Leviticus 14

 

 

            THE FORM OF PURIFICATION OF THE LEPER (vs. 1-32)

 

This is the most minute of all the forms of purification, those fornpurification from contact

with a dead body (Numbers 19) and for then cleansing of a defiled Nazarite (Numbers 6)

being alone to be compared with it in this respect. Some purifications were accomplished,

as we have seen, in a very summary manner: one who touched the carcass of a beast that

had died a natural death had only to wash his clothes (ch. 11:40).  The greater and more

significative the defilement, the more careful and the more significative must be the cleansing.

Leprous uncleanness excluded the leper both from the camp and from the sanctuary,

from the rights both of citizenship and of Church-membership, with which the rights

of the family were also associated; consequently there had to be a double form of restoration,

each with its special ceremonies. The manner of the first reconciliation is detailed in vs. 1-8,

of the second in vs. 9-32.

 

1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying:  2 This shall be the law of the leper

in the day of his cleansing:” - The ceremonies in the first stage of cleansing, which

restored the outcast to the common life of his fellows, were the following:

 

  • The priest formally examined the leper outside the camp, and made up

            his mind that he was clean.

  • An earthen vessel was brought with fresh water, and one of two birds

            was killed, and its blood was allowed to run into this water.

  • The other bird was taken and dipped in the vessel, with a piece of cedar

            wood and hyssop, which had first been tied together by a band of scarlet

            wool; and the leper was sprinkled seven times with the blood and water

            dripping from the feathers of the living bird.

  • The priest pronounced the man clean.
  • The bird was let fly into the open field.
  • The man washed his clothes, shaved his whole body, and bathed.
  • He returned within the camp, but not yet to his tent.

 

 He shall be brought unto the priest:  3 And the priest shall go forth out of the

camp” - The agent is stilt the priest, not the physician. The priest shall go forth out of

 the camp. “May we not (as Hesychius suggests) see a figure here of the compassion of

our Great High Priest, who has gone forth out of heaven itself, the camp of angel hosts,

and has come down to earth, not only to examine but to heal tile moral leprosy of

sin, ‘to seek and to save the lost’ (Luke 19:10), and who carefully examines and

scrutinizes all the secrets of all hearts (Hebrews 4:12)?  And He was exempt from all

contagion of sin while He lived and moved among sinners (Matthew 9:11; Luke 15:1),

and was ‘holy, harmless, and undefiled, separate from sinners’ (Hebrews 7:26)”

and the priest shall look, and, behold, if the plague of leprosy be healed in

the leper” - The plague of leprosy is healed before the ceremony of purification begins,

but the leper is not pronounced clean until he has been sprinkled with the blood and

water (v. 7) - 4 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be

cleansed two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop:” –

The Psalmist’s cry, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean” (Psalm 51:7),

shows the common use to which it was put. In the present case, the sweet smell both

of the wood (one cubit’s length of which was used) and of the herb would have still

further adapted them for symbolizing the redemption of the leper’s flesh from

corruption and putrefaction. The scarlet was probably a band of scarlet wool with

which the cedar and the hyssop were tied.  The color of the wool was appropriate, not

only because it was about to be dipped in the blood and water, but also because it

symbolized the purified and now healthy blood - 5 And the priest shall command

that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water” - literally,

living, water; that is, fresh water taken from a fountain or a running stream, in order that

it might be as pure as possible. Symbolically, the cleansing power of water as well as of

blood is indicated.  6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the

scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the

bird that was killed over the running water:  7 And he shall sprinkle upon him that

is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean” –

Having assured himself that he was healed (v. 3), the priest now pronounces him to be

clean, he looses as well as binds. It had been his office to declare the man a leper, and

thereby to shut him out from the people of the Lord (ch. 13:8, 15, 22, 25, 36, 44, 46).

Now he pronounces him to be no leper, and therefore, after some further ceremonies,

readmits him (vs. 8, 20, 31) -  “and shall let the living bird loose into the open field.”

The symbolism of the two birds, which has been much misinterpreted, is essentially the

same as that of the two goats on the day of atonement, (ch. 16:5-28) though each

ceremony has its distinctive features. The killing of the living bird was not a true sacrifice,

as was the offering of the goat to Jehovah, but by its death it represented the state in which

the  leper had legally been, and to which he would have been physically reduced had not a

remedy been found. The deathly and unclean state of the leper having been symbolically

transferred from the dead bird to the living bird by the latter’s being sprinkled in the

former’s blood, the living bird stands in the position of the scapegoat, on whom the sins

of the people were laid. The bird is then let loose into the open field; literally, upon the

 face of the field; and it flies off, carrying with it the leper’s uncleanness, and assuring him

by every forward movement that it makes that the living death has passed from him, just

as each step or’ the scapegoat appeared to the Israelites to remove their sins from them.

 8 And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair” –

so as to leave no remnant of his former defilement that can be removed, the first stage

of his purification is over. He is restored to the camp, but not yet to the sanctuary, nor

to his position as head or member of his family. He has still to undergo another week’s

purgation, and until that time has elapsed he may not live in his tent – “and wash

himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the

camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days.”  The ceremonies in the

second stage of cleansing, (vs. 9-32) which restored the late outcast to his home and

to his covenant-right, were the following:

 

  • At the end of seven days he repeated the process of washing, shaving,

            and bathing.

  • On the eighth day he brought a lamb for a trespass offering, a log of oil,

            a meat offering, a sin offering, and a burnt offering.

  • The priest that officiated at the cleansing presented him and his offerings

            at the door of the tabernacle.

  • He offered the trespass offering and the log of oil for him.
  • He slew the trespass offering and put some of the blood of it on different

            parts of the man’s body.

  • He poured some of the oil into his left hand, and having sprinkled some

            of it seven times before the Lord, he placed some of it on those parts of the

            man’s body on which the blood had been placed, and poured the rest upon

            his head.

  • He offered the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the meat offering.

 

9 But it shall be on the seventh day, that he shall shave all his hair off his head

and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair he shall shave off: and he shall

wash his clothes, also he shall wash his flesh in water, and he shall be clean.

10 And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe

lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a

meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil.”  - Leprosy was the type of sin —

or all sin whatsoever. When, therefore, the expiatory sacrifices were demanded, both kinds

the trespass offering and the sin offering — had to be offered, because expiation had to

be made for the uncleanness which represented all unrighteousness — trespasses as well as

sins. It might be that the man had not committed a trespass; he might also not have committed

sin; but he had been stricken with the foul disease which symbolized both one and the other,

and therefore he had to offer on his cleansing the sacrifice appropriate to each. There is a

difference in the ritual of the trespass offering in the present ease, intended perhaps to

distinguish it from those trespass offerings which were made when a man had in his mind

a certain wrong or injury which he had committed, and for which he wished to make

compensation. On this occasion:

 

  • the animal presented was not required to be of a particular value, as in

            the ordinary trespass offerings;

  • it was waved, whereas the ordinary trespass offerings were not waved;
  • it was waved by the priest, whereas other wave offerings were waved

            not by the priest, but by the offerer, whose hands were guided by the

            priests.

  • Nor did the offering of oil accompany the presentation of other trespass

            offerings. For whatever reason it be, the most characteristic feature of the

            sacrificial cleansing of the leper is the trespass offering, and the way that it

            was dealt with.

 

11 And the priest that maketh him clean shall present the man that is to be made

clean, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of the

congregation:  12 And the priest shall take one he lamb, and offer him for a

trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before

the LORD:  13 And he shall slay the lamb in the place where he shall kill the sin

offering and the burnt offering, in the holy place: for as the sin offering is the

priest’s, so is the trespass offering: it is most holy:  14 And the priest shall take

some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it upon the tip

of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right

hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot:” - No doubt, the ear, the thumb, and

the great toe are selected for the purpose of showing, as in the case of the consecration

of the priest, that the senses and the active powers of the restored Israelite must be

dedicated henceforth to God.  15 And the priest shall take some of the log of oil,

and pour it into the palm of his own left hand:  16 And the priest shall dip his

right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle of the oil with his

finger seven times before the LORD:  17 And of the rest of the oil that is in his

hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed,

and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot,

upon the blood of the trespass offering:” - -  The Mishua describes the ceremony as

follows: — “The priest now takes from the log of oil and pours it into the palm of his

colleague, though if he poured it into his own it were valid. He dips his finger and sprinkles

seven times towards the holy of holies, dipping each time he sprinkles. He

goes before the leper, and on the spot where he had put the blood he puts the oil, as

it is written, ‘Upon the blood of the trespass offering.’ And the remnant of the oil

that is in the priest’s hand, he pours on the head of him that is cleansed, for an

atonement; if he so puts it, he is atoned for, but if not, he is not atoned for. So Rabbi

Akiba. Rabbi Jochanan, the son of Nuri, saith, This is only the remnant of the

ordinance, whether it be done or not, the atonement is made; but they impute it to him

(the priest), as if he had not made atonement.” The double sprinkling with blood and oil

betokened dedication as in the case of the priests, the blood specially denoting reconciliation,

and the oil the strengthening power of God by which the new life was to be led. - 18 And

the remnant of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall pour upon the head of him

that is to be cleansed: and the priest shall make an atonement for him before the

LORD.  19 And the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make an atonement for

him that is to be cleansed from his uncleanness; and afterward he shall kill the

burnt offering:  20 And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the meat

offering upon the altar: and the priest shall make an atonement for him, and he

shall be clean.” - The sin offering is due, according to the regulation given in ch. 5:3,

in consequence of the man having been in a state of uncleanness. It is followed by the

burnt offering and the meat offering, and then the man is restored to his state of legal

cleanness, and of communion with God as well as with his fellows. 21 And if he be

poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb for a trespass

offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of

fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil;  22 And two

turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the

one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering.  23 And he shall

bring them on the eighth day for his cleansing unto the priest, unto the door

of the tabernacle of the congregation, before the LORD.  24 And the priest

shall take the lamb of the trespass offering, and the log of oil, and the priest

shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: 25 And he shall kill

the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood

of the trespass offering, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is

to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe

of his right foot:  26 And the priest shall pour of the oil into the palm of his own

left hand:  27 And the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil

that is in his left hand seven times before the LORD: 28 And the priest shall put

of the oil that is in his hand upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be

cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his

right foot, upon the place of the blood of the trespass offering:  29 And the rest

of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put upon the head of him that is

to be cleansed, to make an atonement for him before the LORD.    30 And he

shall offer the one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get;  

31 Even such as he is able to get, the one for a sin offering, and the other for a

burnt offering, with the meat offering: and the priest shall make an atonement

for him that is to be cleansed before the LORD.  32 This is the law of him in whom

is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to

his cleansing.”  The concession to poverty consists in the substitution of two turtledoves,

or two young pigeons, for the two lambs required for the sin offering and the burnt offering,

and one tenth-deal of flour for three tenth-deals of flour in the meat offering. But no

difference is made as to the lamb required for the trespass offering, or the log of oil.

These must be provided by the poor as well as by the rich, and the ceremonies used

at their offering must be the same for poor and rich, as they are essential to the rite,

 

 

 

     The Cleansing of the Leper Represents the Absolution of the Sinner.

 

The cleansing of the leper represents the absolution of the sinner,  as his exclusion

from the camp represented spiritual excommunication.

 

  • THE LAW OF CHRISTIAN EXCOMMUNICATION AND

            ABSOLUTION, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven:

            and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and

            whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”

            (Matthew 16:19). “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in

            heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”

            (Matthew 18:18). “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted; and

            whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:23).

 

  • THE USE OF KEYS.

 

ü      To Admit.  The spiritual keys are used by God’s ministers for the

      purpose of admission, whenever they introduce into Christ’s kingdom,

      the Church, a new member by the use of the initiatory rite of baptism,   

      which they are commissioned to employ for that end.

 

ü      To Shut Out.  They are used for the purpose of exclusion, whenever the

      Church, or any duly constituted section of the Church, following the

      example of the Corinthian Church, as instructed and guided by Paul,

      shuts out from its fold one who has been guilty of gross immorality

      (I Corinthians 5) or of depraving the faith (I Timothy 1:20), and

      continues obstinate in his sin.

 

ü      To Re-admit.  They are used for the purpose of readmission, when the

      Church has become satisfied that the sinner whom she had excluded

      from her fold has ceased to be a sinner, and thereupon, like the

      Corinthian Church, once more under the direction of Paul, forgives

      him and comforts him, lest such an one should be swallowed up

      with overmuch sorrow,” and confirms its love towards him

      (II Corinthians 2:7-8).

 

  • THE FORMS FOR ADMISSION, EXCLUSION, AND READMISSION IN

      THE OLD AND NEW DISPENSATIONS. The form of admission into

      covenant with  God Himself is, as we should expect, fixed by Divine authority

      in  both dispensations. In the old dispensation it was circumcision. “Every man            

      child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of          

      your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.          

      And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man           

      child in your generations,… and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an          

      everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:10-13). In the New Testament it is baptism

      in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. “Go ye       

      therefore, and teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them in the  

      Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).     

      “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you       

      as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).           

      These forms are unchangeable by any human authority.  The form of exclusion  

      from the covenant people was not so definitely fixed under the old as the new   

      dispensation. In the former it is ordained that for various transgressions a soul    

      shall be cut off. “The uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is         

      not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken

      my covenant’ (Genesis 17:14). “If a man shall lie with a woman having her           

      sickness, both of them shall be cut off from among their people” (Leviticus          

      20:18). But it is only in the case of leprosy that the method of exclusion is given

      in detail. There we have seen that it is to consist of a careful examination on the

      part of God’s priest, and a pronunciation by him of the undoubted existence of

      the uncleanness in the person suspected, after which the latter is to exhibit all

            the signs of one mourning for himself as dead, to dwell alone, and “without

            the camp shall his habitation be” (ch. 13:45-46). So in the New Testament

            the power of “binding” as well as of “loosing,” and of “retaining” bound as

            well as of “forgiving,” is granted, and the obligation of exerting this power is   

            involved in its grant; but no especial form by which it is to be done is given. It

            is only in the case of the incestuous Corinthian that we have an example of the   

            way in which Paul judges that it shall be done. From thence it appears that the   

            decision is to be passed by the chief Church officer, in the name of Jesus Christ,            

            and promulgated by the assembled Church, the result being that the offender is

            translated from the kingdom of Christ to the outer world, the kingdom of Satan,            

            for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of

            the Lord Jesus” (<460503>1 Corinthians 5:3-5).  Nor is there any form definitely            

            appointed either in the old or in the new dispensation for the readmission of

            those that had been cast out. No doubt in the old dispensation, it was always    

            effected by the means of sacrifice, but we have a definite statement of the form  

            adopted only in the case of reconciliation after leprosy. This form we have seen

            to be very elaborate and significant. Similarly in the new dispensation, we find

            no form authoritatively given for the restoration of the penitent; only we have, as

            before, the instance of the incestuous Corinthian, from which we learn that

            after sufficient punishment such a one is to be forgiven and taken back to

            the love of the brethren; and we have the general principle laid down

            elsewhere, “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore

            such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be

            tempted (Galatians 6:1).  The fact of a divinely authorized form being given

            for admission into covenant with God, but none for exclusion from it by

            excommunication or readmission to it by absolution, is significant. The first is     

            under the new dispensation a sacrament ordained of Christ; the others are         

            ecclesiastical rites, valuable for the well-being of the Church, but not appointed

            by its Founder as a necessary condition of its existence.

 

  • THE OFFICE OF THE PRIEST IN CLEANSING,

 

ü      He Did Not Cure the Leprosy.  “If the plague of leprosy be healed

      in the leper” (v. 3), then the priest shall begin the cleansing

      ceremonies. The healing of the disease was the work of God.

 

ü      The Action of the Priest is Necessary for the Cleansing. If the healing

      is the work of God, the cleansing is the work of the priest. It is a

      complex ceremonial act, the result of which is not to deliver from the     

      leprosy, but to serve as an assurance to the man himself and to the

      whole community that he is delivered from it, and therefore fit to be       

      reinstated, and by that act reinstated, in the position of full communion   

      which he had lost. So with absolution; it is God alone that forgives and        

      heals sin. But after this has been accomplished, still it is necessary that a          

      solemn ecclesiastical ceremony should reinstate in the communion of the            

      faithful one who has been formally severed from it. And where the

      formal act of severance has not taken place, but a man’s distressed       

      conscience tells him that he has separated himself from God, and can    

      hardly allow him to believe in his forgiveness, the solemn declaration

      of that forgiveness by God’s minister serves as an assurance to the        

      trembling soul, and restores to him the sense of peace which was lost.

 

    

 

  THE LEPROSY OF A HOUSE AND ITS CLEANSING (vs. 33-53)

 

The subject of leprosy in houses must be regarded from the same point of view as

that of leprosy in clothes. The regulations respecting it are not sanitary laws, but rest

upon an ideal or symbolical basis. The same thought is attached to all species of

uncleanness. Something — it matters not what — produces a foul and repulsive

appearance in the walls of a house. That is in itself sufficient to make that house

unclean; for whatever is foul and repulsive is representative of moral and spiritual

defilement, and therefore is itself symbolically defiling and defiled. It has been

suggested that the special cause of the affection of the houses in Canaan was

saltpetre exuding from the materials employed in their building, or iron pyrites

in the stone used.  This may have been so, or more probably it was the growth of

some fungus. Whatever it was, the appearance created by it was so similar to that

of leprosy in the human body, as to derive its name from the latter by analogy.

 

33 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,  34 When ye be

come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession” – (an

example of prophetic certitude – speaking of something in the future as already

come to pass – CY – 2010) – “and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the

land of your possession” - This is the first instance of a law being given which

has no bearing on the present condition of the Israelites. but is to regulate

their conduct when they had come into the promised land. From the time of

Abraham downwards, the assurance of their entrance into that land had been

possessed by the people of Israel (Genesis 17:8), and the expectation of the speedy

fulfillment of that promise had been quickened by their exodus from Egypt, and the

preparations made to march through the wilderness. There would, therefore, be

nothing surprising to them in receiving instructions to guide their conduct when the

entrance should have been effected. - 35 And he that owneth the house shall come

and tell the priest, saying, It seemeth to me there is as it were a plague in the house:

36 Then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest

go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean: and

afterward the priest shall go in to see the house:  37 And he shall look on the

plague, and, behold, if the plague be in the walls of the house with hollow strakes,

greenish or reddish, which in sight are lower than the wall;  38 Then the priest

shall go out of the house to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days:

39 And the priest shall come again the seventh day, and shall look: and, behold, if

the plague be spread in the walls of the house; 40 Then the priest shall command

that they take away the stones in which the plague is, and they shall cast them into

an unclean place without the city: 41 And he shall cause the house to be scraped

within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they scrape off without

the city into an unclean place:  42 And they shall take other stones, and put them

in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter, and shall plaister the

house.  43 And if the plague come again, and break out in the house, after that

he hath taken away the stones, and after he hath scraped the house, and after it

is plastered;  44 Then the priest shall come and look, and, behold, if the plague be

spread in the house, it is a fretting leprosy in the house; it is unclean.  45 And he

shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the

morter of the house; and he shall carry them forth out of the city into an unclean

place.  46 Moreover he that goeth into the house all the while that it is shut

up shall be unclean until the even.  47 And he that lieth in the house shall wash

his clothes; and he that eateth in the house shall wash his clothes.” - The leprous

house conveys uncleanness to those that enter it, but of so slight a nature that it ceases

with the evening, and requires only that the clothes of the wearer be washed. Such a

regulation would have been ineffectual for preventing the spread of infection, if that

had been its purpose.  48 And if the priest shall come in, and look upon it, and,

behold, the plague hath not spread in the house, after the house was plastered:

then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed.

49 And he shall take to cleanse the house two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet,

and hyssop:  50 And he shall kill the one of the birds in an earthen vessel over

running water:  51 And he shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the

scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and

in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times:  52 And he shall

cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, and with

the living bird, and with the cedar wood, and with the hyssop, and with the scarlet:

53 But he shall let go the living bird out of the city into the open fields, and make

an atonement for the house: and it shall be clean.”  The next verses contain the

concluding formula for chps. 13-14. The various names of leprosy and its kindred

diseases are resumed from chapter 13:2.  54 This is the law for all manner of plague

of leprosy, and scall, 55 And for the leprosy of a garment, and of a house,

56 And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot: 57 To teach when it is

unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy.”

 

 

                                                On Uncleanness in Houses

 

There are two metaphors commonly used in Holy Scripture for designating

God’s covenant people. They are: God’s household; God’s house.

 

  • GOD’S HOUSEHOLD. As the household of God the Father, of whom

            the whole family in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:15), they

            are the members of that august brotherhood gathered together in Christ, of

            which God Himself is the spiritual Father, into which all that are adopted in

            Christ are incorporated, ceasing to be “strangers and foreigners,” and

            becomingfellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God”

            (Ephesians 2:19).

 

  • GOD’S HOUSE. The representation that God’s people form His house

            is of a more singular character, and less capable of bring immediately

            grasped. It is even more commonly employed than the other. In the Epistle

            to the Corinthians, we read of Christians, that is, the collective body of

            Christians, being “God’s temple” (I Corinthians 3:16); “for ye are the

            temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk

            in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (II

            Corinthians 6:16). In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul dwells at length

            on the idea of the Christian Church being built up of living stones into a

            temple for God’s Spirit: “Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles

            and prophets, Jesus Christ being himself the chief corner stone; in whom all

            the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

            in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the

            Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22). And in the Epistle to Timothy, he speaks of “the

            house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and

            ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). Similarly, the writer of the Epistle to

            the Hebrews, having described Christ “as a Son over His own house,”         

            continues, “whose house are we” (Hebrews 3:6); and Peter writes, “Ye also, as       

            lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (I Peter 2:5). Just as God’s Spirit        

            dwells within the heart of each individual Christian, so, and in a more special     

            manner, He dwells within the Church, His house not being made by hands, or   

            constituted of wood and stone, but of the spirits of those who form the Church.

 

  • GOD’S HOUSE MAY NEVER BE DESTROYED, BUT IT MAY

            BE DEFILED. “Upon this rock” (that is, upon Himself as confessed by

            Peter), “I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail

            against it” (Matthew 16:18). But though not destructible by the power

            of evil, it may yet be defiled. “If any man defile the temple of God, him

            shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”

            (I Corinthians 3:17). That which defiles God’s house is unrighteousness and      

            falsehood, just as physical and ceremonial uncleanness defiles the camp            

            (Deuteronomy 23:12). If the latter be allowed to continue in the camp, God

            will symbolically “turn away” from it; “for the Lord thy God walketh in

            the midst of the camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before         

            thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in

            thee, and turn away from thee” (Deuteronomy 23:14). If the former be found,          

            the Holy Spirit of God” will be “grieved” (Ephesians 4:30), and “vexed,” so         

            that God is turned into an “enemy” (Isaiah 63:10)

.

  • THE CLEANSING OF GOD’S HOUSE. As soon as there is a prima

            facie appearance of immorality, or irreligiousness, or superstition in a

            National Church, a diligent examination should be made by those placed in

            authority by God. Perhaps it is only an appearance, which will die away of

            itself. If it does so, no further measures are needed. But “if the plague

            spread in the walls of the house; then the priest shall command that they

            take away the stones in which the plague is, and they shall cast them into

            an unclean place without the city: and he shall cause the house to be

            scraped within round about, and they shall pour out the dust that they

            scrape off without the city into an unclean place.” (vs. 39-41) Those whose

            office it is, must not shrink from removing the stones in which the mischief is

            found, that is, of casting out those who are incurably affected with

            irreligion, immorality, or superstition. “And they shall take other stones,

            and put them in the place of those stones; and he shall take other morter,

            and shall plaster the house.” (v. 42) -  Discipline must be exercised by          

            substituting sound teachers and members of the flock for those that have

            become unsound. This is the work of reformation. This is what was done for

            the Jewish Church by Joash, when he “was minded to repair the house of the

            Lord So the workmen wrought, and the work was perfected by them, and

            they set the house of God in his state, and strengthened it” (II Chronicles

            24:4-13); and by Hezekiah, when he said unto the Levites, “Sanctify now       

            yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and

            carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place. For our fathers

            have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord our

            God, and have forsaken Him And the priests went into the inner part of the

            house of the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that

            they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the

            Lord. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook

            Kidron(II Chronicles 29:5-16); and by Josiah, when “he began to

            purge Judah and Jerusalem… when he had purged the land and the house

            he sent… to repair the house Of the Lord his God… and they gave the

            money to the workmen that wrought in the house of the Lord, to repair

            and amend the house: even to the artificers and builders gave they it, to

            buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which

            the kings of Judah had destroyed” (II Chronicles 34:3-11). And this is

            what was done for the greater part of the Christian Church in the West in

            the sixteenth century. But if these measures prove ineffective, “if the

            plague come again, and break out in the house, after that he hath taken

            away the stones, and after he hath scraped the house and after it is

            plastered; then the priest shall come and look, and, behold, if the plague

            be spread in the house, it is a fretting leprosy in the house: it is unclean.

            And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber

            thereof, and all the morter of the house; and he shall carry them forth out

            of the city into an unclean place.” (vs. 43-45) - So it was with the Jewish

            Church. The reformations of Joash, of Hezekiah, of Josiah, were ineffectual,

            and the Babylonian captivity followed. And so it will be with the various

            National Churches of Christendom: any one of them to which the taint of

            impurity in life or doctrine obstinately adheres, will be destroyed utterly

            when God’s forbearance shall have at length come to an end.

 

  • WARNING. “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and

            repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and

            will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent”

            (Revelation 2:5). “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and

            will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Revelation 2:16).

            “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and

            repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and

            thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:3).

            “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and

            repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice,

            and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he

            with me” (Revelation 3:19-20).

 

 

 

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