Monday, February 10, 2014

Leviticus 26-27 God will remember

From Leviticus 26-27

Lev 26.1-2 Law; Repeated command not to worship idols and to maintain the Sabbaths
Lev 26.3-13 Law; Blessings for obedience
Lev 26.14-45 Law; Punishments for disobedience
Lev 26.46 Story; Reminder these are the statutes, rules and laws given to Moses on Mt Sinai
Lev 27.1-33 Law; Laws about vows and redeeming what is the LORD's
Lev 27.34 Story; Reminder these are the commandments given to Moses on Mt Sinai

Passage and Comments
The first chapter details the blessings and curses for keeping or failing to keep the covenant law. Here are some of the important bits of the sequence.

[3] “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, (Lev 26:3)

Then the passage describes a whole heap of blessings for obedience. The command doesnt necessarily demand perfect and sinless obedience but faithfulness to the covenant. The best blessing is below.

[11] I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. [12] And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. [13] I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. (Lev 26:11-13)

God will be with them. But now here comes the warning for disobedience.

[14] “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, [15] if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, (Lev 26:14-15)

Notice there is a chain of similar phrases, and God uses the punishment to help them repent.

[21] “Then if you walk contrary to me and will not listen to me, I will continue striking you, sevenfold for your sins. (Lev 26:21)

and then,

[23] “And if by this discipline you are not turned to me but walk contrary to me, [24] then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you sevenfold for your sins. (Lev 26:23-24)

and then,

[27] “But if in spite of this you will not listen to me, but walk contrary to me, [28] then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins. (Lev 26:27-28)

The bit we are missing is that finally they will be exiled. As we read more through the Old Testament we will find out this happens.

[34] “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies' land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. [35] As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it. (Lev 26:34-35)

When the exile happens the land will have a rest from Israel... Notice now the following verse.

[46] These are the statutes and rules and laws that the LORD made between himself and the people of Israel through Moses on Mount Sinai. (Lev 26:46)

If one were to read the whole Torah in a block. Leviticus stands out. These look like phrases inserted in the Leviticus book to assure readers Moses received these instructions at Mt Sinai. Why then did he not write them down with all the other laws God gave? This suggests a later date of authorship for Leviticus.

[44] Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God. [45] But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.” (Levi 26:44-45)

God promises to remember his covenant. 'Remember' is an important word associated with the covenant.

Story of Israel
Israel was often reminded of the covenant. Unfortunately in unhappy circumstances. They were told when they broke it! But while Israel was unfaithful, God remained faithful.

Story of Jesus
We see in the Gospel God is faithful to his promise and he sends Jesus to call Israel back to repentance and devotion to God. One thing to always keep in mind when reading the gospel is its Old Testament background and the promises God has made in the past. God is faithful to his promises.