2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
For the Law, with its symbolical idiom and allegorical designs, "every leper, and everyone that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead", was a signal type of sin and its effects. When therefore the Law excluded them from the Camp and denied them access to the Sanctuary it did so with a distinct didactic purpose that of teaching its fundamental lesson that sin cuts men off from God.
But having banished them from the Camp, there it left them to their unhappy plight: so long as they remained defiled there was no question of their returning to it. Now on rare occasions lepers and those with issues recovered normal health. When this occurred the Law could of course with perfect consistency re-admit them to the Camp, and this it did as we have seen. Yet until this recovery occurred it did nothing whatever to help them recover bodily soundness; having banned them it ceased, as it were, to be interested in them in any active way.
In the case of those defiled by the dead, however, common sense demanded some action on the part of the Law, yet the action which it took to deal with this special case did not in fact alter the general principle. During their seven days' uncleanness those defiled by the dead were ritually dead (i.e., they symbolized the dead), and like lepers and those with issues the Law held them at a distance yet did nothing to succour them. It was compelled, however, to make allowance for the fact that they were all still living people and that it could not sustain the illusion that they were dead indefinitely at their expense.
It was here that the ritual of the Red Heifer so wonderfully came to the rescue. It first of all enabled these technically "dead" people to come "alive" again, and make a new beginning as normal living people on the eighth day after they had contracted defilement. Then it did this in such a way as to make it clear that it was not the Law itself which restored these dead to life. It thus served to maintain the principle that the Law could not take an active interest either in lepers, those with issues, or the dead, so long as those in any of these three categories still remained in their wretched state.
Having excluded them from the Camp the Law had no further use for them. It was thus perfectly consistent even in the anomalous case of those defiled by the dead. In all three cases it confessed that it killed but could not make alive - that it specialized in denouncing sin, but could do absolutely nothing to remove it.
Now how strikingly different in the light of this is the treatment which those in all three of these classes received from Jesus! The Law chased them away and they fled before it: but, in contrast, they sought the presence of Jesus of their own accord.
The Law did" nothing for them because it could do nothing: Jesus on the other hand, took pity on them and delivered them from their plight. Descending from the mount he was confronted by a leper. The Law ordered the latter to shun the company of his fellows like an outlaw; but instead of crying, as the Law commanded, "Unclean, unclean", espying Jesus the man came and "worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt thou canst make me clean".
The drama of the situation was tremendous. The Law declared the man unclean; but he was convinced that Jesus could make him clean! It was not the power of Jesus which the man doubted, but only his willingness - hence the pathetic plea, 'Lord, if thou wilt ... " There came the gracious answer which he longed for: "Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean". The Lord's fiat took instant effect. "Immediately", we read, "his leprosy was cleansed". It was cleansed, we note, by the touch of Jesus.
That fact is remarkable. We know from the next miracle (the healing of the centurion's servant) that Jesus did not need actually to touch any diseased person in order to heal him. Yet he deliberately touched the leper! That is, according to the Law, he deliberately came into contact with sin as embodied in the man and as symbolized in his disease. Yet with what effect? The man's disease (and so his power to communicate uncleanness) ceased upon the instant!-a fact more staggering still if we visualize Jesus touching not only the man as such, but his leprous sores in particular.
The miracle accomplished, the leper could proceed forthwith to present himself to the Priest as a cleansed man as the Law prescribed (Matt. 8: 1-4; Lev. 14: 1-32). In view of what happened, therefore, it would clearly be incongruous and grotesque to think of Jesus as contracting defilement by such contact.
Law and Grace Ch 13
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
For want of understanding the Scripture doctrine of the two seeds some very fatal mistakes have been made by many well meaning persons. They have gone so far as to deny that the seed of Abraham after the flesh will ever be restored to the land of Canaan; which is in effect to deny the fulfilment of a vast proportion of "the testimony of God." The seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman, indicated before the flood, were afterwards distinguished in the seed of Ishmael, and the seed of Isaac."
The children of the flesh are not the children of God: neither are they all Israel, who are of Israel." This is true; but it does not therefore follow that there is nothing more to be done with "the children of the flesh" than to burn them up. To carry out the allegory, God has yet to make of the Ishmael-seed a great nation; for though Ishmael was an outcast and a wanderer in the wilderness, God promised that he should be great, and dwell in the presence of his brethren (Gen. 16:12; 17:20).
The children of Abraham according to the flesh are "the children of the kingdom," as well as the children of the promise; only these two classes of children stand in a different relation to the government and glory of the commonwealth, and to the dominion of the nations in the age to come. The Ishmael-children were cast out of the government by the Romans; but the children in Isaac will "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," when the kingdom is restored again to Israel (Acts 1:6).
"In the regeneration when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory," the children in Isaac will reign as "sons" while the children of the flesh will be the King's subjects, or "servants." This distinction is apparent from the following testimony:
"Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make princes throughout all the earth" (Psalm 45:16); of whom it is said, "If the Prince give a gift unto any of His sons, the inheritance thereof shall be His sons'; it shall be their possesion by inheritance. But if He give a gift of His inheritance to one of His servants, then it shall be his to the year of liberty; and after it shall return to the Prince: but His inheritance shalt be His sons' for them" (Ezek. 46:16, 17).
The sons of the Prince are joint heirs with Him; but the servants of the Prince are only lease-holders for a certain number of years. If the natural Israel are not restored to Canaan, the spiritual Israel, that is to say, the Prince and His sons, would inherit a kingdom without subjects to serve them. This would be like Victoria and her family reigning in Windsor Castle over the realm of Britain after all its inhabitants had expatriated themselves to the United States. it requires more than a staff to make a regiment; so also it requires a multitude of people as well as princes, priests, and kings, to constitute a kingdom in Canaan, or in any other country.
Now, the children in Isaac become the children of the heavenly Jerusalem by believing "the exceeding great and precious promises" set forth in "the manifold wisdom of God." They hope to see Canaan and Jerusalem under the new covenant, which will constitute them both heavenly.
They are even now said to have "come to Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, and to the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22); but it is as yet only in spirit, that is, by faith and hope: and as the city and land will be made heavenly by the Lord from heaven, their glorious attributes are in truth "above;" to believe, then, in what will be brought down to the city from above, is for the children of the promise in Isaac to stand related to "Jerusalem which is above, the mother of them all" (Gal.4:26).
Hence, the apostle exhorts them, saying, "If then ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead (to earthly things) and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then, shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Col. 3:1-4).
Elpis Israel 2.2.
21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Jesus demands to be put first; and when we realize who he is, and what it is he calls us to, we can see the reasonableness of his demand. He is only exacting of us that which will be for our supreme benefit, though it may not appear so now. Joy unspeakable and full of glory is latent in all his commandments. In due season we shall reap the rich harvest of obedience, if we faint not.
The man who gives Christ the second place will realize his position when this puny life is gone; and it will go, however filled up and impressed with its concerns we may be at the present moment. The time will come, as sure as the sun tracks his daily course in the heavens, when we shall have to say good-bye to the things of the present life, and when they are cut away, they will be gone for ever, and the man who lives for them, and is part and parcel of them, will vanish with them.
Nothing but the truth will remain. "The world passeth away, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
The man who has lived for Christ, has something laid up in store which nothing can touch and no time decay, an inheritance undefiled and that fadeth not away.
The Ambassador of the Coming Age, May 1868