Leviticus 26 (Part 1)
Leviticus 26 is a profound chapter full of convicting truths. In essence God speaks to the people of Israel and delineates a series of “if/thens.” The first section deals with the “if/then” of walking in God’s paths, keeping his commandments and doing them, and the subsequent blessings that God would pour out:
Leviticus 26:3 – If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then . . .
The second half of the chapter has statements like this:
Leviticus 26:14-15 18, 21, 23, 27-28
But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: [then] . . .
And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins. …
And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; …
And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
God, in verses 3-13, succinctly describes the great blessedness of following Him, obeying Him, walking in accordance with the covenant. Then the next 26 verses describe the desolation that will result if the people of God rebel and are filled with pride, and it ain’t a pretty picture. The chapter concludes with five or so verses describing how, if at any point the people repent of their wickedness, God will still be faithful unto them (though they were unfaithful). The great news of the Gospel is that though our sins are a scarlet, He washes them white as snow; and no matter how rebellious we have been, the Gospel is still an invitation to believe upon Christ and be saved.
So I’ll break this beautiful and sobering chapter into three sections, and walk through them over the next few days:
- The Blessing of Faith
- The Punishment for Unbelief
- The Unending Mercy of God
The Blessing of Faith
I do not think we realize the we realize how good God desires to be toward us. Our rebellious hearts are so corrupted that we think God rude and dictatorial for asking us to obey the terms of the covenant; when in reality, He is extending unto us an undeserved gift of life. We deserve death; instead, He gives us a “way to the Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Old Covenant had a precious blessing in it for the Israelites: if they would obey, God would open the windows of heaven and cause the ground to yield such a harvest as would seem incomprehensible.
This harvest is described thusly, “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely (Leviticus 26:3-5).” The harvest that God promises to those who obey His covenant is a promise that there would never be a famine. God’s harvest flows right on through planting season. In the believer’s life, there are no gaps where spiritual starvation sets in. God brings such a harvest that we need never hunger.
God also promises His people that “none shall make you afraid,” and that “five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight (Lev. 26:6-8).” No matter what enemy assaults the child of God, the child of God puts the enemy to flight. It is also said that “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” The believer and keeper of the covenant can expect a life of victory over their enemies.
Now for my favorite idea in this first passage. It says in Leviticus 26:9-13 “For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.”
Believer, the first covenant was a faulty one, for it rested upon the shoulders of mere men. However, the second covenant is a perfect one, for the government of this covenant rests upon the shoulders Heaven’s Prince. The first one exposed our inability and taught us our need for a better covenant; the covenant of His grace. Now, this old covenant is only a faint shadow of what we as believers in the Gospel covenant receive in substance. God promised the Israelites that they would be so fruitful that they would “eat the old store;” meaning, their barns would be so full that when it came time to harvest the new crop, there would still be leftovers in abundance from years past. Thus, they would need to “bring forth (or give away) the old because of the new.” In essence, God would so bless them for obeying His commandment, that they would be able to bless those who were impoverished. The New Testament reality is far more grand. The believer’s “barns” are so full of love, faith, joy, passion, pleasure, and peace in God that they have “wealth to spare.”
The Christian is known by their fruit, and the fruit of a Christian is overflowing, abundant, and everlasting, precisely because their King is overflowing, abundant and everlasting. He has all that we need, and so the soul that rests in the Good News of the covenant of grace, has an endless supply of grace and goodness to give away to impoverished souls around him. I fear that the barns of many saints are so scanty, and they have so little to give–spiritually speaking–because their faith and hope rests in their goodness and not in the goodness of their Savior. You rely upon you, and you get spiritual barrenness; you rely upon never absent, always faithful Christ (Matt. 28:18 & Lev. 26:11-13) and you get spiritual abundance. I want to be eating the “old store.” I want to be so brimful of Christ, that not a day goes by that I have naught to praise Him and thank Him for. I want to feast upon all that He is. In fact, He is the old store; for He is an unending feast of joy and delight.