The book of Leviticus is full of instructions for the Israelites upon their settlement in the land of Canaan. At times we may wonder what value such verses have for us today, but one section of the book has spoken to me.
And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession; And he that owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying It seems to me there is as it were a plague in the house: Leviticus 14:33-35
One day a plague of leprosy may appear in a house. Okay. But what’s this? “The LORD spoke saying, When … I put the plague of leprosy in a house…” What? Why would the LORD put the plague of leprosy in a house? It’s one thing for the leprosy to appear, but as a result of the LORD’s doing?
According to the instructions that follow (Leviticus 14:36-53) the homeowners would have to...
1. Go to the priest and tell him about the leprosy. 2. Empty the house. 3. Allow the priest to shut the house up for seven days. 4. Live somewhere else for 7 days. 5. Have the priest come and look at the house again, to determine if the leprosy has spread. 6. If so, remove the stones that hold the leprosy and take them outside the city. 7. Scrape the house around the area where the leprosy was. 8. Take the scrapings and deposit them outside the city. 9. Replace the stones with new stones. 10. Re-plaster the wall. 11. Have the priest return to check the house and pronounce the house clean. 12. Present an offering of 2 birds, cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop to make atonement for the house. 13. Move back into the house. 14. Pray that the leprosy doesn’t return because if it does, the house must be destroyed and then rebuilt! 15. Oh, and one more thing? Wash lots of clothes. (As anyone going into the unclean house would be unclean.)
What a hassle and inconvenience! I can just imagine the issues compounded if the family had children. Where would they live for 7 days and even longer while the house was being re-plastered? In a tent? With their neighbours, inconveniencing them as well? And what about the stigma others would attach to the family – “You’re the ones that have the leprous house!” Besides this, in an already busy life, more is now added to mix: removing stones, re-plastering walls, getting the priest, etc. (Although I can just imagine young ones thinking this was great fun and excitement – not so the mother!)
Why on earth would the Lord put the plague of leprosy in a house which would cause this entire ordeal?
I had a bad cold back in January and another one a couple weeks ago. I wonder, why did the Lord “put it there”?
My dishwasher broke down again this morning. My mother-in-law has dementia and doesn’t even know who her son is anymore. A family relationship is strained right now. Friends are going through the trial of infertility. Another friend is in pain and waiting for surgery that is still 2 months away.
Why has the Lord “put these things there”?
We do not know a definite answer to this question because His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). However, the following may be some reasons for the Lord to “put it there”.
Scripture places a high value on patience and the development Godly character. 2 Peter 1:5-7 says, “...giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge self-control; and to self-control patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness love.” The hard part is, however, that such patience and Godly character is acquired through trials, which could be one reason for the Lord to “put it there”.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience (cheerful endurance). But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect (in mental and moral character) and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:2-4
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Romans 5:3-4
Trials also bring us closer to Him in a way that an easy, trouble-free life does not. When troubles press us, we seek His comfort, help and strength, instead of trusting in ourselves.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually. 1 Chronicles 16:11
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:5
Perhaps the Lord “put the plague of leprosy in a house” to build hearts of compassion and understanding in His people so that they may reach out to comfort others who face similar trials.
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort them who are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
The Lord could “put it there” in order for His glory to be shown forth, as was the case with the blind man.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. John 9:1-3
Or, perhaps the Lord could “put it there” to humble us, to test us and to prove our character. This is a reason He gave to the Israelites regarding their 40 years in the wilderness.
And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not. And he humbled you, and allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live. Deuteronomy 8:2-3
The trial could be there so we learn contentment, as Paul did.
But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11
The writer of Psalm 119 realized that his trial was put there so that he might learn to obey the Lord.
It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. Psalm 119:71
Perhaps the Lord has “put it there” to remind us that all we have comes from Him, and not of ourselves. This was a warning for the Israelites, and one I’m sure we need even more so today.
Beware that you forget not the LORD your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command you this day: Lest when you have eaten and are full, and have built fine houses, and dwelt in them; And when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God… And you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth. But you shall remember the LORD your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth. Deuteronomy 8:11-14,17,18
Why would the Lord “put the plague of leprosy in a house”? Without a doubt, He knew the aggravation it would cause. He knew all the work involved to take care of the problem. He knew, but He put it there anyway. As it was so long ago, so it is today: if He has “put it there” we can be assured that He has a purpose and plan in mind for our good. Romans 8:28 remains true at all times. He called us. He predestinated us. And verse 29 gives us another reason for trials and tribulations – conformity to the image of His Son.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:28-29
One more thing we can be assured of, God will not leave us to flounder. He is faithful. Always.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations. 2 Peter 2:9
Who put it there? Our Lord did - for His reasons, for His purposes. One day He is going to return. What a glorious day that will be! May the trial of my faith, and the trial of yours, be found in that day to be praiseworthy, honourable and full of glory.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 1 Peter 1:6-7