Posted by: biblestudyseattle | January 31, 2015

Touching a Corpse

 ‘Now these are to you the unclean among the swarming things which swarm on the earth: the mole, and the mouse, and the great lizard in its kinds, and the gecko, and the crocodile, and the lizard, and the sand reptile, and the chameleon.  These are to you the unclean among all the swarming things; whoever touches them when they are dead becomes unclean until evening. Also anything on which one of them may fall when they are dead becomes unclean, including any wooden article, or clothing, or a skin, or a sack—any article of which use is made—it shall be put in the water and be unclean until evening, then it becomes clean.  As for any earthenware vessel into which one of them may fall, whatever is in it becomes unclean and you shall break the vessel.”  Leviticus 11:29-33

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: ‘No one shall defile himself for a dead person among his people, except for his relatives who are nearest to him, his mother and his father and his son and his daughter and his brother, also for his virgin sister, who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may defile himself.  He shall not defile himself as a relative by marriage among his people, and so profane himself.”  Leviticus 21:1-4

 ‘The priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head nor tear his clothes; nor shall he approach any dead person, nor defile himself even for his father or his mother;  nor shall he go out of the sanctuary nor profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am the Lord.”  Leviticus 21:10-12

Why was God so concerned about touching dead people?  Because when Christ’s work is complete, the temple (and heaven and earth) will be totally pure.  These Levitical rules are meant to foreshadow this.  Notice that the most extreme regulations were for the high priest.  He was not allowed to even touch mother or father nor leave the sanctuary.  This also prefigures the future.  Jesus is our high priest.

“The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.”  Revelation 3:12

Now, some may argue that Jesus did touch dead people:

“While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.”  Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples.  Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.  She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.”  Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.  When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him.  After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up.  News of this spread through all that region.”  Matthew 9:18-26

Jesus may have touched the dead girl, or she may have been revived and then Jesus touched her.  For one thing, Jesus was not an Aaronic priest, so he did not violate Levitical laws.  (He was a Melchizedek priest).  But also, he was doing this before heaven and earth have been fully purified.  In fact, when that is accomplished, it will be impossible to touch a dead body:

“For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be abolished is death.  For He [Jesus] has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He [God the Father] is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.”  1 Corinthians 15:25-27


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