THE DIVINE ARCH OF HUMAN REDEMPTION (11)

LAWS RELATING TO UNCLEANNESS AND CHILDBIRTH

When our first parents by reason of transgression of Divine Law, brought death into the world, they became separated from their Creator by reason of sin, and became unclean in His Sight. A breach was made in their relationship, and they no longer had direct access to him with that beautiful harmonious fellowship which existed in the Garden of Eden. But although evicted from that paradise, God in His Love and Mercy brought hope of salvation from death, and a healing of the breach which sin had created, by the institution of Religion. This consisted of obedience to certain commands and ordinances relating to washing, the offering of certain specified animals, the shedding of their blood, and the clothing of themselves with their skin, all of which had deep significance beyond the mere outward performance of mere ritual.

The record in the third chapter of Genesis specifically relates the facts and lays the foundation of that knowledge which pointed forward to the seed of the woman, who would bruise the seed of the serpent in the head and take away sin. The fourth chapter of Genesis shows the outworking of the ceremonial involved with that essential recognition in faith on the part of Abel of what was typically represented. His re-binding to God, as the word Religion infers, is seen in the acceptance of his offerings as distinct from the faithless offerings of Cain.

But when God “called his son out of Egypt”, and made Israel a nation, the tribe of Levi were separated out by God to act as priests; as intermediaries between Himself and His People. They supervised all things relating to the Tabernacle and taught and carried out the laws and ceremonies and offerings which God had prescribed for their acceptable worship before Him. These Laws were given by God to Moses, and are contained in their details in the book of Leviticus. These laws are found to cover every aspect of the daily lives of the people of God. They are a revelation of His mind concerning the conduct and underlying principles governing the lives of sinful dying men and women who would have hope of eternal life. For that reason, they are of absorbing interest to us all who are under the same condemnation.

Whilst we are not under the Law of Moses, but under Christ, the record in Leviticus is not just an interesting ancient historical record concerning the Children of Israel, and no more than that, as Biblical historians of our day would have us believe. The record has been preserved for our learning in order that we might search out the underlying principles and message they convey, emanating from the Mind of God, it is not surprising if we discover remarkable, if hidden truths which are both prophetic, and have a relationship to the Hope of Salvation which overarches God’s purpose with fallen humanity.

At the time the Law of Moses was given, the Children of Israel numbered over two million people. They dwelt in tents in the four-square encampment according to their tribes as prescribed by God, which the Tabernacle in the very centre of their daily life. There was therefore a concentration of people ordered by Divine arrangements with God in their midst; the very centre of their existence. We are reminded by the apostle Paul that this remarkable and unique economy was “our schoolmaster to bring them (and us) unto Christ” that they might be made righteous by faith in what it all represented as well as being the most wise and efficient system of government ever devised and practised. By this means they were separate from all other peoples. They were a Holy Nation unto the Lord.

CLEANNESS AND UNCLEANNESS

Throughout the Book of Leviticus we find an emphasis given to the difference between things which were to be required as clean, or unclean. The discrimination was a continual daily exercise. The subject is a prominent feature throughout the book, revealing both in it’s scope, and vital importance. The eleventh chapter is entirely given over to the matter detailing a wide variety of animals, fish and birds, which were to be regarded as unfit for food. That which was forbidden was to be regarded as an abomination – strong language indeed. And the uncleanness not only related to what could be eaten, or not eaten, but was extended to include the touching of dead bodies, even to vessels which, albeit inadvertently had come into contact with what was proscribed.

It is not now our purpose to enlarge on this particular aspect of life under the Mosaic Economy, except to emphasise what large a part it played in the everyday affairs of the Children of Israel. Let interested readers turn to The Law of Moses by Bro Robert Roberts, and particularly chapter 9, for a valuable discourse on the matter. All who had become unclean in respect of the things enumerated were to be cleansed by washing – including their clothes – and to be regarded as in that state until the evening of that same day. Material things which were involved, such as earthen vessels, cooking ovens and utensils, were to be broken to pieces. The reasons given for these “scrupulositys” as Bro Roberts calls them, was to emphasise what is written in Leviticus 11:44-45: “For I am the Lord your God; ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy: for I am holy.” It would not have been possible to devise an arrangement more conducive to keeping Israel alert to the need for continual care in the obedience to God.

Now although we are not under the Law of Moses, but under Christ, we must bear in mind that the principles underlying God’s relationship towards His people have not changed. Their spiritual import is now, as then, a matter of continual recognition. The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 6 stresses the need for separateness from the world; being in the world, but not of it, “wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (v 17-18).

It is only by our daily washing in the water of life which is the Word of God, that we are clean in the sight of God, keeping ourselves unspotted from the world. The “cloven hoof” and the “chewing of the cud” are the characteristics which mark out the people of God, walking with sure step in the narrow way and taking in, masticating the food of the Word with it’s life-giving power. It is that same word which separates the clean from the unclean. There can be no fellowship of light with darkness, or righteousness with unrighteousness – a distinction which has a continuing daily application in our affairs among men of the world.

In all this, it is Jesus our Lord, our master – he who was holy, undefiled, separate from sinners, who is our exemplar. Baptised into his Name, washed and cleansed thereby, we endeavour to walk in newness of life, having daily recourse to the cleansing power of the Word.

UNCLEANNESS BY CHILDBIRTH

Impressed as we must be by the effect these laws would have in the lives of the children of Israel in maintaining that holiness with God requires, it is a matter of some astonishment to learn that the greatest uncleanness came about when children were born, a fact which provides much cause for reflection.

In the relatively confined area of their various encampments in the Wilderness, the birth of the children would not only be a fairly common occurrence, but would be commonly known, for they were in reality a large family. Such occurrences should always, as now, be the subject of conversation and interest especially among the womenfolk. But when we read the 12th chapter of Leviticus and note the laws and ordinances concerning the matter of childbirth – adherence to which were a vital necessity – we see how God in his Divine arrangements drew attention to spiritual things which would occupy the thoughts of all discerning Israelites.

We take note of the uncleanness attached to the physical act of having a baby, and the imperative need for washing, and the offering of sacrifice. We note that it was the mother who was defiled, and to be regarded as unclean. If she gave birth to a male child, there followed a period of 7 days of uncleanness which, if a female child, was increased to 14 days – twice the time. All this prolonged period of defilement and separation every time a birth took place. The mother was not to touch any hallowed thing, nor allowed into the sanctuary. In the circumstances surrounding the children of Israel, it would seem commonplace for almost all to know someone at any given time who was subject to these prohibitions, which would inevitably be a topic of conversation. We may well enquire, as assuredly as they must have done, as to the necessity and meaning of it all. There must be deep significance intended especially when we realise that it was not only the mother who was involved in the defilement.

THE DEFILEMENT OF HUMAN NATURE

In the book of Job, chapter 14, verse 4, speaking of mankind in general, we read, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one!”

In Psalm 51, verse 5, David declared: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”.

Here is made manifest a vital fundamental Truth affecting all men – though few indeed recognise and acknowledge it. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and is by that very fact defiled. But we may well ask, “Defiled by what?” To answer that question, we have to go back to the beginning, when man was first created by God. In his pristine state, along with all else of Creation, he was pronounced to be ‘very good’. But this condition was changed soon afterwards, to one under condemnation because of the disobedience of God’s law. So “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin”, so we are all mortal creatures, dying as a result of it.

But we are all mortal dying creatures before we transgress, so that as the “wages of sin is death”, Sin must comprehend more than the act of disobedience. It is not, on reflection, a sufficient reply to say that we inherit our mortality (which we do) without an answer as to why that should be. If sin is restricted to transgression only, one is then faced with the problem as to why we are under condemnation, sentenced to death before we transgress. That is surely unjust. Then, if it be said that we are for the sin of Adam, that is equally unjust in that we are in condemnation for someone else’s transgression! Where then is the Truth?

The real answer is that we are mortal, condemned to death at birth, not because we have transgressed (although we do that and thereby compound our condemnation), but because at birth we come into the world in the possession of sin and death as it’s wages. But it will be asked, “what is the sin if it is not transgression?” Let the Scriptures supply the answer.

SIN WHICH DWELLS WITHIN

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans states in Chapter 7, verses 18-20: “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not. For the good that I would, I do not, but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Here then, is an innate, natural disposition to do things that are contrary to the will of God – not the actual doing, but the incitement so to act. We are surely, each one of us, aware that we are not naturally disposed towards things which are Divine. Just the opposite, in fact. Our minds prefer every vanity that this world can offer. As the Apostle Paul makes clear, there is ever present with us, a predisposition to do evil, and that with a compulsion which is often beyond our power to control and resist – and we transgress.

That impulse, that incitement, that compulsion with which we come into the world is called sin. It is the cause of transgression. Other terms are used in the Scriptures to describe it – the mind of the flesh – the carnal mind – the devil. That last word – devil – is in the original Greek, diabolos and is more comprehensive in it’s meaning than is generally understood. In the first volume of Eureka, page 249, Bro John Thomas analyses the word and shows that “the noun diabolos is the name of that which crosses, or causes to cross over”. It is vital to a correct understanding of the atoning work of our Lord that we take note of this dual meaning intrinsic in the word, for only then shall be distinguish between the two aspects of sin of which the Scriptures speak – namely, sin as Cause and that which it Causes, namely transgression. The word diabolos is comprehensive of either, or both, the possession of which brings death. Now to transgress is to cross over – to overstep the mark – to sin. But here is something which is not only that, but is also that which causes the transgression – the crossing over. It is comprehensive of both the cause and the effect – the transgression itself.

It is this ‘devil’ or diabolos which we possess by inheritance (as did our Lord himself), which in the sight of God renders us unclean and under the sentence of death. It was acquired by our first parents in listening to, accepting, and then acting upon the subtle mind of that old serpent, the diabolos. By so doing, they acquired a mode of thought in opposition to the Divine mind which produced an enmity towards God which has been passed down to all their descendants to this day. It is the reason why, naturally speaking, we are carnally minded, which brings death. It emphasises the vital need to be spiritually minded, which can only be acquired by “receiving the engrafted word which alone is able to save our souls” (Jas 1:21).

How these Biblical truths make foolish the philosophy of men! It is believed by many, specially socialists – so called – that man only needs a suitable environment, good living conditions, coupled with education and the ills of mankind, or most of them will disappear. There may be just a grain of truth in that, but any failure to acknowledge that man is a fallen creature predisposed to evil, innately selfish and at enmity with his Maker, will indubitably fail to find a remedy for the one universal malaise. If the material is unclean and morally defective, how can the present sin constitution of things be put right? It requires more than the wit of men to achieve.

THE TEACHING OF THE LAW

All this lies at the heart of the subject matter of this 12th chapter of Leviticus. It is essential knowledge before a full appreciation of it’s message can be acquired. The laws of God relative to the life of His people, of which those concerning childbirth form a part, are not arbitrary. They have deep significance. They lay stress upon our true estate before God and demonstrate His essential Holiness and Supremacy. In all the circumstances of our lives, we do well to view our common experiences (of which He is fully aware) through His eyes, and not merely our own. By so doing, our whole perspective on life is changed. Instead of the insular, often petty, myopic outlook of the majority of people, the mind is expanded to absorb ideas and thoughts which far transcend the mere worldly view of life.

This being the case, let us read the chapter and see how, beneath the surface these facts are demonstrated, teaching valuable lessons and pointing forward to the Lord Jesus and his atoning work.

Our attention is first drawn by God’s word to a woman who has conceived and given birth to a man child. Here, as in a figure, is comprehended the whole of mankind, as though what is to follow has relevance to all humanity. Then in the following 3 verses, we are informed of the Divine procedure which was to be followed involving 7 days of uncleanness and separation on the part of the woman, circumcision of the child on the 8th day and then a further 33 days of separation before she could be regarded as purified and clean. She was then to offer certain sacrifices. A lamb for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or turtledove for a sin offering. If the woman could not afford a lamb for a burnt offering, then a young pigeon, or turtledove would suffice, as with the sin offering. These were to be taken to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation for the officiating priest to make atonement for her in the offerings.

In all this, we observe that from God’s point of view, there was not only a natural uncleanness attached to the whole experience of childbirth, but the process of propagation has an aura of inferiority about it in our present fallen condition. Whilst as Genesis chapter 1, verse 28 records, God blessed our first parents and said to them, “be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it”, yet as the record immediately following indicates, they were not in their pristine state physically mature. They were as Bro John Thomas in Elpis Israel states, “as children before puberty”. There physical maturity, immediately followed their transgression, and fall, and was premature. Because of their disobedience and the cause of it (the serpent influence), their development was a carnal one, and not that spiritual maturity which their Creator desired, and which obedience would have brought. Had this been the case, their physical desire to procreate would have been far less frequent and refined, as can be gleaned from God’s judgements upon Eve relative to this matter, as stated in Genesis Chapter 3, verse 16. It would have been devoid of lust and the utter debasement in the uncontrolled exercise of it which now prevails. The bestiality, licentiousness and deviations which know no bounds would have been avoided. Let us not forget either, that Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve was conceived following the fall as the operation of a carnal mind brought about by sin.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TIME PERIODS

But what of the 3 time periods referred to in the opening verses of this chapter? Quite apart from giving time for recuperation from the ordeal and sometimes life threatening character of childbirth, we cannot but inquire as to the significance of the specific days mentioned. As we have previously remarked, the Mosaic economy, of which this was an important part was a “schoolmaster” to bring those under it to Christ. There was, intrinsic in all its ordinances a pointing forward by faith, to the salvation from sin and death which God purposed in him. In these verses as well as the periods of time given, we have circumcision and atonement referred to, both of which have a direct bearing to our Lord. Nor must we miss the fact that Mary, the mother of Jesus rendered strict obedience to the Mosaic Law, following his birth as confirmed in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, verses 21-24, noting also that she was too poor to bring a lamb for a burnt offering. All of which emphasises the point that Jesus himself was involved in it, with all it’s significance. What then was the significance overriding the mere mechanics of the procedures?

One fact which springs to mind viewing it all, as we must do, from God’s viewpoint, is that the earth has been given over to the outworking of His Purpose and it’s consummation for a period of 7000 years. Seven days of a thousand years each, which by reason of sin are unclean – defiled in God’s Sight. At the beginning of the 8th day (at the end of the Millennial reign of Christ) the flesh of sin will have been entirely cut off. The covenant of God to Abraham, confirmed and made sure by the blood of Christ and the eradication of sin thereby, of which circumcision (to which he himself was subject) was a figure which he fully implemented.

The whole purpose of God in the history of men is centred in Jesus. In the volume of the book it is written of him. In him, the Truth is sealed, and made sure for ever and the time when God will be all in all made certain. In a remarkable way therefore, the birth of a man child in the ordinances relating to it prefigured the general outline of God with mankind, every time it occurred.

Following the circumcision of the child, the woman was then to continue her purification for a further 33 days, followed on the 34th day by the offerings stated. Our minds having already been directed to our Lord, we now see how this time period specifically related to him. In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 3 and verse 23, we are informed that at the beginning of his ministry, “he began to be about 30 years of age” This ministry continued for some 3 ½ years until his sacrificial death in his 34th year. In the context of the 7 X 1000 day-years of human history to which we have just referred, we see how the life of Jesus of 33 years was the fulcrum around which the purpose of God in the salvation of man revolved. In him, that having the power of death was first overcome whilst he was living, and then destroyed in his crucifixion.

In the letter to the Hebrews Chapter 2, verses 14-15, we read concerning him, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same that through death he might destroy that having the power of death that is the devil (diabolos) And deliver them (by that act) those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to its bondage.

All his life of 33 years, Jesus by reason of his birth of Mary possessed by inheritance from her this diabolos – this sin which brings death. He was because of it unclean – physically, in common with us all. Born of a woman, he was made sin in his making, made under the law of sin and death. In the wisdom and foreknowledge of God it was the very reason why he was pre-eminantly the ‘seed of the woman’, unique among men, however he had God for his father, and inherited from him a spiritual capacity beyond that of other men by the power of which he held the devil within himself under an iron control, so that he never transgressed. But that was not sufficient for the purpose of obtaining salvation. This power of death had not only to be overcome, but had to be destroyed. This he did in the 34th year of his life, by taking it in his own body to the tree, as typified in the respective sacrifices made on the 34th day-year of purification.

His death was a sacrificial death – a voluntary, obedient submission to Divine command, a laying down of his life in order to demonstrate to all with eyes to see the justice and righteousness of God in its condemnation in him who though possessing this diabolos was not possessed by it. It is vital in our understanding of the Atonement to note how and why his great sacrifice was first for himself that in the mercy of God it might be for us and all who have become a constituent part of the multitudinous Christ.

We make bold to emphasise that it was by this means and by no other that the righteousness, justice and holiness of God was made plain and vindicated. Here, in Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, we see made manifest the Supremacy of God, his attributes magnified in the only way possible – the death jin sacrifice of One who though innocent of actual transgression, yet who acknowledged in and by his death the exceeding sinfulness of sin. This was his unique and glorious achievement.

Having purified and made clean his own character; having learned obedience by the things that he suffered, being made perfect thereby, his body was then physically cleansed by being raised from the dead and made after the power, not of sin and death as before, but of an endless life to die no more, being energised not by blood, but by eternal Spirit. So it was that in the outworking of this great salvation first for himself, having once offered to bear the sins of many, so to them that look for him will he appear “the second time without sin” unto their salvation (Heb 9:28) – having appeared the first time with it in order to take it away. We see then how this “seed of the woman”, and extension of her flesh and blood, after an unclean period of 33 day-years was cleansed in the 34th, and that “having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself”, so those who were “sometime alienated and enemies in mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death to present them holy and unblameable and unreprovable” in God’s sight – if they continue in their faith, “grounded and settled” (Col 1:21-23).

A DIFFERENT PERIOD FOR A FEMALE CHILD

Thought provoking as all this is, contained in just a few verses in the book of Leviticus, we cannot leave the matter there, for this 12th chapter goes on to tell of a difference in the days of uncleanness in respect of the birth of a daughter. The time was extended to 14 days and then to 66 days for the period of purification – exactly twice the length of time required in the case of a man-child.

On the face of it, there appears nothing in this which has relevance to the evident wonderful prefiguring of the work of our Lord. The variations seem a complete enigma. But if in the case of a son, the laws and times relating to it concentred upon Jesus in a quite remarkable way, then by the same token, our minds are directed to the bride of Christ in the birth of a daughter. The doubling of the days of uncleanness and purifying must have a significance in relation to sin as it did in respect of a son. But where is the significance? I suggest this can only be perceived when we look at the matter through God’s eyes and not our own.

Consider for a moment! Each individual who collectively make up the ‘lamb’s wife’ have had 2 human parents. Our Lord on the other hand was not born of the will of the flesh, or the will of man. God was his Father, Mary his mother. His flesh of sin was derived from her, and from her alone. But his ‘bride’ by having 2 human parents have had the same flesh compounded by that union. By this fact, each individual has not only inherited the cause of transgression (the diabolos), as did our Lord, but each has, with the exception of Jesus, gone on to allow the cause to take effect and have transgressed. It’s power has been too great for them.

It is surely fitting therefore, that by a doubling of the times specified by God in respect of the a female child, our understanding and appreciation of this vital dual aspect of sin in the sight of God should be taught in this graphic way.

In all of the foregoing, what of ourselves? What is the relevance of all this to us in these last days when there is so much confusion and disunity on the subject of the atonement? The great essential Truth of God are not only openly stated, but are verified by fact lying beneath the surface, which require the exercise of spiritual insight and mental effort to unearth. The Word of Life is like that, full of hidden treasure. But the work of discovery enhances our faith, confirms our deepest convictions, banishes all doubt and brings in its outworking a peace and assurance which passes understanding that nought can move.

Eric Phipps