Published on
December 30, 2023

Leviticus 12

“When her days of purification are complete, whether a son or a daughter, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting...”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Leviticus 12
“When her days of purification are complete, whether a son or a daughter, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old male lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.” Leviticus 12:6 (HCSB)

Chapter 11 is a reminder of our fallen World and man’s dealings with it. It describes a World of clean and unclean, a World in which many of its parts must be shunned because they are not clean. But don’t forget that it is also a World in which many of its parts are wholesome and good for men. Man can avoid the unclean and be “holy,” set apart to God. And (to some extent) men can be like Him.  Provision had been allowed by God to counter the effect of the fall, as far as mankind was concerned.

Here, in chapter 12, comes a reminder of another consequence of the fall: How the fall affected womankind. Childbirth was now inevitably connected with ‘uncleanness.’ Through the discomforts of childbirth, God chooses to remind women of Eve’s part in the fall (Genesis 3:16). It stands as a reminder that every time a child is born, another sinner is born into a sinful world.

So, in every case of childbirth, there was no avoiding uncleanness. It was not a question of choice. It was something that had to be endured. Birth inevitably involved sin because the birth process had been affected by sin, and the child born into the world was now subject to sin. Indeed, he (or she) being born is a sinner by nature. (Compare: Romans 5.14; Psalm 51.5; 58.3) Therefore, the very process of birth falls short of perfection and must be deemed ‘unclean.’ That is why the woman, being in the process of producing a sinner, was prevented from approaching the holiness of God. She had to be purified, along with the child.

Any person observing or participating in the birth of a child can see God’s point quite clearly. When a child is born, it is covered with blood and mucus. It comes out ‘unclean.’ This does not contradict the (Luke 2:23) statement that “every child who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.” The latter verse communicates that the first newborn child is seen as set apart for Yahweh’s service, not that it is ‘ritually holy’ at the point of birth. In the grace & mercy of God, while it enters the world ‘unclean,’ the firstborn is also set apart as His.

Because of the grace of God, it was recognized that the uncleanness of a woman during childbirth would be temporary and not permanent. Therefore, by following God’s command, the woman and the child could come out of their period of uncleanness in childbearing and return to “cleanness” and the light of God’s holiness, with all traces of sin being put behind them. That is the process described in today’s passage. It is also a picture of salvation through Jesus and the necessity of being “born again.” (John 3:16)

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