves under the Word of God; therefore, since their leaders have submitted themselves in this way, their followers should do likewise.

What is the conclusion of the matter? Be united around the truth of God's Word, not over personalities, not over experiences, not over alleged miracles. The rule is, "Do not go beyond what is written." The text does not merely say, "Don't contradict what is written." It is more far-reaching in saying, "Don't go BEYOND what is written." Even if some of these neo-charismatic prophecies and practices don't appear to directly contradict the Scriptures, they often go "beyond" the Scriptures, saying and practicing more than is biblically warranted. Therefore, be wary!

Passage: Leviticus 14-15

On Tuesday, February 22, 2011, Unmi wrote,

The key verse is this section of Leviticus is in chapter 15:31 “‘You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.’” The whole purpose of all these regulations about being clean and unclean is so that the Isrealites will not defile the Tabernacle, the place of worship. Now in terms of skin diseases, mold problems and even abnormal discharges, it all seems to make some sense...however, chapter 15 also mentions even sexual relations between a man and wife makes both of them unclean at least until evening. So essentially in order to worship at the Tabernacle, it required sexual abstinence at least for that day. It seems that the LORD truly wanted to separate, set apart the Isrealites from their surrounding neighbors who combined worship of their gods with sexual activity. We see this even back in Genesis when Judah mistakes his daughter-in-law, Tamar, for a shrine prostitute. Shrine prostitution must have been common for Judah to mistakenly assume that Tamar was one of them.

Later we do see that even Isreal is lead down this road of combining worship and sex.  In 2 Kings 23, when King Josiah finds the Book of the Law, which apparently his forefathers didn't even bother reading, he renews the Mosaic covenant, he gets rid of the idols and "He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the LORD" (2 Kings 23:7)...What did that say?  That's right, they even set up quarters for male shrine prostitutes inside the temple itself! After Josiah cleans out Isreal of all its detestible practices, what does God saw about Josiah? Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses (2 Kings 23:25)
For the Jews, the "Shema" is considering the most important prayer, it is usually recited twice a day and this is the first prayer that Jewish children learn to recite. It is from Deut 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Even Jesus himself, confirms that this is the most important commandment. WOW, King Josiah is said that have turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his sould and with all his strength! When my life on this earth is over, what will the history books say of me?

Lord help me in my weakness to live my life for You, to keep myself separate from the ways of this world so as not to defile Your Holy Name!


Passage: Leviticus 14-15

On Tuesday, February 15, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Friends, one of our members asked why God seems to be harder on the woman than the man, on the girl than the boy. Why does a woman suffer uncleanness twice as long for bearing a girl as for bearing a boy? Here's my response...

I'm sure that you are not the only one puzzled by the difference in time of uncleanness for the birth of a girl vs. the birth of a boy. There has been a number of suggestions as to the reason; however, most do not have any biblical basis at all. Therefore, they are all conjectures.

If I might address a larger and more general issue, it would be the whole matter of uncleanness and sin for things that seem morally neutral, like childbirth, sickness, discharges, mold, etc. Could we not relate all these things to the fall in Genesis 3? Prior to the first sin, everything was perfect. Adam and Even did not even need coverings for themselves, they had no shame, and they freely walked with God in the garden. There was no sickness and death. Everything in God's creation was good and perfect. As far as we know, there was nothing impure or forbidden beyond the command not to eat from the tree in the center of the garden. It appears that only in the New Jerusalem will we find this kind of condition again. In that day, God says of that city that "nothing impure will ever enter it" (Revelation 21:27).

Now, even though God does not specifically give reasons why certain morally neutral things may be unclean or produce uncleanness, could we surmise that it has something to do with the fall? Could it be that they are unclean because they are a product of the curse? Are we not also all born into this world in a sense unclean, because we are born with a sinful nature. David writes in Psalm 51:5, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." We are told that God has subjected the entire world to "decay" (cf. Romans 8:20-21), at least until the time of the final resurrection of believers.

Still, the question remains. Why would God command in the Law of Moses ceremonial cleansing rituals for things where the individuals that suffer them are not morally responsible? The answer is that we are morally responsible, through our first parents, and particularly through Adam. This is Paul's argument in Romans 5:12-14,

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. 

The curse of sin, namely death, fell on everyone, even on those that did not break a specific command. Why? It is because we sinned in Adam. This is the doctrine of original sin, that Adam was our federal head, so that through him, all of us are affected and become responsible for sin. And as Adam, the Scriptures are clear that given the opportunity all of us would likewise sin. Nevertheless, Adam's "one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people" (Romans 5:18) so that only through Christ, a kind of second Adam, can that condemnation be removed:

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).

So we can have this confidence, which Paul articulates in Romans 8:1, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Since we are morally responsible, we are responsible for our uncleanness, whether brought on by direct sin or as arising from the sinfulness that we inherit from Adam, and we need the provision of God for cleansing. All the provisions in the Law of Moses were only temporary, even a shadow, until Christ. Nothing that is prescribed could take away the uncleanness or the sin. Only Christ could take away the uncleanness. Jesus could touch a leper and make him clean. The power of Jesus made the woman with the issue of blood stop bleeding and be cleansed. Only Jesus has the power to overcome the uncleanness of all diseases and even death. That is why the coming of the New Covenant in Christ was so significant. It did what the Old Covenant could not do. Through the New Covenant we are cleansed from all uncleanness and sin.

Now, back to your original question about the difference in uncleanness for the birth of the girl vs. the birth of the boy? Is this just one example of inequality? Later we will read how a husband can accuse his wife of not being a virgin on penalty of stoning, but there is no reverse specifications for the wife accusing her husband. There are numerous such Scriptures that make a distinction between a man and a woman, between a boy and a girl. Once again, could this be because of what happened at the beginning? Even though there is an equality of essence, there is a clear emphasis on the hierarchy of responsibility in the home and in the church. This is related to God's order in creation, as well as responsibility in the fall. As Paul writes in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner."

That said, while it is not explicitly spelled out, the difference in time for uncleanness, as well as a number of other things that particularly weigh upon the female sex, seems somehow related to the fall. A local pastor that I respect for his biblical erudition wrote this on this subject:

The question remains, “But why was the Israelite woman punished two-fold for bearing a girl child?” I have only one explanation, which is similar in nature to the reason for separating sex from worship. The reason is not to be found as much in the cause of the uncleanness as it is in the result this uncleanness will have in the life of the Israelite woman. In my opinion, the two-fold period of uncleanness will cause the Israelite mother of a girl child to ponder the reasons for her plight. Why is a woman singled out for uncleanness in the birth of the child, and especially so when the child is a female, like her? In other words, what is that about womanhood that merits this “curse”?

Ah, but doesn’t this word “curse” supply us with the key? This long period of isolation should have given the Israelite mothers a fair period of time to ponder why women should be cursed as they were. I believe that Genesis chapter 3 supplies her with a good part of the reason. This chapter could have provided her with ample food for thought, and taught her not only the way in which a woman participated (even led) in the fall of man, but also the ways (especially involving childbirth) in which she has been cursed, due to the fall (cf. commentary).

Now, all that said, what is our only hope for cleansing. It is God's provision in Jesus Christ. David, in Psalm 51, recognized his need for God to cleanse him. He writes, "Blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin... Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. " (Psalm 51:1-2,7).

He acknowledges that his sin of murder and adultery is rooted in his sinful nature: "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5).

He recognizes that his remedy is not through the Mosaic Law, because there was no provision for his premeditated sins: "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings" (Psalm 51:16).

All David could do is to humble himself in the hope of God's grace: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise" (Psalm 51:1,17).

And this is all we can do. Hope in God's grace. Let none of us imagine that there is any good in us, but let us say as David, "You are right in Your verdict and justified when You judge" (Psalm 51:4). We all "fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We all deserve to be judged. Therefore, whether speaking of specific sins or our sinful condition, before Christ saved us, we all stood guilty and condemned before God (cf. John 3:18; Ephesians 2:1-3).