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The law for the cleansing of a leper is contained primarily in Leviticus 14, with particular emphasis on verses 1-32. You guessed it…time to break out your Bible! Done? Fantastic! Let’s dive into the fun facts of this ceremony that teach us about the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ.

Once the cleansing of his disease was verified by a priest, the former leper was to offer up two doves (verses 1-4). An earthen vessel was filled with living water, and one of the birds was killed over it (verse 5). The priest then took the living dove with cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop and dipped them in the blood mingled with water and sprinkled the one being cleansed (verses 6-7). Like the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement,[1] these two birds represent one sacrifice, but since they couldn’t kill a bird and bring it back to life again, two birds had to be used. One died as a result of sin; the other was set free, representing the liberty we have when our sins have been washed away.

Again we see that it is the living water that is the transport medium for the blood. The Lord is showing us once more that it is His Spirit who brings to us the cleansing power of His blood.[2] But this stage of the ceremony only made it possible for the one being cleansed to once more enter the commonwealth of the camp (verse 8). To enjoy the full fellowship of the Lord and the worshipping throng, a further application of blood was necessary.

Eight days after being admitted into the camp, the ex-leper was to bring lambs for trespass, sin, and burnt offerings; fine flour was brought for a grain offering; and a log of oil was given as a wave offering (verses 10-11). After the trespass offering was killed, the priest took some of its blood and applied it to the right ear lobe, right thumb, and right big toe of the one being cleansed (verse 14). This part of the ceremony is nearly identical with the consecration ceremony for the priests, which we shall deal with shortly. The priest then took the oil and put it where he had applied the blood. Any oil left in his hand was then poured on the head of the one being cleansed (verses 15-18).

Like water, oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Where water speaks of the Spirit’s life-giving and cleansing qualities, oil speaks of His healing, softening, and glorifying attributes. We’ve all heard about being “anointed.” When we speak of being anointed, we are talking about the “oil” of the Holy Spirit. Where water washes off, oil rubs in. What does it rub in? The blood of the sacrifice! The anointing falls upon the place where the blood has been applied! It is His Spirit that carries into the very core of our beings the cleansing power of the blood.

Once the leper had offered up all these sacrifices and the blood and oil had been applied, he was declared clean and able once more to worship freely in the tabernacle. As Hebrews 9:13-14 showed us, the purpose of all this is a purged conscience in order that we might serve the living God.

[1] See Chapter 7.
[2] The doves are also representative of the Holy Spirit. Though a full examination of this symbolism is outside of the scope of this study, one should note that one of the doves was sacrificed and the other was used to sprinkle the blood. Jesus was taken to the cross by the Holy Spirit (Heb 9:14) and the Spirit washes us because of the blood of Jesus (Titus 3:5-6).

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