Through the years, I have been blessed to know a great deal of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. I have been exposed to many schools of thought on a host of topics. This opportunity has allowed me to consider things that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
One particular example came to mind as I read the Scriptures recently. Some longtime friends of mine always amazed me by their approach to even the slightest misfortune. If one of them were to trip, or to stub their toe, etc., they would say, "That was God punishing me for an evil thought."
They are not alone. Many Christians believe similarly, in varying degrees, that all ill comes as a rebuke from God.
At the other extreme, a great many Christians blame the devil for every little thing that crosses their path. If there is an accounting error on the bank statement, it's an attack of Satan.
I have long considered that life's little problems can come from a variety of sources, for various reasons. Yes, God can bring us into trials to strengthen and purify us. And yes, He can bring great trouble upon His children as a result of rebellion.
Likewise, Satan can attack the righteous, as well as plague the wicked. Also, life, on its own, is not without its inherent difficulties that are not the result of any particular intervention: divine or demonic. And let us not forget the flesh's own propensity for trouble, regardless of provocation or motivation.
In the Book of Leviticus, I read, "And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When ye be come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put the plague of leprosy in a house of the land of your possession; And he that owneth the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, It seemeth to me there is as it were a plague in the house: Then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest go into it to see the plague, that all that is in the house be not made unclean: and afterward the priest shall go in to see the house..." (Lev. 14:33-36). The passage goes on in extensive detail of what the law says regarding how to determine whether or not the house is unclean, and the steps which must be taken for its cleansing.
Much study has been conducted as to what exactly this "leprosy" was: whether it refers to what we call leprosy, or if it has a more general usage here, describing several conditions. What is most fascinating to me here is the source of the plague.
The Lord said, when "I put the plague of leprosy in a house." If we take this in the spiritual sense, and apply it to either our own household or to our church congregation, we would be inclined to blame the Adversary, Satan, for any uncleanness or hindrance. Immediately, a prayer meeting would be called to bind and rebuke Satan (a biblically dubious practice in of itself). But what if those prayers are altogether misguided in the first place? What if the obstruction is not a result of evil forces, but God has brought a "plague of leprosy" on our house?
The truth here expressed is that all phenomena are ultimately the consequence of Divine will. As the Lord spake by the prophet Amos, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?" (Amos 3:6). And in Isaiah 45:5-7, the Lord said, "I am the Lord , and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."
When Satan came against righteous Job, the great patriarch did not respond by rebuking him and binding him. He knew that his life was in the hand's of Jehovah. We would do well to learn a lesson from the archangel Michael, and let the Lord rebuke Satan (Jude 1:9). Meanwhile, we should heed the exhortation to resist the devil (James 4:7).
And what if we have found something in our house that concerns us? What if we suspect some uncleanness? Under the law, you would bring it to the attention of the priest. If he determined that the house was leprous, they would remove the unclean part, and replace it. If, then, the house was pronounced clean, then a sacrifice was to be made. The sacrifice, like the one for the leper himself, required two birds (one to be slain, one to be released), cedar wood, scarlet, hyssop, running water and an earthen vessel (Lev. 14:49-53).
That sacrifice was made almost 2000 years ago by our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the "bird" that was slain, in the earthen vessel of His body, over the running water which flowed from his side. He was crucified on a cross of cedar, having a scarlet robe which was divided among the soldiers, and was offered vinegar to drink from a sponge on hyssop. At the foot of the cross, none but John remained of His disciples. This "living bird," dipped in the blood of Jesus the slain bird for the redemption of his sins, would be called on by our Lord to declare the Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Church, the House of God, by which our house will be cleansed, if we let Him declare unto us, as unto the seven churches of Asia, that which He has against us.
The price for the cleansing of our house has been paid. Let us incline our hearts unto God, and humble ourselves, and seek His face. No matter what has prevented us from attaining unto the perfection to which we are called, if we will but cry out to Him, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," surely, the Lord will put forth His hand, and touch us, and say, "I will: be thou clean."