[HOH update: I apologize I haven’t posted at all this week due to back-to-school reorganization! I hope this post helps me get back into the swing of things…]
This is our fourth week looking at the Hebrew word MIQVEH, a collection or gathering symbolizing hope. Our first week explained how the triune God is the Source of our Hope; our second week we dealt with hoping in the deep and definite personality of God; the third week discussed how hope can become polluted by oppression. Today we are going to discuss a pool, collection, or resevoir–MIQVEH–of hope that cannot be polluted. The third of ten times MIQVEH appears in Scripture occurs in the book of Leviticus:
“However, if the carcass of such an animal falls into a spring or a cistern, the water will still be clean. But anyone who touches the carcass will be defiled.”
Leviticus 11:36 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
In the Old Testament, there were rules about uncleanness. In many cases, uncleanness was equivalent to infection. In other cases, unclean referred figuratively to objects or behaviors that would cause the Israelites to become infected by outside influences. “Unclean” was synonymous with “contagion” and it was dealt with in an incredibly clinical (sometimes surgical) process. Those who were temporarily unclean were banned from public places and ordered to wash themselves several times before rejoining the general population in corporate worship. Those who engaged in ethical uncleanness were “cut off” from the people literally (i.e. they were put to death or forced to live outside the settlement). Anything unclean was not supposed to be touched, kept, or eaten. What is interesting about this principle is that Jesus, born into the Jewish people, seemed to completely ignore it when it was applied to people.
A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.
Mark 1:40-45 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
Lepers were considered unclean because they carried a potentially fatal and aggressively infectious skin disease. They had to announce “unclean!” wherever they went so others would not accidentally touch them and become infected. Lepers were not allowed to be touched.
The question remains: why did Jesus touch the leper? He could have healed him from a distance as with the Centurion’s servant. Jesus made a point of touching this infectious man; Mark makes a point of Jesus being moved with compassion to do it. Was Jesus breaking the Law to heal this leper by touching him? Jesus obviously cared enough about the Law of Moses to insist that the healed man present himself to the Levitical priests, so that is not possible. The key to understanding how Jesus could touch the leper and not become unclean is in our MIQVEH verse above: Jesus is the spring or cistern of water that cannot become unclean. Unlike a cistern of regular water, anything that touches this Spring of Hope (Jesus) is instantly made clean.
But the voice [from heaven] spoke [to Peter] again: “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.” …
Peter told them, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean.
Acts 10:15, 28 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the spiritual distinction between Jew and Gentile disappeared because cleansing was made available to everyone. God spoke to Peter in a vision explaining that the Jewish laws on uncleanness no longer applied in the same way because of the cleansing work of Jesus. So how exactly how did Jesus have the power or ability to clean?
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.
1 John 3:4-6 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
Jesus never sinned once. He did not break the Law, nor did He act inconsistently with the character or nature of God. He died in our place to make the “unclean” clean!
Most people recognize the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection is to provide forgiveness of sins, but Jesus wants us to do more than merely contain His life for our personal salvation. He wants to make us replicas of Himself, staying pure and pouring hope and life into the world around us. Jesus made this promise to His disciples:
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
John 3:37-39 New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.
If you and I believe in Jesus then we can become fountains of living water too: we have the power to stay clean. When we sin, we confess it to Him and He is faithful to cleanse us from it all; as He changes us, we can resist sin all the more. Jesus is the means by which we can stay perpetually clean and more than that…provide hope–healing, deliverance, refreshment, life–for the decaying world around us.
What about you? Are you a cistern, a spring, a MIQVEH of hope? Do you cry out for more of God’s Spirit in your life so that you are able to bring hope to those who are unclean and untouchable? The Holy Spirit is given to all who believe in Jesus, yet we are admonished to ask for more of Him: without Him we would be stagnant pools that become infected by every unclean thing that drops into us. We live in a fallen world with hurt people: carcasses of all sorts abound ranging from attitudes and lifestyles to devastating circumstances and broken relationships. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not become stagnant in hope when those dead things touch our lives and instead, to break through the debris of past and present hurts with unstoppable, pure, living hope?
Jesus is our MIQVEH, our Pure Hope. He died so we could be made whole and clean. If you have not accepted Him as your Source of life and hope, your Savior, then the death in the world has already infected you. Allow Him to wash you with His words and touch you with His compassion, to heal you of all the deadness and sin in your life. If you are a believer in Jesus, don’t stop up that fountain of living water in you by sinning; don’t be a Zombie Christian, decaying from the outside in, indistinguishable from the death in the world. Don’t deny the power of Jesus from touching every aspect of your life. Instead, be a fountain of living water by crying out for more of His Spirit, allowing Him to remove those carcasses within, so His life will flow through you from the inside-out.
Let’s be MIQVEHs of pure hope for the thirsty!
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