Leviticus 26:14-46 Punishments

It usually takes a bit of discomfort to get to the root of the problem.

God goes into great detail regarding the punishments that will be inflicted on Israel if they turn away from Him. It is NOT pretty! But…

God is not talking about bringing this punishment down on Israel for little slips in behavior. He is speaking of the systematic and gross turning against Him. We ALL sin but the sin God is warning against is LARGE and overwhelming.

He also doesn’t go from zero to a hundred in one second. He attempts to correct their behavior when it is in its infancy and KEEPS trying until it is CLEAR that they are NOT going to turn back. But even when things are at their worst, HE STILL LOVES THEM.

Reading these punishments brings to mind examples of them in action. The first one that strikes me is when Elijah shut up the heavens so there would be no rain. For 3 ½ years it did not rain. Crops didn’t grow. Trees didn’t give their fruit. The people starved! Many Read more »

Leviticus 26:1-13 Blessings

God promises His people great things IF they obey the laws He has just given them. SO many blessings await!

When God gave Israel His laws He used the carrot and the stick. We are looking at the carrot today; the promises of good. He started out with the conditions first. Then He moved onto the areas He would bless them in.

The conditions were really all rolled up into one thing; “Serve Me as I have instructed.” God lists them in three parts though. 1) NO graven idols of ANY kind. 2) Keep My Sabbaths. 3) Walk in MY Laws that I gave you. IF they do all these things THEN He will bless them in MANY ways.

When speaking of the blessing God also broke them down into categories. 1) Blessing the land and its yield. 2) Protection and supremacy over their enemies. 3) Prosperity. 4) His presence among them.

God promised to bless the land itself IF Israel obeyed His commands. “I will give you your rains in their seasons, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the fields shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing” (verses 4-5a).  No droughts. Bumper crops that go on producing long past first harvest. Crops so plentiful that it takes weeks to harvest them instead of days and they don’t rot while still in the field. God didn’t promise this for one farmer but for the whole nation! The fields, trees and vineyards would be overflowing.

The next thing He promised was security from invaders an even from “harmful beasts.” God didn’t say that they wouldn’t be fighting against their neighbors in the beginning because they were going to have to do that in order to obtain the land He was bringing them to. What He did say was that they would “dwell in your land securely. I will give peace in the land and you shall lie down and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land” (verses 5b-6). This peace comes AFTER they follow His command to remove the inhabitants from it. It is a peace that is fought and won with HIM in the lead. But this promise also includes protection and victory while removing the people already in the land. “You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword” (verses 7-8).

After peace comes prosperity. God promises plenty of children and plenty to feed them. “I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new” (verses 9-10). Because of the abundant harvest there will be plenty to store up for future use. The cupboards will be SO full that they will have to eat the old stuff to make room for the current year’s crops. That is a double blessing because old stuff has a tendency to spoil but God will preserve it perfectly so they can use it. With having a great excess, increasing in numbers is not a problem. There will be plenty to feed the future generations.

God saved the best for last. “I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be My people” (verses 11-12). Having Him in their midst wasn’t just a promise but the KEY promise. Without this promise the others are meaningless. ALL the other promises rested on this one.

Safety, prosperity, children, and fruitfulness means NOTHING without this promise. In fact they can’t happen without this promise first being in operation. God’s presence among His people is critical! Without it they would be just like all the other nations. And this promise only happens when they keep the three conditions He called them to.

By following His Laws they were under His protective umbrella. NO, this doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happened to any of them. They lived in a fallen world just like we do. They were also flesh and blood like us. AND they fell short of following ALL He had called them to, just like we do. So they never lived in this “utopian” environment. They had times when they had more success at meeting God’s commands and those times bore fruit like He promised they would but they couldn’t maintain it. That is where the next part comes in. They needed someone to do it for them as much as we do!

One thing I’m VERY grateful for is that God’s love is NOT conditional. God loved Israel even when they messed up otherwise He wouldn’t have kept reaching out to them. But because of Jesus’ sacrifice His relationship with us isn’t conditional either. Jesus made a way for us to walk with Him daily without being tied to EVERY rule and regulation. And with a relationship with Him comes His blessings. But also comes His discipline. That’s part of what we will be looking at next; the consequences of disobedience and breaking that relationship.

Father God, I’m SO glad I’m not under the law where a relationship with You is so conditional. I know my sin gets in the way even now and I can’t imagine the barriers it would set between us back then. I also know that not everything good that happens is a “payment for me being good” and every bad thing that happens a “punishment for my misdeeds.” Thank You that the majority of the things that happen in my life are ‘good’ though. I LOVE seeing Your fingerprints all over my life, even when those fingerprints are firmly stamped on instances of discipline. You don’t discipline those You don’t love and those who aren’t Your children. I’ll take even those times as proof of Your love and our relationship.

Leviticus 25:47-55 Strangers Too

Indentured servitude is a direct descendent of what God’s law covers. But there is likely a BIG difference in practice.

The last time we were together we looked at how a “brother” or “neighbor” should treat one another who had financial issues. We will now look at strangers too.

When we were reading about how a poor person could sell himself to his fellow Israelite we saw that this person could not be treated as a slave but a “hired worker.” They had to be treated better than slaves AND they had to be released at the year of Jubilee. Brothers could not hold brothers longer than the Jubilee.

But what if the poor man decides to sell himself/his services to someone who was not an Israelite? Well, God addressed that too. Read more »

Leviticus 25:35-46 Poor Brothers

PRAISE GOD He doesn’t leave us here!

God calls for kindness to a fellow Israelite when he falls on hard times. I wish that God had forbidden slavery of all men at this time but He didn’t.

There were a few reasons most people wound up in slavery. The first is if they were conquered by and invading army. The losers of the battle would become the spoils for the victors. This happened many times in many different nations.

A second way was a result of financial difficulty. An individual would be unable to pay his debts and end up on the auction block. Or a father would have so many children he couldn’t feed them and instead sell them to gain money and decrease his demand load. Still yet, a man would find himself without means to work his fields and sell himself to another and give the proceeds to his family to carry on in his absence. Read more »

Leviticus 25:23-34 Redeeming Property

Houses my change over time but “Home” never does. There is NO PLACE LIKE HOME!

God is watchful over the property HE gives to Israel. It doesn’t “belong” to them but to Him. And He has rules regarding its sale.

We touched on this the last time we were together when we discussed the year of Jubilee. We saw that the property sold between Jubilee years reverted back to the original owner at the next occurrence. This change of hands was free of charge for the original “owners.”

I was thinking about how it would feel if I were the one living in the “borrowed” property when the Jubilee came. Jubilee only happened every 50 years. I wonder how many Jubilee years the average person saw. Moses lived to be 120 years old. Jubilee counting didn’t happen in his lifetime because it was for after they got to the Promised Land. But how many times would an average Israelite have to pick up stakes and move out of a house they had occupied for most of their life because of Jubilee? Read more »