“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.”
Priests were responsible for the health of the camp, so it was their duty to expel and readmit people with leprosy. If someone’s leprosy appeared to go away, only the priest could decide if that person was truly cured. The “serious skin disease” in Leviticus 13:2 referred to several different diseases, including leprosy, and was greatly feared in Bible times. Unlike the disease we call leprosy or Hansen’s disease today, some of these diseases were highly contagious. The worst of them slowly ruined the body and were fatal in most cases. Those who contracted one of these diseases were separated from their families and friends and quarantined outside the camp.
Leprosy is a fitting metaphor for sin. Just like leprosy, sin is contagious. It separated Adam and Eve from God and from each other. It spread from Eve to Adam, then to their sons, and eventually to all of humanity. Like leprosy, sin destroys our bodies with death and brings curses upon the creation we come into contact with as well. Sin is exceedingly ugly and deforming.
For all these reasons, Paul encouraged churches to remove unrepentant people from the community (1 Corinthians 5). Sin will spread, dividing and eventually destroying a church when it is ignored.
Is there sin in your life or your church community that has not been confessed? How is it deforming your life or the lives of others around you? Are you willing to take sin as seriously as God does? What would that look like for you?