Cleanse Thy House
By: Charlie Garrett
It seems to me that there is some plague in the house…
…”Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52
Jesus is the centerpiece of the New Testament. He is the Cornerstone of the church, and the Foundation of our faith. But in addition to this, he is the focus of the entire Old Testament. It all points to Him. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” As time marches on, we’re coming closer to His return and the completion of that which has yet to be fulfilled, but much of the Law and Prophets were fulfilled at His first coming. I very much enjoy the book of Leviticus, a book which is overlooked by many for several reasons, one being its repetitive nature. However, if you dig deeply and read it again and again, it comes alive with the most fascinating insights. I’m going to quote a long section here and if it seems foreign and hard to understand, please bear with it and I’ll give you my thoughts on how it really points to the coming Redeemer – Jesus Christ:
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your possession, and I put a spreading mildew in a house in that land, the owner of the house must go and tell the priest, ‘I have seen something that looks like mildew in my house.’ The priest is to order the house to be emptied before he goes in to examine the mildew, so that nothing in the house will be pronounced unclean. After this the priest is to go in and inspect the house. He is to examine the mildew on the walls, and if it has greenish or reddish depressions that appear to be deeper than the surface of the wall, the priest shall go out the doorway of the house and close it up for seven days. On the seventh day the priest shall return to inspect the house. If the mildew has spread on the walls, he is to order that the contaminated stones be torn out and thrown into an unclean place outside the town. He must have all the inside walls of the house scraped and the material that is scraped off dumped into an unclean place outside the town. Then they are to take other stones to replace these and take new clay and plaster the house. “If the mildew reappears in the house after the stones have been torn out and the house scraped and plastered, the priest is to go and examine it and, if the mildew has spread in the house, it is a destructive mildew; the house is unclean. It must be torn down-its stones, timbers and all the plaster-and taken out of the town to an unclean place. “Anyone who goes into the house while it is closed up will be unclean till evening. Anyone who sleeps or eats in the house must wash his clothes. “But if the priest comes to examine it and the mildew has not spread after the house has been plastered, he shall pronounce the house clean, because the mildew is gone. To purify the house he is to take two birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop. He shall kill one of the birds over fresh water in a clay pot. Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times. He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields outside the town. In this way he will make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.” These are the regulations for any infectious skin disease, for an itch, for mildew in clothing or in a house, and for a swelling, a rash or a bright spot, to determine when something is clean or unclean. These are the regulations for infectious skin diseases and mildew. Leviticus 14:33-56. I hope you enjoyed it! Wow!
If you did carefully read it, did you wonder what it all means? You can clearly understand the need for mildew removal – even in today’s society. How much more so in the past when there was no running water, Clorox bleach, or Pine Sol handy. It’s even understandable that there be someone who has the instructions written down and how to execute them. Today that’s our government officials (HUD, OSHA, IRS, or whoever), but in the Hebrew society, that duty fell to the priests. That’s all understandable too, but why the birds, blood, hyssop, yarn, etc? I feel certain that these all point to Christ and His meaning and purpose in our lives. Surely God cared about the living conditions of the Israelites, but Paul made it known that a phrase can have more than one meaning as is revealed in 1 Corinthians 9:
For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?”
There is both a surface and an underlying meaning as, I believe, is the case here.
The house pictures each of our lives. God warned of spreading mildews in the house. The spreading mildew is a picture of sin in our life. If our time is filled with drunkenness, sexually immorality, or some other infectious sin, God demands that we remove it entirely. This must be accomplished first by close inspection. As the priest would examine the house for spreading mildew, so it is necessary for us to continually inspect our lives for ongoing sin – if the mildew (sin) was in evidence, the measures outlined were taken. First a cleansing is accomplished – putting away the unrighteousness in our lives. If the purging is effective, we are considered cleansed of it. This is represented by the mildew that was removed with the scraping of the walls and taking out the infected parts. If however the cleansing was ineffective, the house was permanently destroyed and the remains cast into an unclean place. What a frightful picture of final judgement by a Holy God on the sins of mankind and its deserved punishment upon it. The purification rites included first the birds – the one sacrificed is a picture of Christ who was our substitutionary sacrifice. The second bird represents the sin-stained person (us).
Next, cedar wood is an aromatic wood which pictures Christ whose life was fragrant perfection and holiness. The Bible mentions Christ’s fragrance in 2 Corinthians 2:14: But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.
The hyssop was used in purification rites many times in the Bible. The hyssop was dipped into the blood mixtures and was used as a means of sprinkling it for purification and cleansing. In fact, the Tabernacle, the priests, the book of the Law, the people, everything was purified with blood:
Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words. Exodus 24:8
David prayed to God to be cleansed in this matter as described in Psalm 51.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Peter in the New Testament says the following:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:2
This pictures Christ being the purifier of our sins by the sprinkling of his own precious blood.
Scarlet is mentioned 49 (7×7) times in the Bible. Here are several of those occasions.
The men said to her, “This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. Joshua 2:17,18
Here the scarlet wool signifies freedom for those who would otherwise be destroyed in the battle of Jericho. This is a picture of our protection through the blood of Christ.
Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
The scarlet was a bright red dye produced from worms or grubs in the Middle East and is a picture of Christ’s ministry and the shedding of his blood for the removal of our sins. Jewish tradition says a piece of scarlet wool was tied to a scapegoat’s horn and outside the door of the Temple on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) – see Tractate Yoma 67a. Miraculously, the scarlet wool turned white, symbolizing God’s promise of cleansing as mentioned in Isaiah above. However, tradition goes on to say this no longer occurred during the last 40 years prior to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. This tradition explains that the Shekhina glory of God left the Temple. There were three signs which occurred to show evidence of this: 1) the western candle of the menorah refused to burn continually, 2) the doors of the Temple would open by themselves, and 3) the red wool no longer turned white. This was particularly significant because it indicated that God was no longer forgiving the sins of His people. This would coincide with the time of Christ’s ministry. After His atoning death, salvation would only come on an individual basis after acceptance of his sacrifice. It is no longer for a group or nation.
Next, the priest dipped the second, living bird, into the mixture of blood and water and then released it in an open field outside the town. Here are two other specific mentionings of a blood and water mixture in the Holy Bible:
The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. This is the one who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. 1 John 5:5-8.
The blood and water mixture was a foreshadowing of Christ’s death on the cross and the piercing of his heart. In the paper A Physician Testifies About the Crucifixion, Dr. C. Truman Davis states: “Apparently to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. The 34th verse of the 19th chapter of the Gospel according to St. John reports: ‘And immediately there came out blood and water.’ That is, there was an escape of water fluid from the sac surrounding the heart, giving postmortem evidence that Our Lord died not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure (a broken heart) due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.”
The releasing of the bird foreshadowed our loosening from the bondage of sin. The open field shows our future with Christ is open before us as we await his redemption and his leading us into the new heavens. With this assurance, we can cry aloud with joy – we are cleansed from the bondage of sin! Aren’t you ready to accept Christ as your Savior through the cleansing of His blood and a washing through His Word? For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2.
I’d like to thank Pastor Dow for correcting me on a comment I had on this page which could have put off people from wanting to read and enjoy Leviticus. Although I didn’t mean it this way, he rightly corrected my wording. If you come across something on this site which you feel isn’t right on target, please let me know about it.
If this page has helped you, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give God all the honor and glory! Remember Him as you come in and as you go out. Remember him in the presence of others. Wear him like a garment – ever praise his name!
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
1 Peter 1:18, 19
Charlie Garrett is a 47-year-old native-born Floridian, raised in Sarasota, Florida where he currently resides. He was ordained as a Minister at Grace Baptist Church in Jan 2010, and has a rare love of love languages being fluent in Hebrew, Greek, Japanese, and Korean.
Charlie spent 9 years in the United States Air Force and served all 9 years in Japan and Malaysia where he felt the Lord calling him into ministry.
He and his wife, Hideko have been married for 27 years and have two children, Tangerine who is 24 and Thor who is 23, together.
Aside from being a contributing writer for INSPIRED, Charlie has a website, www.wonderful1.com, and is also pastor for a church that meets at Turtle Beach on Siesta Key every Sunday afternoon, as well as teaches the Bible several days a week at Grace Baptist Church.
To contact Charlie directly about this devotional via email: email@example.com