AN EXPOSITION OF LEVITICUS 26:1-29
1 YE shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.
Once more the Second Commandment is brought before the children of Israel. They were to make no idols, or an image of stone. An image of stone refers to a figured stone covered with hieroglyphics.
2 Ye shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
When the LORD is worshipped, He is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. The LORD is to be honored by meeting with Him at the appointed times and place. Reverence is to be given to His sanctuary with its Altar, Laver, Holy Place, Table of Showbread, Candelabra, and Holies of Holies which contained the Ark of the Covenant.
Not only was the Sabbath to be kept, but all the Sabbaths were to be kept, of which there were several. Each Sabbath was characterized by a holy convocation and no servile or regular work. The idea of work is not minutely defined in the law, except that the kindling of fire for cooking is expressly forbidden (Ex. 35:3), and the gathering of wood is treated as a transgression (Num. 15:32-36). Work, in its widest sense, was to cease. This cessation of labor included bearing a burden (Jer. 17:21-27), traveling (Ex. 16:29), and trading (Amos 8:5) (The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary)
Promises and Warnings
3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
The blessings of the LORD are of two kinds. First, there are the blessings of Common Grace “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt. 5:45) Those who make no profession of faith in God are still the objects of infinite mercy as He bestows good gifts such as intelligence, a good mind, food, shelter, clothing, money, and a job.
Second, there are blessings of Covenant Grace. God is a covenant making, and covenant keeping God. God made a covenant with His people in the Old Testament, and provided a New Covenant after the death of Christ which was superior in content and character. “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:” (Jer. 31:31) “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:…10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” (Heb. 8:8, 10)
Bible scholars recognize that a biblical covenant has five parts. These five parts, expressed throughout Scripture, provide an excellent model for today.
Transcendence. All covenants begin with a statement of Lordship. God is distinct, though not distant in three areas: creation, redemption, and revelation. Because God transcends His creation, He is Lord and He is sovereign. Though God is distinct from His creation, He can be close and personal. This is the marvel of the Incarnation. What a glorious Lord we serve.
Hierarchy. It can be argued that God has created three covenantal institutions: Family, State, and Church. God desires a covenant-shaped society. A society of the spiritually committed should be based on personal and corporate prosperity. Ideally, the concept is one for all, and all for one.
In order to bring stability to society, each of the Divine institutions, Family, State, and Church, has designated human representatives. Hierarchy exists by virtue of human representatives, whether it is the husband representing his family before God, or local and federal magistrates representing the will of the people before congress, or the elders or pastors of the local church, representing the people before God.
Ethics. The ethics are established by the Law in the Old Testament, and by Christ in the New Testament. Secular society borrows from the Judeo-Christian heritage to formulate its own laws.
Sanctions. There are rewards and punishments attached to the covenant. The sanctions of a covenant can be good or bad, helpful, or harmful, a blessing or a curse.
Continuity. There are blessings by keeping His commandments—up “…to a thousand generations…” (Deuteronomy 7: 9). The principle of heirship is included in the covenant. Faithfulness is the key response God is after.
The Blessings Associated
With Keeping Covenant with God
4 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.
Rain. “I will give you rain in due season.” The former rains, and the latter rains would fall.
Fruitful crops. “And the land shall yield her increase.” There would be corn, wheat, barley, lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes.
A good orchard. “And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” There would be fig trees, and grapes on the vine.
5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage 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.
A successful harvest season. “And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage.” There would be no worms to worry about, no drought to dread, and no frost bite to fear.
Abundance of food. “And ye shall eat your bread to the full.”
National security. “And dwell in your land safely.
6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
No civil unrest. “And I will give peace in the land.”
A life without fear. “And none shall make you afraid.”
Taming of wild life. “And I will rid evil beasts out of the land.”
Secure borders. “Neither shall the sword go through your land.
7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
A strong military preparation. “And ye shall chase your enemies.”
Military victory. “And they shall fall before you by the sword.”
8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
An elite fighting force. There will be a ratio of 5 to a 100. “And five of you shall chase an hundred.”
An effective fighting force. “And an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight.”
9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
Favored nation status. “For I will have respect unto you.”
Large family units. “And make you fruitful and multiply you.”
A Divine treaty. “And establish my covenant with you.”
10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
A lasting food supply. “And ye shall eat old store.”
11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
God shall dwell among His people. “And I will set my tabernacle among you.”
Divine favor. “And my soul shall not abhor you.”
12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
Holy fellowship. “And I will walk among you.”
A special relationship. “I will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”
13 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.
The Curses Associated
With Breaking Covenant with God
14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15 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:
There is a natural downward spiral in sin.
First, a person will not listen to the Lord.
Second, a person will not do what the Lord commands.
Third, a person will despise the statutes of the Lord.
Fourth, a person will abhor or hate the judgments of God.
Fifth, a person will not repent, but become hardened in evil so that the commandments of the Lord will never be done.
Sixth, a person breaks covenant with the Lord finally and forever to enter into a state of apostasy.
A Reign of Divine Terror
16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
Terror. The LORD knows how to instill abject fear into the hearts of a nation reflected in the need today in American society for safe spaces for snowflakes, who are afraid of a chalk mark on a sidewalk, the sight of a policeman, or the image of a statue.
Consumption. The translation of two Hebrew words in the KJV refers to a wasting disease which ends in death.
Diseases such as tuberculosis, leukemia, AIDS, Ebola, and pancreatic cancer would be modern day examples of consumption.
Ague. The burning ague probably refers to malaria. This disease is transmitted by certain species of the mosquito. The symptoms include chills followed by fever that often subsides in a few hours, only to recur more severely some hours later.
This pattern continues intermittently, and if not treated will cause death (Lev. 26:16).
Crop loss. “Ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will eat it.” Time and again in history, a nation has found its resources being depleted by its enemies.
17 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.
Military defeat. “Ye shall be slain before your enemies.”
Racial hatred. “They that hate you shall reign over you.”
Unnecessary fear. “Ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
Sevenfold Intensification in Judgment
18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
The word seven is symbolically used in Scripture as a term of completion. Here the word is used to indicate severity of punishment.
19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
Humiliation. “I will break the pride of your power.” There will be personal and national disgrace and dishonor. Wealth and weapons of war will be taken away.
Loss of faith. “I will make your heaven as iron.”
Loss of productivity. “I will make…your earth as brass.” It is hard to produce something when the ground does not yield to the strength of man’s labor.
20 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.
Depletion of energy. “Your strength shall be spent in vain.”
Famine. “Your land shall not yield her increase.”
Total starvation. “Neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”
Seven Times Seven
21 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.
As there are depths of sin which are deeper still, so there are judgments of God which are more severe than before.
If a nation is self-aware, the people can discern that sin is the source for all the hardships in society. The nation has not kept covenant with God.
The LORD will enter into a covenant relationship with any nation that wishes to embrace Him. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD: and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)
National Israel once had a unique relationship with the LORD, until they came under His judgment in AD 70, and were dispersed among the nations until they were regathered on May 15, 1948.
Historically, other nations have entered into a Client-Covenant Relationship with the LORD and prospered, until they violated the Covenant provisions.
England offers one example. America is another. Will America remain a Christian nation? The Church can pray that it remains so. Franklin Graham has said, “I have hope for America because of Jesus Christ.” What is certain is that when America breaks covenant with the LORD, she too knows the terrible wrath of Divine displeasure.
Trailed by a Wild Beast
22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.
23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
The image of walking conveys the idea of a slow, conscious, and deliberate act. If individuals are determined to walk contrary to the known will of the LORD, then the LORD will take conscious and deliberate appropriate acts to discipline individuals.
The Avenging God
25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
Sword. Military conflict. “And I will bring a sword upon you.”
Pestilence. Disease. “I will send the pestilence among you.”
National Disintegration. “And ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.”
26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
Hunger. “And ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.
Cannibalism was reported by Flavius Josephus during the siege of Jerusalem by Rome in 70 AD. “There was a certain woman that dwelt beyond Jordan, her name was Mary…. She was eminent for her family and her wealth, and had fled away to Jerusalem with the rest of the multitude, and was with them besieged therein at this time. This put the poor woman into a very great passion…She then attempted a most unnatural thing; and snatching up her son, who was a child sucking at her breast, she said, “O thou miserable infant! for whom shall I preserve thee in this war, this famine, and this sedition? As to the war with the Romans, if they preserve our lives, we must be slaves. This famine also will destroy us, even before that slavery comes upon us. Yet are these seditious rogues more terrible than both the other. Come on; be thou my food, and be thou a fury to these seditious varlets, and a by-word to the world, which is all that is now wanting to complete the calamities of us Jews.” As soon as she had said this, she slew her son, and then roasted him, and eat the one half of him, and kept the other half by her concealed. (The Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter 3, Section 4).
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But it is also a blessing for a nation to have the LORD as their God. May America always be a Christian nation.