Chapter 24 in "The Cross and Its Shadow"

by Stephen Haskell

OF all the diseases to which mankind is heir, there is none more loathsome than leprosy. The individual lives for years with this dread disease slowly eating away portions of his body until he longs for death as a release.

From earliest times leprosy has been a type of sin; and a very fitting type it is of that loathsome spiritual disease which destroys the soul of the one who violates his conscience again and again until he has no power to resist, and becomes wholly surrendered to evil.

When Miriam became jealous of her sister-in-law, and she and Aaron murmured against Moses, "the anger of the Lord was kindled against them. . . And, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow." After God had taught the lesson that the sins of jealousy, murmuring, and fault-finding are to the spiritual life what leprosy is to the physical being, then, in answer to Moses' prayer, she was healed. (Num. 12:9-12)

When Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, coveted the treasures of Naaman, and told a falsehood and dissembled to obtain them, the decree came to him from the Lord, "The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee. " (2 Kings 5:20-27) It is not strange that, with the record of the experiences of Miriam and Gehazi before them, the Jews should look upon leprosy as a judgment from the Lord.

The leper was not allowed to mingle with the people. There was no exception, from the king on the throne to the lowliest bondservant. The command of the Lord was, "The leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. He shall dwell alone; without the camp, shall his habitation be." (Lev. 13:45-46)

As leprosy was a type of the worst sins, the ceremony for the cleansing of the leper embraced more than any other offering. The priest who had examined the leper and pronounced him unclean; was the only one that could pronounce him clean. The priest went outside the camp and examined the leper, and if the leprosy was healed, then the healed man was to bring "two birds alive and clean, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop," unto the priest. One of the birds was killed in an earthen vessel held over running water; then the living bird, the scarlet, and the cedar were all dipped in the blood. The priest sprinkled the blood seven times upon the one who was to be cleansed, and pronounced him clean. (Lev. 14:4-7)

Artist: Harry Anderson
Leprosy is a very contageous disease; everything the leper touches is contaminated. Sin also is a dreadful disease, and the earth; air, and water are all cursed by the sins of humanity, and must be cleansed by the same blood which cleanses man. Therefore, after the leper was pronounced clean, the live bird, its feathers scarlet with the blood, was let loose to fly through the air. The blood was not only sprinkled on the person who had been unclean, but it was thus carried through the air that was laden with germs of disease and sin, (Jer. 9:21) in type of the blood of Christ which will give a new heaven–a new atmosphere–to this sin-cursed earth.

Before man sinned, there was no decaying vegetation; the lovely trees were not destroyed by insect pests, but all was free from the curse. Nothing but the blood of Christ can restore vegetation to its Eden beauty. In type of this regenerating power, a piece of cedar, the giant of the forest, and of hyssop, the small plant "that springeth out of the wall," (1 Kings 4:33) were dipped in the blood. These were chosen to represent the two extremes in vegetation, thus embracing all.

The animal life also is cursed by sin, but through the redeeming power of the blood of Christ the time will come when "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." (Is. 11:6)

The scarlet wool dipped in the blood represented the animal kingdom. (Heb.9:19) The blood of the bird was placed in an earthen dish held over running water. Thus we see that in the cleansing of the leper the blood came in direct contact not only with the leper, but with all else cursed by sin; viz., earth, air, water, vegetation, and the animal kingdom.

These wonderful types were but compacted prophecies of the far more wonderful Antitype. When Christ knelt in agony upon the cold ground of the garden of Gethsemane, the great drops of blood fell down from His face to the ground. (Luke 22:44) Four thousand years before, when Cain slew his brother, the earth had first felt the touch of human blood, which fell as a withering curse, blighting the fruitfulness of the land. (Gen. 4:11,12)

Many times since has the bosom of the earth not only been spotted with the blood of man, but rivers of blood have deluged the ground as armed hosts of human beings, led on by Satan, have slaughtered one another. Every drop of this blood has added to the curse. (Isa. 24:5,6) But how different the effect of the blood of the blessed Saviour! In it was healing, cleansing power. (Num. 35:33)

The curse of sin rests heavily upon the atmosphere, which is so laden with disease germs that "death is come up into our windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the children from without, and the young men from the streets." In the type the blood of the offering dripped from the bird as it flew through the air. From the great antitypical Offering, as He hung on Calvary, the precious, healing blood dripped from His wounded hands and feet through the air, and fell upon the rocks beneath. The types of the old Levitical service were not a meaningless ceremony, but a prophecy of the great Antitype.

From the earliest times, the water has been affected by the curse of sin. (Ex. 15:23) The bird killed over the running water was a type of the death of Christ, which would remove the curse of sin forever from the waters of the earth. The blood of Christ came in direct contact with water; when the soldier thrust the cruel spear into the side of the Saviour, "forthwith came there out blood and water;" (John 19:34) not a mixture of blood and water, but blood and water, two copious streams.

"The wonderful symbol of the living bird dipped in the blood of the slain bird, and then set free to its joyous life, is to us the symbol of the atonement. There were death and life blended, presenting to the searcher of truth the hidden treasure, the union of the pardoning blood with the resurrection and life of our Redeemer.

The bird was slain over living water; that flowing stream was a symbol of the ever flowing, ever cleansing efficacy of the blood of Christ."

The cross upon which the Saviour hung, and Which was stained with His precious blood, was made of the trees of the forest; while a small reed of hyssop supported the sponge that was dipped in vinegar and given Him to quench His thirst.

As the Saviour hung upon the cross, He listened for some word or token from humanity that would indicate that His sacrifice was appreciated; but only jeers, taunts, and curses were borne to His ears from the surging mass below. Even one of the thieves by His side joined in the railing; but the other thief reproved him, and turning to Jesus said, "Lord, remember me When Thou comest into Thy kingdom." The reply of Jesus, "Verily I say unto thee to-day, shalt thou be with me in paradise;" (Luke 23:39-43) contained an assurance of pardon. Even while the cleansing blood of Christ was flowing from His veins, the thief rejoiced in its power to cleanse from sin. He who was thought by His enemies to be conquered, died a mighty Conqueror, and the thief experienced the fulfillment of the promise, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." (Isa 1:18)

There was a significance in the color of the wool dipped in the blood of the typical offering. It is almost impossible to remove scarlet stains, but "though your sins be as scarlet," the blood of Christ can make them "white as snow," You may be condemned and counted as an outcast by every one on earth; but if you look to the Saviour and claim His cleansing power, He will wash away your sins, and put joy and rejoicing in your heart. In the typical service, notwithstanding the fact that when the one to be cleansed from leprosy was sprinkled with the blood, he was pronounced clean, yet there was something more for him to do. On the eighth day after he was pronounced clean, he was to appear before the priest with two lambs, a meat-offering, and a log of oil. The priest presented the man to be cleansed at the door of the tabernacle, and waved one of the lambs and the log of oil before the Lord. He then slew the lamb, and took some of the blood and put it upon "the tip of the right ear" of him that was to be cleansed, "and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot," (Lev. 14:10-14) thus consecrating his ears to hear only those things that would tend to keep him clean, his hands to the service of God, and his feet to travel only in the way of the Lord's commandments.

Then the priest took the log of oil, and after sprinkling a portion of it before the Lord, he put some of it "upon the tip of the right ear" of him that was to be cleansed, also "upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot," and then anointed his head with the remainder of the oil. (Lev. 14:15-18)

This service was not an empty form, but a type of a blessed antitype, which is fulfilled in every Christian who presents himself for service before the Lord, after the Lord forgives his sins and pronounces him clean. Of Mary, Jesus said, "Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much:but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." (Luke 7:47)

The leper cleansed from that loathsome, living death, felt so thankful to God for freedom and cleansing that he consecrated his life to the Lord for service. Not only is the oil, an emblem of the Holy Spirit which prepares the Christian for service, touched to his ear, hand, and foot, but it is poured upon his head, thus betokening a full surrender of the entire being to the service of His Master who has redeemed him. The books of heaven record the names of many who have fulfilled this beautiful antitype by surrendering their entire being to the service of their Redeemer.

The Levitical law provided for the cleansing of houses and garments infected with leprosy. If an owner of a house saw any signs of leprosy, he was to report the matter to the priest, who at once proceeded to examine the house. First the house was to be emptied, and if the priest saw "greenish or reddish" streaks upon the walls, the house was to be shut up for seven days. If at the end of that time the walls were still covered with the mold, they were to be scraped and the stones taken out and the house thoroughly repaired. If the spots appeared again, this proved that the leprosy did not come from any leak or defect in the walls, but that the location was damp and unhealthful, and the house was to be torn down. (Lev. 14:34-45)

If the health laws of the land to-day were as watchful over the homes of the people as were the old Levitical laws, there would be less of that dread disease, tuberculosis.

The laws in regard to garments infected with leprosy were very rigid, (Lev. 13:47-59) If the plague of leprosy was so deep seated that it could not be removed by washing, then the garment was to be burned in the fire.

There is a deeply spiritual lesson in this instruction. God has given very definite directions in regard to the dress of His followers, (1 Peter 3:3,4; 1 Tim. 2:9) He never designed that His people should follow the foolish fashions of the world. (Isa. 3:16-26) There should be a marked difference between the dress of the Christian and that of the worldling, (Num. 15:38,39)

Individuals may argue that they have overcome pride, that when they wear fashionable apparel and dress like the worldling, it does not hurt them, for they have conquered pride. As well might a person who had just recovered from small-pox wear the garments infected by the disease. He reasons that as he has had the disease once and recovered, there is no danger of his taking it a second time, hence there is no danger in the garments; but he sows the germ of the disease wherever he goes. In like manner the Christian who fails to obey the Lord's instruction in regard to dress, misrepresents the Lord, and sows seeds of pride and vanity in the hearts of weaker members.

It is better to follow the instruction given in the Levitical service, and even burn garments infected with pride and vanity, than to misrepresent our Lord and Master even in our dress.

"The entire system of Judaism was the gospel veiled."


Lev. 14:6, 7. Blood was sprinkled on the one to be cleansed.

Lev. 14:6. Cedar, scarlet, and hyssop were dipped in the blood. 1 Kings 4:33. Cedar and hyssop are extremes in vegetation. Heb. 9:19.

Lev. 14:5. The bird was killed and the blood caught in an earthen vessel.

Lev. 14:6, 7. The bird that had been dipped in the blood was let loose to fly through the air. Jer. 9:21. Air is unclean.

Lev. 14:14, 17. The tip of the ear was touched with the blood and oil.

Lev. 14:14, 17. The thumb of the right hand was touched with blood and oil.

Lev. 14:14, 17. The toe of the right foot was touched with the blood.


1 Peter 1:2. The sprinkling of the blood of Jesus cleanses from sin.

John 19:29. The hyssop was brought in connection with the Saviour, while the cross was made from the trees of the forest.

Luke 22:44. Jesus' blood came in contact with the earth.

Rev. 21:1. There will be a new heaven (atmospheric heaven),as the result of Christ's death. His blood dropped through the air from the cross.

Isa. 42:18-20. God's servants are deaf to things they should not hear.

Ps. 119:48. "My hands also will I lift up unto Thy commandments, which I have loved."

Gen. 17:1. "I am the Almighty God:walk before Me, and be thou perfect."

"The Cross and Its Shadow" Chapter 24, pp. 162-170
Stephen Haskell was first introduced to Sabbath keeping Adventist in 1853 at the age of 22. He served as an Adventist evangelist, church administrator, missionary, writer, and Bible teacher over the next 67 years.

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