Leviticus 26 (Part 2)
The Punishment for Unbelief
Continuing on in Leviticus 26, we notice a dramatic shift from the overwhelming blessings that God desires to pour out upon those that keep the covenant. The blessings could be split into three categories:
- The blessing of rain from the heavens resulting in a miraculous and abundant harvest. The Christian cannot make the heavens rain, but in keeping the covenant of grace, God has promised to open heaven’s windows and provide a bountiful harvest of the fruit of His Spirit.
- The blessing of a conquering and overcoming of any evil beast or any multitude of the enemy. The Christian cannot overwhelm the powers of this world or the works of Satan, but through our God we shall do valiantly. This blessing is a blessing regarding the battle against the enemy.
- The final category is the overflowing barns. God fills the Christian brim-full so that they have “strength to spare,” so to speak.
So these three categories of blessings are then contrasted with three categories of curses. If you refuse to humble yourself and receive the free gift of salvation, and neglect so great a salvation which Christ offers, what should you expect other than spiritual barrenness and desolation. Leviticus 26:14-39 reveal that God’s desire is to swiftly break us of our pride and self-reliance. He will bring sorrow, suffering and calamity into our lives to drive us back to the covenant (which is the only avenue to life and health and peace). He will chastise as a loving Father. But notice that He makes this statement several times in this chapter: “if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me.” If you walk in rebellion God will swiftly bring conviction into your life. If you do not hearken, He will continue to “walk contrary to you” as you have walked contrary unto Him. His aim is repentance and restoration and returning unto you a life of joy and abundance in Himself.
The first category of “curse” is a hardened heaven: “And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits (Leviticus 26:19-20).” Where walking in obedience results in an open heaven, a rebellious heart results in a heaven that is iron and an earth that is brass. Try growing tomatoes in a flower bed of brass . . . good luck! Remember, none of us can force the heavens to open; those under the blessing are wholly dependent on the goodness of God to open the heavens. However, those that walk in the stubbornness and pride of their own self-made religion are certain to have a heaven that will not rain down the needed water, and an earth that will not yield fruit. Self cannot produce God’s fruit.
The second curse stands in contrast to the promised blessing of strength over enemies; instead of five sending one hundred packing we read of the ensuing cowardice: “And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you (Leviticus 26:17).” Instead of confidence over your enemies of sin, lust and pride, you will flee when none pursue. The life of rebellion is a life under the thumb of sin.
Third, where the life of blessing is a barn overflowing we see a horrid and abominable contrast: “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat (Leviticus 26:29).” Do you see what a contrast that is? A life of faith in the covenant of grace results in having a barn overflowing with food to give to the impoverished; the life of unbelief, pride and rebellion to the covenant results in devouring those you ought to lay down your life for. A father ought to give up his food in order to feed his starving children; but what we see here is a father feasting upon his children to save his own skin. The life of blessing is a life of selflessness, the life of curse is a life of selfishness.
So, what will you choose? Will you neglect the great covenant of grace? If you do, you can expect that the fruit of the Spirit will be absent in your life (love, joy, peace, etc.); you can expect to cower in fear and anxiety before enemies real and imagined; and you can expect all your relationships to be marked by friction, envy, anger and bitterness. May these curses drive us to the cross, and may we hearken to the glad tidings of the Gospel!