“The priest is to take some of the blood from the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot.”
Leviticus 14:14 CSB
“From the oil remaining in his palm the priest will put some on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.”
Leviticus 14:17 CSB
“What is left of the oil in the priest’s palm he is to put on the head of the one to be cleansed to make atonement for him before the Lord.”
Leviticus 14:29 CSB
Through the Bible: Leviticus 14-15
Back in Exodus 29, we read about the consecration ritual for Aaron, the high priest. He was to be anointed with oil on his head (Exodus 29:7). After this, Aaron and all his sons were to be set apart for the priesthood by having some blood from the sacrifice placed on their ears, thumbs, and big toes (Exodus 29:10).
I did a double take in today’s reading when I read that the nearly identical ritual was used for cleansing someone with leprosy. Then, I did a triple take when I realized that the only difference between Leviticus 14:1-17 and Leviticus 14:18-32 is whether the one to be cleansed can afford a ram, a lamb, or just two turtledoves or pigeons. And regardless of the economic status of the one to be cleansed, everyone was anointed with the same olive oil (compare vs. 17-18; 28-29).
Throughout the Old Testament, kings, priests, and prophets were anointed with oil. God told Samuel to anoint David to become king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:3). God told Moses to anoint the priests in Leviticus 8:30. God told Elijah to anoint Jehu to be king, and Elisha to be a prophet (1 Kings 19:16)
As far as I can tell, the command to put oil on the head of a cleansed leper is the ONLY time in the Old Testament that anyone other than a prophet, priest, or king is anointed with oil.
What are we supposed to take away from this?
- Cleansing and Consecration go hand in hand. To be cleansed from sin or sickness means we are set apart for ministry. I love that in Leviticus 14:17, the oil of sanctification is placed on top of the blood of the guilt offering. When we are saved, we are immediately set apart. When we are cleansed, we are also consecrated.
- Cleansing and Consecration are complete. The ear, the thumb, and the big toe represented the entire body. Your sin is atoned for from head to toe. Your total life is set apart for service.
- Cleansing and Consecration are available to all. God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). In Leviticus 14, rich lepers and poor lepers were equally in need of cleansing, and they had equal access to healing. What a gracious God we serve, that our forgiveness of sin and our sanctification for service will never depend on what we bring to the altar!
- Every Christian is set apart for service. Though there are different roles to play and different ministries to fulfill, every follower of Jesus is commissioned for ministry. Prophet, priest, king, and leper.
Rich and poor
Blood and oil.
Head to toe.