Explore the Bible

with Laura Leathers

Sunday,  November 26

Set Futures

Leviticus 26:3-16, 40-45

Warning! Warning! Warning! In the distance you see yellow lights flashing across the caution saw horses. As you drive closer you observe a bright yellow sign with the word ‘Danger’ printed in bold black letters. You have two options; slow down or stop so you can determine the danger, or continue going full speed ahead. What will you choose? God’s Word, the Bible, is filled with precepts and principles on how to live a life pleasing unto Him. However, it also provides warnings. If you choose to walk in disobedience there will be the consequences. In our final lesson for this quarter, we will see God’s promise and His warning to the nation of Israel for the future. This warning is reiterated more emphatically in Deuteronomy 28. Bob Deffinbaugh states, “This chapter does not just contain words of warning, but also some of the greatest words of hope found in the Bible.”

The chapter begins with a crucial warning in verses one and two. It is one the Israelites forgot many times and so have we, “You shall not make for yourselves idols.” Idols would lead to the worship of false deities rather than the worship of the one true living God. The second warning was to keep the sabbaths and to reverence the sanctuary. Why? “For I am the LORD your God.” This phrase is used repeatedly throughout this chapter and marks the end of each section (vv. 13, 44, 45).

Promise (Lev. 26:3-13) — The first three verses outline the conditions. This focal passage outlines the divine blessings. Everything hinged on Israel’s keeping of the Mosaic Covenant. “If you walk in my statues and observe my commandment and do them, then I will give . . .” (vv. 3, 4) the blessings of: Fertility in the land (vv.4-5), living in safety in the land (v. 5), removal of dangerous animals (v. 6), removal of the sword (v.6) and victory over enemies (v. 7). The blessings were directly related to the Israel’s possession of the land of Canaan. 

God would provide peace and prosperity in the new land but His greatest blessing was the promise of His presence, “I will make my dwelling among you . . . and I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (vv. 11, 12 ESV).

Our greatest blessing is our salvation found in Christ and the power of His presence living within us. We have the blessings of His mercy, grace, faithfulness, steadfast love, wisdom, and all the riches found in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3; Phil 4:19, Col. 1:27; 2:2-3). God always keeps His promises, however people do not, therefore God issued a . . .

Warning (Lev. 26:14-16) — The next verses are pivotal. “But if you do not listen to me and will not do all these commandments . . . then I will do this to you.” Take a moment to read verses 14 through 39. Basically, what you see is a reversal of the blessings. Instead of peace there will be peril. Instead of finding prosperity in the land, they would find poverty. The warning was loud and clear. If the Israelites disobeyed His commands, they would face His discipline. This discipline would also include suffering defeat at the hands of their enemies. The heartbreaking reality, there would be a growing separation from Him.

Throughout this passage we also see the phrase ‘seven times’ or ‘sevenfold’ (vv. 18, 21, 24, 28). The nation of Israel could choose to disobey and then be disciplined. However, if they continued to “walk contrary” to God’s commandments their disobedience would be sevenfold. But God provides a way to . . .

Return (Lev. 26:40-45) — There is no mincing of words, God promises to hear the confession of His disobedient people and to restore the relationship and fellowship. “If then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember . . .” (vv. 41b-42 ESV). Hope was and is found in knowing God offers forgiveness to all who turn to Him in repentance.

One final thought: “The God who gave the Israelites the law in order to guide them towards holiness was also aware of their complete inability of maintaining that holiness on their own accord. God knew humanity would need a Savior and sent His Son to die in our place. Leviticus points us to the holy God and to our desperate need for atonement in order to have a relationship with Him” (“The Study Bible for Women”, by Patterson & Kelley).

Leathers is a member of First Church, Madison.