Today we read the blessings for obedience and punishments for disobedience in Leviticus 26. Did you notice that 13 verses are dedicated to the blessings and 32 verses are dedicated to the punishments? The Lord is a good Father! He is warning His greatly loved children of the punishments for their disobedience just like we warn our own children. (Ex. If you stay in the backyard, we will go for ice cream later. If you disobey me, there will be no ice cream, you will be sent to your room, you won’t get to play with your friends, I’ll take away all your games and anything else dear to you, and so forth.) Why do we do this as parents? Because we know the dangers that could come upon that child if he or she leaves the backyard without us. God’s love for His children is far greater than anything we can give our children, and His ways are far greater than anything we can imagine, so we can trust Him with His discipline. The writer of Hebrews will later say, “we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:9-11).
The Lord’s desire has always been for His children to walk by faith, trusting Him and trusting that His word is good. We saw this back in the garden with Adam and Eve. He told them not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because He knew what would happen if they did. They chose to disobey His word, and sin entered the world breaking man’s relationship with God. But the Lord didn’t abandon His children; He is working a plan to save guilty sinners through the newly liberated Israelites whom the Lord brought out of Egypt. He is now training Israel how to walk with Him by faith and to be His people. The Lord says if they obey Him, “I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you… I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.”
Then the Lord gives a long list of what will happen if they disobey, one being “I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.”
The punishment is to bring His children to repentance so they will turn back to Him and be restored. Therefore, the Lord goes on to say “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt— then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land. The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes. Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant of 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.”
The Lord is merciful to those who are humble:
- “For you will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks” (Psalm 18:27).
- “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5)
Later in the story, the proud Israelites will be humbled by their enemies because of their disobedience; and after seventy years in captivity in Babylon, the Lord will bring them back to their land. God is faithful, and He will keep His covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding their descendants and the land. But before we get to the Captivity and Return Eras, there is more to unfold in God’s incredible story, so keep reading! (Leviticus 25:24-26:46)