Book of Leviticus Chapter
Twenty-Six Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Blessings And Troubles
There is a direct connection between willingness to obey the Lord and the blessings and troubles of life. It's simple cause and effect. The cause is that we may or may not respond to God, and the effect is how HE responds to our decision. Three of the Lord's commands for the nation Israel are seen in Verses 1-2: "You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God. 2 You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord." Two of the three (avoiding idolatry and keeping the sabbath) are within the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20. The third is: We are to worship the Creator in our hearts and respect the sanctuary that is dedicated to Him. He is worthy of our praise.
Verses 3-5: "If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 4 then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 5 Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land." Israel was given specific instructions and was expected to follow them, much like God has a precise intention for you. None of us measure up to His requirements, which is why we need the Savior, Jesus Christ. His righteousness is shared with the unworthy, and through faith in Him, when the Father looks at you and me, He sees His Son and gives us His blessing, which for Israel was to be seasonal rains, a good harvest and secure borders.
Do you have enemies? We all do, even when they seem friendly to our face. And your unkind word or angry thought makes you their enemy. But here was God, promising His people that if they fully responded to His will, their human and other enemies would not be a threat. Verses 6-8: "I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. 7 But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; 8 five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword." The promise is to all who give their hearts to the Lord, but the problem is that, at best, we are imperfect in our responses. We fall short, causing Him to correct our course. But if we have faith in the Lord and trust in Him, His potential for us begins to emerge.
His promises continue in Verses 9-13: "So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. 10 You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. 11 Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. 12 I will also walk among you and 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 so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect." Israel would have many healthy children, His covenant would remain with them, they would not be rejected, the Lord would be their God and they would be His people. The Lord included a reminder that He had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, where they were bent over with heavy burdens placed upon them by their former masters. The Father's offer to all is to deliver us from the slavery of sin through the gift of His Son.
To be blessed by the Lord and then lose His blessings through disobedience is incredibly difficult. Israel was warned right from the beginning that obedience brings benefits, but disobedience leads to disasters. Verses 14-17: "But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, 15 if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, and so break My covenant, 16 I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up. 17 I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you." Proverbs 3:11-12 & Hebrews 12:5-6 are clear that the disasters in our Lives are allowed as a form of correction, based in His love. You likely have noticed that suffering deepens a person, enabling us to reach out and help others, whereas previously we did not know what to do for them. The many shallow and superficial people in humanity will learn to care. Proverbs 3:11-12 & Hebrews 12:5-6 show that our suffering does not mean we have been forgotten. On the contrary, the Lord reveals: "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives." We don't seek suffering. Instead we recognize that in our suffering the Lord may be speaking to us. We are to seek—Him—our Deliverer and our Healer.
If we persist in disobedience, in unbelief, life can get worse in a hurry. Verses 18-19: "If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19 I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze." Pride, which leads to destruction, is the opposite of faith in the Lord that leads to eternal life. Humility is a gift from God, stemming from pride's end and the birth of faith in us. If our pride is still not broken, there is more to come, as in Verses 20-24: "Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit. 21 If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins. 22 I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which will bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle and reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted. 23 And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, 24 then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins." All this is curative in nature. When we as a race fell into sin, we lost our perspective and each one must be healed by the Lord in order to finally see what is really important.
Just like Israel the nation, you the individual are being shaped toward a purpose that God has for you. All have deviated from His intention, which is what "original sin" has done to humanity. Just like a surgeon must cut into the patient for healing to begin, God applies extreme remedies to bring faith to His people. Verses 25-28: "I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant; and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands. 26 When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied. 27 Yet if in spite of this you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me, 28 then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins." Scripture teaches us to fear the Lord, but I don't think we understand His utter power over all of us. He is THE Creator and Sustainer of everyone and everything, including you and me, and the very breath we take is because He causes and allows it. All He asks in return is—everything—our utter and complete trust in the Lord who made us. Suffering is curative and also it can be a symptom that pride has damaged our capacity to believe. If you are not satisfied in life—look to Him who has the answer.
Verses 29-33: "Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat. 30 I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your remains on the remains of your idols, for My soul shall abhor you. 31 I will lay waste your cities as well and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your soothing aromas. 32 I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it will be appalled over it. 33 You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste." God wanted Israel's utter obedience. The alternative was that they would be surrounded by enemies and resort to cannibalism as a means of survival. Their cities would be destroyed along with the idols that seduced them, and God would scatter them among the nations.
The Lord has a sabbath rest for us. If we won't voluntarily enter His rest, He will bring it about anyway, in utterly surprising ways. In Israel's case, they would be taken out of the promised land altogether, and the place, in the absence of its people, would find a type of rest, as in Verses 34-35: "Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35 All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it." We need His rest, found through faith in the Lord. As Jesus would say, "Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).
You may think you can hide from the Lord and His will. "Perhaps if I'm inoffensive and live a quiet life, I won't be noticed," except there is no escape from God's call. Verses 36-39: "As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall. 37 They will therefore stumble over each other as if running from the sword, although no one is pursuing; and you will have no strength to stand up before your enemies. 38 But you will perish among the nations, and your enemies’ land will consume you. 39 So those of you who may be left will rot away because of their iniquity in the lands of your enemies; and also because of the iniquities of their forefathers they will rot away with them." Unbelief leads to terror and destruction. Faith in the Lord is the antidote for Israel and for you.
What God wants from us does not change through the centuries. Verses 40-42 state: "If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— 41 I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land." Centuries later, after the death and resurrection of the Lord, 1 John 1:9 would reveal the same message: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." And that is precisely the message from God to your nation and to you today. Confess your sins—He will forgive you and make you clean.
You may feel cast out of some important aspect of life, but the Lord is not gone, as seen in Verses 43-45: "For the land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them. They, meanwhile, will be making amends for their iniquity, because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. 45 But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, 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." It's puzzling and upsetting to be denied something or someone you really want. But when Jesus died, He died for you, and if you place even the smallest faith in Him, then God's covenant, His contract is established within you and He will always remember His promise. You may drift away, but He will "never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5).
Verse 46: "These are the statutes and ordinances and laws which the Lord established between Himself and the sons of Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai." Chapter 26 is full of God's will for Israel, and the question is this: What is His will for YOU? Have you been drawn to minister, teach, comfort, lead or otherwise help those in need? Do you want to write, sing or encourage others in some way? You can see from this chapter that to be in His will brings blessings and to ignore Him leads to trouble. What does He want to establish in your life? What will you do about it?
Father, I have drifted from Your will for my life. I confess my sin and long to return to Your love. You are my Promised Land, Lord, and I place my faith in You. I am Yours. Please heal me and bring me home to You. In Jesus Name. Amen.