Torah Portion: Metzora Leviticus 14:1-15:33
HafTorah: II Kings 7:3-20
This is the second Torah Portion devoted to leprosy. Four chapters given to a disease and all the details of how to tell if a person has it and if so what to do about it and how to be declared clean. Seems odd doesn’t it – until we look at the New Testament and how leprosy was used as a sign of the Kingdom of Heaven. I sent you some verses that I think give us a good view of this. Luke 17:12-14, Matthew 10:7-8, Matthew 11:4-5 and Matthew 26:6. What can we see from all these? Cleansing of leprosy was seen as a sign that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. But why was this? Think about the disease. What did it do? It spread through the body slowly killing it and also easily spread to others. Sin also is at work in our body to bring death physically and spiritually. Leprosy separated the person from being part of the Temple worship, separated them from family and friends. Anyone who had it had to live outside the camp. Which brings me to Matthew 26:6 about Simon the leper. How can we tell he had been healed and cleansed? He lived in town and people came and went in his house. Maybe he was one who had been healed by Yeshua. Yeshua also raised Lazarus from the dead in this same town, which gives us a further insight into leprosy. It was viewed as a death sentence. The person with it had to tear his clothes, leave his head uncovered and cry, “unclean, unclean.” Sin makes us spiritually unclean and separates us from G-d. To enter into His presence we must be made clean by Messiah.
In Leviticus 14:3 we see the process to become ritually clean again. This helps us understand Mark 1:40-44 where Yeshua cleansed a leper and told him to follow the commandments that we read about here. Why did he have to do this? Yeshua knew the Torah. The Torah set out this procedure, which had to be followed to be ritually clean and to integrate back into society. For us to be integrated back into spiritual community we present ourselves to our High Priest and ask him to cleanse us of our sins.
Leviticus 14:4-8 the priest takes two birds, cedar wood, scarlet string and hyssop to cleanse the person. All these things can be seen in relation to Messiah. Hyssop was used at the first Passover and also to lift a sponge of vinegar to Messiah’s mouth at his crucifixion. The live bird was dipped in the blood and water of the first bird and sprinkled on the man being cleansed. Blood and water flowed from Messiah’s side at His death before His spirit flew away, taking our sins upon Himself.
Leviticus 14:9 the person then immersed himself in water. The word in Hebrew is Mikvah, a ritual bath used to purify the person from ritual uncleanliness. Most of you have seen them in Israel. This word is always translated by the Greek word baptisma and from this we get the English word baptism. Not much is said in the New Testament about how this was to be done. Why would that be? Everyone would have already known how since it was a common practice. There was always a witness to make sure the person was completely covered by the water. It was always done before entering a holy place. It was a visual representation of the fact that the person was ritually clean. For us it shows pretty much the same thing. It speaks to the world that we are different because of our faith in Yeshua. One last word about the Mikvah, in Hebrew the word for Hope is spelled exactly the same way only pronounced differently. Who is our hope? Yeshua is our hope. So when we read Acts 28:20 we can read this double meaning into Paul’s words. He is our hope and our Messiah, by what He has done we are spiritually clean and no longer have the smell of death clinging to us.