Torah Portion: Tazria Vayikra Lev. 12-13
HafTorah: II Kings 4:42-5:19
NT Matt 8:1-4, 11:2-6
This week we continue on with the laws of clean and unclean which began in chapter 11 with clean and unclean animals. I want us to begin our time with what it means to be clean or unclean. The word in Hebrew, tahor, can also be found in Psalms 51:10 where David prays to G-d to, “create in me a pure/clean heart.” So clean denotes something pure and unblemished. Tami, in Hebrew would be the opposite. If you will notice this is the same word used for the sacrifices. They had to be tahor, no blemish or spot could be found. In Torah this term is used to denote if a person would be able to take part in the Sanctuary worship or to come in contact with any holy object. It had nothing to do with sin but rather was a physical issue. It was usually dealt with by the passage of time (usually until evening) and passing through the waters of mikvah. It in effect excluded a person from experiencing the presence of G-d in the Mishkan or Temple. So these laws pertained to the things of the Sanctuary. which is here being used for the first time. These laws had nothing to do with the person’s heart condition, yet they are used in both Hebrew scripture and the New Testament to symbolically refer to issues of morality. So we hear David speak of a Tahor heart. In the New Testament, Yeshua does the same in Matt. 5:8. So as we go on I want us to keep these things in mind as we explore clean and unclean.
Most if not all of the things that make one unclean share a common father, so to speak. What is that – death. A dead body, animals that eat dead things, menstruation (the passing of a potential life), leprosy. Giving birth is another example of something that made you unclean. The reason being, you are bringing more life into the world that will eventually die. The sin of Adam and Eve brought death into the world and we are connected to that death. Read Romans 5:12. This uncleanness could be passed to another person by touch, or in the case of a dead person, by being in the same physical location such as a house.
Back now to New Testament verses that give us some insight into how the early believers saw this condition, in both a symbolic way and also physically. In II Cor. 6:17 – 7:1 and Eph 5:11-12 we see the early believers using this idea of clean and unclean to teach us of holiness before G-d. We are to come out of the world and live as a holy people. This fact is easily represented by the passing through the water that we experience when coming to faith. It speaks to the world that we are now a new creation pure and holy before G-d. We can enter His presence as a pure person. When we do things that might separate us from the Father we can fix that by coming to Him through the atoning power of Messiah and be again in the presence of G-d. This should give us a clearer picture of what we call baptism. As an unclean person in Torah went through the water so do we, for us it is a symbol of our new status.
Now I want us to talk about why a woman must bring a sin sacrifice after the birth of a child. First, is it a sin to have a child? Of course not. So what is the reason? On an earthly /physical side it is in memory of the sin of Eve, the consequences of which were hard labor in child birth. If you remember Adam and Eve both were driven out of G-d’s presence by their sin. So any thing that is unclean kept a person out of G-d’s presence in the Sanctuary. There are other cases of people bringing a sin offering for sins of others, such as the Nazarite vow. However for us these laws have a spiritual purpose. For this issue of birth I think it could be a reminder that everything we produce, even the seemingly good things like birth, have G-d’s involvement and are in need of atonement because of our own imperfect obedience, less that pure motives, maybe pride, a feeling that we did it all without G-d’s help. So these laws of clean and unclean teach us spiritually that certain things can harm us spiritually and can bring death if not dealt with. My prayer is that these commandments will cause us to examine everything in our lives and to separate ourselves from those things that bring death.