13 Observations from the Leprosy Laws

Medical matters occupy 4 chapters in the book of Leviticus from 12-15. What should the church learn from these old covenant laws? Have you ever read these laws and wondered what to do with them?

Three separate matters are covered including child birth, leprosy, and other infectious situations. The purpose of these laws is to separate the children of Israel from uncleanness (15:31) which theme is not only stated, but also shown by the repeated words priest and clean or unclean. I found 13 observations for the church from these chapters and from them a renewed love for the work of our Savior.

1. Between the sexes lie a permanent and obvious distinction. Lev. 12:2-5

For a boy baby, a mother must be unclean 40 days, but for a new daughter she is purified 80 days. Boys are listed first in the passage, and they are marked in their bodies by circumcision. But they are the same in that offerings must be made for both.

2. Filth spreads more easily than purity. Lev. 13-14

Nature, time, life, eating, drinking, marriage, and work can bring filth. But purity requires revelation, priests, and sacrifices.

3. Sin complicates life. Lev. 13-15

Diseases come from sin. That is the ultimate cause, and in a world without sin, there will be no disease. God has not yet removed all disease because that would decrease our desire to be in a world without sin. Yet because of disease, spawned by sin, we must have a complex set of laws for purity. Life could be as simple as the Garden of Eden with only one law, but sin has ruined it.

4. Holiness requires constant vigilance. Lev. 13:3, et. al.

“Look” and words like it are found all through chapters 13 and 14. The patient and the priest must be constantly checking, watching, and looking for any change in condition. Cleanliness before God is not something to be found quickly during the half time of the football game.

5. Hard times and pain still come to God’s people. Lev. 13:2; 14:34

Though chosen by God, the Jews still had sickness, pain, and death. In fact, 14:34 says explicitly that God sends leprosy. We live in this painful, complicated world as a constant reminder of sin and the next world.

6. Clean or unclean are the only two options.

Those two words are found 91 times in 157 verses. If you are not clean, you must stay separate from the rest of the people until you are. There is no “partly sorted” or “work in progress” or “giving it a good try” status in God’s law.

7. True judgments are both subjective and objective.

The law is objective, but it must be applied to people which immediately makes it subjective. In 13:7, “If the scab spreads farther on the skin…” How much farther? What if one edge is a little farther, but the other edge has receded? What if the naked eye cannot tell if it has spread or not? We have the objective Word of God, but it still must be applied subjectively to people. In the NT, a man may not be a pastor unless he is “able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2). How skilled must he be? Another from 1 John 3:8-9: A man “who practices sin is of the devil. … No one who is born of God practices sin… he cannot sin…” How much sin shows a man to be a child of Satan? This must be determined subjectively by godly men through the objective Word of God.

8. Authority is ordained by God.

The priests were chosen by God from Levi and then from Aaron. They were directed in their clothing, years of service, and actions. Special authority was also given to them to direct the society. 11 of the 12 tribes were not on that level. Most of the families of the tribe of Levi were not on that level. Not all men were equal in their calling, gifts, or station. God placed some on top of others.

9. Truth is discovered by careful observation.

Our senses are generally trustworthy. Only a fool would give final or absolute authority to his eyes, ears, nose, or mouth. But as a servant, the senses can do much good for a child of God. Our minds must always consider the evidence brought before our eyes though no Christian gives his eyes the position of King.

10. The priest is active while the people are passive.

In chapter 13, the priest is looking and making decisions. In chapter 14, he arranges the sacrifices and offers them. The patient is almost entirely passive. We make the mess, and then the Priest has to repair the damage.

11. Truth about purity must be revealed. Lev. 12:1; 13:1; 14:1, 33; 15:1

Who could have thought of the priests? Who could have arranged the sacrifices? God reached down in grace to speak to those whom He called. If He had not come down from Heaven, we could not have known.

12. Religion influences all areas of life.

Child birth in chapter 12. Disease in chapters 13 and 14. House buying in chapter 14. A woman’s way of life in chapter 15. And back in chapter 11, the diet of the people of God. There is nothing outside the scope of religion.

13. Atonement is essential.

Atonement is necessary after child birth (Lev. 12) and in the case of leprosy (Lev. 14). They cannot be clean without it. They cannot approach God without it. Every man desires cleanliness and spiritual harmony, but these are absolutely impossible without atonement.


The world’s religions cannot accept these plain observations. Islam wants no atonement. Buddhism has no absolute truth. Secularism has no place for religion. Hinduism wants no revelation. These chapters quietly build in the mind the necessary structure for the thinking of a NT church member even though the specific laws are not binding on the NT Christian.

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2 Responses to 13 Observations from the Leprosy Laws

  1. Renee Buchko says:

    I just finished the book of Leviticus in January. I found this message very interesting because it showed me my observations on these chapters were correct. Sometimes, I think I read too much into something but not so in this case. Thanks!

  2. Paul says:

    Excellent biblical and Puritanic take on a difficult passage. Every corner of Scripture has riches upon which we can marvel

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