And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,…
From the first of these verses it is concluded that leprosy was not an ordinary disease, but a plague inflicted immediately by a judgment from God. That it was so inflicted in some instances upon persons cannot be disputed (see Numbers 12:10; 2 Kings 5:27; 2 Kings 15:5), and God threatens to curse the house of the wicked with such a plague (Zechariah 5:4). The Jews view it in this light, and consequently regard leprosy as incurable except by the hand of God. But in Scripture, what God permits is often represented as his doing; and evils that Satan inflicts may require the power of God to remove.
I. WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY THE HOUSE?
1. There is the obvious literal meaning. It is an ordinary habitation (differing, indeed, from the tents in which the Israelites sojourned in the wilderness), composed of stones, and mortar, and wood, and plaster.
2. It must also have a moral interpretation.
(1) If in the person leprosy has a twofold meaning, viz. a literal and moral; and if the garment plagued with leprosy has a moral as well as a literal meaning, so, by parity of reason, must the house.
(2) It cannot be supposed that for sanitary reasons simply the leprosy in the house should occupy the space it takes in the Scriptures.
(3) Over and above the sanitary regulations, we find regulations for the ceremonial cleansing, in which are sacrifices and sprinklings, "to make an atonement for the house" (verses 48-53). These in other cases are admitted to have reference to the provisions of the gospel for moral purposes, and therefore should be so considered here.
3. It should be taken to represent a community.
(1) It is used sometimes to describe a family. Thus we read. of the "house of Cornelius," and of Noah saving "his house" (Acts 10:2; Hebrews 11:7).
(2) It is also used. to express a lineage. Thus we read of a long war raging between the "house of Saul" and the "house of David" (2 Samuel 3:1).
(3) The larger community of a nation is called a "house." Thus we read repeatedly of the "house of Israel," the "house of Judah," and Egypt is spoken of as the "house of bondage" (Deuteronomy 8:14).
(4) An ecclesiastical community is in like manner described as a house. Paul speaks of the "house of God, which is the Church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15; see also Hebrews 3:2-6; Hebrews 10:21; 1 Peter 4:17).
4. A leprous house is a demoralized community.
(1) Thus a family of wicked persons, or in which are members scandalous for irreligion and vice, is morally a leprous house. Such was the house of Eli.
(2) A lineage of wickedness also is a leprous house. Such was the house of "Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." Such that of Omri.
(3) A nation given to idolatry such as Israel became before the Assyrian captivity, and Judah before the Babylonish, may be regarded as a leprous house. So are modern nations demoralized by atheism, infidelity, sabbath desecration, drunkenness, and dissipation, leprous houses.
(4) A Church holding out the poison cup of "damnable heresy" to intoxicate nations, encouraging vice by "indulgences," and "red" with the "blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus," is a house fearfully smitten with the plague of leprosy.
II. WHAT TREATMENT SHOULD IT RECEIVE?
1. The leprosy should be reported to the priest (verses 34, 35).
(1) The Priest is Christ, to whom we must carry all our concerns in prayer - domestic, political, ecclesiastical. The voice of suffering cries to him for judgment upon oppressors (James 5:4), and the voice from the ashes of the martyrs loudly imprecates judgment upon their persecutors (Revelation 6:9-11).
(2) Faithful ministers of Christ should be apprised of the symptoms of the plague of heresy or immorality, that they might use their good offices and influence to stop the mischief.
(3) Any of the spiritual priesthood, persons of recognized sanctity and probity, might be informed of the spreading of moral leprosy, whether it be in the family, or State, or Church.
2. Warning should be given to those concerned.
(1) The priest himself gives the warning. The premonitions of Jesus are written in his Word. It tells us of days of judgment upon nations, upon Churches, upon individuals.
(2) Faithful ministers of Christ will utter his words. No false notions of "charity" will prevent them from sounding the alarm.
(3) The use of the warning is to have everything removed from the leprous house before the priest's inquisition for judgment; for whatever he finds in the unclean house will be concluded to be unclean (see Revelation 18:4).
3. It will be duty inspected.
(1) Christ moves in all communities, though unseen, and more particularly amongst the candlesticks, or Churches. His eyes are as flames of fire, searching into all secrets of the "reins and hearts" (Revelation 1:12-16, 23).
(2) The light of God's Word should be let in to discover the heresy that may plague any Church, and to rebuke the laxity of discipline which may connive at licentiousness (Revelation 2:14-16, 20-23).
4. It will be shut up for seven days.
(1) The priest himself withdraws. Jesus cannot abide in a foul community.
(2) Whoever enters it during this interval becomes unclean (verse 46). Where Jesus cannot abide, his people should not go.
(3) He that lieth in the house or eateth in it shall wash his clothes (verse 47). Fellowship in such a community compromises righteousness. What is the condition of those who are perverted to heresy!
5. Efforts towards a reformation should be made.
(1) Where the plague may appear superficial, the place must be scraped; where it has eaten deeply, the stones affected must be removed and new ones substituted, and the whole plastered afresh.
(2) However painful the process, the scraping of discipline must be endured (Job 22:23). There must be an excision of scandalous offenders (1 Corinthians 5:13).
6. The sequel.
(1) If the plague remain through the days of trial, breaking out afresh, notwithstanding the efforts for reformation, when the case is hopeless, then comes the visitation of judgment. The house is demolished and the wreck carried outside the city to an unclean place (see Revelation 22:15).
(2) If the reformation has proved successful, the house abides. The ceremonies of the shedding and sprinkling the sacrificial blood (verses 48-53) show that salvation is through faith in the merits of Christ. To those merits we are indebted for a present and an everlasting salvation. - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,