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This chapter is more or less a summary of the moral lessons of the book of Leviticus, a chapter that presses home the seriousness of having to do with a God of absolute holiness and truth. It is divided into three sections, the first of which deals with
THE BLESSINGS OF OBEDIENCE (vv. 1-13)
Israel was given promise of marvelous blessing from God on condition of obedience to His law. Verse 1 therefore strongly insists on obedience to the first commandment, warning against idolatry in any of its forms. Verse 2 presses the keeping of God's sabbaths, as has been repeated many times in this book, and showing due respect for God's sanctuary, the place of His dwelling in Israel.
Obedience to God's statutes and commandments would unfailingly result in the rain being given in its proper season, the land and the trees yielding healthy fruit, the harvest being abundant, occupying all the time before the vintage of their vineyards, and the vintage being so great as to continue till the time of sowing. Provision would then be fully sufficient for them, and they would also dwell safely in their land (vv. 3-5).
All would be at peace, with no fear of beasts or enemies (v. 6), and if enemies did come they would be easily defeated; five men would defeat 100, and one hundred men put 10,000 to flight (vv. 7-8). Something like this did take place in the book of Judges, when God used only 300 men led by Gideon, to completely rout the huge army of the Midianites (Judges 7:19-22). God would look on them favorably, making them fruitful and multiplying the nation. After eating the old harvest they would clear out the remainder to make room for the new. Thus the blessing would be continual (vv. 9-10).
Best of all, if they obeyed God, God would dwell among them in His tabernacle; He would walk with them and be known as their God, they themselves being known as God's people (vv. 11-12). For He reminds them again that He is the Lord their God who brought them out of the bondage of Egypt and lifted them up to walk in the dignity of true freedom. Such words ought to have had a vital effect on them.
THE SAD RESULTS OF DISOBEDIENCE (vv. 14-39)
This section occupies the largest part of the chapter because God knew that Israel would not obey Him, and they needed the plain warning that would actually become an accurate prophecy of their history. How can we possibly be so insensitive in reading plain warnings like this, that we foolishly ignore them? God means what He says, whether in promising blessing for obedience, or in warning of great suffering for disobedience. To simply believe God is the only safe attitude for anyone.
Verse 16 begins the details of their suffering for disobedience. God would appoint over them the terror of wasting disease and fever, which can rapidly bring down the strength of the strongest. They would sow their seed, but their enemies would eat the crop. Their enemies would defeat them in battle and rule over them with hateful oppression. Fearful, they would flee when only imagining being pursued (v. 17).
After all of the previous dreadful inflictions, if the hearts of the children of Israel remained stubborn, God would increase the punishment seven times more (v. 18). For He knows how to break the pride of man's haughtiness. Instead of the beautiful blue heavens bringing promise of blessing, the heavens would be like iron in their strong resistance of Israel's bad condition. The earth would be like bronze, hard and unyielding, so that it would not produce ( vv. 19-20).
If such inflictions did not melt their hearts into subjection, then they could expect another seven-fold increase in their troubles (v. 21). God would send wild beasts among them which would cause a terrible decimation of their children, their livestock and their adults too (v. 22). Their highways would be reduced to desolation, with none to pass through.
If these things would not change their attitude, and they still walked contrary to the Lord, then he would increase their affliction seven times more (vv. 23-24). He would send the sword of their enemies against them, and when they took cover in their cities they would be attacked by pestilence and become an easy prey to the cruelty of their enemies (v. 25). Their supply of bread would be cut off and family conditions so reduced that only one woman out of ten would have an oven that she would have to share with others (v.26). so that the little they had to eat would not satisfy them.
Verses 27 and 28 are a virtual repetition of verses 23 and 24. How wearying it must have been to God to find Israel consistently rebellious in the face of His many disciplinary dealings! But His chastisement would then bring the awful experience of their eating the flesh of their sons and daughters (v. 29)! Compare2 Kings 6:26-29; 2 Kings 6:26-29. Instead of turning in repentant faith, praying to God, they would adopt the horrible alternative of murdering their children to satisfy their fleshly appetites!
This kind of thing would go along with the worship of idols in their high places. God would destroy those places, and in those very places some would suffer death, with their carcasses left on the lifeless forms of their broken idols (v. 30), as much as to say, “Where is the help the idol was expected to give to its deluded victim?”
Cities would be laid waste and place of worship destroyed, the land becoming so desolate that even their enemies would be astonished. The people of Israel would be scattered among the nations, not losing their identity, but being persecuted unmercifully where they went. All these things have actually taken place. For centuries the land laid desolate, though in 1948 the Jews regained possession of part of the land with a government of their own. Though conditions in the land are improved materially, yet they are still shaken by enemy opposition and peace is only a dim vision in the hopeful future.
During the seventy year captivity, when Nebuchadnezzar subdued those then in the land, the land was reduced to a desert, at God's decree, resting and enjoying the sabbath years that Israel had ignored in their disobedience to God (vv. 34-35).
Fear of their enemies would be so great that the sound of a shaken leaf would cause them to flee, expecting injury or death when actually no one was pursuing them (v. 36). They would be no help to one another in their selfish anxiety to deliver themselves alone. In the lands in which they had sought shelter they would be virtually “eaten up” (v. 38). Their iniquity would bring more and more suffering in their enemies' lands.
History confirms all these curses as coming on the Jewish nation. The holocaust in Germany during the 1940's was but another link in the chain of Israel's years of agony.
CONFESSION AND RECOVERY (vv. 40-45)
After speaking of the enormous guilt of Israel that would cause them such prolonged suffering, yet the Lord emphasizes that He will not give them up. His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be completely fulfilled. Why have they not yet been fulfilled? The answer is simple: Israel has not yet turned to God in honest confession of their sin and the sin of their fathers. There is one glaring evidence of their guilt they have never faced, that is, their cruel rejection and crucifixion of their true Messiah, the Son of God.
But in a coming day the enormity of this guilt will cause them deepest repentance. They will confess this as their own iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers. They will confess how thoroughly contrary to God they have been, and that God has been right in being contrary to them (vv. 40-41). They will be humbled as never before, to accept the full responsibility of their guilt. This is implied in the prophecy ofZechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 12:10-14, when they look upon Him whom they pierced and are broken down in genuine repentance and faith.
The result of Israel's future national repentance will be marvelous, unlimited grace, in accordance with God's unconditional promise to Jacob and to Abraham, which He will remember (v. 42). but verse 43 goes back to emphasize the ruin they had brought on their land, and therefore the greatness of the grace of God that will yet restore them. It is repeated that they will “accept their guilt,” making no excuses, but blaming only themselves for despising God's judgments and abhorring His statutes.
Yet, though they cannot and will not plead any extenuating circumstances, God will not cast them away, for this would mean breaking His unconditional covenant with them (v. 44). But “for their sakes” He would remember the covenant of their ancestors whom, in wonderful grace, He has brought out of the land of Egypt that He might be publicly their God. How this magnifies the wonder of the grace of His heart! So He adds, “ I am the Lord ” (v. 45).
Verse 46 indicates that this 26th chapter properly concludes the consideration of the statutes, judgments and laws that God laid upon Israel. Therefore, chapter 27 must be considered an appendix, with a significance peculiar to itself.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Leviticus 26". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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