Bible verses about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
Leprosy is a type of sin. Sin can strike "either in the warp or in the woof" (Leviticus 13:51); no one in God's church is immune to it. If sin does not abate, God will tear it "out of the garment" (verse 56). As we saw in Numbers 11, the leprosy of sin struck the mixed multitude. In rebellion and lust, these peoples sinned. Some of them died, and others later departed from the "church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38, margin). The same can happen to us.
The Mixed Multitude
The Bible shows Christ healing people of leprosy twice during His ministry. The first case, in which a single man is healed, appears in Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; and Luke 5:12-16.">Luke 5:12-16. The three parallel accounts provide a more complete witness by adding valuable details. The second healing of lepers, involving ten men, is found only in Luke 17:12-19.
Throughout history, few diseases have been as dreaded as the horrible affliction known as leprosy. It was so common and severe among ancient peoples that God gave Moses extensive instructions to deal with it (Leviticus 13 and 14). Biblically, leprosy refers to several skin diseases and even some kinds of fungus, such as those found in the walls of houses and in clothing. The leprosy that Christ healed was similar to what is today called Hansen's Disease, a detestable infection that can greatly disfigure and destroy the human body. Though not as contagious as scarlet fever, it can still be transmitted through an infected person's secretions. Dr. Richard H. Pousma, a missionary in Asia and a hospital superintendent in New Mexico, explains:
Leprosy was greatly feared by the Israelites, not only because of the physical damage done by the disease, but also because of the strict isolation laws applying to leprosy, making patients feel like feared outcasts of society. . . . Leprosy [in the Bible] appears in two principle forms. The first, and by far the more dangerous, is called lepromatous; and the other, more benign type is designated tuberculoid. Both start with discoloration of a patch of skin. . . . In the lepromatous type of leprosy, the patch may spread widely in all directions. Portions of the eyebrows may disappear. Spongy, tumor-like swellings grow on the face and body. The disease becomes systemic and involves the internal organs as well as the skin. Marked deformity of the hands and feet occur when the tissues between the bones deteriorate and disappear. . . . Untreated cases may be sick with lepromatous leprosy from ten to twenty years, death occurring from the disease itself. . . . The tuberculoid type is less severe. . . . [It] tends to be limited and even untreated cases heal completely in from one to three years. (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, "Leprosy.")
In biblical times, it was almost universally believed that only God could heal. Even the king of Israel, to whom the king of Syria sent his general, Naaman, for healing, remarks, "Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man sends a man to me to heal him of his leprosy?" (II Kings 5:7). The prophet Elisha intervenes, suggesting how Naaman could be healed. The belief that only God could heal leprosy is key to Christ's use of this miracle to prove who He was. Beyond that, in His healing of the leper are timeless spiritual truths applicable to our lives today.
Leprosy vividly illustrates sin and it fruits. The disease's effects on the body demonstrate the effects of sin on the mind. Leprosy represents God's view of sin, as detestable, deforming, and unclean. Both leprosy and sin begin small then grow relentlessly until they infect the whole person. They also both cause heartrending social problems, as the quarantine laws suggest. Families are often split. Lepers suffer both the disease and ostracism from society. In the end, they both destroy their victims' lives.
Luke the physician, in describing the man as "full" of the dreadful disease (Luke 5:12), implies that he was about to die. In this advanced stage of leprosy, he was living apart from other people. According to Leviticus 13:45, he had to wear a cloth over his mouth and cry, "Unclean, unclean."
In this situation, as in others, Christ performs a miracle in which there can be no doubt that God alone healed him. God's healing power is most obviously seen when He provides deliverance in a "hopeless" situation. He often works this way with us, allowing trials to become increasingly worse before He works His will. Though He seems deaf to our prayers as the situation deteriorates, He may simply be letting the situation progress so that we have no doubt about who has come to our aid and whose power solved the crisis. In persevering, we grow spiritually, and He receives greater glory.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Leper (Part One)
The clear implication of Leviticus 13:47-59 is that some, though not all, leprous garments became clean. Peter's vision of "all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air" (Acts 10:12) speaks to this point. God made it clear that He was capable of cleansing the Gentiles, but never said He had cleansed all of them at this time. Notice His admonition to Peter: "What God has cleansed you must not call common" (verse 15). Peter got the picture when he met Cornelius shortly after, telling the Roman centurion: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (verses 34, 35). While God calls from "every nation," only some, those who fear and obey, are acceptable to Him.
In verse 36, Peter interjects a vital idea: Christ "is Lord of all." Verse 45 records that the "Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also." The "apostles and brethren who were in Judea" (Acts 11:1) came to understand that "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (verse 18).
The Mixed Multitude
I Peter 1:16 says, ". . . because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy,'" which is precisely the lesson contained within Leviticus 22:1-7. Our holy God is clearly saying, "Those who serve Me must also be holy." Holy essentially means "set apart," but it also carries with it the sense of "different," which helps explain why a person or thing is set apart. Certain factors or characteristics distinguish the set-apart one or thing, making it different from persons or things of the same kind.
Holy also has the sense of cleanliness or of being undefiled. God can just as easily be saying to the priests and their children, "I am a clean God, and I want those who serve Me to be clean." In this case, His transcendent purity of intent and character sets Him apart from others or things that people may consider to be god. He is therefore completely undefiled.
The Leviticus passage mentions leprosy, a corpse, and semen. We must not forget that, when this was written, God was addressing a carnal people. Thus, the instruction is couched in physical terms, but we must look for spiritual meaning within the physical instruction.
The Tabernacle, altar, priesthood, furniture, vessels, and all of the rites have spiritual significance, and Paul writes that they are "shadow[s] of good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1). Leprosy is a horrible, dreadful disease, thus it is a type of a spiritual disease. It is externally visible in its disfigurement of its victim's body. At times, there can be running sores. It probably does not parallel any one spiritual disease, but rather it symbolizes any number of sins that disfigure a person's character and/or attitude.
Both a corpse and semen possibly represent carriers of disease. Something causes a person to die, and all too frequently, it is an invisible, internal disease, of which infections and cancers are examples. The widespread AIDS virus is a good example. It can be carried within a man's semen into a woman's body. The carrier may look healthy externally, but a deadly disease is present. Only the carrier may know of its existence within him. A corpse and semen represent sins that are not easily perceived. Withdrawal from participation in the fellowship requires the sinner to exercise discipline, as he may be the only one aware of his problem. Creeping things are also defilements from sins that are less obvious. Perhaps in this case, it might be problems with one's attitudes like resentment, bitterness, envy, jealousy, and lusting.
Regardless of what rendered a person unclean, he was not allowed to participate until he cleaned himself by washing in water, a type of the Holy Spirit. Even then, he was still considered unclean until evening of that same day. This process was a form of excommunication. The unclean person was symbolically excluded from communion with God and held unfit to eat of the holy food of the altar, symbolizing the Word of God, until he had cleaned up his act. Verse 7 distinctly says he was free to eat of the holy things only after the sun went down. Even given this permission, he was still eating in the dark! Though accepted back into fellowship, he was still somewhat removed from full exposure to the light of God's throne until the next day, when complete communication with God was restored.
Taking steps to rid ourselves of uncleanness has awesome ramifications when we grasp how burdened we are with the potential for sin. The apostle Paul labels himself as a wretched man who greatly needed deliverance (Romans 7:24-25). Despite what we can do on our own—and God requires us to strive to do so—complete deliverance can only come through the work of Jesus Christ. It is essential that we know this, yet it is perhaps beyond our full understanding and appreciation that God is so merciful and full of grace to provide the sin offering that precedes us! If it were not for these elements—because we are so full of spiritual creeping things and spiritual leprosy—we would never be permitted to eat from the Lord's table.
I and II Corinthians offers us great comfort by showing that, though one may be cut off from the body, he can return once he has cleaned himself through repentance. It shows that even though he is denied close communion with God because of some spiritual uncleanness, he still remains tied to God through the New Testament priesthood. Disfellowshipping is intended to be a temporary, corrective tool.
I Corinthians 5:4-5 says, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." The purpose of excommunication is to save the person from his uncleanness that is destroying his communion with God and others in the fellowship. Therefore, if he can still be saved, that person is not completely cut off from God.
II Corinthians 6:14-17 adds more information to this subject. Paul asks four questions that provide comparisons that clearly urge us to avoid or depart from what is unclean so that we can be at peace and in communion with God. Fellowship with God and being allowed to eat spiritual food from His table are clearly conditioned upon our not falling into uncleanness but instead striving to maintain the purity provided by Christ's sacrifice.
Our part in striving to maintain the purity is to follow Christ's example of thorough dedication in fulfilling the requirements of the burnt and meal offerings. Doing so in no way earns us the fellowshipping privileges expressed in the peace offering, but it does show God our understanding of faith, love, sacrifice, thanksgiving, and the links between total devotion to Him, Jesus Christ, our fellow man, and His wonderful purpose. God has invested a great deal to provide this for us. The least we can do is give back to Him full devotion in our life as a living sacrifice.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Five): The Peace Offering, Sacrifice, and Love
After relating the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew brings the reader back into the story flow by reiterating how great multitudes followed Jesus. Verse 2 begins, "And behold a leper came. . . ." This statement becomes significant when we consider that no man can come to Christ unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). That the leper came to Christ - amongst a great multitude, no less - was in itself an act of faith in response to what he heard (Romans 10:17). For him to come to Christ as he did, God had to have revealed to him that Christ was the only One who could truly cleanse him and provide him the fresh start he so desired (Matthew 16:15-17). Notice, too, the humility the leper portrays in expressing his understanding of Christ's abilities.
What makes this encounter so interesting is that, under Old Testament law, the leper was completely defiled in his uncleanness. He was to live alone and warn any who would venture near of possible contamination (Leviticus 13:44-46). Albert Barnes, commenting on Leviticus 13:45, notes, "The leper was to carry about with him the usual signs of mourning for the dead. . . . The leper was a living parable in the world of sin of which death was the wages."
In fact, all disease and degeneration are ultimately products of sin and neglect, but none is so gruesomely picturesque of the effect sin has on a person and a community as leprosy. The disease progresses slowly at first, deeply seated in the bones and joints, essentially undetectable until spots appear on the skin. Gradually, these spots grow to cover the entire body. They give the appearance of foul wounds, sore and festering as the body slowly wastes away in a ruinous heap. Parts of the body actually begin falling off, leading eventually to the individual's death.
A leper can live up to fifty years in indescribable misery, as he watches himself die bit by bit, falling to pieces as a hideous spectacle. For the leper of Matthew 8, it was a hopeless predicament; nothing could be done, apart from God's miraculous intervention (Isaiah 1:4-6; Jeremiah 13:23).
The Gift of a Leper
The three accounts tell us that a leper "came and worshipped Him" (Matthew 8:2), "imploring Him, kneeling down to Him" (Mark 1:40), and "fell on his face and implored Him" (Luke 5:12). That the leper "came" and "implored" shows his sincerity in seeking and pleading with Christ. He earnestly determined to reach Him, despite the obstacle of the crowd and the spectacle of his horrid disease. Coming before Christ was the great challenge of his life, so he did what was necessary to overcome his disadvantages.
"Implored" suggests the leper's sincerity in pleading with Him, implying that he pled earnestly, desperate for a resolution to his condition. Sadly, few of us can see the true devastation that sin has caused in our lives and how much we need spiritual healing.
All three Gospels record the leper's reverence for Christ, though each reports it a bit differently: Matthew says that the leper "worshipped Him" (Matthew 8:2); Mark, that he came "kneeling down to Him" (Mark 1:40); and Luke, that he "fell on his face" (Luke 5:12) before Him. Each account describes him bowing down before Him—even Matthew's worshipped means "prostrated before." The leper's humble approach conspicuously honored Him, for, unlike many today, the leper did not hide his respect for Christ out of fear of other's opinions.
In contrast, the arrogant will not gain His favor. This society dishonors Christ at every turn with its repeated profanity, its banning of God from public venues, and its rejection of truth and acceptance of the flawed reasonings of men. Such dishonoring of Christ is bringing on our nations an avalanche of curses rather than blessings, and it will not stop until the people repent.
The leper says, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean" (Matthew 8:2), indicating confidence and trust in Christ. True faith always honors both Christ's power and person. Never doubting His power to heal, the leper submits himself to His will. Some prayers we know God will answer positively, as when we ask in faith for forgiveness. However, when we ask for healing or other physical needs, we must faithfully respect God's decision, whatever it may be. By faith, we must acknowledge His superior wisdom in granting our request or not. The leper, in his humility and faith, would never demand God's healing, as though God owed him. It is not our right to be healed, and truly, we deserve death as the penalty for our sins (Romans 6:23). Yet, God heals us according to His mercy and will. A faithful person realizes that reverence should not stop him from asking God for blessings, but he submits to the wise will of God.
The leper does not downplay his condition, making it sound less offensive or serious than it was. He is truthful about his case, confessing his uncleanness, as the Bible considers leprosy (Leviticus 13:45). Interestingly, the leper asks to be cleansed, not to be healed. Of course, the cleansing is a healing, but "cleansing" is the more proper term. Christ makes the distinction between cleansing and healing when commissioning the apostles: "Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers" (Matthew 10:8).
The filthiness of sin can be removed only by the cleansing blood of Christ (I John 1:7). Isaiah writes, "We are all as an unclean thing" (Isaiah 64:6), and David, recognizing that his immorality and murder had polluted him, prays, "Create in me a clean heart, O God" (Psalm 51:10). We all must be cleansed of sin. Even so, until we are truthful about our sinfulness, shown in sincere repentance, we will not be cleansed.
Mark 1:40 refers to Christ six times: "Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, 'If You are willing, You can make me clean.'" The leper wisely chose the right Person to go to for help, for Christ was the only One who could cleanse him. Proverbs 1:5 says, "A wise man will hear and increase learning," and the leper, hearing what Jesus taught and learning what He could do, made a wise choice.
Similarly, Christ is the only One who can cleanse us from sin and lead us to salvation. Peter says in Acts 4:12, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Paul writes, "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 3:11). If anyone comes to Christ for salvation, he is acting wisely. Seeking it from anyone or anything else is foolish because no one else can truly deliver us.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Leper (Part Two)
Knowing the gruesome details of leprosy, one can easily imagine the crowd hastily parting as this man worked his way toward Jesus. Yet, He, in contrast, reaches out to touch the leper, signaling His willingness and power to heal. In Exodus 15:25-26, God reveals Himself as Yahweh Ropheka, or "the Eternal-Who-Heals," at the incident at Marah. Nathan Stone writes in his book, Names of God, that this name means "to restore, to heal, to cure . . . not only in the physical sense but in the moral and spiritual sense also" (p. 72). Dying to sin and living for righteousness are a kind of healing through Jesus Christ.
Ordinarily, uncleanness is transferred among men, but holiness is not (Haggai 2:10-14). This scene of the leper coming to Christ pictures divine reconciliation, since what is holy and what is profane usually do not mix. This is overcome through the work of our Savior. Jesus stretches out His hand and commands the leper to be cleansed, showing God in action as the Eternal-Who-Heals. This is why the leper's uncleanness does not transfer to Jesus - at first.
Later, however, the death penalty for sin was transferred to Jesus. A price had to be paid for the leper's cleansing. "Clean" has a sense of purity and holiness, so to be cleansed was to be made pure. Proverbs 20:9 says, "Who can say, 'I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin'?" The leper could no more pronounce himself clean than we can pronounce ourselves sinless (I John 1:10). Proverbs 20:30 adds, "Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, as do stripes the inner depths of the heart." Comparing these two verses from Proverbs suggests that a certain chastening is required for cleansing.
Isaiah 53:4-5 adds another piece to the picture:
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
These verses place the emphasis of our cleansing from spiritual impurity on Christ: He paid the price to heal us and restore us to fellowship with God.
Thus, when Jesus Christ became sin for us, on Him was transferred all uncleanness. For those who have repented and accepted His sacrifice, there is increasingly more responsibility to continue this cleansing process in cooperation with and submission to Him. Peter summarizes this idea in I Peter 2:24, "[He] Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed."
The Gift of a Leper
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.
The Gift of a Leper
Under the Old Covenant, touching the unclean defiled a person (Leviticus 5:3), but Christ showed that under the New Covenant, this was not so. Instead, evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and blasphemies are what defile a person (Matthew 15:18-20). Jesus never did any of these evil acts, and contrary to what the Jews thought about touching a leper, He could never be defiled.
However, when we view His touching the leper as a defiling act according to the Old Covenant, it reveals a realistic picture of the distinction between man and God. God put the filthy sins of the world on Christ so that we may be cleansed and forgiven. Christ "who knew no sin [took sin on Himself] that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).
God's power to intervene is apparent in this healing, as the cleansing of the leprosy occurred immediately, instantaneously, upon touching him. If the healing had taken a prolonged time, the world would have had an opportunity to deny that Christ had healed the leper. They would likely have claimed that the natural healing process of the body made him well. Following Jesus' example, the apostles also laid hands on the sick, by which the power of God's Holy Spirit healed them (see Acts 10:38; I Corinthians 12:9).
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Leper (Part Three)
Since God's calling is totally unilateral, and since no one can resist His will, why does He find fault in people?
His answer is that God can do whatever He pleases with His creation (verses 20-26). He is the Potter, and the clay cannot legitimately question the Potter's methods or purposes (see Isaiah 29:16; Jeremiah 18:1-11). He, as sovereign ruler over His creation, is under no obligation to tell us why he chooses as he does.
The warp-woof metaphor of Leviticus 13:47-59, the law dealing with leprosy in cloth, reinforces Paul's conclusion. A priest is to examine a cloth thought to be leprous, but make no decision about the disposition of the garment for seven days, during which time it is to remain isolated, separated from the people of Israel (verse 50). After the seven days, He reexamines the suspect garment (verse 51). If the leprosy has spread, "whether warp or woof, . . . it shall be burned in the fire" (verse 52). If the leprosy has not spread yet is still present, the garment is to be washed and isolated for yet another seven days (verses 53-54). If the leprosy has not changed its color after this second week, the garment is to be burned, even though the plague has not spread (verse 55). If the plague has disappeared, then the garment is clean and fit for use after it has been washed a second time (verse 58).
What an example of God's mercy, patience, and long-suffering! He extends mercy on mercy—to a piece of cloth! How much more grace does God show us, the warp and woof of His garment! How much more has He given the Gentiles in offering them spiritual salvation now! How much more will he exhibit when He calls whole nations of Gentiles—when the time is right!
The Mixed Multitude
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