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After Leviticus 25, where we hear about the certainty of the restoration of all things, the certainty that God’s plans will be fulfilled, this chapter follows with our responsibility as the people of God. Here we do not hear about God’s counsels, but about His ways in connection with man’s responsibility. This is not in conflict with His counsels, but another side of God’s truth.
Here we see what God will do if man is obedient and what He will do if man is disobedient. The blessings are made dependent on what man does. In Deuteronomy 28 we hear about the same things as here, but in more detail. There everything is said to a people who have their wilderness journey behind them, while here the people still have to go through the wilderness.
Prohibition to Make Idols
God first establishes His absolute exclusive right to the worship of His people. Their tribute may only go to Him and to nothing and no one else. He does not tolerate any object besides Him. He is not part of His creation. Each made object is less than He and everything there is, is made by Him and therefore less than He.
God’s Sabbaths and God’s Sanctuary
After the negative prohibition to make idols, follows the positive commandment to observe “My sabbaths” and to respect “My sanctuary” (cf. Leviticus 19:30). This allows them to show that their hearts go out to Him instead of to the idols. It covers their entire lives. In keeping the sabbath commandment they show respect for the LORD in their social life; in honoring the sanctuary they show on religious ground that they want to live according to God’s will.
Promise of Blessing
The blessings of the land are abundantly presented. The first blessing talked about is the rain. The entire harvest depends on this (Deuteronomy 11:13-2 Chronicles :). With obedience, rain is promised, always at the right time for the harvest. As a result, it will be a year-round harvest as it were (Amos 9:13).
They will be able to enjoy the fruit in peace, without having to be in fear of the threat of enemies or wild animals. If an enemy dare to attack them, they will chase him away with little effort (cf. Deuteronomy 32:30). The LORD will turn to them in favor. He will make them numerous and give them plenty of food.
Besides this material blessing there is also spiritual blessing. It is the privilege that He dwells among them, and will be their God, and that they will be His people. The material blessing is also proof that God dwells constantly in their midst. The people have blessing and rest where God has rest.
They will enjoy the full result of God’s liberation from Egypt in beneficent freedom. There will be no question of a posture bent under the slave yoke. God has broken their yoke and will make them “walk erect”, they walk with their heads held high. Thus the Christian may “stand” in the grace of God (Romans 5:2). Many times in the history of Israel their liberation from Egypt is referred back to by the LORD. The Christian must also be reminded time and again of his salvation from the power of sin. That will keep his gratitude alive and make him longing to continue to honor God in all things.
Consequences of Disobedience (1)
In Leviticus 26:14-Matthew : it is about the consequences for the people if they are disobedient. Not listening to God’s commandments shows contempt for it. It is not about sins of ignorance or weakness. In that case, offerings can be made. But if the people consciously ignore God’s statutes and commandments, the blessing will diminish, and God will finally expel the people from the land. The people will be scattered among the nations. The Divine threats concern Israel’s future.
The scattering of the people is literally fulfilled. This could make it difficult to believe that the prophecies of Leviticus 23 and Leviticus 25 will be fulfilled for the people and the land. But God will do what He has determined. He Himself will cause conversion in the astray people. He will do a work of grace in the people so they will be in a condition that He can fulfill all His plans for the converted people.
That converted people will be a remnant, but that remnant is also “all Israel” (Romans 11:25-Ezekiel :). God will bless them on the ground of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Leviticus 26:42; Leviticus 26:45).
The first announcement of the consequences of the disobedience of the people promise illness, hunger and defeats. The plagues result from this fearful fact that the LORD has turned His face against them (Leviticus 26:17). He will resist them (Leviticus 26:24; Leviticus 26:28). If that is the case, any measure to turn God’s wrath away will prove a worthless, futile effort. When obedient no diseases shall affect them (Exodus 23:25; Exodus 15:26).
Consequences of Disobedience (2)
If the discipline of God is not successful, and the people remain disobedient, the people will have to suffer even more terrible things. The fact that God speaks of following discipline indicates that He knows the heart of man, that it is incorrigible. God’s purpose with His discipline is to make His people change their ways, but the people act in a contrary way (Amos 4:6; cf. 2 Chronicles 28:22).
In this second announcement God says that He will make His discipline sevenfold upon them if His first judgments are unsuccessful. Drought and infertility are promised. Facing an iron sky – no rain falls out – and a copper ground, which cannot be worked because of its hardness, they will be powerless. Every effort ends in nothing but consuming of power without any result in food. That will have to break down their pride of power.
Consequences of Disobedience (3)
If the discipline that follows the ignoring of the second warning does not work out either, and the people remain disobedient (cf. Jeremiah 6:29), a third warning follows, pointing out what awaits them. If smaller judgments have no effect, God will send larger judgments. He will increase the plague on them, and will punish them seven times harder (cf. Daniel 3:19) and release the wild animals on them (Ezekiel 14:21). That will eat children and cattle. For fear no one will dare to come out on the street.
Man is created to rule over the animals. By their conduct, because they have turned their backs on God, they have set themselves below the animals. Those animals will now reign over them. God uses the animals to exercise His discipline over His people.
Consequences of Disobedience (4)
If the people continue to resist, the fourth promise follows what awaits them in seven times heavier form. The enemy will come and kill them with the sword. He who thinks he is safe from the sword in a city, will be beaten with the plague and thus driven into the hands of the enemy.
The scarcity of food will be great; no one will be able to be satisfied. Ten families will have to deal with the ration for one family. Hunger will become more and more gnawing, leading people to resort to the horror of cannibalism, mentioned in the next section.
Consequences of Disobedience (5)
If the people continue to resist after all the previous disciplinary measures, the fifth announcement of disciplinary measures is also the final blow to the resistance. The people will be driven out of the land and scattered over the earth. Before that time, they will fall into cannibalism and that in its most horrible form: their own children are eaten (2 Kings 6:28-Joel :). Egoism is so great that all natural love has disappeared. Children are not only sacrificed to idols, but here they are sacrificed purely for the sake of survival.
The LORD shall cast their corpses on the corpses of their idols, and disgust them. He Himself will destroy their cities. When the people have finally been driven out of it, the land will have rest and will be retributed for its sabbatical years which the people have withheld during their stay in it (2 Chronicles 36:21).
The cities where the people have felt at ease and at home will be made a mess by the LORD. There will no longer be a place where they will have rest and feel at home. Nothing will remain of their sanctuaries, which as religious places have given them a sense of security and by which they have assumed themselves to be God’s people. Nothing of their religion is acceptable to God: “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon [festivals] and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing [them]” (Isaiah 1:13-2 Chronicles :).
The land as a whole shall be destroyed by the LORD in a way that even their enemies shall be appalled. The people will be driven out and will be destroyed on foreign ground outside the land.
There will be no force to hold against the enemy. They will see enemies where there are none and flee following their imagination (Leviticus 26:17). He who rejects the fear of God will even be afraid of the sound of a driven leaf (Leviticus 26:36; Proverbs 28:1).
Just as it was with Israel, so it will be with the confessing Christianity. If those who were once in connection with God are judged by Him because of their total hardening, this will surprise even all those who have never been in connection with Him (cf. Jeremiah 19:8).
Confession and Covenant
If they confess, God will remember His covenant. The confession is accompanied by repentance and humiliation. However persistently the people have despised all the discipline of God, there remains a possibility of conversion. They will also do so when the need has risen to heaven. Their confession is a recognition of God’s righteousness in dealing with them. They will acknowledge that God has done with them according to what they deserved. Nehemiah appealed to these verses in his prayer to the LORD (Nehemiah 1:8-1 Samuel :; 1 Kings 8:46-2 Thessalonians :).
Repentance means that they consider themselves guilty and understand that they have acted against God. They condemn themselves and humiliate themselves before God. Their uncircumcised heart (cf. Jeremiah 9:26), that is to say their actions in their own will and rebellion, comes to self-judgment. Circumcision speaks of judgment over the flesh. That is what God seeks (Romans 2:29).
God Remembers for Good
God remembers for good. If they have the right mind, a mind that is worked by the LORD in them, and therefore also acceptable to Him, He will remember His covenant, and on that basis, He will bless them. He remains faithful to His covenant, not because of His people, but because of Himself and on the basis of the work His Son accomplished on the cross.
This verse closes the book of Leviticus. Moses is the mediator given by God. Through his service the people receive God’s revelations, while they camp at Mount Sinai. The following chapter is a kind of appendix, but an important one.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Leviticus 26". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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