Word for Wednesday

When the plague of leprosy is in a man, then he shall be brought unto the priest. Leviticus 13:9

On November 16, 2002, a farmer in Foshan County in the province of Guangdong Province of China became sick with what turned out to be the first known case of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). The farmer died, but China didn’t report the case to the World health Organization (WHO) for almost four months. Over the next two years, more than 8200 cases were reported worldwide, with 916 people dying from the disease. The outbreak caused a virtual ban on all conferences and conventions in Toronto, and that city’s tourist industry suffered a massive hit, as the WHO issued a travel advisory against Toronto. Nobody knows how much of the death and disruption caused by SARS could have been averted if China had alerted the WHO sooner. Nobody knows how much more leprosy would have been in Israel if God had not given His people provision to deal with it.

Leprosy is a deadly contagious disease that was a dread during Bible times. Our text tells part of God’s plan to identify and isolate those with leprosy, to protect other people from contacting and contracting the disease. The principles found in the Law of the Leper are also applicable to spiritual matters. This is why the New Testament contains provisions to deal with sin in God’s Assembly. This is why the faithful oversight in our Assemblies exercise discipline in the fear of God.

When a person suspected of having leprosy was brought to the priest, the disease would be examined and proper action taken. This occurs in cases of Assembly discipline. Sometimes, just as leprosy required that the leper be removed from society, a Christian who becomes involved in certain sins must also be removed from the fellowship. The reason is the same. The priest needed to act to prevent a leper from contaminating others. In the Assembly, in addition to maintaining the holiness of the Lord’s Name, the Assembly might need to remove a particular person to protect others. Just as an Israelite priest would act with a heavy heart to evict a leper from the town, so an Assembly acts with a heavy heart to excommunicate. Such actions are not pleasant, but they are needed. And they show the wisdom of God in His desire to preserve His testimony and His people.

We have a responsibility to keep ourselves from being infected by the sins of others, whether Christians or otherwise. And we have a responsibility to support the Godly discipline that our Assembly needs to conduct. – Jim MacIntosh

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