Horror movies aren’t really my cup of tea. To be honest, I haven’t even seen any of the Twilight Saga films nor read any of the books. However, as I read, Metzora, the Torah portion for this week, I realised that it sounds like something right out of a vampire movie. The majority of the text deals with a rather detailed and specific description of what someone with a skin disease (or leprosy) has to do, in order to make himself ritually clean again, which involves birds, blood, sacrifices, some pieces of wood and some red wool!
So, are we dealing with some kind of magic spell or did God have other intentions with this rather strange ritual?
So, are we dealing with some kind of magic spell or did God have other intentions with this rather strange ritual? We all learn differently – but most of us seem to learn best when we can experience something with all our senses. The ritual to cleanse the person with a skin disease is a great example of this – people would have seen the strange act, smelled the blood and heard the cheeping of the bird as it flew away. The one being cleansed would have felt the blood applied to his body. God was trying to teach us something. But what?
Having a skin disease automatically resulted in that person being barred from the community. In essence, it was the equivalent to the (spiritual) death sentence (which we looked at last week). But what were to happen, if someone were to actually be cured of his skin disease? This bizarre ritual would have been an amazing spectacle for the community to witness – almost like someone being (spiritually) raised to life again. Indeed there is no record of a Jewish leper ever being healed – until the coming of Yeshua.
In Luke 5:12-14, we read an amazing account of a leper who is healed by Yeshua’s touch. Yeshua’s command after the healing is perhaps the most interesting part: “Go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, as a proof to them.” A proof of what? A proof of physical healing, but also a proof of being able to restore someone into relationship with God. Imagine the amazement on the priests’ faces as they saw the man’s clean skin and as he fulfilled this strange ritual written thousands of years beforehand!
…but each of us does have a debilitating spiritual condition – sin.
Perhaps you and I don’t have a debilitating physical condition, but each of us does have a debilitating spiritual condition – sin. We’ve all done wrong, we’ve all made idols out of different areas of our lives; none of us measure up. We need someone to clean us from our spiritual leprosy – to restore our relationship to our Creator and to heal our relationships with each other. The only one who can do that is Yeshua – He proved it over two thousand years ago by healing the leper, and He’s still in the business of changing lives today. If we ask Him, He promises to forgive us and to cleanse us from all the wrong in our lives.
So, I’m not a fan of horror movies, but I love this ritual concerning cleansing the leper simply because it points to new, restored life. A life that we too can experience if we are willing, just like the leper two thousand years ago, to do something incredibly simple, but incredibly difficult – to ask!
Blood, Vampires and Life from the Dead