Summary: The Third sermon in the Leviticus series deals with cleanliness laws from chapters 11-15 and compares the temporary cleanness of the law system to the permanent cleanness we enjoy because of Christ.

Leviticus Series #3

Cleanliness Laws

Leviticus 11-15

CHCC: June 27, 2010

Visual aids: Magnifying Mirror, Hand Sanitizer, and Matryoshkas (nesting doll from Russia)


Put hand sanitizer on hands and wash them, then pat face, then look in mirror (small side). Make a comment about how you’re looking pretty good!

How many of you carry hand sanitizer with you wherever you go? Are your hands really clean after you use it? How about 10 minutes later? What if you sneeze into your hand?

The book of Leviticus gives page after page of instructions on how to get clean, how to stay clean, how to clean up when you’re not clean. We’re going to see today that would be a full time job for the Jews to follow these cleanliness laws.

And how many of you look in a mirror before you leave home in the morning? You may think your skin looks clean and clear, but what if you have a mirror like this one --- the other side shows 8X magnification. Look in that side and the magnification shows the flaws and imperfections you couldn’t see before. (Naked Gospel, Andrew Farley, p.67)

That’s what the LAW does. It gives instructions about how to get temporarily clean … then it magnifies our flaws to show we are never as clean as we think we are.

1. Getting Clean by your Own Efforts

Leviticus Chapters 11-15 focuses on various laws that deal with Cleansing. These laws were given for the following reasons:

· Sanitation – this was practical – Israel was a nation of millions of people, living close together in tents … they needed some sanitation rules!

· Separation – these laws helped to distinguish God’s people from other Nations

· Sanctification – these rituals helped to draw God’s people close to Him

· And Succession – these Laws helped insure there would be accurate records of a pure lineage and accurate for the Messiah (Gregory Neill)

These cleansing laws were also divided into two realms:

· Ceremonial – These are rituals that reminded the people to be pure and to put God first

· And Communal - These Cleanliness Instructions protected the nation from health dangers

This part of Leviticus was a very practical Manual on Sanitary Living. It may not be all that interesting, but these laws were essential to the Physical and Spiritual Health of this new nation. If the nation of Israel wanted to be a clean nation they had to consider 4 important principles:

1. Be careful about what comes into the body (ch. 11)

2. Be careful about new births in the body (ch. 12)

3. Be careful about what touches the body (ch. 13-14)

4. Be careful about what comes out of the body (ch. 15) (Gregory Neill)

Many years ago, I read a fascinating book called None of These Diseases. The author took the title from this promise from God in Exodus 15:26 "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

The book, None of These Diseases was written by Dr. S.I. McMillen --- a physician who examined how the Old Testament Cleanliness and Dietary Laws would affect human health. One reviewer summed the book up this way: “It took man 4,000 years to find remedies that God had already prescribed. The remedy for many diseases such as leprosy, cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, heart attacks, strokes, and mental breakdowns are all in the "Book of books," if man would only take the time to read the Word.”

I’ll share just one example from McMillen’s book. He talked about the Bible’s simple admonition to thoroughly wash your hands after touching a diseased or dead body. This Law about hand washing was completely ignored by the medical establishment even up to the 1800’s and beyond. McMillen documented a case in a hospital in Vienna during the 1840’s. Dr. Ignaz Sammelweis was in charge of the Maternity Ward --- where 5 out of 6 women ended up dying while in the hospital. He noticed that women who died were the ones being treated by doctors and students who came from the morgue where they were doing autopsies or teaching lessons using cadavers.

Dr. Sammelweis hypothesized that infections had been carried on the hands of the doctors from the corpses to their patients So, he made a strange new rule … that doctors in his Ward had to wash their hands before treating the patients. And, amazingly, deaths in his Ward dropped by over 80%.

But the other doctors in that hospital didn’t buy into this crazy new theory. They scorned Sammelweis as a kook … and his contract was not renewed. The real irony is that sanitation practices outlined in Leviticus (like hand-washing) weren’t made part of Medical Law until … are you ready for this … 1960. (McMillen, p. 14-16)

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