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Bible verses about Hyssop
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 12:22   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

The most spiritually significant of the ritual uses of hyssop in the Old Testament is recorded in Exodus 12:22. Moses has just given the instructions for the killing of the Passover lamb, and he continues with some further instructions that must have been rather startling for those participating Israelites:

And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood [of the Passover lamb] that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.

It is important that we consider all the aspects of this event. During repeated requests by Moses for Pharaoh to allow Israel to leave Egypt, Pharaoh had continually refused to let God's people go, and the nation had endured nine plagues of cataclysmic consequences. The economy of the nation was largely in shambles. Crops were ruined, and disease had run rampant.

Since the third plague, God had also made readily visible a clear distinction between the captive nation of Israel and the Egyptians, in that the Israelites in Goshen had been spared much of the devastation that had ruined the rest of Egypt. By the use of the blood of the sacrificial lamb, God was about to make a final, absolute distinction between these two nations that would never be forgotten.

We must recognize that Egypt suffered the devastation at the hand of God because though it was a sophisticated, dazzling, world-dominating empire, it was also a wicked, idolatrous nation. The Egyptians were a people who openly flouted the natural evidence of a supreme Creator by worshipping a pantheon of idols and gods dedicated to their own passions and lusts. Egyptians regularly engaged in a frenzy of immoral and idolatrous celebrations, sporting events, fashions, and music all dedicated to gods of materialism and human gratification.

The plagues God meted upon the land of Egypt and its people were just as much attacks on her idols and lifestyle as they were punishments for the sins of her people. As just one example, the Egyptians worshipped the Nile River as a god, and when God turned its waters to blood, the life-giving nature of the river was destroyed, along with the power that the Nile River god supposedly possessed.

Thus, in this solemn Passover event of Exodus 12, God used blood of a different nature to represent the saving, life-giving power that only He, the almighty, eternal God, possessed. The sacrificial lamb of Passover symbolized the future Son of God, who would take upon Himself the role of the sacrificial Lamb of God (John 1:29). The shed blood of the Passover lamb symbolized the blood to be shed by the coming Messiah.

The bunch of hyssop was dipped into the blood, and per God's instructions, that blood was sprinkled or brushed on the doorposts and lintel of each home. The Israelites were then told to stay within those homes, separated from the Egyptian people and their normal routines. That night, there was to be no interaction or communication with any aspect of the Egyptian civilization. Their very lives depended on their following this command to the letter.

The sacrificial blood, sprinkled or smeared by the bunch of hyssop, graphically represented a separation and a protection of Israel against the deadly havoc that God wrought upon Egypt that night. The blood ceremonially cleansed and protected the people inside those homes against the plague of death that struck a people who practiced the filthy abominations of godlessness.

Later, in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, hyssop was used as part of sacrificial ceremonies. The hyssop was always tied into bunches for use in sprinkling the blood of the sacrificed animal. In some sacrifices, the priest sprinkled the blood onto the person making the sacrifice.

In Numbers 19, Moses gives instructions for one who is unclean due to touching a dead body. These instructions include taking a bunch of hyssop, dipping it into clean, running water, and sprinkling the unclean individual, his tent, and possessions. This example clearly connects the use of hyssop and clean water for cleansing.

Over the years, some have suggested that hyssop contains valuable antiseptic or cleansing properties that would "disinfect" the contaminated person or his possessions. This cannot be the point because such an idea contradicts the fact that God is the only Source of true purification. The biblical use of hyssop in the Passover, the sacrifices, and the ceremonial cleansing rituals was a constant reminder, painting a detailed picture of the washing, cleansing, saving, purification, and salvation from death itself that come only from the eternal God.

Staff
Purge Me With Hyssop


 

Psalm 51:1-2   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the depths of his godly sorrow over his sins, David understood that it was the washing of His Creator that was needed for him to be cleansed of his transgressions of God's way of life.

In the book of Psalms, David expresses profound details of his relationship with his Creator. He looked forward to his Savior coming to fulfill the purposes of cleansing and restoration. David understood that His God was working to open the gates to everlasting life for human beings who would be cleansed and made whole, perfected as children of the great God.

Recall in Psalm 23 that David concludes his description of his relationship with his Shepherd, his Creator, by declaring that he would "dwell in the house of the LORD forever" (Psalm 23:6). David looked forward to eternal life, understanding that it would take God washing him and cleansing him of his sins to allow him to come into this inheritance.

Staff
Purge Me With Hyssop


 

Psalm 51:7   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

Woven into the fabric of the Psalms are many of the very words that Jesus Christ used Himself during His life on earth, including some of the final words He uttered before His death. The understanding that David possessed, a gift and blessing that the Eternal gave to him, is further evidenced in Psalm 51:7: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

Here, David again refers to the spiritual washing required for his cleansing. He makes a deliberate request of God to wash Him, knowing that only the cleansing power of Almighty God can make a man clean and pure. Though his sins have covered him in filth and stained him to the very roots of his being, the washing power of God makes a man whiter than snow.

In our understanding of the symbolism of colors, "snow-white" is considered the ultimate in white, the whitest of white, as pure and unsullied a white as possible. David's expectation was that God's cleansing power would exceed even that ultimate white - "I shall be whiter than snow." We can only relate this to absolute spiritual, moral perfection, the very state in which Almighty God exists. The wording expresses that the scrubbing God could give him would permit him to exist in that absolute, ultimate state of perfection.

At the beginning of verse 7, David makes the deliberate request of God to purge him with hyssop. Hyssop is an interesting choice as a cleansing agent. It is an herb, a species of marjoram and member of the mint family, and some Bible versions actually refer to it as "marjoram." It has long been considered an aromatic and medicinal herb, anciently indigenous to western Asia and northern Africa, including regions of the Middle East. The hyssop plant grows just under three feet in height, producing clusters of variously colored flowers. In ancient times, it grew naturally in rocky crevices, and people cultivated it on terraced walls.

The short, cut stems of the plant can be gathered into bunches, and in the Old Testament, these bunches were used for ritual purposes. The most spiritually significant of these uses is recorded in Exodus 12:22. Moses has just given the instructions for the killing of the Passover lamb, and he continues with some further instructions that must have been rather startling for those participating Israelites:

And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood [of the Passover lamb] that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.

It is important that we consider all the aspects of this event. During repeated requests by Moses for Pharaoh to allow Israel to leave Egypt, Pharaoh had continually refused to let God's people go, and the nation had endured nine plagues of cataclysmic consequences. The economy of the nation was largely in shambles. Crops were ruined, and disease had run rampant.

Since the third plague, God had also made readily visible a clear distinction between the captive nation of Israel and the Egyptians, in that the Israelites in Goshen had been spared much of the devastation that had ruined the rest of Egypt. By the use of the blood of the sacrificial lamb, God was about to make a final, absolute distinction between these two nations that would never be forgotten.

We must recognize that Egypt suffered the devastation at the hand of God because though it was a sophisticated, dazzling, world-dominating empire, it was also a wicked, idolatrous nation. The Egyptians were a people who openly flouted the natural evidence of a supreme Creator by worshipping a pantheon of idols and gods dedicated to their own passions and lusts. Egyptians regularly engaged in a frenzy of immoral and idolatrous celebrations, sporting events, fashions, and music all dedicated to gods of materialism and human gratification.

The plagues God meted upon the land of Egypt and its people were just as much attacks on her idols and lifestyle as they were punishments for the sins of her people. As just one example, the Egyptians worshipped the Nile River as a god, and when God turned its waters to blood, the life-giving nature of the river was destroyed, along with the power that the Nile River god supposedly possessed.

Thus, in this solemn Passover event of Exodus 12, God used blood of a different nature to represent the saving, life-giving power that only He, the almighty, eternal God, possessed. The sacrificial lamb of Passover symbolized the future Son of God, who would take upon Himself the role of the sacrificial Lamb of God (John 1:29). The shed blood of the Passover lamb symbolized the blood to be shed by the coming Messiah.

The bunch of hyssop was dipped into the blood, and per God's instructions, that blood was sprinkled or brushed on the doorposts and lintel of each home. The Israelites were then told to stay within those homes, separated from the Egyptian people and their normal routines. That night, there was to be no interaction or communication with any aspect of the Egyptian civilization. Their very lives depended on their following this command to the letter.

The sacrificial blood, sprinkled or smeared by the bunch of hyssop, graphically represented a separation and a protection of Israel against the deadly havoc that God wrought upon Egypt that night. The blood ceremonially cleansed and protected the people inside those homes against the plague of death that struck a people who practiced the filthy abominations of godlessness.

Later, in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, hyssop was used as part of sacrificial ceremonies. The hyssop was always tied into bunches for use in sprinkling the blood of the sacrificed animal. In some sacrifices, the priest sprinkled the blood onto the person making the sacrifice.

In Numbers 19, Moses gives instructions for one who is unclean due to touching a dead body. These instructions include taking a bunch of hyssop, dipping it into clean, running water, and sprinkling the unclean individual, his tent, and possessions. This example clearly connects the use of hyssop and clean water for cleansing.

Over the years, some have suggested that hyssop contains valuable antiseptic or cleansing properties that would "disinfect" the contaminated person or his possessions. This cannot be the point because such an idea contradicts the fact that God is the only Source of true purification. The biblical use of hyssop in the Passover, the sacrifices, and the ceremonial cleansing rituals was a constant reminder, painting a detailed picture of the washing, cleansing, saving, purification, and salvation from death itself that come only from the eternal God.

This is the kind of cleansing that David requested of God when he asked to be purged with hyssop.

Staff
Purge Me With Hyssop


 

Matthew 8:4   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In addition to His command for the leper to be cleansed, Jesus gives the now-healed man specific instructions to tell no one, but to go and show himself to the priest. He is also to "offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." On Matthew 8:4, The Expositor's Bible Commentary suggests that Jesus' command for the leper to keep silent shows that He "was not presenting Himself as a mere wonder worker." He was following the simple adage, "Actions speak louder than words." What this man was to do would be seen as testimony, a reminder to us that our obedience to God's commands is perhaps our strongest witness, in which we do not have to say a word.

Before giving the gift that Moses commanded, something else had to occur about a week in advance, beginning outside the camp. First, the leper had to be inspected by the priest, who would confirm that he had been healed. Leviticus 14:4-8 continues the instructions:

[T]hen the priest shall command to take for him who is cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days.

Commenting on these verses, Barnes writes:

The details of a restoration to health and freedom appear to be well expressed in the whole ceremony. Each of the birds represented the leper. . . . The death-like state of the leper during his exclusion from the camp was expressed by killing one of the birds. The living bird was identified with the slain one by being dipped in his blood mixed with the spring water that figured the process of purification, while the cured leper was identified with the rite by having the same water and blood sprinkled over him. The bird then liberated was a sign that the leper left behind him all the symbols of the death disease and of the remedies associated with it, and was free to enjoy health and social freedom with his kind.

Barnes further comments that the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop were commonly used in purification rites. The resin, or turpentine, of the cedar was a preservative against decay, and it was also used in medicines to treat skin diseases. The color of the twice-dyed scarlet band of wool—with which the living bird, the hyssop, and cedar wood were tied together—reflected the rosy complexion associated with health and energy. Hyssop, too, was thought to have cleansing virtues.

The ceremony of the two birds pictures the change in a healed leper's life: death to the old way that leads to death, and life and freedom to live a new way. Dying to the old self combined with living life anew in Christ is a concept repeated throughout the New Testament (see Romans 6:4-13).

After the ceremony with the two birds, the leper was to wash himself and his clothes, and shave off all his hair, but he was not yet completely clean. However, he was allowed back into the camp, though he had to remain outside his tent seven days. On the seventh day, the man was to wash and shave a second time before going to the Tabernacle or Temple on the eighth day (Leviticus 14:8-9). This continuing procedure is comparable to Paul's instruction in II Corinthians 7:1, that we "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Finally, on the eighth day, the former leper and the priest offered the regime of offerings ordained in Leviticus 14:10-32. These offerings consisted of a wave offering and a trespass offering with a log of oil, a sin offering, and a burnt offering with its grain offering. An unusual thing was done with the blood of the trespass offering and the log of oil. Leviticus 14:14-17 records that blood from the trespass offering and then oil were to be placed on the tips of the right ear, right thumb, and right big toe. Interestingly, a similar procedure was done only when priests were consecrated (Leviticus 8).

These body parts represent areas of a person's life, and they are all meant to work together so that he may function effectively. The blood and oil, then, cleanse and anoint his hearing (the ear), his works (the thumb), and his walk or way of life (the big toe). His hearing affects his ability to work, and his works affect the way that he lives. Without hearing, a person cannot discern truth, and the ear is also the organ of balance. The hands, symbolic of works, are almost useless without a thumb (for a possible connection to Christ, see John 15:5). Without a big toe, a person walks clumsily and haltingly; it is hard for him to remain upright. To the leper, restored to wholeness, were returned the tools to hear and apply knowledge that could lead to an abundant life.

What a person hears affects what he does, what a person does affects how he lives, and how a person lives greatly affects both his health and his relationship with God and fellow man. The blood, used in cleansing almost all things (Hebrews 9:22), ultimately represents the blood of Christ shed for our sins. The oil symbolizes God's Holy Spirit, so when we are cleansed from all unrighteousness through the blood of Christ, we are able to live a new life in Christ by His Spirit.

After the ritual of the blood and oil, and the offering of a sin offering, burnt and grain offerings were given, signifying the former leper's restoration to God and his fellow man. As a leper, the man had been cut off from society and thus unable to serve God or his neighbor, and incapable of walking in godly love. In the type, then, leprosy, the effect of sin, prevented a true keeping of God's commandments.

The effects of sin, as leprosy, progress slowly. They are undetectable at first but deeply rooted, leading to spiritual dismemberment, a diseased mind, and death. The only possible redemption from both leprosy and sin, and their consequence, is through Jesus Christ, the Eternal-Who-Heals. He cleanses us through the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26), since He paid the price for our healing. We cannot heal ourselves, nor change our nature without His intervention (Jeremiah 13:23).

After God acts to restore us to Himself, we bear an increasing responsibility to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness in cooperation with Him. Doing our part in cleansing ourselves—overcoming—helps prepare us for complete reconciliation and fellowship with the Father, but it is through Christ's shed blood that we have access to Him. We are exhorted in Hebrews 10:19-22:

Therefore, brethren, having boldness [confidence] to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

The Bible records no examples of the gift that Moses commanded ever being offered before Matthew 8. Yet, imagine the exhilaration the former leper must have felt as he began his fresh start. Jesus Christ provides us an example of God as Healer, as He took on our infirmities and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. The gift, which Moses commanded by order of the One who later became Jesus Christ, is really to us, that we might believe, have hope, and draw near to Him. The testimony, the witness, is to us.

Staff
The Gift of a Leper


 

John 19:28-30   (Go to this verse :: Verse pop-up)

In the final moments of His physical life on earth, God orchestrated that Jesus Christ be given hyssop, an identifying element that

» connected Him to the Passover lamb centuries before in Egypt;

» associated Him with the sacrificial and cleansing ceremonies; and

» recalled David's request to be purified of his sins.

Water is indeed the most wonderful physical means to clean and cleanse that God has created. Yet, it is through the life, the shed blood, the death, and the resurrected, eternal, glorious life of our God and Savior that we can experience the ultimate cleansing and purification, as typified in the use of hyssop in the pages of the Bible. Through this spiritual cleansing and purification, we can, like David, anticipate the end of our physical lives and hope to dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6).

Staff
Purge Me With Hyssop


 

Find more Bible verses about Hyssop:
Hyssop {Nave's}
 




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