Leprosy was a common and extremely feared disease in those days, so God gave Israel the guidelines on how to diagnose leprosy and how to ensure it didn’t spread, through people or objects.
Halley’s Bible Handbook, “These regulations were for the purpose of controlling the spread of infectious skin diseases, of which the most loathsome and dreaded was leprosy. The word translated “leprosy” in the KJV has a range of meanings, including leprosy, skin disease, and even mildew. Primitive as this approach may seem to us, these simple measures undoubtedly saved many lives.”
It’s interesting that the responsibility regarding leprosy was given to the priest, for over time, leprosy became symbolic of sin (see Isaiah 1:4-6). Not that sin caused leprosy, but it has many parallels, especially the fact that leprosy would often begin by dulling the senses. Sin, like leprosy, makes one unclean, sin is deeper than the skin, and sin spreads within our own lives and often into lives of others. Sin also isolates – it breaks our heart to read the command given to the leper:
Leviticus 13:45–46 (NKJV) “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.”
Imagine the horrible life of isolation, forced into a leper colony, outside the city! The leper’s clothes were required to be torn as identification and a constant expression of grief, and if anyone clean came anywhere near the leper, he was required to cry out “unclean, unclean,” while making sure his germs were not spread to others with his hand cuffed over his mouth.
How beautiful the day must have been, when the Messiah arrived, who not only healed the lepers, but touched them compassionately (Matthew 10:8; Mark 1:40-45). Sin ravages but Jesus is able to heal and cleanse any and all of us from all forms of “leprosy.”
Jesus was rejected at His hometown of Nazareth. It wasn’t that they weren’t impressed with His teaching, it’s just that they knew Him too well.
It’s been said that “Familiarity breeds contempt.”
To call Jesus “the Son of Mary,” was a cultural insult; they may have been pointing to what they thought was Jesus’ illegitimate birth – who was His real father? They paid the price for their lack of faith and Jesus could do no mighty works there; not that God Himself is limited, but we sadly and frequently limit Him through our unbelief.
Jesus sends out the twelve, two-by-two, giving them power over unclean spirits, commanding them to take nothing with them, so they’d learn the lesson of God’s protection and provision. They weren’t to be picky in their lodging, just grateful, and to those who rejected the message, they were to shake off the very dust of that city, separating themselves from the judgment to come. We read a synopsis of their mission in:
Mark 6:12-13, “So they went out and preached that people should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick, and healed them.”
It’s tragic to read of the beheading of John the Baptist, simply because he was bold enough to speak the truth in love.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary provides some of the background, “Mark explained that Herod himself had ordered John to be put in prison. According to Josephus, this prison was at the fortress-palace of Machaerus near the northeastern shore of the Dead Sea (The Antiquities of the Jews 18. 5. 2). Herod did this because of Herodias, an ambitious woman who was his second wife. Herod had first married a daughter of the Arabian king, Aretas IV. Then he became enamored with his half-niece Herodias (daughter of his half-brother, Aristobulus) who was married to Herod’s half-brother Philip (her half-uncle; cf. Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18. 5. 1–2). They had a daughter, Salome. Herod divorced his wife in order to marry Herodias who had divorced Philip (not the Philip of Luke 3:1). John had repeatedly denounced this marriage as unlawful (Leviticus 18:16; 20:21).”
Herod had a superstitious respect for John, but Herodias harbored a deep bitterness; she was not satisfied with the imprisonment of John the Baptist, so she seized the moment and had her daughter ask for John’s head on a platter, immediately, “AT ONCE” (Mark 6:25). His rash oath in response to what was no doubt a seductive dance made him officially responsible for the death of the greatest prophet of the Old Testament and forerunner to the Messiah. One day he will give an account.
David was once again in a very life-threatening situation. Was it a result of his sin? We read his prayer in:
Psalm 39:8 (NKJV) “Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish.”
David disciplined himself (he actually talked to himself) to be EXTREMELY careful with his ways and words (good advice for all of us):
Psalm 39:1 (NKJV) “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.”
David was asking God to protect him, to spare his life; he prayed, he wept, he went through a season when it seemed God was silent, even absent…but he never gave up. I have a hunch that part of the reason David was allowed to go through all the valleys he went through, was for us – that we might learn to keep praying, and never lose heart (Luke 18:1). When you’re there, you can offer up this prayer of David and make it your own.
Psalm 39:12–13 (NKJV) “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not be silent at my tears; for I am a stranger with You, a sojourner, as all my fathers were. 13 Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more.”
Proverbs 10:10 (NKJV) “He who winks with the eye causes trouble, but a prating fool will fall.”
We usually wink when we’re trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes – it causes trouble.
Prating is defined as talking foolishly or tediously; have you ever met someone who’s a good “talker” but that’s it? Someone who’s good at foolish talking will eventually fall.
Let’s not be twinkies (deceptive).
Let’s not be “talkie-talkies,” but let’s resolve to be good, “walkie-talkies.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.