Today we will talk about two Torah portions that seem to have little to say to us in our modern world. However, I pray by the end of our time each of us will learn spiritual lessons from these portions.
Before we get to the Torah I want to share with you a plea from a well-known Jewish congregational leader in Israel, Joe Shulam. Jean and I have known him for years. He writes, “Your prayers for Israel will be highly appreciated. Israel for the first time since the foundation of the state in 1948 is in an existential danger of internal “autoimmune” self-destructive, divisive, political upheaval, that in some circles it is threatening a civil war. I don’t think that a civil war will happen in Israel but the very idea that some politicians are even daring to mention such an abominable thing is already of grave concern for all those who love Israel as a nation living in G-d’s promised Land.”
I urge you to take this to heart and pray for Israel in this most serious time. Her enemies are gloating over these internal issues and will be looking for any opening to carry out their evil plans.
Now to our Torah portions. I hope you were able to look up verses in the Messianic scriptures that pertain to leprosy. There are many verses that talk of this disease and how Yeshua used it to explain spiritual issues. I hope this exercise gave you some insight into the spiritual problems we still experience today.
Let’s look at Leviticus 14:1-3 where we find the process to be followed to cleanse a person of leprosy. When looking at these verses always keep in mind the spiritual lessons being taught here. Biblically leprosy was looked at as a sign of sin in the person’s life. That sin usually was lashon hara or an evil tongue. In many ways it was G-d’s way of getting the attention of the person involved in speaking lies or rumors about another person. Spiritually this problem would cause the person affected to be cut off from society. They would not be allowed to fellowship with others of the community. In affect they would be isolated. Why? To stop the spread of the problem. (leprosy and gossip)
To help us, think back to Miriam, the sister of Moshe. We read in Numbers 12:1-16 where she talked about Moshe. She was gossiping or in Hebrew it is called lashon hara or evil tongue. Because of her actions she was struck with leprosy. Until she was healed she would have been isolated from contact with other people. Leprosy was clearly tied to her actions.
Consider our lives today, what does an evil tongue do in our life or the life of those around us? If left unchecked, it separates us from fellowship with the Father and leads other people astray also.
In the Messianic scriptures we can see how we should look at these things from a spiritual perspective and not just a physical issue. This disease could also affect the dwelling of a person. In those cases the house had to go through a cleansing process as well to be rid of this disease. We can see this in Vayikra 14:33-57.
In Vayikra 14:48 we read an interesting word in Hebrew that talks about the house being clean. It is tahor. Tahor means exactly that – to be clean. This same word is found in Psalms 51:10-12, “Create in me a clean heart…: Clean heart in Hebrew is lev tahor.
In Leviticus 14:33-57 we can see the process for a house that could possibly have leprosy. The first step in cleansing a house was the owner had to recognize there might be a problem of leprosy in his house. He would go to the priest and ask for an inspection. Then the priest checked the house and if leprosy was found the priest gave instructions on the cleansing process. He would return and check the house again at a later date and if it was pronounced clean by the priest the owner could go on with his life.
In Leviticus 14:34 we notice a strange thing where G-d says, “When you enter the land of Canaan which I am giving you as a possession, and I put a spot of leprosy on a house in the land of your possession…” Why do you think G-d said, “I will put a spot of leprosy on a house?” I believe in G-d’s mercy He was giving the home owner a warning of a problem. The owner could either ignore the warning or go to the priest and confess there was possibly leprosy in his home and begin the issue of cleansing his home.
In I John 1:9 we can see these three same steps applied to our own life. “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So like the home owner who had a choice we too have a choice. We can either go to our High Priest and confess our sins and be cleansed or we can ignore the problem. G-d in His mercy gives us warnings.
We can see this played out in the Messianic scriptures. In Luke 5:17-24 we read of the healing of the lame man who was let down through the roof. This man was ready for a change. Yeshua told him his sins were forgiven. Then Yeshua told him to pick up his mat and go home. The man did just that and returned to his house.
Also, repeated in the gospels Matthew 8:1-3, Mark 1:39-42 and Luke 5:12-13 is the story of the man who had leprosy who went to Yeshua and asked for healing. When he addressed Yeshua he called him L-rd, indicating he knew who Yeshua was and was ready to be healed. Yeshua touched him, healed him and cleansed him. He then sent him to the priest for the formal pronouncement of being healed as commanded in Torah. These three steps are important to us today. We go to the Father and ask for healing, forgiveness of sin, or breaking of bad habit or patterns in our life.
It is important to follow through all the steps. For example, confession and repentance is much more than just saying sorry or regretting something that we have said or done. It means that we have to agree with G-d that what we did was sin; not just wrong or inappropriate. We can’t say to G-d Almighty I “mis-spoke,” to use a popular term. We have to resolve that we won’t – so far as it is possible for us – do it again; either the action, the disobedience to G-d or ignoring the nudging of the Spirit and the pricks of conscience.
Perhaps our failure to follow through these important steps is one of the reasons we sometimes struggle to see change in our lives. I pray this is an encouragement to realize the Torah is not just a history book but has spiritual implications in our lives today.