6 Iyar, 5778 / April 21, 2018
By Rabbi Gliebe
This Week's Readings:
Torah: Leviticus 12:1-15:33
Haftarah: 2 Kings 7:3-20
Brit Chadashah: Romans 10:13-17
After I became a believer in Messiah Yeshua at the age of 15, I soon found that almost all of my friends began to “unfriend” me. This partly came about because I was no longer doing the things I used to do, but mostly this happened because I was openly passionate, and sometimes too insistent, about my new faith. Most of my friends just didn’t want to hear what I was saying to them about Yeshua. It didn’t take long for me to feel like a complete outsider. In time I learned to better communicate my faith, as well as to accept life as an outsider for Messiah Yeshua within the Jewish community.
In the Torah portion today, we read about the laws for the unclean. As I was reading through the passages, especially when I got to chapter 15, I realized that probably every one of us has fallen into the category of unclean at some point in our lives. There is really no way around it, we have all experienced some kind of nasty discharge from a scab or scratch or something. Of all the ways to be unclean, leprosy was definitely the worst. Lepers were not only unclean, they were cast out of the city. As a leper you lived a life outside of the community.
Surprisingly, in the Haftarah portion, we read of how G-d used four lepers to save Samaria. Samaria was the capitol of the Northern Kingdom which had been at war with Aram for years. Aram had put Samaria under siege and things got very bad– people were starving and dying. Actually, the starvation was so bad that at the end of the last chapter, people were resorting to cannibalism to survive. Even after the atrocious events at the end of chapter 6, chapter 7 opens with a promise that G-d is going to save Samaria. Did they deserve it? Absolutely not! They were a rebellious nation toward G-d, and if G-d were to save anyone at this time, it should have been Jerusalem not Samaria. But G-d showed His mercy anyway. Now remember who lepers were in the context of Israel: they were unclean, cast out of the city, cursed and untrustworthy. No one in Samaria wanted these people around, and yet the lepers still decided to share the life-saving good news with their people.
In the Brit Chadashah portion Paul asks the rhetorical question “How?” How will they believe the good news? How will they hear the good news? How will anyone hear the good news if nobody preaches it? If the lepers had not shared the good news of what they had found, the people of Samaria would not have known it and they would have died of starvation. If we don’t share the good news of Messiah Yeshua with our people, they will not hear it, nor will they believe and take hold of everlasting life.
What have you done lately
to share G-d’s message with the people around you? The lepers that found the Aramean camp empty had
two choices: to keep the message to themselves or share it with their people. Sometimes
we are afraid of sharing our faith because we are afraid we won’t be taken
seriously; we won’t be accepted and trusted. The reality is that sometimes we
are treated the way the lepers were treated; we are put “outside the camp”. But
that didn’t stop the lepers of Samaria and it shouldn’t stop us. People may
consider us outcasts from the Jewish community because of our belief in
Messiah, but the truth is that we have been called to speak up about our
Messiah Yeshua, regardless of how people view us, including our Jewish family