After the Levitical laws concerning clean and unclean food, the Lord gave His people some laws concerning clean and unclean persons. In this chapter, He spoke to Moses on the subject of women who had given birth to a child.
A mother was said to be made ceremonially unclean after childbirth. Why was this? Because the child was born a sinner! Adam’s imputed guilt rests upon all his posterity; and therefore, the mother was viewed as ceremonially unclean. She was to continue in a state of separation for seven days after the birth of a son; and on the eighth day, her son was to be received into the visible assembly of the people of God by receiving the symbol of circumcision.
After a total of 40 days following the birth of a son, or 80 days following the birth of a daughter, the mother was to appear before the priest. Since she was considered ceremonially unclean for having brought a sinner into the world, she was to offer a burnt offering. The burnt offering was the basis of all the other sacrifices; it was a broad recognition of all the principles of a sinner’s acceptance. She was also to present a sin offering, which was to be a pigeon or a turtledove. This was an emblem of the child’s tender years and apparent innocence, even though sin certainly lays hidden within the heart! How impressively was the mother shown that even her infant needed to be washed in Christ’s redeeming blood!
Every mother in Israel was to follow this Divinely appointed procedure. And in order that none might plead the excuse of poverty, permission was given for her to use a pigeon or a turtledove for the burnt offering, if she were unable to bring a lamb. The tender lamb and the gentle dove were both appropriate when they were offered for a little child, and the love of God was seen in extending His regard even to the poorest of parents by this arrangement. Indeed, there was a prospective reference here to Mary and Joseph’s poverty (Luke 2:22); or rather, this provision was made in order that when Jesus would be born, He might manifest, by His own poverty, that the salvation which He brings is available even for the poorest people upon earth. Truly, everywhere we look in the Book of Leviticus, we recognize the features of the same glorious Gospel! The voice here may be only a whisper, but it speaks the same truth as at other times: “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!”
After offering these sacrifices, the happy mother would return home – rejoicing in the privilege of bringing up her son or daughter to love the Lord Who had accepted her offerings!
Lord Jesus! Since Your birth into this sinful world, the sorrow of childbirth has been turned into joy; for You have made reconciliation for all our sins and iniquities, and You have brought in an everlasting righteousness. Help us to praise You for the deliverance from the yoke of ceremonial bondage, which neither we nor our forefathers were able to bear. All praises be given to You for Your mercy which saves us; for You fulfilled the whole law, and even died upon the cross, for the salvation of Your people! Since You have made us new creatures, give us grace to walk as Your blood-bought children; and let Your peace and mercy be upon us! Amen.
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