Mt. 8:1-4 . . .behold, there came a leper and he worshipped Him [Yeshua], saying, ‘Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean’. And He [Yeshua] stretched forth His hand, and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed! And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (healed).
Is. 53:4 Surely He [the Arm of the LORD] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Rosh Hashana, or the Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, is the first set time of YHVH after the giving of the Law at Shavuot to Israel. For New Testament believers in Jesus as Lord and Messiah, for us too at this point in history approaching the return of the Lord Jesus in great power and great glory, it is a new season after the long intervening ‘summer’ since the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church, putting God’s law in our hearts and minds.
The appointed times of the LORD help us to understand the plan of God to make a holy people for Himself, which includes a process of sanctification and glorification over our lifetime until He completes the work He has begun in us. The Feast of Ingathering –which includes the three set times of Trumpets, Atonements, and Booths during the seventh month of the calendar which the LORD made for Israel– is a very important time in this process. It includes God’s demand –and our need– for both personal and corporate accountability. The Holy Spirit is working to convict of righteousness, of sin, and of judgment not only in the world, which includes Israel, but also within the Church, the Body of Messiah. I think every Spirit-filled Christian knows it –feels it– in his or her own soul and spirit. This will intensify as the Day of the LORD draws ever nearer. But we are saved by faith –praise God!– in what the Lord Jesus the Messiah accomplished on the cross, setting us free from Satan’s lies and accusations, and giving us new clothes of salvation and righteousness! Therefore we do not need any longer to strive and fight to prove ourselves acceptable in God’s sight, but rather we can enter into the joy of knowing that God our Father loves us because we believe in His Son Yeshua. Instead of war and fear of death, Jesus has given us His peace and assurance of life eternal with Him.
What does all this have to do with the leper? Much actually, and I hope that you will prayerfully consider and meditate on it afterwards (read Lev. 13 & 14). The leper suffered not only physically from his bodily disease, but even more in that he was stigmatized as unclean and immediately put out of the community. Just after the chapters which record the sermon on the mount by Jesus, He demonstrates the truth He had been teaching regarding the Kingdom of God: He touched the leper who came to Him, and cleansed him. According to the Torah, there was no cure for leprosy: no sacrifice was offered until after a leper was cleansed, and this was only after a prolonged process of several examinations by the High Priest. Even then there was no assurance that the leper would be healed and so fit to return to his town and to enter the House of the LORD.
Sometimes leprosy came from the hand of God for a specific serious sin, for example in the cases of Miriam –Moses’ sister, Gehazi –Elisha’s servant, King Uzziah. Other times a person was stricken for no apparent specific sin. But in any case, the person with leprosy was stigmatized and put outside the community, and even had himself to warn people to keep away. The leper could only live with other lepers, because the condition was contagious.
I remember reading the book Ben-Hur. In it the mother and sister of Ben-Hur were stricken with leprosy even though they were women of God. What they did though, even in their humiliation and suffering in their shame in the eyes of other people, was to speak to the other outcast lepers of the Lord’s love and faithfulness. I praised God, for His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts like ours. Jesus has come to bring love and healing into our lives: the Kingdom of God is within us in Messiah.
Leprosy was evident when the wound exposed raw (living) flesh (Lev. 13:14). Because it was contagious, the law required isolation of the leper until he was cleansed. We do not always want to admit that we have an open wound that is a threat to the lives of others. The letter to the Hebrews warns against bitterness as though it were contagious (Heb. 12:15). A root of bitterness can grow where there is resentment and unforgiveness. In the Tenach, the fear and unbelief of the ten spies infected most of the other Israelis (Num. 14:36); Korah infected the Levites who died with him for not accepting Moses and Aaron (Num. 15); Satan infected one-third of the angels (Rev. 12) when he rebelled against God. Leprosy, we see, can also be a spiritual disease, and is not just my personal problem. It can infect my family, my house and home, my congregation (Lev. 14:34; 1 Pet. 2:5), my clothes or “habits, works, ministry” (Lev. 13:47; Is. 64:6).
The best cure for any disease is prevention. At the first signs of illness or injury, admit it and go to the doctor. The key to cleansing and healing for one whose wounds are still open and incurable after much time has passed, or after we thought that we had dealt with a matter, is again first of all to confess that we are not well. The place to go is the cross of our Lord. He Himself was stricken by God for our transgressions. He knows what it is to be rejected; He came to heal the sick and cleanse the lepers (Mt. 11:5). Yeshua touched the unclean leper who cried out to Him. He touched him –He accepted his person. The Son of Man loved him with the love of God the Father. We are called to do the same for those who ask.
The apostle Jacob (James) tells us by the Holy Spirit to confess our sins to one another, praying for each other, so that we may be healed (James 5:16).
I want to quote here from a letter I received:
“As God’s servant you belong in only one of two places –in the battle on the front line, or (if you get wounded, which happens in battle) in the hospital getting well. What many don’t realize is that, while the healing is always available, you have to take yourself to the door of the hospital and ask to be admitted. Some get right up to the door and then, out of fear, pride, or unforgiveness, don’t go in. They can’t go back to the battle, where they would be a burden in their condition. So they wander around the countryside while the wound begins to fester. After a long while they see a dangerous infection setting in and run back to the hospital in panic. But by then it is too late –nothing can be done. They can’t fight, they can’t get healed –they can only walk around as lepers, looking for other lepers to sympathize with them. You must go to the cross with your wounds when I send you, or you will become a leper.”
[Let us all be quiet before the Lord and search our souls, bringing before Him our open wounds, which perhaps only you and He know about, and the raw wounds which have grown and infected others. Now is the time to confess our transgressions before God that also prevent our healing.
Afterwards, those who want us to pray with you, come to the front row and we will pray together.]