Rituals for Purification

Open Your Bible

Leviticus 14:19-57, Leviticus 15:1-33, Matthew 9:20-22

Well, we’ve reached that part of Leviticus. We’re deep in the rules of worship, ancient rituals that can feel weird and distant from our own practice of faith. I know when I’ve tried to read the Bible straight through, this is the part where I usually get bogged down and look for something more relatable. It’s tempting to skim through all these regulations, but if we stick with it, we learn to see one of Jesus’s miracles in a whole new light.

So, what’s the deal with all this bodily-fluid talk? We know the ancient Israelite culture was focused on family legacies, going all the way back to Abraham’s first promise. Stories of children born in extraordinary circumstances are all over Scripture. So perhaps these rules reflect how seriously this culture took the foundations of life. It’s important to notice that these rituals treat sex with respect, not shame, and that unclean is a temporary state, not an entire identity.

Unfortunately, it was entirely possible for this law to bar someone from worship indefinitely. This must have been the case for the woman who sought Jesus after twelve years with a bleeding disorder. According to the law, she was unclean for all of those twelve years (Matthew 9:20–22). Anything and anyone who touched her would become unclean. Her only hope was for her bleeding to heal, and even then, the law required a waiting period and a sacrifice to fully restore her to community worship (Leviticus 15:25–30). For twelve years, through no fault of her own, she was isolated from her community and perhaps, in her eyes, God.

So imagine this woman hearing stories of a traveling healer. Imagine the longing as she spots him and melts into the crowd, too ashamed to ask for help, careful not to let anyone touch her and become defiled. Imagine her quietly slipping up behind Jesus and brushing her fingers on the edge of his robe, hoping that maybe, just maybe, this could make her well.

When we know the gravity of the law and her culture, we can see just how bold she is and the radical kindness in Jesus’s response. He doesn’t rebuke her for contaminating him. He does not treat her like something ugly and unclean. He calls her “daughter” and offers her the words she longed to hear: “Your faith has saved you” (Matthew 9:22).

How often have we seen stories like hers play out, where a good law meant to bind a community together becomes used to divide and dehumanize? It’s a story we’ve seen replay over and over in history, but once again, Jesus offers us a better way. Where human efforts can make us clean, Jesus can make us whole.

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42 thoughts on "Rituals for Purification"

  1. Brandy Deruso says:

    Lord I thank you for all you do for you are good and your mercy is everlasting.

  2. Chloe Andreanna <3 says:

    This is so true, most especially in our culture today with traditions and rituals that are based on anything other than God’s teachings. Amen!

  3. Mercy says:

    Praying for you dear Ash H. And Mae.

  4. Marcey Thomas says:

    This I understand, thank you!

  5. Aleiya Wright says:

    Great job on the summary/ take away for this page. I love that last sentence too, where human efforts can make you clean, Christ can make you whole.

  6. Kimberly Z says:

    Mae so sorry about your wallet. I had my car broken into once and wallet stolen. I know it’s such a violating and frustrating experience.

  7. Kimberly Z says:

    Amen I completely agree. I am not always great about reaching out to God even though he is always there. ❤️

  8. Ash H. says:

    Hi everyone! Little update on my nephew Milo: he is doing great. Most of the intense chemo is finished and he’s moving into a more manageable maintenance phase. He’s even back in school!
    If I could ask for prayer over my little family of 5: my youngest son had a minor surgery on Monday but he has Down syndrome, which puts him at higher risk for complications. While getting him situated, my daughter broke her elbow yesterday at gymnastics. We’re working on pain management for both kids, while all 3 kids are on Fall Break.
    I’m running a bit on empty but grateful to have them home together.
    Prayers for endurance and healing are appreciated.

  9. Victoria E says:

    Susan Lincks I am praying for you. I have been meaning to post this for a few days now but haven’t. GramsieSue I pray that your husbands appointment went well and for traveling mercies. I pray for many of the other requests here and humbly add my own – I am totally overwhelmed (in a good way if that is possible but overwhelmed nonetheless ) trying to balance work, family, personal/ health issues. Some of it is my perfectionism at work but some of it is real (1.5 hour commute each way and a 6 month sleep regression). Please pray for me sisters I don’t even know what I need exactly bur God does. Thank you

  10. Mae says:

    [Sorry if I already posted this, but looks like I didn’t finish :( ] This book of the Bible is way hard to grasp at times, but thank you all for your insights, and to SRT for tackling it.

    I would like to ask for prayer, as my wallet was stolen last week, practically right under my nose! There is so much stress and time involved in the aftermath, and my self-doubt, feeling dumb..ugh. I believe ‘no weapon formed against me will prosper’, but I still wake up in a panic “did I change ‘this’, or ‘that’?” I pray my family and I are covered by His supernatural care and power and can put this behind us.

  11. Amber Trimble says:

    My heart hurts for everyone who was weaponized with the gospel or the Bible.

  12. Traci Gendron says:

    I’m so thankful for your comments. It has helped me understand this study better. It definitely is a tough read. Prayers for all requests!

  13. Dorothy says:

    I can’t count the times “Jesus has made me whole”. So many times I’ve been broken and hurt, sad and alone, upset and angry, all I had to do is reach out to Christ and God and the Holy Spirit and I was whole again. I would reach out in prayer, just talking, reading Scripture or even reading a devotion and there would be the answer…. BUT GOD, sent from above. I just have to remember to reach out and continue to reach out because I don’t have all the answer — I have very few of the answers.

    Be blessed and reach out to God, Christ and/or the Holy Spirit today sisters.

  14. Nads says:

    I am praying for all the requests made; God bless and each and every one of us, his daughters indeed (even on the days we feel “unclean”
    …may we be bold in seeking Him)♥️❤️

    @ANGIE MILLS – Thank you, THANK you for your comments and reflections…it blessed me beyond measure!!!

    (I also struggled with the words “and I PLACE a contamination” in the house…i.e. God puts contamination in that house.) Angie’s meditation helped me a bit with even this part but, additional thoughts She’s??!?

  15. Linnea C says:

    Today is the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur. A day of collective and personal confession …. I believe Christ has completed this thru His death and resurrection and it is a powerful service in every synagogue world wide today and a humbling reminder of God’s love and plan for humanity to be reconciled ultimately to Him. Praying for eyes to be opened and hearts healed once and for all.

  16. Allison Bentley says:

    It’s a story we’ve seen replay over and over in history, once again Jesus offers a better way!! He makes us WHOLE!! Amen! Lord help me to be more like Jesus- focused on loving the person!!!!

  17. Lexi B says:

    I love how they tied all the readings about the discharge of blood to the woman in Matthew 9. It makes what Jesus did so beautiful. So thankful for our savior!

    Also, thank you for the prayers and congradulations in regards to my pitch prize. Very thankful to have y’all as a community.

  18. Heidi V says:

    The passages on menstruation remind me of the book “the red tent”. It puts a being unclean from one’s cycle in a whole new light!

  19. Rachel S says:

    Life as a woman at that time had to be immensely difficult. On top of child rearing, cooking everything from scratch over flames, hand washing daily garments and linens, women also had days on end where they were viewed unclean without fault to themselves but simply from the human condition of menstruation and childbirth and relations with her husband. I think of the woman needing to be on top of the ceremonial washings and washing her rags for cleanliness and physical comfort but not being able to comfort her small children for fear of making them unclean as well. I wonder how life was lived under these laws, how arduous it must have been…Amazing Grace indeed that Christ took this all away for you and I

  20. Michelle Patire says:

    When I read Matthew 9, I picture the Jesus from the Chosen series. He was so kind to this woman who was likely shunned for 12 years. I wonder if He bathed afterwards? Lol seriously, though. Jesus was the fulfillment of the law but He followed it.
    I don’t fully understand why God created such rigid rules (in my mind they are) but I know He is detailed and purposeful in all He does. There is always a reason. I pray we remember His goodness as we read what doesn’t make sense to us modern day believers.

  21. Mae says:

    This has been a puzzling, and I admit downright hard to understand book in the Bible. I see now the priests were also a type of doctor! My oh my. I appreciate all the commentary, thanks for your ideas that shed more light, for SRT even taking this on.

    Would also request prayer as my wallet was stolen a week ago. What a stressful time this has been since! I could write for an hour about how it was accomplished nearly right under my nose, as well as what I’ve learned since, but I’ll spare you and simply ask that my family and I be covered in supernatural safety from any evil meant for harm as a result of this. And please; be aware, and safe SRT sisters~~~~~

  22. Shirley Posladek says:

    Praying for health over your family.

  23. Lanie Hefferly says:

    First of all. This is the third time in the past month I have been brought to the bleeding woman passage. Holy significance. But, I am sitting on day 7 of a cold where just yesterday I went to the Dr. Because I wanted to wait it out, try my own remedies, and I definitely didn’t want to get stuck in the COVID quarantine for a silly cold, so I didn’t go and I got sicker. Its the first thing I thought of when I read the mildew passage, how tempting it would be to scrape it yourself, or wait it out vs go through all the trouble of waiting for the priest to come and remove all the items in your house and quarantine over potentially nothing. But God calls us to do it. With sickness, with contamination, with sin. To take these things seriously, to take time to rest and heal, to get someone else’s eyes on the problem. We can’t do it ourself. So, maybe he is saying have courage daughter, to reach out for help.

  24. Susan Lincks says:


  25. Kaitlin Gardner says:

    Reading this section of Leviticus with the supplemental readings fills me with thankfulness and hope. We serve a God who made a way when there seemed to be no way. We serve a risen Savior who came to fulfill the law. Today we have access to the Father and can freely worship him ♥️ This echos the previous study:

    “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
    From everlasting to everlasting.
    AMEN & AMEN.” ~ Ps. 41:13

  26. Erica Chiarelli says:

    @Jenny Somers praying for you, your 3 yr old & your family! ❤

  27. Erica Chiarelli says:

    Thankful for Jesus. He made a way to always have access to God…no waiting periods or constant sacrifices! Jesus paid it all, once and for all! Hallelujah!

  28. Michelle Patire says:

    comfort You*** (like I said, I use a tablet that is very old lol)

  29. Michelle Patire says:

    @Susan L– for some reason, I can not see your post that propelled all these prayers. I don’t use the app, I use the website on my tablet. Maybe that’s why. But based on what other people are praying, I want to pray peace over you. God loves you and He is with you in the valley of the shadow of death. He will guide you and comfort yoie, as His word says. Psalm 23. I pray that over you and speak His perfect and unexplainable peace. <3

  30. Searching says:

    These are difficult passages. Another reminder that God makes a way. Thankful for Christ’s sacrifice that freed us in so many ways, and praying for strength to handle today’s challenges.

    DIANE MOM – praying for your husband and you
    GRAMSIESUE – safe travels, praying for a good report
    SUSAN LINCKS – praying for your upcoming surgery, recovery and healing. My heart breaks thinking about what you are dealing with.
    DOROTHY – praying for a stress free day
    GRETCHEN STENCIL – praying for answers and healing

  31. Angie Mills says:

    After reading today’s passages, I am reminded once again just how sinful and unrighteousness we are without the cleansing blood of Christ. Sin taints everything in our lives — everything we do, everything we believe and love, even the way we are. God is the Atonement and is able to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    We saw the ceremony concerning the blood and oil being put on a person’s right ear lobe, right thumb, and right big toe again in today’s reading. I found this thought in Barnes’ commentary. The ear reminds us of what we hear, the thumb of our work (what we do), the big toe of our going (our lives, the way in which we go). Our hearing affects what we do. What we do affects the way in which we live. Jesus cleanses and restores all of these things. He renews our hearing, our work, and our lives. Also, it is Jesus’ blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness and the Holy Spirit that gives us the power live righteously.

    This passage also shows us the ceremony concerning the two birds again. I found this thought concerning this ceremony in Barnes’ commentary. The two birds remind us of Christ’s work in our lives. When Christ cleanses us of our sin, we can die to the way of life that leads to death (the bird that is killed) and we can live in a life filled with freedom that comes with following Christ in His power.

    The unclean home reminds me of our hearts. Our hearts are a symbol of God’s home. He comes to dwell in our hearts. Our hearts are unclean because of our sin. Even though we are redeemed, we still have sins that the Lord has to reveal to us. As we examine our hearts and the Lord works His work of sanctification within us, He will reveal our sin to us. Sometimes, the sins are not so deeply ingrained in our hearts, so God is able to scrape it out of our hearts. It’s painful, but not too deep. Other sins are so ingrained in us, they become a part of who we are. God has to break our heart over our sin and break our will so that we will submit to His ways. He does this bit by bit. It is very painful, but when it is done, He gives us a new heart that is soft toward Him and His ways. He is able to dwell in us and we are able to abide with Him.

    The laws concerning bodily discharges reminds me that we are not sinful because of what comes in our bodies, but what comes out. Our hearts are the springs of our life (Proverbs 4:23). From our heart flows our beliefs, loves, thoughts, and actions. Our actions and attitudes show how our hearts are polluted with sin. Only God can cleanse our hearts and renew them to make them clean and flow with His everlasting life.

  32. Jenny Somers says:

    Good morning. I would like to ask for prayer for my family. My husband and I are musicians and part of our job is touring and playing shows. We have 4 children and lately someone is always sick. It makes it difficult for us to leave them, even for a day or so. This week we are all supposed to travel together. Last night the 3 year old started throwing up. Sickness feels constant in our house and it is very discouraging. Please pray for health and that we would be able to travel this week and play our shows. Thank you. ♥️

  33. Linda says:

    I want to thank everyone for your prayers. Our gracious heavenly Father chose to answer our rising rent problem in a miraculous way. We will not face the possibility of moving for another year! My husband’s Parkinson’s dementia short term memory issues grow worse by the day. More care falls to me but I’m thankful he still is able to care for his personal needs and help with tasks, still knows people. So thankful for family who are very helpful. My health issues remain unchanged but I have new doctors working hard to find pain relief. Please continue to pray. Love and pray for SRT sisters.

  34. Danielle B says:

    Yes Jen, Definitely a hard section of the Bible to read especially as I do my devotions with breakfast. What caught my attention is that the people with leprosy had to offer a sin offering. I know many times throughout scripture it talks about who sinned when a person has an ailment, so I understand that is also the way leprosy was viewed. It also makes sense why even now people sometimes believe an illness is the result of their sin. I feel for the people who believe that when it is not the case. It gives room for greater separation from their relationship with God.

  35. Linda says:

    Richlynn. Evening and morning go back to creation. Genesis 1 tells us ” evening and morning were the first day”, etc

  36. Aimee D-R says:

    Oh Jeaus, thank you for Your teaching and sacrifice. Amen

  37. Kenya Rafferty says:

    It all points to the grace and forgiveness that Jesus offers. Our human efforts of creating and upholding laws only bring us so far – Jesus has to do the rest. And even in the small moments of our days we have to lean on him so He CAN. We can only do so much on our own.

  38. RichlynN says:

    I have searched for commentaries and have yet to find anything more than an explanation of Jewish “days” ending/starting at evening. Could the phrase “remain unclean until evening” point to the fact that no matter what we do (even following all the rules/regulations), only God makes us clean? Am I the only one thinking this?
    What an amazing God we have who makes us holy so we can be with Him. He is so good!

  39. Jennifer Loves Jesus says:

    I know that because I am following Jesus, no matter where I am going I am headed somewhere good. Faith as small as a mustard seed is enough to grow the strongest hope, like a mighty oak with deep roots. Storms will come and I am held secure with God. Reaching out to Jesus brings peace and wellness. “Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Have courage daughter,’ He said ‘Your faith has saved you.’ And the woman was made well from that moment.” (Matthew 9:22). God responds with love when we reach out to Him in faith. He pours His own life into our hearts so we can have eternal life with Him. I hold this truth as my treasure, my good cheer. So I walk with the Prince of Peace and He quiets the anxious noise of this world. The gift of peace is good for now, yet I know the Giver of peace is eternal. And I am His always. Father, thank You for the peace and healing You give now, and thank You for the glorious healing to come for eternity. You are the river of life that never dries up. Flow in my heart with mercy and grace. Help me to walk worthy of Your call for my life. Strengthen me today with Your love. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  40. Pamela Aileen says:

    I am trying to grasp how a women could care for her family if she is unclean for 7 days with her cycle and then waits another 7 days to offer sacrifice. If she is on a 21 day cycle she has 7 days til it starts again. My math brain says no wonder women were treated as 2nd class. My faith brain says there must be a reason. Tough stuff for our minders minds

  41. Kelly (NEO) says:

    Thank You Lord for making a way for this sin-tainted body to be the home to Your Holy Spirit! Jesus, by the cleansing flow of Your perfect blood I have unfettered access to the Father.

    GRAMMISUE – safe travels!

    GRETCHEN STINCIL – praying you get some answers from your doctor visit today.

    HEIDI – praying school is going well for you and your daughter

  42. Arina says:

    So many natural things, like menstruation, having sex or getting an illness, could make you unclean. While there were reasons for this, it also meant that the unity with God was broken.You couldn’t come to the tabernacle and in some cases atonement had to be made to restore this relationship. But then we have Jesus, God Himself walking on earth. The uncleanness of the woman didn’t mean separation. He let Himself be touched, entering into her uncleanness. He experienced total separation from God at the cross, so that nothing can take away our relationship with God again. We are always free to come to Him, no matter our circumstances or the sin we have done.