I was eleven years old and I remember going to my dad in the living room and telling him that I wanted to be Baptized. What brought that on I can’t be sure of, but I know that the decision was mine. On February 22, 1998, my dad dunked me underwater and pulled me back up. He then went on to Baptize my sister that same day.
I’m not sure how I felt in the moment (I can’t remember), or if I really understood the gravity of what I had just done. I was still pretty innocent of many things then. But I trust that I had established the basics of it. As I get older, I realize how important that day is in reminding me that I have been washed clean of all of my past, present, and future sins. On days that I feel ashamed because I screwed up, I recall that day. The realness of redemption and newness brings me to my knees. I can come to my Heavenly Father, dirty and messy, and be forgiven, washed clean again.
This story will make sense in a little bit.
S – Scripture: Leviticus 14-15
- 14:7 – “The priest will then sprinkle the blood of the dead bird seven times on the person being purified of the skin disease. When the priest has purified the person, he will release the live bird in the open field to fly away.”
- 14:17-18 – “The priest will then apply some of the oil in his palm over the blood from the guilt offering that is on the lobe of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot of the person being purified. The priest will apply the oil remaining in his hand to the head of the person being purified. Through this process, the priest will purify the person before the LORD.”
- 14:33-34 – “Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When you arrive in Canaan, the land I am giving you as your own possession, I may contaminate some of the houses in your land with mildew.'”
- 14:50-53 – “He will slaughter one of the birds over a clay pot filled with fresh water. He will take the cedar stick, the hyssop branch, the scarlet yarn, and the live bird, and dip them into the blood of the slaughtered bird and into the fresh water. Then he will sprinkle the house seven times. When the priest has purified the house in exactly this way, he will release the live bird in the open fields outside the town. Through this process, the priest will purify the house, and it will be ceremonially clean.”
- 15:31 – “This is how you will guard the people of Israel from ceremonial uncleanness. Otherwise they would die, for their impurity would defile my Tabernacle that stands among them.”
O – Observation:
- Extensive ceremonies for the purification of skin disorders, discharges, and mildew found in a home had to be followed.
- The live bird was dipped in the blood of the sacrificial bird, then immediately into the clean, fresh water. It was then let go, as if to take away to uncleanliness of the person.
- Blood from the dead bird was placed on the earlobe, thumb, and big toe of the person, just like in the purification of the priests. Oil was applied to the same places after.
- Anything or anyone an “unclean” person touched became unclean as well. Everything needed to be washed in order to become pure again.
- God said that he would contaminate some of the houses. He would choose which ones and how badly. Some of the houses would be able to be repaired, while others would need to be torn down.
- If the Israelites did not purify themselves and their homes, they would die. Their uncleanliness could not come in contact with God.
A – Application:
Sometimes sections of the Bible like this are hard to get anything out of. Also, I don’t really want to read about oozing skin disorders and discharges. It’s gross!
But as I pondered what God was really trying to say here, I was led to verses on Baptism and being washed clean so that we could be near to God. I was reminded of Jesus’ journey through death and then being raised to new life. This is my interpretation that the two doves brought as a sacrifice for the purification of a skin disorder is another foreshadowing of God’s ultimate plan for us.
Let’s play this out: One was sacrificed and it’s blood poured out. This is a symbol of Jesus’ death. The second dove was dipped into the blood and then into water, being purified of the blood and death, and then set free. With Jesus being raised from the dead, he conquered death and carried our sins away.
The second dove could also represent us. We come to God dirty, disheveled, and burdened from our sin. As we are raised out of the water in Baptism, we are freed, purified, and new. Baptism is a beautiful outward expression of our hearts being washed clean and made new by a belief in Jesus sacrifice.
“Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.” Romans 6:3-8
“Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” Hebrews 9:13-14
You are not too far gone. You are not too bad, screwed up, or messy for God. You don’t need to get in shape before going to the gym here. He loved us before we knew him, while we were living in sin! He desires to be with us so much more so he made a way to make it so. God wants you to live in freedom, not in the chains of your sin or the consequences of making bad decisions.
How would your life be different if you lived in the newness that God can offer? What would your life look like? What habits would you break, relationships you would build, or choices you would make?
I encourage you, if you haven’t been Baptized, start praying about it and studying it. It could make the confirmation of being made new and washed clean real to you. If you have questions, please reach out! I’d love to hear from you.
P – Prayer:
Will you pray Psalm 51 with me?
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. For I was born a sinner–yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me–now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Amen.