Those suffering with leprosy in Bible times were expected to cry “Unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13:45) so that people would avoid them for fear of contagion. Leviticus 15 might seem rather boring, but it has valuable lessons on cleanliness about which the world was ignorant until around 200 years ago.

The word ‘Leprosy’ in covers many skin infections, some serious, some not. In previous chapters we saw that it was the Priest’s responsibility to determine how serious and decide on the necessary action. Today we read about the precautions with sick people and others who had bodily discharges so as to prevent the spread of infections.

Those unclean with a “discharge” were not to touch anyone “without having rinsed their hands in water”. The person touched by someone unclean was also regarded as unclean until the evening and was required to “wash his clothes and bathe himself” (verse 11). They also had to clean the drinking and other vessels they used. Only a few generations ago our world discovered how infections spread and the great importance of hygiene; before then countless deaths occurred. In the 19th century a few medical men realized the laws of cleanliness had been given by God 4,000 years earlier and became convinced the Bible was a divine revelation. The doctors then started to cure more than they killed!

In 2 Corinthians 11 we see a spiritual counterpart! Paul laments that some were easily “led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ”. He writes, “if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (verses 3-5). Then he makes the point, “such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (verse 13).

We read that if really bad behaviour is not cleansed, action similar to that of leprosy has to be taken to deal with it. See what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, the faithful church cannot include those who are spiritually unclean.