Torah: Leviticus 14:1–15:33
PROPHETS: 2 Kings 7:3–20
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Acts 10:1–35
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
The Day of Cleansing
The Rite of Purification
When the m’tsora (“infected one”) appears to be healed from the tsara’at (tsara’at is a Hebrew word that usually gets translated “infectious skin disease” or “leprosy” but we really don’t know exactly what it was), the priest comes outside the camp to examine him. In order to re-enter the community, the m’tsora needs to undergo special rituals.
The ritual where the one live bird flies away could be called a “scapebird” ritual (vv. 4–7) that is similar to the “scapegoat” ritual on Yom Kippur (cf. 16:10). This ritual procedure makes the m’tsora “clean” so that he can re-enter the community (after also laundering clothes, shaving and washing body, v. 8). Remember, the community has already been set apart as a “holy” community at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:6–8) so entrance back into this community requires ritual cleansing.
The blood of the asham (guilt or reparation offering, vv. 12–14) and the oil (vv. 15–18) “re-set-apart” the healed m’tsora to again function as an active member of the priestly nation. This blood and oil ceremony is very similar to the one that consecrated the Aaronic priesthood into service of God Most High (cf. Leviticus 8:23–24).
Finally, the chatat (purification or sin offering) re-purifies the altar on behalf of the m’tsora (followed by the olah and mincha, burnt and grain offerings, as a worshipful gift to God, vv. 19–20). This completes the rituals of restoring the m’tsora to right relationship with both the community and the God that is dwelling in her midst.
Yeshua spoke much about the nature of “cleansing” and becoming “clean.” The m’tsora needed cleansing. Yeshua offered cleansing.
Read Matthew 8:1–4. Yeshua’s physical touch and spoken word made this m’tsora clean (infected one, infected with tsara’at, usually translated “infectious skin disease” or “leprosy”).
Read Luke 17:11–19. What is the point of this parable? Spend a moment reflecting on the incredible value of your cleansing poured out to you by Yeshua. Thank and praise Him for His mercy.
Torah 3 & 4
Cleansing The Poor
God makes allowances for those who are poor. While the asham requirements and rituals remain the same (the asham’s blood [v. 25] and the oil [vv. 26–29] to “re-set-apart” the m’tsora) the chatat and olah can be fulfilled by bringing the less costly birds (vv. 30–31) to re-purify the altar on his behalf.
Tsara’at can develop not only on humans (diagnosis, 13:1–46; cleansing after healing, 14:1–32) and garments (13:47–49) but also in houses (14:33–53, here again it is the same Hebrew word tsara’at, though often translated in this case “mildew”). The presence of both discolored spots and deep infection require a 7-day quarantine. If the “infection” spreads the house is destroyed. If not, the same “scapebird” ritual provides the necessary cleansing to declare the house “clean.”
Who is responsible for bringing about this “trial” (v. 34)? Why would God inflict an outwardly recognizable sign of uncleanness within a holy community? Might He use it to draw attention to a hidden sin? Might He also allow it to be a trial for someone, not to judge but to test, prove and/or improve faith (cf. Job)?
Do you feel like God has inflicted you with a trial? Which of the above purposes might God be fulfilling in your life? Either way, you can trust that He is full of mercy. Through your life that He is redeeming, He is pursuing His glory ultimately resulting in your good. Prayerfully and with sincerity, say to God along with Job, “When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold … I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:10–12).
torah 5 & 6
Uncleanness Must Be Rectified
This small section serves as a summary for the preceding material in both Tazria and M’tsora for how to diagnose and treat tsara’at when it affects humans, garments or houses. The important issue is ritual purity or “cleanness.” Becoming “unclean” was a normal part of life and was not in and of itself a bad thing. The bad thing would have been disobeying or disregarding God’s instruction and provision to deal with uncleanness His way. Do you ever do things you own way instead of God’s way, disregarding His provision (Messiah and His Spirit) and instruction (His revealed Word)?
The theme of “uncleanness” continues with instructions regarding male and female discharges. ALL discharges create uncleanness. Some discharges, however, are “normal” (in that they occur under normal circumstances) while some are “abnormal” (they occur under abnormal circumstances). The text flows from male abnormal (vv. 1–15)…
Cleanness Must Be Pursued
…and normal discharges (vv. 16–18) to female normal (vv. 19–24) and abnormal discharges (vv. 25–30). It is important to keep in mind that clean and unclean and normal and abnormal are NOT moral categories. Instead they relate to wholeness and holiness and are relevant in the context of maintaining relationship between a holy God who is dwelling in the midst of an unholy people.
torah 7 &
Safeguarding God’s People
The last two verses of this section (vv. 32–33) summarize chapter 15. Verse 31, however, provides the rationale for why all of Chapters 11–15 are important! Remember Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10)? God uses this unfortunate incident as an object lesson to reveal, and then teach, the importance of doing things God’s way.
Believers are made clean in Messiah and are called to maintain this state of purity so as to maintain right relationship/intimate fellowship with Him and uphold His holiness. You are God’s “house” and His Spirit lives in you if you are His (1 Corinthians 6:19). Are you “safeguarding” God’s house in the way that you are living, thinking and behaving?
A Defiled Heart Drifts From God
2 Kings 7:3–20
At war with Israel, Aram (Syria) had laid siege to the city of Samaria causing a severe famine (2 Kings 6:24–25). Four m’tsorim (plural of m’tsora) lead Israel to the deserted camp of their enemy which is full of much needed food. During this national “trial” we see a contrast between the unbelief of Israel’s king and his official with the faithfulness of God to work all things together for good. The unbelief of the king of Israel (6:33) blinds him to the spiritual reality of what God is doing (v. 6) and consumes him with the fear of what man is doing (v. 12). The unbelief of the king’s official (7:2) leads him to his own destruction (vv. 19–20). Thus we can see how the defiling effect of unbelief leads someone away from knowing God and receiving His blessings. How ironic that God uses the condition of the m’tsorim to position them (outside Israel’s camp and desperate enough to seek refuge in the enemy’s camp) where He could use them to bless Israel.
A Pure Heart Clings To God
Cornelius is a Gentile (v. 1) but he fears the God of Israel (v. 2). Peter (Simon) is a devout Jew who is zealous for the law. God uses Peter’s limited understanding of physical purity laws to teach him lessons about spiritual purity. These lessons help Peter truly distinguish between what is clean (pure) and what is unclean (impure) and rightfully apply God’s law (the law is “good” when used properly, 1 Timothy 1:8; and the goal of using the law properly is a “pure” heart, 1 Timothy 1:5). Does Cornelius the Gentile have a pure heart? Does Peter the Jew have a pure heart? Are they clinging to God? What does Peter finally come to understand regarding God’s intention to purify hearts from both Jews and Gentiles (vv. 34–35; cf. 15:7–9) and bring the world back into its pre-fall state of undefiled intimacy with Himself?
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.