This concluding chapter of Leviticus wraps up the great expectations of the Holy God with a warning. Blessings will abound to a nation that keeps the covenant. However, correction and a curse lies in wait for the years the people rebel.
What does this tell me about God:
- God’s conditional favor was a gift for the Israelites.
We are not familiar with conditions or boundaries to God’s favor, because we live in the new covenant of Christ (more on that later). We often think that conditional grace is selfish or one-sided. But that is not the case with God.
In Leviticus, God sets up parameters for his grace and provision: the covenant. Leviticus 26:3-13 reminds the people of the blessings available, indeed promised, for their obedience. The later verse of the chapter serve as a warning of the consequences, justly deserved, for the people who forget their God, ignoring his expectations and laws. This covenant, along with its curse/blessing consequence, was a benefit to the people. Every part of it ensured the people:
- Walk closely with their God.
- Live set apart lives for God
- Maintain healthy standards relationally, economically, and physically.
In short, God knew these things were the absolute best the Israelites could have. No other way of life would bring more fulfillment, safety, hope, joy, and purpose. The consequences awaiting a people who strayed from this covenant were arrows designed to point them back to a close relationship with their creator.
How can I live in light of this:
- I am grateful for the new covenant.
As history reveals, the Israelites struggled to keep the covenant. Over and over again, they rejected God’s laws and fell into the curse promised in Leviticus 26. People were dragged off as captives, experienced famine, and other judgments for their sin.
Any covenant that hinges on human ability for righteousness will consistently swing towards brokenness. That is why God made a new covenant with humanity, hinging on the perfection of His Son Jesus. When we trust in His ability to keep the covenant in our place, we experience unconditional favor, freedom, and connection with our creator.
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” Hebrews 9:13-15
- I should be grateful of God’s blessing in disguise.
I do not believe that God lavishes material blessings and wealth on those who follow Him closely. The Bible is clear that there is a spiritual blessing for the poor, the persecuted, the striving. These things themselves are gifts as they drive us closer to God. We often forget the greatest blessing we receive is not material or relational. It is not a sound mind or a healthy body. It is not a close family or a solid roof over our heads. It is intimacy with God.
God used correction and curses to turn the hearts of the Israelites back to himself; in this way, each curse was a blessing. The wars, famines, captivity, and destitution were the tools of return.
I don’t think that every time I face a difficult situation that God is using his mighty sovereignty to drive me closer to him. We live in a broken world and sometimes crap just happens. However, I do believe that every circumstance is an opportunity to seek a closer walk with Him, to plead for His help and proximity for comfort.
Other thoughts or questions:
- I appreciate Leviticus 26:40’s nod toward generational sin: “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers…—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant…” (vs. 40-42)
God is reminding the people that their sin is not just about the bad things they do. It is about the sin-nature at work in their very lives, passed on through generations like a hereditary trait. When we come to Jesus for salvation, we do not make a list of all the bad things we do. Rather, we confess our very nature as sinners, which the Holy Spirit then replaces with a new nature, enabling us to have that unconditional relationship with God.