Reading through the Bible together
An individual could undergo ritual purification only after the source of physical impurity had stopped. Purification did not heal (except in the miraculous case of Naaman; 2 Kings 5), but pointed to the greater healing of immortal life, when humans will again enjoy full access to God’s holy Presence. Purification following skin disease emphasized the seriousness of the condition by involving a lengthy process with several stages to restore access to normal life at home in the community. After each stage, the person was “pure,” which meant: pure enough up to that point in the process. At the first stage, a live bird was dipped in the blood of a slain bird and then set free, symbolically carrying away impurity (compare two goats in Lev 16). Rituals on the eighth day included applying the blood of a “trespass offering” and oil to the right ear, thumb, and big toe, thereby purifying the whole person for renewed life with God (compare Lev 8:23-24).
Our restoration to purity of heart that enables us to see God (Matt 5:8) is also a process, and requires the “trespass offering” (Isa 53:10; same Hebrew word) of Christ. He lets us experience stages in the process (Mark 8:23-25) so that we can grasp the greatness of His work as He purges us with His blood and water (John 19:34; 1 John 5:8; and “with hyssop”—Ps 51:7; Lev 14:4-7) from the terminal “leprosy” of sin.