Leprosy – A Picture of Sin

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 7 – 8Proverbs 7Psalms 36 – 40)

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading – Unclean

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 19

Read the “0207 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.”

45 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. 46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” (Leviticus 13:45-46)

This morning’s reading contained one long chapter dedicated to leprosy, a disease that was both debilitating and deadly in Bible times. Today, leprosy (or Hansen’s Disease) is curable through a multi-drug therapy but in Bible days, it was incurable. The descriptions given of various skin ailments in chapter thirteen include Hansen’s disease but also reference other, less serious skin issues as well. The observation and treatments given by the priests in this chapter were used to determine if an individual skin problem was indeed leprosy or perhaps a less serious condition.

While leprosy along with its devastating symptoms was and still is a physical disease that affected all kinds of people, whether they were saved or not, in the Bible this horrible disease serves as a picture or type of what sin does to both the soul and to the body. Isaiah talked figuratively about the sinful condition of Israel, picturing it as a physical ailment:

“4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. 5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. 6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” (Isaiah 1:4-6)

  • Sin, Like Leprosy, Is Deadly

Leprosy in the Bible was usually ultimately fatal, though it sometimes took years to completely ravage the body. The sin condition of mankind is also fatal. Sin is the cause of death. Had there been no sin, there would be no death.

“23 For the wages of sin is death;…” (Romans 6:23)

“12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: … 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:12, 21)

  • Like Leprosy, The Effects of Sin Start Small and Progress Slowly

Leprosy started out with a tiny blemish on the skin. Slowly but surely, however, it progressed until it completely infected and debilitated the entire body. Sin is the same way. It sometimes starts out small and seemingly has little effect on the guilty person, but like leprosy it grows and its effects increase until it becomes debilitating. 

“13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:13-15)

  • Sin, Like Leprosy, is Contagious

Leprosy is contagious, though perhaps not as contagious as other diseases. It was contagious enough, however, that people did their best to stay far away from someone who had it. Sin, like leprosy, is also contagious in the sense that it is spread to everyone. But more than just the general condition of sin being spread, individual acts of sin are often transferred to other people. Sinners love to get other sinners to join them in their sin.

“10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: 12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: 13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: 14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: 15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.” (Proverbs 1:10-16)

  • Sin, Like Leprosy, Separates Us From God But Should Also Cause Us to Separate

“2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)

In the Bible, lepers were required to live away from other people, and were even commanded to cry out “unclean” when they approached someone or got near them. Sin is what separated us from God in the first place, and now that we are cleansed from our sin by the blood of Christ, it should be our desire to separate ourselves from those who are yet in their sins and content to remain that way. Christians today ought to separate themselves from sin, and from sinners who are unrepentant about their sin. This does not mean that we should isolate ourselves from people; nor does it mean that we should not be willing to help them by sharing Christ and His gospel with them. It does mean that we should not be intimate with them to the point where their sin is influencing us to sin. 

“17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,” (2 Corinthians 6:17)

  • Sin, Like Leprosy, Can Only Be Cured by God

In the Old Testament, the prophet Elisha was used by the Lord to miraculously cure Naaman the Syrian from his leprosy (see 2 Kings 5). In the New Testament, there were several examples where the Lord Jesus healed those who had leprosy:

“2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matthew 8:2-3)

“22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” (Luke 7:22)

In Bible times, leprosy could only be cured by God. Sin, like leprosy can only be cleansed by Christ. As the song states: “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” The only way for sin to be forgiven (cleansed) is through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

“9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

J. Vernon McGee said this regarding this chapter:

So leprosy stands as a perfect type of sin. It is sin, as it were, made visible in the flesh. The priest was to look on the leper and pronounce him unclean. Just so, the Great Physician looks on the human family and pronounces it unclean. He does this so that we might come to Him for cleansing. He is ready to touch the leper (and sinner) and make him clean. [J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 380.]

Spurgeon said:

Leprosy is to be considered by us as the type of sin. To describe all the loathsomeness and ghastliness of the aggravated cases of Jewish leprosy would be too sickening, if not disgusting. But it would still be a poor portrait of the loathsomeness of sin. The leper was not only loathsome in his person but was also defiled in all his acts. All the actions of the unbeliever are tainted with sin. Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he continues to sin against his God. If he should come up to God’s house and sing and pray, there is sin in his songs, for they are but hypocrisy. There is guilt in his prayers, for the prayers of the wicked are abominations to the Lord. Every person by nature is like a leper; he is incapable of fellowship with God’s people, and he is shut out utterly and entirely by his sin from the presence and acceptance of God. [Spurgeon, The Spurgeon Study Bible: Notes (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 144.]


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5 months ago

Thats awesome

Bob Fenton
Bob Fenton
5 months ago

Amen Pastor. When a man yell out unclean.
We Christians should be yelling out to the world Jesus saves. Jesus saves. like the post.

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