In Scripture leprosy is a clear picture of sin. Let’s briefly
consider some of the similarities.
Leprosy destroys, as does sin. It has been called
"living death," which quickly sends our minds back to the beginning and
God’s words to Adam, "In eating ye shall die." Brother Young translates
this, "Dying, ye shall die." Because of sin we are all in the process of dying.
Leprosy destroys feeling as well. The affected
members of the body lose all sense of feeling, even to the point where rats have been
known to chew on numb limbs without the stricken individual being aware of it. Sin too
destroys feelings as it sears the conscience. What once impacted the conscience is now
repeated without any sense of guilt.
Leprosy defiles and divides. It made one unclean,
and as such the individual was unfit for God’s presence and for fellowship with
God’s people. Likewise sin makes the sinner unfit to enter the presence of a holy
God. It can also cause one to be put out of assembly fellowship and render one unfit for
the Lord’s service.
Leprosy manifests itself in many forms and various degrees.
Leviticus 13:2 notes three forms—"a rising, a scab, or bright spot." The
rising, or swelling, pictures pride which is at the heart of sin. (Isa. 14:12–14)
Perhaps the scab, the covering of an old wound, speaks of the hidden sins in a man’s
life. Certainly, in most lives there are more of these than manifest themselves openly.
The bright spot may picture the pleasures of this world. It has been said, "The
bright spots in this world are often the most sinful!"
Leprosy spreads. It, like sin, starts small and
spreads. Scripture also uses leaven to picture this aspect of sin. Many sins are not
alarming at first, but what seems so harmless is, in fact, fatal. Many in prison tell us
that they arrived there "one step at a time." They started with what appeared to
be a minor act and progressed in crime until it led to their being put out of society.
David experienced this path until it led to murder. He looked, lusted, and than committed
adultery, followed by murder. It is for this reason that we might find it helpful to pray
as one saint expressed, "Lord, keep me from sins that seem innocent."
Leprosy is diagnosed objectively. What the
individual thought of his symptoms did not matter. It was what the priest determined that
was important. (Lev. 13:3) What God says is sin, is sin. Man may call sin by another name,
or diminish it in some other way, but what God determines to be sin will come under His
Leprosy required examination. It was obvious at
times, but in other cases it took time to fully develope. Man may quickly observe and
ignore the true nature of sin, but God has examined mankind for thousands of years and His
conclusions are recorded for us in Scripture. (Rom. 3:10-18) Man looks only on the
surface, but God looks upon the heart. He sees the true depth of sin to which man has
Thus far all we have considered leaves little hope; however, lepers,
like sinners, can be cleansed. Much like the serpent on the pole, the cleansing for
leprosy was also objective.
The individual was brought to the priest and if he was declared to be
healed the priest was to take two birds and kill one of them. He dipped both of them in
the blood and sprinkled it seven times upon the one needing to be cleansed. (Lev.
14:6–7) He then pronounced him clean and released the second bird into the open
field. (See Leviticus 14 for more details.)
What a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus who died and shed His blood
that we might be cleansed from all the defilement of our sin. (1 John 1:7-9) The released
bird picturing His resurrection which assures us of the completeness of His work and our
acceptance before a holy God.
With such a clear picture of the awfulness of sin and the wonderful
work of Christ, it should cause us to "walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto
his kingdom and glory." (1 Thess. 2:12)