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Bible Commentaries

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
Leviticus 26



Verse 13

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"I have broken the bounds of your yoke, and made you go upright."Leviticus 26:13

God will have no slavery of a social kind.—He is against all bonds and restrictions that keep down the true aspirations of the human soul.—God has always proceeded upon the principle of enlargement and the inheritance of liberty.—We know how much God has done for a man by the degree of that man"s uprightness.—That is an excellent and undeniable standard of judgment.—God has no crouching slaves cringing around his altar and afraid to look up to the Cross which has given them forgiveness.—In proportion as we are carrying bands and yokes, have we not known the Spirit of the living God.—This relates to all conduct and religious observances, to the keeping of times and seasons, and the offering of all manner of sacrifices.—Whatever is done through a sense of servility and humiliation is wrongly done, and is in no sense done in obedience to the command of Christ.—When all is right within we run in the way of God"s commandments, we sing at our work, we turn the very statutes of God into songs in the house of our pilgrimage.—What God has been doing for man in the first instance has been the breaking of yokes.—God has had much negative work to do for fallen humanity.—We do not know how much of our progress is due to the breaking of cruel restrictions,—the whole course of human history has been a course of enlargement and freedom in matters of education, knowledge, and the possession and exercise of personal and social rights.—This is in accordance with the very spirit of the New Testament.—Some men may not have made great progress in positive liberty, who yet have made some advance in the sense of having thrown off many restrictions and yokes, such throwing off being due to the operation of a gracious providence, which providence, indeed, is not always understood or gratefully appreciated; nevertheless, it works in human history with an undeviating and generous aim.—There is an hereditary principle involved in this arrangement; it is impossible that the children of upright men can fail in some sense to partake of the advantages arising from parental uprightness; those conditions may not amount to personal righteousness, and, indeed, may have no necessary relation to such righteousness, but the whole atmosphere is the purer and healthier for our relation to forefathers who have been upright and wise and generous.—More is expected of us, and the expectation is founded in reason and justice.—We are the greater debtors to society on account of the liberty into which we were born, and the uprightness under whose blessing we were reared.—Always acknowledge the divine hand in human history.—Always see that theology is indeed the larger history.—He knows nothing about history who is merely conversant with outward facts and the succession of measurable incidents: history lies in its spirituality: there is a genius of history,—a religion of liberation and progress.

Verse 25

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant."Leviticus 26:25

It may be reverently said that God does not deal carelessly with his own covenants. He does not throw them away, and take no further heed of their operation. In the sense of looking after his word and observing its issues he may be described in Old Testament language as a "jealous" God.—This great principle operates in nature as well as in grace.—We see it in agriculture as certainly as we see it in what may be termed spiritual human conduct. We are not only punished because we do not pray, we are just as much punished because we do not plough.—If a man will not sow in the seedtime he shall not reap in the harvest, and not having anything to reap, or any fruits to garner, he will know the meaning of the mystic words, "I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant."—If a man will not gather water in the time when the river is full he shall surely die of thirst in the season of drought.—Who quarrels with this law of nature? Who says this is partial or unjust? We feel that the operation of such a law in nature is one of the guarantees of society.—The covenant is here represented as a living thing having a quarrel against those who trifle with its spirit and claim.—The covenant does not seem to avenge itself, but a sword from heaven is let down to smite those who have dealt unkindly and unjustly with the angel of God.—This is a very solemn but a very grand and ennobling view of life.—We know how true it is that the spirit of love cannot be outraged without the whole life suffering evil consequences.—We also know that the spirit of honesty cannot be offended without a great fear and shaking passing through the whole constitution and framework of human relations.—It is by such aids as these that we raise ourselves into a conception of spiritual realities and issues.—Peace can only come by righteousness. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."—Discard theology, deny every proposition which theologians have ever asserted, and turn away from all prescribed religious forms, yet still there remains the indisputable fact that evil-doing is followed by tumult and pain, or if not so followed, a state of heart is revealed which is simply past feeling, and under whose judgments and actions human society is no longer safe.—Whenever a sword smites us we should inquire how we have been dealing with God"s covenant.—Whenever the grave opens at our feet we should put solemn questions to ourselves regarding our treatment of the covenant of life.—Whatever helps to deeper religious consideration is a true agent in the education of mankind.

Verse 36

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"And upon them that are left alive of you, I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies: and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth."Leviticus 26:36

So wrong-doing is never blessed.—Even when men appear to succeed and to save themselves alive, their success is partial, and may only create an opportunity for further divine judgment.—Do not suppose that men are successful simply because they are living.—A man may have escaped the sea only to die a more terrible death on land.—Marvellous are the judicious resources of God.—We have an indication here of a law to whose subtle force many men can testify.—Fear takes away all power, and turns the most dauntless soldier into a coward.—We cannot account for faintness of heart; it has no history; it cannot be cross-examined; it is something sent into us by a higher power, and is permitted to work miracles in the spirits of otherwise brave men.—We are surrounded by mystery.—The sound of "a shaken leaf" is magnified by the imagination into the sound of a rushing army.—Shadows are ministers of Heaven.—Unexplained noises come to do the work of judgment.—It is not enough to describe these things as superstition, or fancy, or nightmare: there they are, operating directly and energetically in the whole administration of life, and it is more rational to accept a spiritual interpretation of them than to regard them as mere dreams without purpose or force.—By so talking of them we disprove our own argument by the very fact that we are ruled by them, and cannot resist their effect.—God crushes some men as by a great weight: other men he beclouds so that reason cannot find its way through all the conditions of life"s necessities: the memory of other men is taken away: men who never feared the face of man have fled before a shaking leaf, as if they were fleeing from an infinite sword.—It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.—Our God is a consuming fire.—It is gracious on his part that he should be so revealed.—His severity is but an aspect of his love.—We read of the wrath of the Lamb.—Can any wrath be so terrible? Can any surprise be so startling? Was ever such a change contemplated by the boldest imagination of man? When love becomes wrath, how hot is that perdition!—Yet God is always willing to turn, anxious to be conciliated, prepared to readopt the wandering child.—When we take out the element of fear from the Christian ministry, we deprive that ministry of one of its most useful auxiliaries.—Christ never failed to avail himself of the uses of fear.—There was a "hell" even in the gracious speech of the Saviour of the world.—He did not conceal the sword; he revealed it in its strength and keenness.


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These files are public domain.
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Bibliography Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 26:4". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. 1885-95.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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