When I was 17 years old, I came to Christ. I was an atheist who had been tricked into going to church. It was not because of the preaching that I came to Christ, either. It was in spite of the preaching. It wasn’t because of the people; it was in spite of them. When I first started reading the Bible, I had no one to disciple me. There was absolutely no one who would sit down with me to help me understand anything of Christianity whatsoever. So, being brand new in the faith, and just being given this Bible, I opened up to Genesis and started reading. I hit Genesis 10 and gave up. It was later in my Christian walk that I began reading some of these Old Testament books again. This would have been about a year and a half or two years into my Christian walk.
When I came to Leviticus, the first time I read it was rough. I thought Genesis 10 was hard… Actually, from as early as I can remember, when I would read Leviticus I found many precious gems within it. For some reason, it just opened up to me. I remember the first time I read it was a bore, but at the same time I found all these little details that seemed to make sense. The first time I read Leviticus 15, I was absolutely shocked.
God actually wrote about that? You mean that He would actually command regarding bodily discharge, semen, and a woman’s period? Suddenly Christianity wasn’t about those “nice” subjects, while sex and sexuality, and all of the real life stuff that comes with genitalia, is somehow taboo. We don’t talk about that, other than to say you shouldn’t have sex until marriage. The Bible talks about it. No longer is sex ed and the anatomy of the human body limited to health class. Even the Bible has something to say about these things – and why not, seeing as God created humanity with private parts?
This was a whole new concept to me. I had no idea that God actually commanded regarding this stuff. And what does God command?
Notice Leviticus 15:2. It is not the man that is unclean, but the discharge. Whether it continues to flow or is blocked, it (the discharge) will make the man unclean. Now, here discharge doesn’t necessarily mean semen. It could be a discharge of puss or blood. Yet, we do find quite explicitly that God includes semen in the discussion.
Notice that God says anyone who touches the person, gets touched by the person, or touches an object that touched the person with the discharge is considered unclean. There is a process that now must be undergone to be made clean again: wash your clothes, wash your body, and you will be unclean until evening. This is true for anyone who falls into the category of second hand uncleanness through the whole chapter.
For the person who is made unclean by the discharge, they are must perform the same ritual to be made clean, but they will continue to be unclean for seven days afterward. Then, on the seventh day, they are to wash again, and they will be unclean until the evening. The next day (the eighth day), they offer two sacrifices, both of birds, and they will be atoned for.
The question that comes to my mind is this: what is the significance of the evening? I think there are two things being said here. First, it was in the Hebrew culture to consider the evening as the beginning of the day (this is still true in Israel today). Friday night starts the Sabbath, and not Saturday morning. Then Saturday evening is the end of the Sabbath, and not Sunday morning. This comes from Genesis 1, where it was “evening and morning”, the first day (and onward). We come out of darkness and into light, and so it is that our day starts with evening and comes back around full circle to end in the evening. So, the statement is being said that you are unclean until the beginning of the next day.
There is another reason, though. There were two sacrifices performed everyday on behalf of Israel. The morning sacrifice would have been offered around 6 a.m. By the time you’re made unclean, it is probably after 6 a.m. The evening sacrifice takes place at 6 p.m. So, for they who are unclean secondhand, you will be unclean until 6 p.m. Once that evening sacrifice has been offered, you’re now clean (given that you’ve washed).
What is going on with the seven days of purification for the one with the discharge? Once again, I think this is numerology. Just like the woman in chapter 12 is unclean for 40 days after childbirth, so it is here that the significance is upon the seven and not specifically upon the purification process. Seven is the number of completeness, of totality. The purification process lasts seven days, and not six – not eight – because it is a complete purification. Just like the priest waited for seven days to show to God that he would be willing to always wait before the Lord, always be at the disposition of listening for when the command will come forth, so too do we find that the unclean person is waiting for seven days to show God that they desire to be clean forevermore.
Now, in regard to the question of atonement, we find again that the burnt offering would represent coming back into the presence of God. We desire to draw near unto Him again. However, atonement seems to imply some sort of sin. This would be an obvious unintentional sin, and not purposeful.
Do you remember when we discussed the woman and childbirth? Why was it that the woman needed to offer a sin offering and be atoned for? The reason was because of the shedding of blood. There had to be atonement made for the shedding of blood. Here we find the same principle at work. What is it about the shedding of blood that needs to be atoned for? “The life is in the blood”.
The discharge represents life. The semen represents the possibility of life. The period represents the loss of the egg, which was the possibility of life. Because life has been lost, there needs to be atonement. There needs to be covering.
It is for this reason that God sums up by saying, “You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.” This goes back to that verse in Exodus 29. God dwells among them, and not merely in the Tabernacle. So, the uncleanness needs to be taken care of, because God is pure and will cause for the death of they who are not clean. Now, just like the person who ingests poison will die from the poison that taints their body, so it is true for the opposite. When the unclean person comes in contact with that which is absolutely pure, and there is no corruption or uncleanness within God, the person will not be able to take it. It will kill him.
Here we find the warning of God that we should take extremely seriously. Is there anything in your life that would cause for you to be unclean? With Leviticus 11 we discussed unclean foods. What you eat will reflect what is already in you. As the saying goes, “Crap in, crap out”. When you pump your bodies full of processed food and other pollution, it isn’t a matter of simply “Jesus declared all foods clean.” What you put into yourself will come out, and when it comes out it will either defile you or proclaim you as clean. Which points to the second application of Leviticus 11. Does the music you listen to, the movies you watch, the stuff you look up online, the sermons you engage with, the people you hang around, etc – do these things put in you godliness or corruption? When you speak, what comes out of your mouth? Do you only complain? Do you find yourself cursing and spouting off anger and fits of rage? Does malice come out of your mouth? Do you use your voice to promote sexual immorality, envy, greed, hatred, deception, manipulation, or arrogance? These are signs of uncleanness.
We saw in Leviticus 12 the woman who has given birth. The issue of her uncleanness was about overcoming. Have you overcome? Have you been brought, by the blood of the Lamb, to a place where you live and move and have your being by a different value system? By what do you run your life? How many rooms are in your home? How many televisions do you own? How much of your time is spent at work versus with your children or with the saints? How much of your money goes to being spent upon yourself? Have you truly overcome the mindsets of this world? Or, is it more true to say that you are still very much of this world?
Leviticus 13-14 was about skin diseases and mildew. We showed that the properties laid out for them could easily also apply to sin and demonic deception. Both of those things fall into the category of what the apostle Paul called “leaven”. Do you entertain sin? Do you allow the devil to speak lies into your heart? Do the people you’re surrounded with allow you to continue in sin and the mindset of the world? Or, are you continuing in godliness and holiness? Are you separating the clean from the unclean?
Finally, here in Leviticus 15 we find that the whole point is about bodily discharge. How careful are you to not allow anything to be emitted from you that might corrupt someone else? Once again, we find Paul saying multiple times, both to the Romans and the Corinthians, not to allow what you eat to affect your brother. Don’t allow the freedom you exercise in faith to corrupt your brother or sister. That freedom might be in food and diet, or it might be in your drinking of alcohol, or it might be in the music you listen to. Whatever it might be, don’t allow yourself to corrupt others because of their lack of faith.
Now, in a real sense, when someone else is made unclean because of our purity, it isn’t really on us. However, because of our purity, we are to restore our brother gently, and we are to be conscious of their fall. We are to tend to them with all kindness and love, expressing the fullness of Christ to them. In this, we wash one another’s feet through the giving of our own lives on their behalf. We pour ourselves out for them, and we don’t refrain simply because they don’t understand.
This is what it means to separate the clean from the unclean, the precious from the vile, the holy from the profane. In Leviticus 16 we’ll pick up with a new subject matter. It is imperative that we enter into that subject matter knowing about the clean and unclean. We must examine ourselves before the Lord. How much of our life is lived from purity, and how much have we continued to give over to uncleanness and corruption? It doesn’t have to be sin. It could simply be the television shows that you watch. How much of your life is dedicated to things that truly aren’t eternal, and therefore don’t actually matter?