The term “cancel culture” is often used today. Someone who says or does something another group does not like is “canceled,” ignored or disregarded. While our society has become pretty good at canceling people, we are not so skilled at welcoming into the community.
In the book of Leviticus, we learn how a person was determined to be clean or unclean. The purpose again was to protect the holiness of the camp and the tabernacle. Some types of uncleanness were severe enough that people were required to live outside the camp (13:46). However, the laws did not leave those people without hope. There were also instructions on reintegrating people into the community (vv. 1–7).
This ceremony had four elements: two birds, cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop (v. 4). The significance of this ceremony is not given and is a bit obscure to us today. However, the result is clear enough. After going through the ceremony, the whole community would know that this person was now considered clean. They would now be integrated back into the camp and could join in corporate worship.
If you read further in chapter 15, you will see laws regarding bodily discharges for men and women. These occur in the regular course of life and could be handled without going to a priest. For these situations, people had to trust each other that they would not defile the sanctuary by entering it when they were not ceremonially clean. As believers, we have permanent access to worshiping God at any time because of the finished work of Christ (Heb. 13:12). God provided a temporary way for this to be accomplished in ancient Israel that pointed forward to Jesus who “suffered outside the gate” on our behalf!
>> How and when can we welcome back those who have been “outside the camp” of our Christian community? This is a topic worthy of prayer and discussion as individuals and as a church body.
Give us the grace to discern where wisdom and wariness diverge and help us choose the path of wisdom in welcoming back a believer who once turned away from the faith. Help us rejoice in their restoration, building them up.