Sermon #301 Leviticus Sermons
Title: Fallen Man—An Unclean Thing
Text: Leviticus 12:1-8
Subject: Sin Imputed and Transmitted
Tape # W-91b
Reading: Romans 5:1-21
Nothing in all the world is more delightful than the birth of a child. Nothing is more celebrated. A young lady looks forward to becoming a mother from her earliest days. Nothing gives her greater satisfaction and fulfillment as a woman than bearing her husband’s child. That is as it should be.
The young couple eagerly anticipates the day with great joy. The grand parents are just as anxious, maybe more so. Nothing brings a woman into greater physical sorrow and pain than the travail of giving birth to a child. Yet, she is anxious to do it. Her entire family and her friends rejoice as the day nears.
(John 16:21) "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world."
Yet, throughout the Scriptures, sin, defilement, and uncleanness are always associated with the birth of a child. We see this most clearly in Leviticus 12. What an instructive passage this is! Read it with me.
(Leviticus 12) "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (2) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. (3) And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. (4) And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. (5) But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. (6) And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: (7) Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. (8) And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean."
Isaiah must have had this passage in mind when he spoke of the human race in Isaiah 64:6.
(Isaiah 64:6) "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
(Job 25:4) Bildad asked, "How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?"
(Psalms 51:5) "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Proposition: These eight verses tell us that fallen man is an unclean thing; and that our great God has provided for the cleansing of unclean, vile, filthy sinner, such as we are.
(Zechariah 13:1) "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."
“There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains!”
Humbling and Comforting
Leviticus 12 is both deeply humbling and divinely comforting. The effect of all Scripture, when applied to our souls by the efficacious power and grace of God the Holy Spirit, is to lead us out of ourselves to Christ. Wherever man appears— at whatever stage of life we contemplate our nature, whether in conception, at birth, or at any point along the way, from the womb to the tomb, our entire existence, our entire being wears the double stamp of helplessness and corruption.
What poor, helpless creatures we are! We don’t like to admit it. We try hard to suppress every thought of it. And it is sometimes, forgotten amid the glitter and glare, the pomp and fashion, the wealth and splendor of life. We have many devices by which we try to cover what we are. We wear gaudy ornaments, gild ourselves with gold and silver and precious stones, and try to put on the appearance of strength, beauty, importance, and glory. But it is all a vain show.
(Psalms 39:4-6) "LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. (5) Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. (6) Surely every man walketh in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them."
The glory of man is vanity. The pride of man is a hollow reed. We all enter into this world in exactly the same condition and leave it in exactly the same way. We come in naked and helpless and make our exit much the same way, possessing nothing and totally alone, we go back to the dust.
As Bro. Scott Richardson so ably said, “Life in this world begins with a slap on the bottom and ends with a shovel full of dirt in your face; and there’s nothing between but bumps and bruises.” They whose paths through this world are brightened by what man calls greatness and wealth, leave here just like everyone else, in nakedness. Helplessly they retreat like all others amid disease and death.
There is something worse, far worse than our helplessness. There is something worse, far worse than the emptiness of our vain lives. We are as corrupt as we are helpless. Our lives are as defiled as they are empty. We are a sinful race. Our race, the entire human race, is “an unclean thing!”
(Psalms 14:1-3) "… They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. (2) The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. (3) They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
(Romans 3:12) "They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
In this 12th chapter of Leviticus, the Holy Spirit shows us that the birth of a child, be it male or female, is the birth of one so corrupt, so defiled, so unclean, that the woman through whose womb the child was born was made ceremonially unclean by the law. In language that cannot be misunderstood, the Holy Spirit here teaches us that man is “an unclean thing.”
In a word — We are a people in need of atonement, cleansing, and grace. Here is the comfort of our text. While laying us in the dust of humiliation, portraying our helplessness and uncleanness, it points us to the gracious works of God in redemption and regeneration by which unclean sinners are made clean before him. While exposing man’s ruin, Leviticus 12 also declares God’s remedy for our ruin.
There are four things distinctly set before us in theses eight verses.
I. First, we are all sinners in need of grace (vv. 1-2).
(Leviticus 12:1-2) "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (2) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean."
The woman, under the law, was made ceremonially unclean by the birth of a child, be it male or female. Why? Because every child born into this world (except he who was born of a virgin) is born a sinner, unclean before God. After giving birth to the unclean, the unclean woman was to be separated from the congregation for a specified period of uncleanness—Seven days for a son—Two weeks for a daughter.
Without question, this law and the instructions here given concerning the birth of a child were intended by God to teach Israel of old and the Israel of God today three specific things.
A. By this means, the Lord our God constantly holds before his people the sin and fall of our father Adam.
Every time a woman is in travail with child, every time a child breaks the womb, every time a newborn baby cries in a burst of life, we ought, like the Jewish women of old, while in the days of their separation, hear the Lord our God saying, “Thy first father hath sinned” (Isa. 43:27).
B. Not only did our father Adam sin in the garden, we sinned in him.
(Romans 5:12) "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
· Adam’s sin was imputed to the entire human race.
· Adam’s sin is transmitted from generation to generation in the seed of fallen men and through the wombs of fallen women.
C. Sin separates us from God.
Adam and Eve were driven from the garden because of sin. The woman was ceremonially unclean and held in separation from all that was ceremonially holy who gave birth to a child because she brought forth that which was unclean. — “We are as an unclean thing!”
Every man tries hard to convince himself that he is clean, that he can do that which is righteous and good; but at heart, in the core of your being, you know that you are unclean. When you have elated yourself with high thoughts, when your pride swells with a sense of accomplishment, when you are “humbled” with your proud sense of having done something good, your conscience screams, “Unclean! Unclean! Unclean!” In doing so, it echoes the testimony of God’s holy law.
(Isaiah 64:6) "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
(Ephesians 2:1-4) "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,"
II. Second, the Lord our God, the God of all grace, makes sinners clean by the operation of his almighty grace (vv. 3-5).
(Leviticus 12:3-5) "And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. 5 But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days."
In the ceremonial law by which the male child was ceremonially made clean and brought into a covenant relationship with God we are given a picture of the new birth, a picture of the regenerating grace and saving operations of God the Holy Spirit.
(Philippians 3:3) "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
(Colossians 2:11-12) "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (12) Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."
A. Circumcision was an act of ceremonial cleansing and purification.
· It was the sign and seal of God’s covenant.
· It was a sign of righteousness imputed (Rom. 4:11).
(Romans 4:11) "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:"
Note: Abraham was righteous before he was circumcised. Circumcision did not make him righteous. And circumcision did not portray the way God made him righteous. Circumcision was a sign of righteousness received by faith.
· Circumcision was performed upon a child by the hands of another. – It was something done to him, not something he did. – It was not something for which a boy volunteered, but something for which another volunteered him.
B. In all these things circumcision typified the new birth, the work of God the Holy Spirit in the hearts of chosen, redeemed sinners.
Circumcision portrayed the experience of grace.
· Like circumcision, the new birth is a painful thing.
· Like circumcision, the new birth is distinguishing.
· Like circumcision, the new birth is permanent.
· Like circumcision, the new birth seals us in the covenant and seals the covenant to us.
· Like circumcision, the new birth is a sign of righteousness.
· Like circumcision, the new birth is cleansing.
(Titus 3:3-7) "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. (4) But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, (5) Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (6) Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; (7) That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
· Like circumcision, the new birth is something done to us by another, the work of God wrought in us.
· Like circumcision, the new birth is something for which we are volunteered by our Father, not something for which we volunteer ourselves!
(John 1:11-13) "He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (13) Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
(James 1:18) "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
· As circumcision was always performed on the eighth day, when the fullness of time was come, after the completion of seven (grace) days, so the new birth is wrought in each of God’s elect on the eighth day, when the fullness of time is come.
(Galatians 4:4-6) "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, (5) To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (6) And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
C. After the birth of her son every Jewish woman was required, under the Mosaic law, to keep forty days of separation from the holy things, called “the days of her purifying.”
I am certain that I have not yet grasped all that God has put into those words; but I am equally certain that “the days of her purifying” were neither accidental nor insignificant.
1. God’s wrath was poured out in judgment upon the earth for forty days. It rained for forty days (Gen. 7:4, 12, 17). – Sin Judged!
2. Moses was in Mount Sinai for forty days (Ex. 24:18; 34:28). – Sin Identified, Exposed and Condemned!
3. Israel searched out Canaan for forty days (Num. 13:25). – Grace Revealed and Despised!
4. Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years (one year for every day they spied out the land) because they believed not God (Num. 14:33-34). – Our wilderness lasts just as long as our unbelief!
5. Goliath berated Israel for forty days, while Israel trembled in unbelief (1 Sam. 17:16). – Satan and sin, guilt and condemnation, berate our souls and make us tremble like the giant did Israel until we see our great David slay the giant.
6. When Elijah fled from Jezebel like a scared rabbit, he was made to see that he was no better than his fathers. He sat down under a juniper tree and wished to die. – When he saw his nothingness, his weakness, his sin, the Angel of the Lord (the Lord Jesus Christ) appeared to him, commanded him to arise, fed him with bread and water, and he walked in the strength of that bread for forty days, all the way to Horeb, the mount of God (1 Kings 19:1-8).
7. Ezekiel was commanded of God to lay on his right side, bearing the sins of Judah, for forty days (Ezek. 4:6).
8. Nineveh was under the sentence of death for forty days (Jonah 3:4). – Conviction and Repentance!
9. Our blessed Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit of God and tempted of the devil for forty days (Matt. 4:2).
10. There were forty days between the resurrection of our Redeemer and his ascension into glory (Acts 1:3).
Let me indulge in a little speculation. It is no more than that, just a speculation. I am not smart enough to have thought of it myself; but I do find it interesting. It was suggested by Andrew Bonar that as our Lord Jesus Christ (the second Adam) was on the earth forty days after his resurrection (after he restored that which he took not away), so it may have been that Adam and Eve remained only forty days in innocence before the fall. This is certain, every time “forty days” is used in the Scriptures it seems to be like the ringing of a great bell to remind us of two things. – Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained! – Bondage and Liberty! – Sin and Salvation! – Death and Life!
D. When a Jewish mother gave birth to a daughter, the days of her purification were doubled (v. 5).
(Leviticus 12:5) "But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days."
We are not told why this was the case.
· Perhaps it was because the woman was the first transgressor and led Adam into transgression.
(1 Timothy 2:14) "And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
· Perhaps it was because the woman is the weaker vessel. – The serpent beguiled Eve, not Adam (2 Cor. 11:3).
(1 Peter 3:7) "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."
· Perhaps it was to remind every woman and all who observed the ordinance of God of the fall (“In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children!”), and of God’s promise even to her and to us all. – Even to the daughters of Eve as to the sons of Adam, God has promised to all who believe, “She shall be saved in child bearing” (1 Tim. 2:14-15).
III. Third, oh, how I want you to see this, the Lord our God condescends to meet sinners in grace where they are (vv. 6-8). – Grace does not wait for us to rise. Grace comes down to us!
(Leviticus 12:6-8) "And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: (7) Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. (8) And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean."
The woman’s uncleanness brought her to the altar at the appointed time. She came with a burnt offering and a sin offering, an offering for atonement and an offering of consecration. She brought the sacrifice God required, the sacrifice God provided, to the place God appointed, and offered it by the hands of the priest God accepted.
Every Jewish mother was required to do this, the rich and the poor. Now watch this. – The Lord God graciously condescended in magnificent mercy and love to the needs of the sinner. If the woman was too poor to bring a lamb, she could bring a pair of turtledoves or a pair of pigeons!
A. The only remedy for our ruin, the only cleansing for our corruption, the only deliverance from our defilement is the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, represented in these sacrifices.
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
Oh! Precious is the flow that makes me white as snow!
No other fount I know! Nothing but the blood of Jesus!”
B. Wherever Christ’s glorious, sin-atoning work is apprehended by faith, perfect cleansing is enjoyed.
The apprehension of faith may be feeble—the faith may be but the wavering finger that touches the Master’s garment—the experience of faith may be shallow; but it is not the depth of our experience, the stability of our faith, or the strength of our apprehension that gives us acceptance with God. Rather, our acceptance, our atonement, our cleansing, our forgiveness lies altogether in the merit, value, and efficacy of our Sacrifice! Get hold of this and you will find rest for your soul, peace for your heart, and joy in believing!
C. The sacrifice of the Christ is the same to every member of the God’s Israel.
It matters not who you are, what you have, or what your status is. God requires the same sacrifice from every sinner who comes to him for cleansing. The tenderness, compassion, love, and grace of our all-merciful God are seen in the fact that the blood of a turtledove was as efficacious for the poor, as the blood of a lamb for the rich. It was not the animal that mattered, but him of whom the animal spoke—Christ!
We see the same thing in the case of the leper in the case of the leper, in chapter 14: “And if he be poor and cannot get so much, then he shall take…And he shall offer the one of the turtle doves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get; even such as he is able to get…his is the law of him in whom is the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get that which pertaineth to his cleansing.” (vv. 21, 30-32)
D. God’s grace condescends to our need!
How I love those words, “If he be poor! – If she be not able!” Grace comes to those who are poor and helpless. When we cannot bring a sacrifice to God, grace brings God’s Sacrifice to us!
(Isaiah 46:13) "I bring near my righteousness: it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory."
(Isaiah 55:1) "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price."
(Romans 4:5) "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
(Romans 10:1-9) "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith (Be sure to get this in its context. Paul is talking about righteousness, the righteousness obtained by faith in Christ.) speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) (That is to say, “Who shall bring down righteousness to the earth? Who shall perform righteousness”) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) (That is to say, “Who shall satisfy the wrath and justice of God?”) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
IV.Now, let me show you one more delightful thing revealed in this chapter, compare verse 8 with Luke 2:24, and you will see that the Lord Jesus Christ is particularly and distinctly the Savior of the poor!
(Leviticus 12:8) "And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean."
(Luke 2:21-24) "And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. (22) And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (23) (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) (24) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
Oh, hear this and rejoice—The Lord of Glory, the Son of God, the Christ I am preaching to you is specifically, distinctly and only the Savior of the poor! – Not the poor in purse, but the poor in spirit! -- He will never save a rich man! – But he will never refuse to save a poor sinner!
(2 Corinthians 8:9) "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."
· He humbled himself that we might be exalted!
· He emptied himself that we might be filled!
· He stripped himself that we might be clothed!
· He became poor that we might through his poverty be made rich.
· He traveled all the way down from the height of heaven’s wealth and glory to the ruin of our poverty and condemnation that he might lift us up from the dunghill of fallen humanity to sit as princes with him in glory!
· He died that we might live!
O Spirit of God, ever make it our joy to feed upon this precious blood, redemption and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which we have been made rich for time and for eternity! Oh! May the experience and knowledge of this grace, wrought in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit constrain us to an unreserved surrender of ourselves to him who loved us and gave himself for us, to whom we owe our present and everlasting blessedness, our riches, our life, our all!
 Throughout the New Testament we are taught that the circumcision of the Old Testament was a picture, type and symbol of the new birth. Nowhere is there the slightest indication that circumcision was the Old Testament equivalent of New Testament baptism.
 As we shall see in the next section of this chapter, circumcision preceded atonement under the law in the experience of the child because atonement cannot be known until the chosen, redeemed sinner is born again. Then, when faith is given, the Holy Spirit sprinkles the sin-atoning blood of Christ upon the heart. Yet, just as surely as atonement was made for the child on that night when God passed through Egypt in judgment and passed over Israel because his eye was on the blood, so atonement was made for us and righteousness was accomplished for us when Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us at Calvary!
1 Danville (AM-03/17/02)—Todds Road Grace Church, Lexington, KY (Wednesday-03/27/02)