The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “If anyone has a swelling or a rash or discolored skin that might develop into a serious skin disease, that person must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons…the man is indeed infected with a skin disease and is unclean. The priest must pronounce him ceremonially unclean because of the sore on his head. “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must tear their clothing and leave their hair uncombed. They must cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp.
Dear God, this can seem so draconian and barbaric. Really? Move them outside of town? Make them call out, “Unclean!” Isn’t that a bit much?
But there are always reasons behind your edicts. In this case, this was a serious situation that could spread through the population and kill people–not unlike how we’ve been treating COVID-19 in our modern society. Unfortunately for their time, they didn’t have the technology to address their situation. They just had to ride with it. For us, for most, it is a short-lived disease so they don’t have to remain separated more that a few weeks. Of course, it does kills some, and it does leave some permanently damaged, but, at least for those who live, they don’t have to be alone.
I wonder how a Christian who has fought against COVID-19 quarantines and precautions (e.g. face masks) would read this verse. Would they see the modern application? Would they understand the similarities? As Americans, especially, we have come to worship our individual rights as people. “Don’t Tread on Me!” But the mercy for others is supposed to come first. Isn’t that what the second greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is all about?
Father, there is nothing new in the world. Your people have had to deal with reality for as long as you have had relationship with us–and even before. We are humans. We are all in this together. Help us to have the humility we need to both honor and love our neighbors, and to know how to reach out to and minister to them as well.
In Jesus’s name I pray,