And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white…
The chosen type of sin - its individual aspect. The conjecture that leprosy was contracted by the children of Israel in the hot and dusty brick-fields of Egypt is probable enough. The definition that it was "any severe disease spreading on the surface of the body in the way described in the chapter, and so shocking of aspect... that public feeling called for separation," is near enough for our purpose, There can be no question that it was the divinely chosen type of sin. All disease is pictorial of sin. It is to our bodily frame the very thing that sin is to our soul. Sin is the derangement or disorder of the soul, as sickness is of the body. It is an inward disorder, showing itself in some outward manifestation of a displeasing or painful character. It is something wrong within - some faculty (organ) not doing what it was made to do, or doing what it was not meant to do, causing disturbance and distress, But leprosy was selected by the Divine Ruler of Israel as a disease which should be regarded by his people as specially typical and suggestive of sin. It was admirably fitted so to be, whether looked at in its individual or in its social aspect, We will take the former first,
I. THE OBSCURITY OF ITS ORIGIN. By what sad and strange process came it to pass that man's bodily frame - fashioned by the Divine Creator, made clean and pure, wholesome and fair - has become the seat of such a foul disorder? How can it be that the little child whose flesh is beautiful and spotless, the very picture of all that is clean and sweet, grows up into a man who is "full of leprosy," covered from head to foot with revolting sores? And whence came sin into the soul and life of man? How came it here to blot and mar God's fair creation? How comes it to pass that into the heart of the innocent and lovely child there enters the very vilest spirit, showing itself in the most shocking words and the most revolting deeds, in later life?
II. ITS STUBBORNNESS. When, after seven days, the Hebrew priest could see no signs of true leprosy, he did not pronounce the patient clean: he shut him up other seven days (verse 5), and examined him again. Leprosy was a tenacious and stubborn disease, disappearing and reappearing, After a long interval it might, under exciting cause, come once again to the surface. How like the affliction of the soul - sin! How tenacious is its hold on the human heart! It disappears and we are grateful, congratulatory, triumphant. But the inducing circumstances, the favourable conditions arise and conspire, and behold there is its hateful face again. We "would do good," we resolve to do good, but, alas! "evil is present with us" once more (Romans 7:21).
III. ITS DEATHFULNESS. The outward appearance was due to inward derangement; the springs of health were poisoned; the internal processes necessary to health were stayed; and the consequence was that feature after feature, limb after limb, decayed and fell away. The man was in a constant process of dissolution. It was death above the ground - death in a living form! Sin is death. The soul that lives in sin is "dead while it lives." It is not that which it was created to be, does not that which it was created to do. Its spiritual faculties (the organs and members of the soul) are in a state of continual dissolution, becoming feebler and feebler, till they are wholly lost. It is a living death.
IV. ITS UNCURABLENESS BY MAN. The Jews did not bring the physician to the leper; they regarded leprosy as a visitation from God, and considered it incurable by human art. Sin is incurable by mere human methods. Rules for the regulation of human conduct; pledges or vows of abstinence from particular temptations; parental, magisterial, social vigilance; penalties inflicted by ourself or by others for disobedience; - these are well enough in their way. They are sometimes desirable, sometimes necessary; but they do not cure. Nothing human will cure the soul's disorder; only the Almighty Hand can minister to the "mind diseased." When Jesus Christ would prove to John that he was indeed the "One that should come," and that there was no need to "look for another," he added to the recital of his benefactions, "the lepers are cleansed" (Matthew 11:5). It was a true mark of the Messiah. The coming Saviour was he who had power to cure the incurable, to touch the foulest of the foul with the finger of the Divine mercy and sovereign power, and to make even him whole and pure. To that Divine Physician the man fullest of the leprosy of sin may go and say, "Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean" (Luke 5:12). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean.
WEB: and the priest shall examine the plague in the skin of the body: and if the hair in the plague has turned white, and the appearance of the plague is deeper than the body's skin, it is the plague of leprosy; and the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean.