From our western cultural perspective, it’s difficult to read many passages in Leviticus and come away with much understanding. They apply to a time and place that is foreign to us. So, our eyes glaze over and we skim our daily reading, hoping the next day’s chapter will pertain to us. Leprosy? Who gets that disease anymore? What is a leukoderma (Leviticus 13:39 – ESV)? What in the world is warp and woof?
If you’re not a scholar and this isn’t your field of specialization, it’s probably not necessary to know the ins and outs of the various things we read in Leviticus. However, what may be useful is finding parallels in the descriptions of ancient customs to what we know today.
One such example – perhaps an imperfect one – is seeing what happened with someone who contracted, in the example of our text today, a case of leprous disease (Leviticus 13:2).
Some disease would afflict an Israelite, and he would go to the priest for diagnosis. The priest would examine his patient, since he was acting effectively as doctor in this instance, and pronounce his verdict and treatment. In Leviticus 13:4-6, we’ve got just such a description:
“But if the spot is white in the skin of his body and appears no deeper than the skin, and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the disease is checked and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall shut him up for another seven days. And the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day, and if the diseased area has faded and the disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only an eruption. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean.”
Another subsequent situation occurs in Leviticus 13:45-46:
“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”
From these two sets of verses, let’s strip away some of the specifics to look at the generality of what occurs. A person contracts an illness – an affliction – and he goes to the doctor. The physician examines him and concludes that his disease is infectious. Because of that, the patient should be isolated from others so as not to spread what he has. After seven days, the doctor looks at him again. Things are progressing, but in the interest of public safety, the patient remains away from others. However, the person with something more serious has to be removed from the general populace for an extended period. This results in him being quarantined.
You may be thinking, “This is all well and good, but so what?” How about if we change the time period and the affliction? Why not consider this from our perspective today with the very infectious Wuhan virus?
If our society had a normal approach to this, similar to what occurred with the ancient Israelites, or even up to the year 2019, the treatment for the virus would have been very different from what it’s been. Think back to the old days when the flu was a thing. How would that be treated? The person would stay home, suffer their ordained number of days, and emerge back into society after that period.
And what about everyone else in this person’s sphere or the region in which he lived? They would be unaffected; they would continue to live their lives.
But where are we today post 2019? Because of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that has been generated by the political class, egged on by the politicized medical community, our approach to the Wuhan virus has been turned completely on its head.
Instead of the sick, or the potentially diseased, person staying home, or wearing a face mask if he must go out in public, it’s everyone who is told must wear face covering and/or be locked down!
I think a pretty good rule of thumb is that if a practice worked well Biblically, it’ll probably work today. If what is mandated today is drastically different from what God previously directed, then the likelihood is that it’s problematic. We surely see that today.
But, we know that times aren’t normal. We are on a progression course heading toward the Tribulation. Because of that we’ve reached the stage where Isaiah 5:20 reflects everyday life:
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Oh, yes, what about that leukoderma? Strong’s Concordance says it’s an eczema or a harmless eruption of the skin. As for warp and woof, that pertains to woven material and that which affects it on the inside or outside of a garment.
See, Leviticus is applicable for today.
I appreciate the way you’ve connected the current restrictions on a healthy society with leviticus measures that protected the healthy. Very interesting how God’s restrictions allow freedom for the majority, while the mandates of today concerning the Wuhan virus place restrictions on the majority of the population.
The Bible is so relevant for today; that’s just one of many, many situations/examples.