Thursday, April 09, 2009

Outside the Camp

Leviticus 13 is a long chapter. And all it does is answer the question, "what do you do if you think someone has leprosy?" The priest has an integral part in examining the person and determining whether he is ceremonially clean or unclean. (I'm glad pastor's don't have to do that today. We can leave it to the medical professionals.) 

"Check the discolored spots of skin. "
"Check the color of the hair on the spot."
"Examine scaly infections."
"Check the garmet that has a mark of leprosy, whether in warp or woof."

My favorite instruction is this: (v. 40) "Now if a man loses the hair of his head, he is bald; he is clean. If his head becomes bald at the front and sides, he is bald on the forehead; he is clean."

But the saddest is shortly after:
“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp. (45-46)
How painful to have to declare to all "I am unclean!" and to remain so for as long as one has the disease. How painful to live alone. How painful to dwell outside the camp, away from the Living God.

Jesus healed the lepers and gave them their life back. Jesus drew near to them and brought them back, inside the camp. But he went outside the camp to the Place of the Skull (Golgotha), too a place where people died to be the perfect Sin-bearer. And we are bid to go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. (Hebrews 13:13)

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