Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number Twenty-Eight.

Dr Clifford Denton.

M’tsora: Leviticus 14:1-15:33.

20th April 2024/12 Nisan.

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. (Leviticus 14:7)

Picture by Helen McNeill

We continue, in our portion this week, to consider matters that are hard to grasp fully. In Chapter 14, the theme of leprosy extends to dwelling places as well as the contagious disease that can beset human beings. If this is not a tough enough subject to understand, the following chapter may be even harder to discuss in our family. The teaching of God holds nothing back, including the subjects that we might prefer to keep confidential, such as the matter of bodily discharges. Yet, nothing can be hidden from the Lord who created us, who allowed the Fall at the time of Adam and Eve and who seeks to redeem us from the sin and sickness of the world, allowing us to see ourselves as we really are. Isaiah had a word to say on this important matter.

“For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” (Isaiah 66:2)

We are intended to read the Scriptures, be open to God and honest to ourselves, search our own heart, and become humble towards God.

Turning also to Deuteronomy 6, which is our foundational reminder of God’s requirements, and to which we will return time and again. We read the following:

Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the Lord your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess,that you may fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged…. these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.

This then is our challenge, to study these matters together as a family and, at appropriate times, to introduce aspects of the teaching to our children and grandchildren.

In times past, leaders of the British nation have not shirked this responsibility and the principles of holiness entered our national life through laws and customs that developed over many centuries. Yet today there is a gradual turning away through ignorance of the teaching of Scripture. Thus, in our day, matters of holiness may not sink deeply into our inner being as once they might have done,

Men such as Baden Powell, who started the Boy Scout movement, brought teaching to millions of young people who at the right age, knew these principles. He brought teaching of holiness in a practical way into scouting, which would cause children, if taught wisely, to be conscious of the principles brought up in Scripture such as we are reading this week. Among the “laws” of scouting, boys were taught to commit themselves to the principle, “a scout is clean in body and mind.” Similar opportunities for girls came from the Guide movement. There have been other movements to help boys and girls, including Sunday Schools and other youth movements, in days when generations of children were brought up in an environment where schools, churches, and some young people’s movements supported parents in bringing up children in the ways of God, whether by traditions built up in society over many years or by direct application of Bible teaching. Many benefitted.

In our day, the responsibility has returned more fully to the home because Bible teaching is largely ignored or become shallow in much of the society around us.

How might we, in recognition of God’s word through Isaiah, tremble at the teaching in Leviticus and teach our own family to approach Scripture in this way? Last week we began to consider leprosy as an incurable disease that would make people outcasts from the community and prohibited from participation in the Tabernacle or Temple. This week a ray of hope is opened up with ordinances for lepers who have been healed. How might they have been healed? We are not told, but as we follow the theme of leprosy through the entire Bible, we find that God sometimes does intervene and take away the otherwise incurable disease. For example, in 2 Kings 5 we read of the healing of Naaman’s leprosy. In Numbers 12 we read of Miriam’s leprosy which was a punishment from God, but also healed by Him. We might ask, are all our sicknesses punishments from God? A search of the Scriptures shows us that this is a naïve question, and it is not so straightforward as being that an individual always suffers directly for his or her own sins, but also as a consequence of the fallen society that we are in. Yet again, read Leviticus 14:34 so as not to move too easily from the question as to cause and effect: When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give you as a possession, and I put the leprous plague in a house in the land of your possession…. God does sometimes put leprosy on a house….

This is why we are to be those who are poor and of a contrite spirit, and who tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2). In our day there are cures for many diseases and a National Health Service to call on for help, but the principles of holiness still remain for us to pursue with the same resolve as those in the differing circumstances of Moses’ time. It is from here that we must continue to learn foundational truths. Sickness, both physical and spiritual still abounds in our world and individual lives.

When Yeshua came into the world, He ministered in the power of the Father healing those who were unclean, including those who were lepers and also a woman with an issue of blood. Those unclean whom He healed were made clean in body, pointing the way to redemption from sin by His sacrifice on the Cross for all who will come to Him by faith. The sprinkling of blood by the Priests at the time of the Old Covenant pointed to the cleansing through Yeshua’s sacrificial blood. This is quite different from solving a logical puzzle as to how we might be cleansed and healed, but by searching the Scriptures, we are moved by our inner need to find mercy in Him.

Next Monday, on 22nd April, it is Passover Eve. Tuesday 23rd April is the first day of Passover. This is the appointed time when Israel was to remember their deliverance from Egypt, which was the beginning of their establishment as a nation under the laws of God. This teaching is available for all who are called into the family of faith with believing Israel. We can make this our opportunity to search the Scriptures together and remember what God has done for us, beginning with Moses and tracing the Lord’s teaching through Scripture to the time when Yeshua became the fulfilment of all we read, teaching it to our children afresh – with thanks from a contrite heart. Then let us come back to these subjects year by year to refresh and deepen our understanding and faith.