One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, February 22, 2013: Leviticus 13:1-59
45 “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. Leviticus 13:45-46 (NKJV)
Much has been said and written of the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The discussion continues about Law and Grace, about the means of righteousness, about ritual and relationship.
There is, however, another aspect of this transition that we often miss. It is the change in the WAY HOLINESS OPERATES. That may sound a bit imposing, but please let me explain.
The Old Testament in many ways takes a defensive posture in terms of HOLINESS. The New Testament takes a positive posture. In the Old Testament, when a man became UNCLEAN, he was quaranteened. No one could come near him. He was forced to cry out "Unclean! Unclean!" when he went out in public. His uncleanness (defilement) was considered contagious. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, we read that if anyone TOUCHES anything unclean, that person automatically becomes unclean too and needed to go through ceremonial and practical cleansing (see Lev. 5:2-3 and many other passages). If anyone engaged in any activity that was considered UNCLEAN, there was an automatic defilement that required cleansing.
Fast-forward to the New Testament. Jesus encounters a leper. This is an individual who in the Old Testament would have been quaranteened and who had to cry out "Unclean!" so that no one would touch him and thereby become unclean, too. What does Jesus do? HE TOUCHES THE LEPER! Matthew 8:1-4 seen through an Old Testament lens would have produced an unclean Jesus. Of course, the opposite happened. Instead of the uncleanness in the leper infecting Jesus, the HOLINESS in Jesus cleansed the leper! A total shift has happened. Instead of holiness being defensive (touch not, taste not), it now becomes aggressive. The holiness in Jesus SANCTIFIES that which He touches!
In Christ, we have such a redemptive holiness. He are on a redemptive mission to spread His sanctity. Therefore, when I walk into a place of business or go about my life, I am a carrier of the Kingdom of God. I am not defensive, but instead positive in sanctifying that which I touch -- no matter how unclean it has been (e.g. a leper). I can go into the dark places and bring the light of Christ!
I think this is what Paul wrote about when he said in I Corinthians 7:14, "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise you children would be unclean, but now they are holy." The New Testament sanctity of a family member can infect the rest of their family. Instead of one bad apple ruining the barrell, one good apple sanctifies the others! That's amazing. That's the power of New Testament holiness.
Paul carries this further when he refers to dietary matters in I Timothy 4. In the Old Testament, certain foods would defile and produce uncleaness. In the New Testament, "every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is SANCTIFIED by the word of God and prayer."
It is a wonderful thing to realize the power of what God has done in Christ. An entire shift has taken place through the Cross. By the resurrection the Jesus, the power of darkness has been broken and the force of righteousness and holiness has been released. We are agents of Christ's Kingdom spreading His virture and glory in the earth. I am to touch an unclean, leperous world bringing His cleanness. I can do that in my home, my neighborhood, my city, my world. We are ambassadors of Christ!