Published on
December 30, 2023

Leviticus 14

“The Lord spoke to Moses: 'This is the law concerning the person afflicted with a skin disease on the day of his cleansing. He is to be brought to the priest...'”

Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Author Photo
Steve Wiggins
Read Time
4 minutes
Leviticus 14
“The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘This is the law concerning the person afflicted with a skin disease on the day of his cleansing. He is to be brought to the priest, who will go outside the camp and examine him. If the skin disease has disappeared from the afflicted person, the priest will order that two live clean birds, cedarwood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop brought for the one who is to be cleansed.’”  Leviticus 14:1-4 (HCSB)

We need to understand that the procedures outlined in today’s passage do not constitute a cure for leprosy. The verse describes a ceremony to restore a person who has already been healed. Only God can cure a person, not a ritual. That is what separates voodoo from true religion.

In what may seem like an otherwise benign ritual concerning skin disease (something we would defer to a dermatologist today), we actually have a clear picture of Jesus’ suffering on the Roman cross. Let’s examine the elements.

First off, the whole act was to take place outside of the camp:

“Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the gate, so that He might sanctify the people by His own blood.” Hebrews 13:12 (HCSB)

Next, the birds and articles (required for the ceremony) were not provided by the leper himself. The priest summoned the articles to be brought. Otherwise, the articles would be unclean for the priest to touch. Similarly, Jesus was the substitute for our sin offering. Atonement comes completely from His gracious provision and not from our good works, what we “bring to the table,” so to speak.

The scarlet wool and hyssop are symbols of the Passover lamb, which was sacrificed, and its blood “painted” on the Israelites’ doorposts with the hyssop branches. It is also a picture of Jesus, our Passover lamb. (1 Corinthians 5:7)

The cedar wood evokes the image of the cross.

In verse 5, one of the two birds is to be killed. Then, the living bird (along with the other articles) was to be “washed” in the blood of the sacrificed bird. This is meant to show a contrast to the other bird, which was allowed to live, thus representing the state of death from which the leper had escaped. This reminds us of how we are “washed in the blood” of Jesus, who atoned for our sin so that we may live. (Revelation 7:14)

Running water (literally: living water) in verse 5 symbolizes mikveh (baptism), being washed clean. Jesus said to the woman at the well, “If you knew to Whom you are speaking, you would ask, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Finally, in verse 7, the leper is pronounced clean, and the living bird is let go. So, too, are we free, indeed, through Messiah Jesus! (John 8:36)

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