From Leviticus 26-27
The book of Leviticus has its own version of covenant blessings and curses. These provided incentives for keeping the covenant and warnings against spurning the LORD. Israel failed to keep the covenant and were sent into exile. Jesus established a new covenant and brought salvation, the forgiveness of sins.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The chapter begins with the more cheery details of the blessings Israel will receive if they remain faithful to the LORD and keep his covenant.
3 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,
4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.
6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. 7 You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
9 I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you.
10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new.
11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. (Lev 26.3-13)
‘Walk’, ‘Observe’. The command doesn’t demand perfect and sinless obedience. As we’ve seen from the opening chapters of Leviticus, the sacrificial system was there so they could have their sins dealt with. The intention is that they will honour God through a lifestyle (‘walk’) faithfulness to His covenant with them.
The passage describes a whole heap of blessings for obedience. We can group them into blessings to do with agriculture, blessings of peace and victory over enemies, lots of children to continue their family lines and especially God will dwell with them.
14 “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, 15 if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you:
I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
17 I will set my face against you, and you shall be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you. 18 And if in spite of this you will not listen to me, then I will discipline you again sevenfold for your sins, 19 and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.
20 And your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit. (Lev 26.14-20)
‘If your soul abhors my rules’. The curses are not simply received minor infringements. They come about because the people have abhored God’s commands and probably God himself.
The curses affect their health, they will be defeated in battle and oppressed by foreign enemies and the land will no longer be plentiful.
The curses however are intended to help them to see their sin and repent. Notice there is a chain of similar phrases, and God uses the punishment to help them repent.
21 “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. (Lev 26:21; cf. Lev 26.23-24, 27)
The passage is pregnant with the question whether or not Israel will keep the covenant. As this word study on ‘keep’ shows, some in fact did. However largely Israel disobeyed the LORD and turned to other gods. For this reason they were sent, as per these warnings into exile.
40 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, 41 so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God. 45 But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.”
46 These are the statutes and rules and laws that the LORD made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai. (Lev 26.40-46)
‘Remember’ is an important word associated with the covenant. God promises to remember his covenant for those who repent and turn to him.
Story of Israel
Israel was often reminded of the covenant. Unfortunately in unhappy circumstances. They were told when they broke it! But while Israel was unfaithful, God remained faithful.
Story of Jesus
We see in the Gospel God is faithful to his promise and he sends Jesus to call Israel back to repentance and devotion to God.
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk 1.68-79)
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