God is reminding the Jewish people of how He had miraculously broken off the oppressive state they had endured by the Egyptians. How He had lifted the heavy yoke from their neck of subjugation, submission, and servitude…which then empowered them to stand in an upright posture, with heads held high. God had broken off the yoke of slavery and set the Jewish people free. And just as God liberated them…Jesus has come to free us from the bondage of sin. For it tells us in Galatians 5:1, ” It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” When Jesus comes into our lives, the bonds of sin are broken…the yoke of guilt and shame are lifted…and we too are then able to walk free with our heads held high.
God had been very specific to Moses on where and how to sacrifice offerings to Him. (Leviticus 17:3-5) But the people had fallen into the habit of worshiping at the high places of false gods instead…and it became Israel’s pitfall. Even King Solomon became too comfortable and apathetic about where he worshiped God…for it tells us in I Kings 3:3, “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.” By using the altars of false gods, the Jewish people were unwittingly incorporating and melding deceptive ideology into their worship of the one true God.
I Peter 1:15-16 tells us, “But just as He Who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy , because I am holy.’ ” In these Scriptures, Peter is quoting at least three different areas in Leviticus that all say the same thing…Be holy, because I am holy. The Lord is commanding us to reflect His holiness in our own lives, and as far as it’s possible…to live then a life with a pure heart and moral uprightness.
Lepers were the most reviled of human beings in Jesus’ time. They were considered utterly unclean physically and spiritually. They were shunned and outcast…required to avoid others, staying at least six feet away from anyone, and forced to yell “unclean! unclean!” when approaching crowds. So what gave this leper the brazenness to walk right up to Jesus in the middle of a crowd and ask for healing? He knew he was breaking every law in Leviticus 13. But he also knew deep in his soul that this man he had watched from afar could cure him of this devastating disease. He took a huge risk, but he had nothing to lose, and everything to gain if Jesus would oblige. The crowd was probably stunned by the sight of this leper dropping at the feet of Jesus…but they were even more startled to watch with their own eyes the skin on this man return to normal when Jesus touched him.
Modern day idols can take the form of many things. They may be people, possessions, locations or life-styles…anything that takes its place above God. Our graven image may be pride and self-importance. Or it may be bowing down to our collection of belongings…those babbles, toys, and things we amass and hoard just to say we have them. Anytime we put or trust and affections in anything other than God we’re headed down the wrong path.