Total Depravity: Leprosy, Sin, and Jesus

In the first chapter of Mark's gospel, a man with leprosy stopped Jesus

“How did this OT form of leprosy have any relevance to their spiritual wellbeing?  And for that matter, what does OT leprosy have to do with us? Some scholars understand the snow-like nature of this leprosy to come from the scales and flakes of the skin disease. This particular effect of the disease indicates that the flesh is wearing away. It is eroding.”

 

Think about the job of the Old Testament priest.  As if he didn’t have enough to do he had to do the occasional skin inspection.  We read about it in Leviticus 13. The first thing that the priest had to do was figure out what he was dealing with, had the hair on the skin turned white and how deep was the infection.  Sounds like fun.  However, the fun was just starting. If the priest was unable to determine these things the person was quarantined for seven days and then re-examined.  If the leprous spot appeared to have spread, the person was pronounced unclean.

The second test is a bit more graphic. It had to do with raw flesh resulting from the leprous condition. This person is obviously unclean. The third case had to do with boils. The fourth case had to do with burns, which followed the same pattern as the boil. The fifth case involved a sore on the head or chin. The sixth case involved a skin rash, which if dull white was taken seriously.  And the seventh case had to do with skin disease on the scalp resulting in baldness. Baldness resulting from reddish white sores rendered a person unclean.

Now, these are the cases. But the obvious question has to do with relevance. How did this OT form of leprosy have any relevance to their spiritual wellbeing?  And for that matter, what does OT leprosy have to do with us? Some scholars understand the snow-like nature of this leprosy to come from the scales and flakes of the skin disease. This particular effect of the disease indicates that the flesh is wearing away. It is eroding.

Now, go to Numbers 12. Here we find the story of Miriam and Aaron’s rebellion. You’ll remember that the anger of the Lord burned against them.  And when God’s cloud departed from the tent of meeting Miriam was leprous.  Her skin was eroding.  It was flaking away like snow.  Look at v. 12, “Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb.” Miriam stood as one dead. This type of leprosy was a picture of death.

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