Leviticus 26:46 (HCSB)
46 These are the statutes, ordinances, and laws the Lord established between Himself and the Israelites through Moses on Mount Sinai.
In this chapter God outlines the blessings that will flow from the Israelites keeping the covenant with God, as well as the punishments that flow from their breaking of the covenant.
The first 13 verses, Leviticus 26:1-13, are concerned with the benefits of keeping God’s covenant, while Leviticus 26:14-39 is concerned with the discipline God will apply if the Israelites do not keep His covenant. Despite the depressing tone of the middle section of the chapter, Leviticus 26 closes with God’s provision of an “escape clause” of sorts. In the end we see that God is not determined to punish man, but quite the opposite, He is determined to provide an avenue for our fellowship with Him.
The blessings of obedience include boons in weather, agriculture, foreign relations, domestic disturbances, might, and, most importantly, fellowship with God. This means the Israelites will never have want for food, security, prosperity, or a relation with God. Notably, in Leviticus 26:13, God reminds the Israelites of His freeing them from slavery in Egypt, and that He has, “enabled you to live in freedom.” Quite contrary to the skeptic’s claim that following God is restrictive, God is quite straightforward that adherence to His covenants is freedom, and He has enabled His people to live in this covenantal freedom.
The discipline that flows from disobedience seems to follow a pattern of increasing severity, possibly reminiscent of the Egyptian plagues? One might view this middle section as God’s “threat” for us to obey, and therefore miss what I think is the real point and tone of the chapter. Surely there is a threatening aspect to this section, but I think it is more a warning for our benefit, just as a parent would warn a child to avoid playing in the street or touching a hot burner. After all, if God was simply demanding obedience for the sake of obedience, then what would be the purpose of His continued degrees of discipline, and their obvious culmination in this hope of man’s return to God? Why wouldn’t God simply be done with man after the first bout of disobedience? Because there is love, concern, a desire of God to reconcile us to Him.
And that is what He outlines in Leviticus 26:40-45. God has a plan for us to be reconciled and the covenant to be reestablished. Be sure that there are consequences: “if they will pay the penalty for their sin.” (Lev 26:41) And what is more, and should not be forgotten, is that despite the Israelites rejection of God and His covenant, He still will maintain His covenant to not destroy His people (Lev 26:44).
And finally, the last verse of the chapter, should remind us that it was God alone who established the covenant, and all the laws and ordinances that go along with it. Man has no part in the covenant, other than to keep it and receive the blessings from doing so, or break it and bear the consequences. But, ultimately it is God who puts things in place and is in control.
Lord, thank You for Your covenant. I pray for the faith and will to observe Your covenant with us. And when we fail and fall short, humble us to repentance and confession of our sin, and restore us. Amen.