Unclean! Unclean! It was a cry of warning and condemnation at the same time. To warn the person approaching the condemned herald, and for that same herald to accept the terminal diagnosis: with all its shame, isolation, depression, hopelessness, and disfiguring anesthesia progressively amputating parts of the body; such was the burden of leprosy.
First mentioned in Leviticus 13:2, it speaks far more than the pathophysiology of a medical condition. It’s first the natural then the spiritual (1Cor 15:46), meaning that what we see and understand is a parallel of what happens in a spiritual context. Caused by the infectious organism Mycobacterium leprae, it is spread by respiratory droplets to those in frequent contact with infected persons. Areas of the body most affected are the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Loss of sensation can lead to undetected injuries and infections, resulting in amputation of limbs. Over the years various therapies have been used, and with medical research multi-drug therapy (MDT) can now “cure” the clinical syndrome of leprosy, especially when treated early.
But what’s the meaning spiritually? Is that the leprosy that the Bible is speaking of?
But what’s the meaning spiritually? Is that the leprosy that the Bible is speaking of? If God: “the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit” (1John 5:7) only speaks in parables (Psa 78:2, Matt 13:34, Mark 4:34), then what is the true message or deeper understanding that the Holy Spirit is trying to communicate to us regarding leprosy?
I absolutely believe the physical disease of leprosy was completely and supernaturally healed by Christ when He was on the earth. The book of Leviticus chapter 13 and 14 describe leprosy and is called a “plague.” The Hebrew word for plague is “nega,” which means touch or strike or disease, mark, or wound or illness “as a touch from God.” (1) Leprosy as a mark is to then reveal something within ourselves and others that has come to the surface for judging. Only with “Aaron the priest and to one of his sons the priests” could people come to make the diagnosis (Lev 13:1), and many criteria were evaluated to assure that the person being examined received the correct assessment, not unlike a medical doctor. Say in the case of leprosy, an Infectious Disease specialist may be the treating physician. Despite multi-drug therapy (dapsone, rifampicin, clofazimine) “leprosy currently affects approximately a quarter of a million people throughout the world” (2).
The historical and social stigma associated with leprosy is long and painful. In India, which accounts for the majority of cases, legal discrimination is permitted for denial of drivers licenses, riding on trains, running for public office, and grounds for divorce (3).
Now, consider the spiritual equivalent of Jesus, having the power to heal and restore someone to their family, relationships, work, and back into the general society! Leprosy then is symbolic of defects we have in our souls and Jesus came to cure us of this so we can have a restored relationship with Him and the Father here on this earth (Matt 6:10).
Leprosy then is symbolic of defects we have in our souls and Jesus came to cure us of this so we can have a restored relationship with Him and the Father here on this earth (Matt 6:10).
In Numbers chapter 12 we see this play out when Miriam and Aaron “spoke against Moses,” the surrogate person of Christ. This angered the Lord, which manifested in Miriam the leprous attitude they had toward Moses. In the Bible, every name speaks of character and function, and more is being said than surface reading can reveal. Miriam means “rebellion” and Aaron means “light bringer.” So they (Miriam and Aaron) rebelled against the light of Moses (Moses means “drawn out of water” i.e. revelation, Deut 32:2). It was Moses who cried out for her to be healed (Num 12:13).
The process of her healing was not instant; it took a week (yet another deeper meaning). With natural leprosy, MDT is a six month course of medications to make sure the bacteria causing leprosy is killed. In the spirit it is the Great Physician, Jesus, who applies the medicine of the WORD in the right combination and dose to heal the soul of leperous patterns of thinking, attitudes, and ignorance of Christ, which is sin. The method of cure is not typical. The Lord will have to “spit in her face… let her be shut out from the camp seven days” and then she will have brand new skin. Yet another mystery WORD medicine: I’ll take it! My prayer is that we will all “receive with meekness the engrafted Word which is able to save our souls” from leprosy.
1. Strong’s Bible Concordance/plague H5061
4. All scripture references: King James Version