Leprosy is a dreadful, contagious skin disorder. Its inauguration is imperceptible; only a few painless reddish spots which cannot be removed appear on the skin. This reddish spots will then become larger till it spreads over the whole skin; making the ear grow thick, the ends of the fingers, feet, and toes, swell, the nails grow scaly, the joints of the hands and feet separate, the palms of hands and soles of the feet become ulcerated, and in its hideous last stage the patient becomes horrible, and falls to pieces.
The Hebrew word (Tzaraath) translated leprosy in the bible does not really correspond to the modern day affliction of leprosy. It actually covers all forms of skin disorders, infections, sores and boils that could make someone foul, impure and unclean. Someone is said to be unclean when he is unfit for presence at the tabernacle (the Jewish place of worship) or even in the community. An unclean person is often isolated from the community in order to prevent defiling and infecting others through contact. He will remain quarantined until he is completely healed.
In ancient Israel, it is often believed that leprosy (and sometimes all form of illness) is a punishment and affliction from God for a sin committed. Miriam and Aaron’s insubordination and Gehazi’s disloyalty are proofs that in some cases, leprosy could be a punishment from God. However, I do not agree every leper is being punished by God for something wrong he has done because there are natural causes of leprosy.
Although leprosy may not always be a punishment for sin, sin is definitely spiritual leprosy. Like leprosy of the skin, spiritual leprosy is dreadful and contagious. Its inception is hardly noticeable and it seeks to completely takeover its victim till he horribly falls apart.
Now, lepers quarantined outside of the community in ancient Israel are often checked upon by the Priest to determine when he/she is healed and fit to return to the community. He/she can once again be pronounced clean after he/she has gone through the purification process outlined in the Torah (See Leviticus 14:10–14)
Unfortunately, in the church today, this blueprint is rarely followed. When one of us falls into error, we are quick to gossip about it and even quicker to isolate and relieve them of their responsibilities in the church. But our disciplinary measures hardly include checking on them like the priest in ancient Israel will do, to see to their healing (i.e. genuinely repentance) and restoration.
The blood of Jesus is powerful enough to cleanse every sin and restore anyone, no matter how bad and how far they have seemed to fall. When you keep a person from his call, you keep them from the anointing that confirms and establishes who God has made them to be. I am not opposed to disciplines; I believe it needs to be handled correctly. When you remove a person from the call of God on his life and from among his brethren, you have removed him from his personal victories over whatever his struggle is.
The kingdom of God is not the kingdom of punishment; and many do melt out punishment so as to appear to uphold holiness and severe spiritual discipline yet they lack the understanding of humility and true brokenness, that they are eager to humiliate people for their sins in the name of the Lord.
Encouragement, rehabilitation and restoration are important ingredients of correction and discipline. People don’t reach their destinies through punishment. Discipline is right, correction is necessary but it must be thaw out with honour because repentance and restoration is the goal, not punishment and humiliation.