Parshat Metzora – Skin Disease

Parashat Metzora

Leviticus 14:1 – 15:33

2 Kings 7:3-20

Matthew 9:20-26

Mark 5:24-34

Luke 8:42-48

Hebrews 13:4

 

A brief over-view:

 

This Torah portion from Leviticus covers the purification of people and houses after their skin and/or mould infections have been cleared.  In both cases there are prescribed sacrifices which is to be brought with cedar wood, scarlet and hyssop.  In both cases one animal is sacrificed over “living” water whilst a second identical animal is immerged or sprinkled with the water and then set free, similar to the Yom Kippur sacrifices in a clear prophetic reference to the choice between Yeshua Ha’Mashiach aka Jesus Christ and Jesus Barabbas.

 

The Haphtarah portion from the 2nd Book of Kings continues the Aram vs. Israel saga that follows much to our surprise the healing of Naaman.

 

All 3 the Gospel portions is about the woman who long suffered from a blood discharge and who was healed by touching Yeshua’s garments.

 

The verse from the letter addressed to the Hebrew believers states that marriage vows are sacred.

 

Does living water be-dripped with fresh blood, cedar wood, a bit of scarlet string and a hyssop twig really “buy” freedom?

 

In Leviticus 14: 4-32 & 14:33-57 are parallel requirements for the purification somebody who are healed from Tza’arat (leprosy) and for a house that is cleansed from a vile mould.  The parallel doesn’t stop there, it rings in harmony with the sacrifice of a red heifer who’s ashes are used to purify priests for service in the Holy Temple (Num. 19:1-10) for the dedication of the priests (Lev. 8:23-24) and the Yom Kippur sacrifice of 2 goats (Lev. 16:3-34).   All of these points towards the choice (to be) made between Yeshua Ha’Mashiach also known as (aka) Jesus the Christ and Jesus Barabbas under the chairmanship of Pontius Pilate.  All of this is of great Spiritual significance.

 

Will our short-term future see the 2nd last round of the Aram vs. Israel saga?

 

The passages from 2 Kings 5:1 to 2 Kings 13:25 convey the entire saga.  In last week’s reading we learnt about Naaman’s leprosy and his miracle healing and subsequent conversion to faith in the One True GOD of Israel, through the guidance given by Prophet Elisha.  Naaman returned to Aram a new man.  Last week, I failed to mention the concept of “Holy Ground”:  Naaman took two mule-loads of Israeli soil with him, back to Damascus.  The concept originates with Moses standing on Holy ground at the burning bush.  Israel still is and has been known as the Holy Land, hence Naaman’s request for soil.  It is not clear of Naaman used the soil to construct his own place of prayer and sacrifice or whether he placed the soil in Rimmon’s temple so that he will kneel on Holy ground when he accompanied Ben Hadad 2 in the latter’s worship.

 

After 2 “rabbit holes” in the text which we avoid for contingency’s sake, the saga continues with Ben Hadad 2 the king of Aram plotting war against Israel.

 

Also a brief reminder that Israel (the Northern Tribes) king Jehoram’s (aka Joram in other texts) was the son of evil king Ahab and Baal-serving queen Jezebel.  Jezebel was a princess from Tyre, (Lebanon today) another neighbour of Aram (Syria).

 

The scriptures does not tell us what happened to General Naaman upon his return to Damascus in Aram, but I can hardly imagine that he lead the Aramean army against Israel.  I guess that after his conversion, he lacked the bloodlust to lead these military campaigns against the Chosen People.  Two possibilities are to be considered:  Either he retired peacefully or Ban Hadad 2 perceived his changed heart as betrayal and had him executed.

 

Either way, the spiritual enemy that vile snake of old had his way with the heathen king.  Naaman’s testimony had left him cold, he chose to continue in his evil ways:  Ben Hadad lusted for Israel’s crops and wealth and ordered several invasions into Israel – the Golan Heights was a troublesome area even back then.  With each military campaign, the Prophet Elisha warned King Jehoram where the Aramean army will target.  In each case, Israel has been able to defend their territory successfully.  Modern Israel’s Northern enemies will do well in avoiding defeat and humiliation if they study this text in Leviticus.  The Ezekiel 38-39 war may happen before September 2021 and having not studied the Torah will cost them dearly.

 

Ben Hadad realised his lack of military success was beyond coincidence.  He suspected a traitor amongst his military officers.  One amongst them remembered Naaman’s testimony and knew that Elisha the Prophet of GOD made the difference.  Ben Hadad 2 should have heeded the warning, but his heart was hardened and his mind was closed in his resolve, the demon Rimmon blinded him with hatred.  Ben Hadad 2 devised a plot to abduct Elisha, a covert insurgence targeting the Prophet.

 

The Heavenlies probably had a good laugh at Ben Hadad 2.  All his raids were blocked and yet he thought that he could sneak below GOD’s radar to capture Elisha.   How foolhardy can you get!  The cover of darkness is like the light of day to our LORD.  The insurgents thought that they were successful when they reach Dothan and surrounded the city.  At daybreak Elisha went out to greet them.  His new servant who had recently replaced Gehazi had much to learn.  He gauged at the hordes from Aram and exclaimed “Alas!” – Even he thought that the GOD of Israel was night-blind.  Elisha suppressed a laugh and calmed the servant’s nerves:  “Fear not!” take a deep breath, he said.  Elisha knew that Adonai Tza’vaot’s army was in attendance.  In King David’s days, a single Angel slaughtered 186,000 men in 1 day, with an army of Angels in attendance it will be a very short battle once it commenced.  However, the LORD’s army held back and will do so until the Ezekiel War commences – that will be a brief but bloody affair.

 

Elisha prayed 2 short prayers:  First for his new servant’s eyes to be opened to see the LORD’s army, and second for GOD to bring a temporary blindness upon Hadad’s horde.  Short prayers are powerful.  Elisha’s prayers were answered.  Elisha led his blinded captives to King Jehoram who, not for the first time, did not know what he should do.  At least this time, he respectfully (addressing Elisha as “Avi” or “My Father”) asked for GOD’s guidance.  After a breakfast meal, Hadad’s band was send packing and they returned to their king with their tails between their legs.  GOD send a clear message to Aram to stop their saga.  They could never win.  That warning has not expired.

 

Ben Hadad the 2nd, the King of Aram failed to heed the warning.  He did his evil god’s Rimmon’s bidding, declaring another onslaught against Israel and against GOD.  He struck out against Samaria, the capital city of (the Northern Tribes’) Israel.  Aram cut off the supply lines and a severe famine set in – so bad that a donkey’s head sold for 80 pieces of silver and pigeon droppings for 5.  I’ll bite my tongue not to joke about this, except to state that it was not Kosher.  In truth such a famine is hard to imagine.  The German blockade of Leningrad (1941-1944) during the 2nd World War may be the closest modern-day equivalent.  The biography of the famous Russian composer Shoshakovitz describes the horror of it.  However, the Biblical account of 2 women who ate their babies in order to survive Ben Hadad’s blockade of Samaria is even more horrid than that – do you remember Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer Prize photograph of vultures waiting to dispatch a toddler in Sudan in 1993?   Well, this famine in Samaria was worse.

 

True to form and family history, Israel’s king Jehoram the son of Ahab blamed GOD for the calamity and turned viciously onto the Prophet Elisha.  Jehoram demanded Elisha’s head.  Jehoram dismally failed the test GOD brought to him, after a life-time of schooling for him to trust in Adonai.  Ever faithful, Elisha forecast was a dramatic drop in food inflation by the morning of the next day.  Food will be plentiful he said, there is a huge bubble in the market.  Elisha knew GOD’s salvation plan.

 

“GOD is in the detail”, or so an ancient saying stated before it was corrupted by the evil one.  Just as HE delivered HIS people in the past by turning enemies upon themselves, GOD did it again.  On this occasion, HE chose 4 lepers to discover HIS salvation of Israel.  GOD could have chosen members of the Royalty or the local Faculty of Theology if HE wanted, but that would be out of character for the ONE True Constant of all time.  HE brought the Good News through the social outcasts, through the ones who completely depended on HIM, the desperate ones in the trenches outside the city gates.   The prominent sceptic was trampled at the gate.

 

Our GOD saves!  And HE will do it again.  We live in a time where the NWO enemy has surrounded us on all sides.  I expect that very soon, they will only allow people who bear their Mark, their Green Passport, their ID2020 to trade and to eat.  For the believers who are not the Bride of Christ, i.e. those who will not be raptured, will face a dire situation just like Samaria faced under Jehoram.  The evil Hadad of our time has made his plans for years and he uses the mass-media and scare tactics of engineered pestilence and plagues to pin us down.  Those believers’ modern day “kings” and leaders will turn upon them, just like Jehoram turned upon Elisha.  During the Tribulation, believers who are left behind will probably have to die for their faith, or at least be willing to die in order to be saved.  But fear not!  Our GOD saves.  The first death is nothing to be feared.  True life comes only there-after.

 

The Aram-Israel saga still awaits its conclusion.  GOD brought about a 7-year drought.  At the end of it, King Jehoram sought an audience with the leper Gehazi, humbled now or maybe just curious he turned to Elisha’s former salve to learn what great GODly things transgressed, which escaped his former arrogant self-centeredness.  However, the Prophet is not to be found by him.  They are two people from opposite ends of the social stratosphere both realised that they missed their chances to know the GOD of Israel through HIS Prophet.

 

At the same time, Elisha was called to visit the old enemy, King Ben Hadad 2 in Aram.  Sickly Ben Hadad made a last attempt to buy healing, no doubt remembering Naaman’s healing.  However the Prophet appointed a new even crueller man, Hazael the king’s messenger, to be the new king of Aram.  Ben Hadad received what he paid for and then died, suffocating at Hazael hands.   Israel’s king Jehoram eventually died from wounds inflicted upon him in a battle against Hazael.  We read that an ageing Elisha send a messenger to anoint Jehu to clean Israel of Ahab’s (other) descendants before tasking the newly appointed King Joash to strike the ground with some arrows.  In a text to be delved into (2 Kings 13:11-25), Joash disappointed by striking the ground only 3 times.  Aram’s Hazael passed on and his son Ban Hadad the 3rd was defeated (only) 3 times by Joash.  Israeli cities lost to Aram under Hazael, was liberated then.

 

We learn much from this saga – it is a template of the coming war as described by Daniel, John and others in their writings.  When this happens, we should take comfort that Yeshua Ha’Mashiach told us in Matthew 24 that these things must happen.  Let us keep our faith in the ONE True GOD as HE is mighty to save!  Amen.