Friday, February 22, 2013

The Shift from Old to New

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!


  1. The moral code that the LORD GOD gave to Moses on Sinai is still in effect. It seems to me to be how we are to live in the Land (Kingdom of God)

    The covenant and ceremonially laws God gave to Israel are what were nailed to the Cross;

    Col 2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

  2. Hello Brother Melvin. Bless you. Thanks for the comment. It is this distinction between the moral and the ceremonial that seems to hang some people up. I do believe that some portions of the law are no longer in effect in the same way they were in Israel. In other words they are FULFILLED or in some way mediated. The dietary thing I wrote about yesterday is a big thing in some circles. I don't know if you've watched the interchange over on facebook, but it's quite lively.

  3. What did the Messiah "nail to the cross"?

    It was a common practice to nail someone's charge (list of crimes) to the 
    cross with the criminal (like what they did with our Messiah, though 
    they could find no fault in Him, so Pilate wrote "Jesus of Nazareth, 
    King of the Jews".)  So when people would walk by and saw a man on a cross, they could look at the sign above his head and see what penalty he is paying for.  The sign might say something like, "John of Bethlehem - Murder".   (this would no way abolish the law of murder)

    Colossians 2:14 (King James Version) Blotting 
    out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was 
    contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

    The Messiah took our charges and nailed them to His cross!  (He did not abolish the law at the cross)  So, if we were to look at the cross in the spiritual, and look at the charges above His head, we would see our charges above his head.  

    If He were to abolish the law, He would not have to pay the penalty for us breaking the law.  

  4. Question: If you had a life threatening contagious disease, would you think it would be showing love to your neighbor by warning them as they got close to you? Why would God want to abolish such a wise and loving law?

  5. In response to the second comment by Jason. Absolutely. That was the very reason for those laws with respect to leprosy and sanitation. My blog did not reference the sanitation aspect of a transition from Old to New. It addressed the fundamental change in the nature of clean and unclean. In the natural sense of sanitation, obviously we still need to practice good hygiene. But in the spiritual sense of being ceremonially unclean, a major change has taken place.