Church of God, Carmichael, CA

Shadows of Good Things

Or the Gospel in Type

Russell R. Byrum, 1922

[Original Page Numbers]


CHAPTER VII

OTHER RITUAL TYPES

Leprosy and Its Cleansing
( Leviticus 13, 14 )

  The description of leprosy given in Leviticus 13, 14 is said to be the oldest description extant of any disease. It was not given here, however, for medical purposes, nor were the regulations concerning it for effecting a cure. This is clear because the rites of the cleansing were for him who had become clean already. He was to go to the priest, not to the physician.

  Doubtless the restrictions on the leper in separating him from society were beneficial in preventing the spread of the disease at the time of the exodus, when the mode of life would make the Israelites especially liable to it. But as with temporal benefits from other Mosaic institutions, that was not the primary purpose of Moses' writings on the subject. Other diseases more deadly, equally difficult to cure, and more contagious are not mentioned. No sacrifices were prescribed for those who had recovered from them. To have required elaborate rites for every form of disease would have made a great burden upon the people. God chose this particular disease because of its general nature to be a type of that most awful of all diseases—sin. In several respects it is parallel with sin and its effects in men.

  It is a loathsome, defiling disease in its developed stages. It begins with a white spot in the skin which slowly and gradually spreads over the entire body "bleaching the hair white wherever it showed itself, crusting the affected parts with shining scales, and causing swellings and sores. From the skin it slowly ate its way through the tissues, to the bones and joints, and even to the marrow, rotting the whole body piecemeal." And as leprosy affects the body, so sin affects the soul. This loathsome, corrupting, degrading disease of the body, as some one has remarked, "is God's language by which he describes sin as it appears in his sight."

  Leprosy is like sin also in that it is seemingly not serious in its earlier stages. It may be scarcely visible [130] to the eye, only a small rising in the flesh, a slight red spot, like the puncture from a pin. An expert may be necessary to detect it. But it spreads gradually and deepens until the subject becomes horrible to behold; fingers are eaten away, ears drop off, and he becomes a mass of putrefying corruption indescribable. So sin, so awful in its consequences, is very harmless in appearance in its beginning. That shocking crime of which you recently read in the newspaper doubtless had its beginning in what appeared a very harmless thought. All the sin that has stained the world throughout man's history began with one admiring look of our mother Eve at the forbidden fruit. Beware of sin. It is terrible in its consequences.

  Leprosy is contagious by intimate contact. For this reason the leper must dwell in a house apart, as did Uzziah king of Judah, whom God smote. The leper was to go with rent clothes and bared head as a sign of sorrow, to wear a bandage on the lip or chin as a badge of his uncleanness, and to cry to any who approached him, "Unclean, unclean." If God chose such an awful spectacle to symbolize sin, how hateful to his holy eyes must sin itself appear! The sinner, like the leper, is unfit to associate with his fellows—a menace to society, spreading his awful malady wherever he goes—is an object of abhorrence to the holy; and himself is filled with dread of the awful consequences awaiting in the future.

  Finally leprosy is almost incurable and was probably entirely so by human means in Bible times. Only when God in pity heard the prayers of the meek Moses was Miriam made clean. Only the God of Israel by the word of his prophet Elisha could heal the great man Naaman of his disease. But, thank God, he who said to the suppliant leper, "I will, be thou clean," can say as effectually to the moral leper, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." How remarkably parallel are leprosy and sin! No human remedy availed for either; but he who healed the lepers also saves from sin. And here we have the most glorious part of this type in the rites for the [131] cleansing of the leper, which foreshadowed God's work of cleansing men from sin.

  When the leper became clean he was to present himself to the priest. If the priest found him clean, two birds were taken "alive and clean." One of these was killed in a vessel containing some fresh water, that its blood and the water might be mixed together. Then the live bird was dipped in the mingled water and blood and released to fly away clean, while the priest took the scarlet wool and hyssop on the handle of cedar wood to sprinkle the bloody water seven times on the cleansed leper. What a beautiful type of our cleansing from sin! Cleansing was by blood and water, water the symbol of God's word. One bird died that his fellow might through his life's blood be made clean and go free. No comment is needed here. The sprinkling of the bloody water seven times was symbolic of the cleansing of the leper, while the freed bird represented his release from sin's consequences. But the atonement also had to be made. After eight days he had to appear at God's altar with a trespass offering, a sin offering, a burnt and a meat offering, also a log of oil. The blood of the trespass offering was to be placed upon his ear, thumb, and toe to signify complete cleansing, and likewise of the oil to typify the making holy of the sinner by the presence of the Holy Spirit coming upon him.

  Reader, if spots of sin mar your soul, behold in this vivid type of sin the awful picture God has here given of your condition. Your sin will "eat as cloth a canker," and finally destroy your soul forever. Flee to the cleansing blood of Jesus, which can cleanse you from every spot of sin's awful malady and even remove its taint from your inmost nature. Bow before your Lord as one of old with the earnest prayer, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," and hear his voice saying in accents of infinite pity, "I will, be thou clean." [132]

The Nazarite
(Numbers 6)

  A Nazarite, according to the meaning of the name, is one who is separated. He was one who made a vow, devoting himself to a life of special holiness. This separation was to continue for a definite period, after which certain sacrifices were to be offered. We have record, however, of three persons who were Nazarites for life, having been devoted to God by their parents—Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist.

  This special holiness consisted in three things: (1) total abstinence from wine, or grapes in any form, and from other strong drink; (2) keeping from ceremonial defilement caused by coming in contact with a dead body; ( 3 ) leaving the hair of the head unshorn during the period of separation. Intoxicants in all forms, and to make the separation more complete, grapes, in every form, from which intoxicants were usually made, were forbidden. This was doubtless, as with the priests, who were forbidden to drink wine during their ministrations (Lev. 10 :8, 9), that their faculties might not be stupefied or benumbed. The effects of wine on the mind well represent the benumbing effects of sin generally upon the soul's devotion. Of the unshorn hair it is said, "The consecration of his God is upon his head." Here the sign is called by that which it signified—consecration, separation. As the hair upon the woman's head is described by the apostle PauI as the token of subjection to her husband—"For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head" (1 Cor. 11:10)—so the badge of the Nazarite, his long hair, signified his special subjection to God. That this is the meaning of the unshorn locks is shown also by the fact that if he accidentally touched a dead body he had to remove his sign of dedication, because he had failed to keep consecrated.

  In the Nazarite we have a very exact type of consecration. We have already found this great truth set forth in the meat offering, and in the Feasts of First [133] fruits and Pentecost. Here we have another proof that God attaches much importance to our consecration. And this consecration is to consist, not merely in our abstinence from that which is evil, as signified by the Nazarite keeping himself from wine and dead things, but it is to have a positive aspect, a doing of that which is good, as shown by the unshorn locks. Every Christian who fails in the life of consecration to God will, like Samson when shorn of his hair, find himself weak like other men, void of the power of God in his life for personal holiness and divine service in building up God's kingdom.

  God did not repeatedly set forth consecration in these types for nought. He intends that those who serve him be consecrated. And we dare to say consecration is essential to Christian discipleship. "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he can not be my disciple" (Luke 14:33). He whose love for money or fame hinders him from doing what God gives him to do is not a true Nazarite. He who loves parents, wife, children, or friends more than the will of God needs the lesson this type taught. God needs more Nazarites for life, like Samuel and John the Baptist.

  Lack of space forbids a full discussion of these different ritual types. A few of the less important types have not been mentioned, but we have presented the principal Mosaic types and their meanings. The reader will probably be able, from what has been written, to apply the same general principle of interpretation to those not discussed here. [134]

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Justification, Sanctification, Unity
Carmichael, California USA

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