This is the final week in Leviticus. The title reads, “Show Others Godly Grace (Leviticus 23:1-27:34).” Because of the title of this lesson I would encourage you to read over my introduction to Leviticus and last week’s brief comments. Leviticus 23-27 is profoundly God centered, not man centered. Even care for the poor is centered around what God has done for His people (25:38, 55).
- The Calendar (23-25) – When Israel should gather to worship God
- Blessings and Curses (26) – God’s promises concerning obedience
- Vows (27) – Making vows to the LORD and devoted offerings
God’s discipline is a topic not much addressed in our time. This week in Leviticus 26 we read how God reacts to the obedience and disobedience of His people. Verses 3-13, 10 verses, describe the obedience of the people and God’s response. They must walk in His way. God uses these 10 verses to assure Israel of His response: enough to eat, security, peace, no wild animals, victories over enemies, many children, abundance of food, and the presence of God. God uses the next 29 verses to emphasize His discipline. He begins with Israel not doing “all these commandments” and breaking God’s covenant (v. 14-15) then He will react with discipline (v. 16-17).If they still do not listen then He will discipline them sevenfold (v. 18-20). If they still do not listen then He will discipline them sevenfold (v. 21-22). “And if by this discipline you are not turned to Me but walk contrary to Me” then He will Himself discipline them sevenfold (v. 23-26). “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to Me” then God promises that He Himself will discipline them sevenfold for their sins (v. 27-33). The promised land would then find rest while Israel was in exile (v. 34-39). But if they confess their sins, humble themselves, and make amends for their iniquity then God will restore them to the land (v. 40-46).
There are many things we can learn from this section. First, notice how much space is given to obedience and its blessings compared to disobedience and its curses. There is a decided weight to the curses. God has to be heavy on the consequences of disobedience because He knows they (and we) are disposed to evil (Matthew 7:11, Genesis 6:5). God is teaching the inability of the people to be obedient to “all these commandments” (v. 14). Second, notice God’s abundant mercy. Five times God disciplines His people in order to see them turn back to Him. He is merciful and faithful to His covenant. He gives them many chances in the land and even when He removed them He said He would never completely abandon them (v. 44-45). God is unfathomably merciful for offering so many chances and periods of grace and opportunities for repentance. Third, notice that the main goal of God’s discipline is for people to turn back to Him. The same is true today with church discipline. The same is true for discipline with your children. Fourth, to look ahead many hundred years, after the death and resurrection of Christ there was no condemnation for those in Christ (Romans 8:1). Not all in the Israelite community were believers. So some received what they deserved for their disobedience. But the law no longer condemns us. We are free to obey God without fear of not doing everything perfectly. We must only have faith that God is sovereign, Christ has done all that is needed for salvation, and we obey God because He has already saved us. Fifth, again from the New Testament, these curses are no longer for us because Christ has become the curse for us (Galatians 3:10-14). So we are redeemed and given the Holy Spirit because God has saved us by faith in Christ Jesus His Son and the work of the Holy Spirit.