Note: due to author squeamishness, today’s Through the Whole Bible post will be somewhat vague and unclear. Why? It’s Leviticus 15 (link). Read through it. If the subject headers of “Instructions about Bodily Discharges” are not evidence enough, read the whole chapter. There’s plenty of icky here, not for the squeamish types.
These are the passages that you need to either ask your own pastor about or pick up a good commentary on Leviticus. I will not be going into details here, except to highlight that one possible interpretation of the first half of the chapter relates the situation to venereal diseases (STDs) and would have quarantined a person from interaction in the community and stopped disease spread. That’s uncertain, but possible.
The second half addresses the impurity that comes monthly for women. The major note here is that it is seen as separate from impurity that comes from sin. Those impurities are addressed elsewhere: here is simply the fact that a lady who is discharging blood must be counted as unclean. The post-menstrual offerings are the offering of birds that were obtainable for all, and the reference to one as a sin offering should be seen as an offering related to all as sinners, not that she sinned by having that time of the month.
One can get bogged down here, and so I want to turn your attention to one of the New Testament incidents that highlights the effect of these laws. If you click in your Bibles (or tap!) around Mark 5:25-34, Matthew 9:20-22, or Luke 8:43-48, you will find the story of a woman who has been suffering with a discharge for twelve years of her life. That is, she has been unclean and unable to join with the religious and social life of her community for twelve years. Additionally, all of her possessions, everything she touched was all counted unclean.
It is entirely likely that, had she any relationships at all, those relationships were weak and distant. Or that they were only in contact when those women were “unclean,” but it’s likely she was avoided all the more in those times in case her condition was contagious. She is alone, isolated, and financially devastated.
And then she up and violates Leviticus 15:27, too, because she touches Jesus. Had He been any other man, He would have panicked. Here was ceremonial defilement, hitting Him in a crowd. Here was a ban from the Temple. Here was ritual trouble.
Except the point of the Law was typically this: uncleanness spreads from one to another, just as darkness fills the areas around dim lights.
And Jesus was no dim light.
In Him the fullness of God was found in human form. In Him was Light, Light that shines in a darkness that can neither overcome it nor even comprehend it!
Instead of uncleanness coming to Christ, clean healing flowed out from Him to the lady in need. She was healed. Lifted out of the isolation of life.
And here we find the use of the Law and its value to us:
The Law shows us where we are in need, but coming to Christ in faith brings us the healing from those needs. Whether the need is because of our willful sin or just the ordinary accumulation of life, we need His healing.
Grab it. As best you can.