February 12, 2007

Skin of Distinction


"When anyone has an infectious skin disease, he must be brought to the priest." Leviticus 13:9


Our skin is a vital organ. Without its protective layers, life's liquids would drain, and bacteria could enter our bodies with hardly a fight. Thus we wash our skin carefully and lather it with creams and ointments. Whatever happens to our skin happens to us.

Israel's priests diagnosed skin conditions. Their task was to pronounce the cleanness or uncleanness of skin. Unclean skin conditions could temporarily disqualify an Israelite from worship or sacrifice. It was thought that such conditions broke the skin's wholeness. And just as a sacrificial animal had to be perfectly whole, so did a human. If your skin was whole, so were you. If it was broken, so were you.

Because such conditions were often beyond personal control, uncleanness could come upon anyone at any time. In this way God taught Israel that uncleanness is part of being human in a fallen world. You visited the priest often, hoping to hear the words "You are clean." And what a relief it was to hear those words.

Jesus Christ suffered the piercing of his skin by the crucifixion nails and the soldier's spear. His skin was pierced for our transgressions. His resurrected body bears the marks of our imperfections--his wholeness for our brokenness. Go to Jesus the High Priest today with your uncleanness and hear him say, "You are clean."

Lord Jesus, I want "to be perfectly whole, I want you forever to live in my soul." Wash me, Lord, that I may be clean, wholly prepared to live for you. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!