This is the law for all manner of plague of leprosy, and scall, And for the leprosy of a garment, and of a house, And for a rising, and for a scab, and for a bright spot: To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean: this is the law of leprosy.
Thus concludes the two chapters (Lev. 13-14) devoted to diagnosing and dealing with the plague of leprosy. Such chapters are easy to skip. Yet we do ourselves no favors by treating them as “lesser-than”; these chapters require us to do the hard spade work of mining what principle, truth, or instruction is to be found. So, let’s “spelunk” right into the deep caverns of the typological gem I think is being shown to us here.
The ancients would certainly have good reason to view the plague-spot as devastating, for it was an almost certain death sentence, and–while one waited to die–almost total isolation from community. We learn that the priest first diagnoses whether the person indeed has the dreaded blight. If the diagnosis is positive, Leviticus 13:46 pronounces the fearful sentence, “All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” Think of the weight of that: total separation & isolation to the one found unclean; cut-off completely from fellowship with the covenant people of God.
However, should the leper recover and be healed (and that by the certain mercy of God), a few things must happen. A priest declared the man unclean (Lev. 13:3), so it must be a priest to declare him clean. To do this, the priest leaves the camp and meets the unclean one where he is, outside the camp (Lev. 14:3); if he finds the man clean, a strange ceremony is held (as described Lev. 14:4-9).
Two birds are brought, one is killed and its blood drained into a vessel full of water from a spring. Then, the living bird is plunged in, along with cedar, scarlet wool, and hyssop. The healed leper is then sprinkled seven times with this bloody water; and then the living bird is set free. Solomon once spoke of the plague of each man’s heart (1 Kings 8:38); and we must never gloss over the many pictures given to us of the filth of our sinful self and the great cost of our cleansing. Here we find a vibrant picture of our salvation. A leper, once forever cut off from God and God’s people, is pronounced clean by an innocent fowl being slain, and another rising to heaven soaked in a pledge of bloody water; and only through this violent sacrifice can the leper again join the camp of God.