Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean (Vayikra / Leviticus 14:7)
Last week we looked at the drastic measures that were taken when someone was afflicted by certain serious infectious skin diseases. The victim had to become an outcast. The negative social and spiritual consequences must have been devastating. Having the disease was bad enough, but not to be able to be with the community or engage in its religion would make the person feel quite worthless.
While it would have been wonderful to be cured of such diseases, it would have likely taken a great deal of additional time to once again be fully part of the community. When people are afflicted it is common for others to continue to ostracize them, even after their health is restored. The effect of this ordeal would have likely caused the afflicted one to have a very negative view of themselves.
I believe that this is one of the reasons for the elaborate cleansing ceremony described in this week's portion. Over and over again the person would have heard, "You are clean, you are clean, you are clean."
But not only was their healing proclaimed, they experienced complete restoration. One aspect of the cleansing ceremony is that the blood from the sacrifice was to be placed on the cured person's right ear, thumb and big toe. The only other time this was done was when priests were ordained. So instead of saying to the ex-sufferer, "You can come back now, but don't get too close," they were treated most special. After this ceremony everybody would know that they were truly healed, cleansed, restored, and accepted.
This so vividly illustrates for us what it is like when God restores us to himself through the Messiah. Because of sin in our lives, we don't have the kind of relationship with God we were designed for. And because of this break in our most basic relationship, we are not in community with others as we should be.
But when God restores us, he wants us to know that we are fully accepted by him. God's forgiveness is thorough and complete. He no longer takes our past wrongs into account. They are forgotten for good. We are accepted as his children and he desires to use us in his service.
Notice that restoration only truly occurs within the community of God's people. To experience his restoration, we need to acknowledge our sin, just like the diseased person needed to reveal his condition. Then we need to hear God's words of acceptance through others. When this occurs we can then function in this life as we were meant to - fully restored.
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