Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic? You’re in good company!
Types & shadows
Well, more about leprosy! What on earth does this all mean to you and me today?
When we read the Old Testament we need to remember that the events, God’s dealings with His people, and the ceremonial laws were often types and shadows of things to come. Many of which were fulfilled in Christ’s life here on earth, as well as, His death, burial, and resurrection.
Verses 4-9 talk about the ceremonial cleansing of a leper after he had been healed:
4 then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. 8 He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. 9 But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows—all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean.
Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible said the mixture of blood and water had its fulfillment in Christ’s death when blood and water came out of his pierced side. The slain bird represented Christ dying for our sins, and the living bird His resurrection. Dipping the living bird in blood of the slain bird illustrates the fact that without His death He could not have risen for our justification for sins.
The living bird was let loose just as the leper was no longer restricted from contact with people. He was free to go where he pleased. We have not only been forgiven of our sins, but are freed from the power of sin in our lives. We’re free to live a life that’s pleasing to God.
The former leper shaved off his hair, his beard, and his eyebrows. He was to do all that he could to thoroughly clean himself from any remaining defilement from the disease. As believers no longer under judgment we are to do all that we can to live a life free from sin and pleasing to God.
Sin, represented by the leprosy, required a lot of effort! It cost a lot of time and trouble and sacrifice! And it cost Christ a great deal when He became that sacrifice for our leprous sins!
But true discipleship has a cost, too. There are times when we’ll be persecuted for righteousness (Jn. 15.20), times when we need to withdraw from relationships that pull us back into old lifestyles (1 Cor. 15.33), and times when we need to obey God in spite of our feelings to the contrary. It means fleeing temptation (2 Tim. 2.2), loving our enemies (Matt. 5.43-44), and overcoming evil with good (Rom. 12.21).
Come to think of it, maybe these hard to understand passages have a lot to say to us today.
Vindicate me, O Lord
More types and shadows, this psalm and many of the prophetic psalms written by David speak both of his own life and serve as a picture of Christ. In David’s case, he couldn’t claim to be without sin, but he trusted God to not only examine him and reveal his sin, but also, to cleanse him when he repented. He understood the grace and forgiveness of God.
We, too, when we have a genuine desire to walk in integrity, when we are quick to repent and accept God’s forgiveness, can say with David, “Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip” (v. 1).
The memory of the righteous
This speaks of God’s judgment of good and evil in this life and the kind of legacy we leave when we are gone. Let’s pray that we leave a godly legacy to our children and grandchildren. Even if you came to the Lord late in your life and your children are grown, you can still be a godly influence on them no matter how old they are. Be transparent about your mistakes (that doesn’t mean every detail!) and share with them God’s love and forgiveness.
Many people are hesitant to share their testimonies with others, especially their own children, sometimes out of shame and other times out of fear. Each of us has a unique testimony and we should “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15).
Family, friends & fanatics
Has your family ever thought you were crazy? Have they ever accused you of being a fanatic? You’re in good company! Look at verse 21, “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind'” (v. 21). This passage ends with a truth we need to remember when our family criticizes our fanaticism or the fact that God has led us to another church or into a deeper walk with Him.
“Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, ‘Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.’ But He answered them, saying, ‘Who is My mother, or My brothers?’ And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother'” (vv. 31-35).
It wasn’t that Jesus no longer cared about His family. In fact, as He hung on the cross He was making provision for His mother’s care (Jn. 19.26-27). But He understood that God’s call on His life was a higher calling than family traditions or even family ties.
Have you struggled with leaving something behind? Do you wish your family understood what God is doing in your life? Trust God to work it out in His time.
Have you ever shared your testimony? If not, sit down and write it out or think it through so that you’ll be “ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.” If you’re not sure how to begin, it should have three parts: your life before Christ, how you came to know Him, and what your life is like now.
And finally … what is God saying to you through today’s readings? What do you need to do or change? And what is your plan to do so? Share your comments with us.