SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Again, the context of Leviticus is that the people of Israel, who had been slaves in the nation of Egypt, are now free and establishing their own nation. God is helping them to know how to live with him as their King, how to govern themselves, and how to deal with the various issues that will face them.
- In this chapter God teaches the Israelites what to do with people who have infectious skin diseases and mildew in clothing. These were serious concerns at the time. Obviously, medicine hadn't developed as we now have it, so skin diseases couldn't be treated by a visit to the doctor and some ointment. Israel has a rainy season (October through March), and the area around the Sea of Galilee is very humid, so mildew could become prevalent.
- The way God teaches the Israelites to deal with these issues (such as a person with certain infectious diseases having to live "outside the camp," or burning certain clothing with fire) was to prevent the spread of these problems.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Let's face it, skin diseases and mildew in clothing are not at the top of our list of concerns. But the principle we learn in this chapter can be applied to other issues in our lives. Our problem is generally not wrong stuff growing on our skin or in our clothes, but instead wrong thinking happening in our minds.
- Jesus taught that sin isn't just the wrong things we do, but also the wrong things we think. And it's not just sinful thinking, it's also negative thinking that holds us back from becoming everything we can be and living the life God has for us. Like the skin diseases and mildew for the Israelites, wrong thinking that grows in our mind can damage our lives and our community. And, as did the Israelites, we need to take this "disease" or "mildew" of wrong thinking seriously.
- The Bible says we need to learn to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Rather than just letting our thoughts happen, we need to pay attention to them. And when we realize that we're thinking something contrary to God's truth, we need to stop and deal with it, offering that wrong thought to God and asking him to help us believe the truth. The Bible also says that we need to replace our wrong and negative thinking with thoughts about what is true, admirable, noble, true... (See Philippians 4:8).
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where do you see diseased, mildewed thinking in your life? How does God's truth compare to your sinful or negative thoughts? How could you begin to capture those negative thoughts and make them obedient to Jesus and his truth?