Furthermore the Lord said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. (Exodus 4:6-7)
As another sign to him and the people of Israel that their redemption was at hand, God caused Moses’ hand to become leprous and then restored to normal. In that time, leprosy was rarely cured; in fact there were only a few accounts in Scripture where someone’s leprosy was healed and that was through miraculous means. What we call leprosy, today, is a disease caused by a bacteria that, left untreated, can lead to the deterioration of tissue and cartilage that results in deformity and even the loss of digits.
Biblical leprosy — tzarat in Hebrew — was something quite different. Rabbinically, it is understood to be a physical manifestation of a much bigger spiritual issue which is why no one could be healed of it through natural means. Someone who was afflicted with tzarat was identified as someone God was trying to send a message to. Their only hope to be whole again was to change heart toward God and toward their fellow man. In fact, the word tzarat is related to the idea of being squeezed; when that happens, whatever is on the inside erupts toward the surface for all to see.
So what was the meaning behind the sign given to Moses? Perhaps it was to demonstrate that, at that time, Israel was a diseased and dying nation whose only hope for redemption and restoration was the Almighty. He alone was able to deliver them from their dire situation and thus the sign to Moses and to them was that He would, in fact, accomplish the impossible for them. No longer would they be the outcasts and the oppressed; they would be made whole and delivered from their affliction.
Thank God that we have that promise as well. We do not have to remain in our affliction but have access to deliverance and wholeness through the Messiah. For our part, we must be willing to allow Him access to all of our heart and being that He can truly cleanse us from the inside out. For all we have need of, today, let us call out to Him believing that He will restore and deliver us.
Blessings and Shalom,