If there’s one thing humanity can all agree on, it’s their love of ceremonies. Graduation ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, rites of passage. We love to honor things and bestow so much importance on things – even when it’s something that just about everyone will do at some point in their lives. Don’t get me wrong, I love it too. But why do we do it? What’s the point? What does it all mean?
You can ask the same questions about the ceremonies described in Leviticus 14 and have just as difficult a time finding answers. After discussing the process for dealing with a skin disease, a mildew, or a mold in the previous chapter, this chapter explains how to celebrate the healing of a skin disease, mold, or mildew. As always, the priests figure largely in these activities. Lambs are sacrificed (verse 10), as are birds (verses 5, 22, 30). Blood is sprinkled, and so is oil. All the elements come together as burnt, sin, and grain offerings before the Lord. It is solemn and serious and detailed. But why do they do it?
The Treasures Within:
It’s The Principle of the Thing
The last time I sprayed Tilex in my bathroom to rid it of the mildew on the grout between the tiles on the wall, I didn’t kill any birds or even say a word of prayer. Ditto when my elbow healed from the last time I had eczema. I didn’t do anything special because those weren’t events – they didn’t mean anything. The fact that there was special ceremony for the cleansing described in this week’s chapter implies the opposite – that it was important; that it did mean something.
Just like so many things in the Bible, the ceremonial laws for cleansing a person healed of disease or a house healed of mold hearken back to the disease, the mold that is sin. It is even more disgusting than a bad rash or a growing mold. But that’s a concept that was hard for the Israelites to grasp. It’s hard for us to grasp. So God made it clear through this ceremony and others. The evil that grows in our hearts and in our homes needs to be purged, and it requires death. It requires blood. It required the blood of the only truly innocent Being – Jesus Christ. His death, the pain He went through, and all that He sacrificed and endured for us – the magnitude of it is almost too much for us to comprehend. So maybe, in His kindness, God gives us stories like these to remind us that we must take this as seriously as He does.
Clean Bill of Health
Despite the sad death of a bird or a lamb, or the uncomfortable reminder of the wages of sin, there is something beautiful about the ceremonies described in this chapter. For me, at least, there’s a sort of finality to it all. The mold is gone and the house can become a happy home again. Or the skin disease has healed and the healthy, freshly bathed person can go back to loving and living with their family and friends. There’s a “happily ever after” implied.
But sin, the symbol underlying all of this, isn’t like that. It’s a disease, yes; gross and invading like mold, yes, but it’s something we live with. We may pop pills by asking forgiveness, promising not to do it again, or repenting, but this disease doesn’t go away. We may spray our Tilex all over our hearts and our homes, but the mold always comes back. It’s disgusting and horrible and painful, but it’s just the world we live in. Nobody can be perfect.
That is our reality, but this story suggests that it isn’t God’s reality. God heals. Full stop. He doesn’t heal for just a little while. He doesn’t hide symptoms. He doesn’t brush things under the rug. He heals. He cleanses. Sometimes we attempt to mimic His work – we grit our teeth, we force ourselves, we try to make ourselves stop doing bad things. But no one can do the job quite like Him. No one can heal like He can. The question is, are we willing to go to Him? Are we willing to let Him into our hearts and into our homes? Are we willing to trust Him? After all, He already shed the blood necessary to cleanse us.
God’s Message To Us:
“I am the best Housekeeper”. We’ve all had some form of mold, mildew, or skin disease in our lives – literally. It’s funny how even the mundane points to Jesus. In fact, it almost feels like too many things are a “symbol for sin”. It’s almost the cop-out answer. Yeast? Symbol of sin. Mold? Symbol of sin. But I think God makes so many things symbolic of sin because He’s desperate for us to get this: Sin is everywhere. Sin is easy. Sin will destroy our lives. But sin can be fought and overcome by Jesus and Jesus alone. There’s no way around it. We try so hard to heal ourselves and that’s why we always fail. That’s why we accept sin as this formidable enemy that’s just along for the ride of our lives. We are so wrong. We’ve been wrong all this time. We haven’t been looking at the right Solution. I wish I never had to fight eczema or bathroom mold ever again. But I know I don’t have to fall into sin anymore. I want to try Something new – will you join me?
What do you think? Do you think God can cleanse you of all the mold and disease in your life? What message did God send you through this chapter?
There Are Always Questions:
- In the offerings made to cleanse the house or the person of their disease, blood, water, yarn, hyssop, and cedar wood were important ingredients (verses 4, 49). Blood hearkens back to the blood of Christ. But what about the wood? The hyssop? And especially the scarlet yarn, which didn’t seem to be used for anything but to dip in the water (verse 6)?