Leviticus 15:1-2,16,19,25,31 (ESV) The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean... "If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean until the evening... "When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening... "If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean... "Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst."
After leprosy, we now move into an area of greater discomfort and one that makes us wonder why. Considering a person unclean for a bodily discharge seems rather harsh and makes one wonder if it was because of a lack of education or awareness.
Is there anything relevant relating bodily discharges to uncleanness and how does it apply to our lives today?
To start with, the first discharge relating to men is some obviously abnormal genital discharge indicating some type of disease. This certainly is not a commonly recorded issue among men and certainly has treatments available today, in my estimation.
The second discharge relates to semen and is referenced to when it is discharged accidentally or during sex.
The next discharge relates to women and is their monthly period or menses, an unspoken topic publicly but one that every woman undergoes monthly. This is not a disease, rather it is a regular bodily function that helps a woman's body prepare for the possibility of pregnancy each month.
The last discharge relates to women who have continuous bleeding and is a medical condition which I have little knowledge of but it certainly does not sound normal.
When we consider all the above, it seems like they are either medical conditions or normal bodily functions and therefore the question begs to be asked, why would God consider them ritually unclean?
Again we must remind ourselves that uncleanness is not to be confused with sinfulness. It seems very normal to connect the two but God was not condemning men and women who underwent these issues.
Discharges of semen and menstruation were so regarded, not because there was anything inherently wrong with them, but because the two are connected with symbols of life and redemption, blood and seed.#
In verse 31, God clearly states that the Israelites are not to defile the Tabernacle (God's dwelling place) which is among them, by being unclean or being in contact with those who are unclean.
In Mark 7:1-9 Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their over-emphasis on ceremonial cleanliness and their lack of regard for internal cleanliness. These laws were meant to have both hygienic reasons and spiritual applications; they were never intended as the way to be right with God.#
Mark 7:6-9 (ESV) And he said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." And he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!
In Acts 15, the early Christians clearly understood the work and will of God in the New Covenant. Under the New Covenant, the believer was not bound to these laws of ritual purity. One could be a follower of Jesus without the ritual conformity to the Mosaic Law.#
Acts 15:8-11 (ESV) And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."
Yet we need to remember that spiritual cleanliness in worship is important today. We also remember that Jesus is the One who makes us clean and fit for fellowship. As we receive from the Word of God, we are being cleansed.#
John 15:3 (ESV) Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
Our cleanliness is complete as we abide in Jesus: 1 John 1:7-9 (ESV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.#
In His Loving Service,
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#Excerpts from Enduring Word Bible Commentary