New European Commentary

 

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Lev 26:1 ‘You shall make for yourselves no idols, neither shall you raise up an engraved image or a pillar, neither shall you place any figured stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am Yahweh your God-
 Image
- The Hebrew words for 'image' and 'imagination' are related, just as they are in English, Russian and other languages. This ancient law suddenly becomes bitingly relevant in our age- we are not to worship imaginations. The idols of the world are to be thrown down. Paul perceived the connection between stone images and psychological imaginations when he wrote of how we are to cast down [the language of casting down idols] imaginations and every high, lifted up thing that is against Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). People live their lives worshipping imaginations, chasing vaguely defined psychological dreams- of what it would be like to drive that car, live in that house, have that career, live with that man or woman. And these are our idols in this age, which we are to cut down and replace with the Christ centered mind.



Lev 26:2 You shall keep My Sabbaths, and have reverence for My sanctuary. I am Yahweh.
Lev 26:3 If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them;
Lev 26:4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Lev 26:5 Your threshing shall reach to the vintage, and the vintage shall reach to the sowing time; and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely-
 safely
- Israel's dwelling in peace and safety before the final invasion (Ez. 38) could then speak of a time when Israel have repented and Christ is already back. In this case, the blessings of Lev. 26 would then describe the blessedness of the Messianic Kingdom rather, when Israel are totally obedient, rather than having had any fulfilment in Israelite history to date.


Lev 26:6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one will make you afraid; and I will remove evil animals out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
Lev 26:7 You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword-
 
There were times in Israel's history when they did chase their enemies, e.g. at the time of David's victory over Goliath (1 Sam. 17). Likewise in the earlier reign of Solomon, Israel lived fruitfully and were multiplied (:9). But they were far from obedient to God's laws. But He all the same gave them the blessings for obedience. This was partly due to His love and grace, and partly because He accepted the faithfulness of a minority as being the obedience of the majority; and in this we see a foretaste of the imputed righteousness of Christ granted to all those in Him, despite their personal failure to achieve total obedience to Divine law.


Lev 26:8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
Lev 26:9 I will have respect for you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and will establish My covenant with you-
 Fruitful... multiply... establish My covenant
- All the language of the Abrahamic promises. These promises can come true in a progessive sense in our lives in accordance with our living in step with God's ways. The language suggests that each one of God's people stands with Abraham that starry night; he is no distant saint, but a living personal example whose path of faith is to be replicated in the life of each of God's children.

That God can “respect” mere humans indicates not only His humility but also His extreme sensitivity to us and His delight in our feeble attempts to please Him; rather like a parent may be thrilled by the responses of a baby, totally insignificant as they are in themselves.

 


Lev 26:10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall move out the old because of the new.
Lev 26:11 I will set My tent among you: and My soul won’t abhor you-
 
David and Solomon sought to force the fulfilment of this promise to place God's dwelling place within Israel by building a temple for God to dwell in. They wanted to bring about the effects of obedience by human strength; rather like seeking peace in Christianity without making true peace with God through repentance. The same words translated "set [My] tabernacle" are found in Ez. 25:4, where God says that in distinction to this, Israel's enemies would set their dwellings / tabernacles within Israel. If God doesn't live in us, then the world will do so; we will be indwelt by some spirit, be it God's or that of the flesh and the world. We can't just be neutral in this.

I will set My tabernacle among you- God did this (2 Sam. 7:6,7), by grace, even though the precondition of Israelite obedience was not met. Such is His desire to dwell with His people.

 


Lev 26:12 I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you will be My people-
 I will walk among you
- Again, God did this (2 Sam. 7:6,7), by grace, even though the precondition of Israelite obedience was not met. Such is His desire to walk with His people. Revelation concludes with the picture of God's tabernacle being with men and walking amongst us (Rev. 21:3)- the reward for obedience given by grace to we who have been disobedient.

Be your God... My people- The closing visions of Revelation speak of this as the final destiny of God's people- even though we have all failed to be obedient. Obedience, therefore, will be imputed to us, and we shall receive the blessings of obedience even though we have not attained total obedience. "The tabernacle of God" being God's people; He being our God; God living and walking with us (Rev. 21:3) is evidently alluding to Lev. 26:11,12 and Ex. 29:45,46 concerning the ultimate blessings of the covenant after Israel's final repentance. The shadowy fulfilment they have had in the past through God's manifestation in an Angel doesn't mean that these promises can and must only be fulfilled by some form of God manifestation. Surely Rev. 21:3 is saying that at the second coming the principle of God manifestation will change in that God will personally be with His people. Because we have so far lived under the paradigm of God manifestation, let's not think that it's not possible for God to personally be with us.


Lev 26:13 I am Yahweh your God, Who brought you forth 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 go upright’-
 Their bondmen
- The emphasis is on the word "their". Israel were to change masters- to become God's servants and not those of Pharaoh.



Lev 26:14 ‘But if you will not listen to Me, and will not do all these commandments-

He not only repeats all the curses of Lev. 26 to them, but he adds even more, under inspiration (Dt. 28:50-57). Presumably the Angel had explained in one of their conversations how Israel would suffer even greater punishment than what He had outlined in Lev. 26.  Notice in passing that Lev. 26 and Dt. 28 are not strictly parallel. And in some ways, Moses became more demanding, whilst at the same time emphasizing grace and love.


Lev 26:15 and if you shall reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances, so that you will not do all My commandments, but break My covenant; -
 
See on :44.


Lev 26:16 I also will do this to you: I will appoint terror over you, even consumption and fever, that shall consume the eyes, and make the soul to pine away; and you will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will eat it-
 Sorrow of heart
- God's blessings and cursings involve His direct operation upon the human heart. Many of the cursings involve psychological attitudes- fleeing when nobody is chasing (:17), having pride broken (:19), faintness sent into the heart (:36) etc.


Lev 26:17 I will set My face against you, and you will be struck down before your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you; and you will flee when no one pursues you-

The fleeing of the Egyptians from Israel in the midst of the Red Sea (Ex. 14:25,27) was a case of fleeing when none pursued them. This was the judgment upon Israel (Lev. 26:17,36; Dt. 28:25), which was to arise because in their hearts they had returned to Egypt (the world) and were therefore to be judged as Egypt, "condemned with the world" they had loved (1 Cor. 11:32). 

A spirit of fear, nervousness and negativity can be given by God as a result of wilful disobedience to His ways. He can give a spirit (mental attitude) of fear (2 Tim. 1:7).

 


Lev 26:18 If you in spite of these things will not listen to Me, then I will chastise you seven times more for your sins.
Lev 26:19 I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your sky like iron, and your soil like brass;
Lev 26:20 and your strength will be spent in vain; for your land won’t yield its increase, neither will the trees of the land yield their fruit.
Lev 26:21 If you walk contrary to Me, and won’t listen to Me, then I will bring seven times more plagues on you according to your sins.
Lev 26:22 I will send wild animals among you, which will rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your roads will become desolate-
 
see on 1 Kings 22:22


Lev 26:23 If by these things you won’t be returned to Me, but will walk contrary to Me-

It seems that the curses mentioned in this chapter aren’t just a general list, but there is an intended chronological sequence. God had planned from the start that if Israel were disobedient, then He would bring various judgments, in order to help them be obedient; and if they failed, He would bring more, again with the intention that they responded to them. The curses for disobedience weren’t therefore merely an offended deity lashing out at a people who had irritated Him; God has purpose and positive spiritual intention even in the judgments He brings into peoples’ lives. He is constantly seeking our return to Him, just as the shepherd searched for the lost sheep until He found it (Lk. 15:4).


Lev 26:24 then I will also walk contrary to you; and I will strike you, even I, seven times for your sins-

To have God against you ["even I"] is a terrible thing (Heb. 10:31).


Lev 26:25 I will bring a sword upon you, that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; and you will be gathered together within your cities: and I will send the plague among you; and you will be delivered into the hand of the enemy-

Just as all the animals and everything in the eretz promised to Abraham was 'delivered into the hands' of Noah (s.w. Gen. 9:2), so the nations of that eretz were delivered into the hands of Israel (s.w. Ex. 6:8; 23:31; Dt. 2:24; 3:2,3; 7:24; 21:10; Josh. 2:24; Jud. 1:2). Tragically, like Adam in Eden [perhaps the same eretz promised to Abraham] and Noah in the new, cleansed eretz, Israel didn't realize this potential. What was delivered into the hand of Joshua (Josh. 2:24) actually wasn't delivered into their hand, because they disbelieved (Jud. 2:23); and this looks ahead to the disbelief of so many in the work of the Lord Jesus, who has indeed conquered the Kingdom for us. They considered the promise of the nations being delivered into their hand as somehow open to question, and only a possibility and not at all certain (Jud. 8:7; Num. 21:2 cp. Num. 21:34). Some like Jephthah (s.w. Jud. 11:32; 12:3), Ehud (Jud. 3:10,28), Deborah (Jud. 4:14), Gideon (Jud. 7:15) did, for a brief historical moment; but as individuals, and their victories were not followed up on. Instead they were dominated by the territory. And so instead, they were delivered into the hands of their enemies within the eretz (s.w. Lev. 26:25; Jud. 13:1).   

The "pestilence" which was the plague upon Egypt (Ex. 9:3) was to come upon a hard hearted Israel (s.w. Lev. 26:25; Num. 14:12; Dt. 28:21; Jer. 21:6). The plagues upon Egypt form the basis for the vials and seals of Revelation, which speak of judgment to come upon the land of Israel. It is a theme with God that His apostate people are "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). If their hearts are really with Egypt / the world, then they will share the judgments of this world. The time for separation is now, just as the Egyptians had to identify with Israel if they wished to escape the plagues.


Lev 26:26 When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver your bread again by weight, and you shall eat, and not be satisfied-

So many of the judgments are mental attitudes (especially :16,36). God gives people attitudes of mind, positive and negative.


Lev 26:27 If you in spite of this won’t listen to Me, but walk contrary to Me;
Lev 26:28 then I will walk contrary to you in wrath; and I also will chastise you seven times for your sins.
Lev 26:29 You will eat the flesh of your sons, and you will eat the flesh of your daughters.
Lev 26:30 I will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and cast your dead bodies upon the bodies of your idols; and My soul will hate you-

This was done by Josiah (2 Chron. 34:5) because God said that He would do this if His people broke covenant. Josiah was recognizing that indeed they had broken covenant and were worthy of such things.


Lev 26:31 I will lay your cities waste, and will bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not take delight in the sweet fragrance of your offerings-

“A pleasant aroma” is a very common phrase. This concept is important to God. It first occurs in Gen. 8:21 where it means that God accepted Noah's sacrifice and vowed that the pole of saving mercy in His character was going to triumph over that of necessary judgment. Under the new covenant, it is persons and not sacrifices or incense which are accepted as a "pleasant aroma" (Ez. 20:41). The word for "pleasant" means strong delight; this is how God's heart can be touched by genuine sacrifice. Those pleasing offerings represented us, the living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). And so it is applied to us in 2 Cor. 2:15- if we are in Christ, we are counted as a pleasant aroma to God. The offering of ourselves to Him is nothing of itself, but because we are in Christ and counted as Him, we are a delight to God. Hence the colossal importance of being “in Christ”. "Aroma" or "smell" is a form of the Hebrew word ruach, the word for spirit or breath. God discerns the spirit of sacrifices, that was what pleased Him rather than the burning flesh of animals. Our attitude of mind in sacrifice can touch Him. Sacrifice is therefore accepted, Paul says, according to what a person has to give, but the essence is the attitude of mind behind it. We think of the two coins sacrificed by the widow.


Lev 26:32 I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell therein will be astonished at it-
 
The desolation of the physical land of Israel is associated with God's anger at Israel's disobedience, and the physical blossoming of the land with His blessing for obedience. But since 1948 the land of Israel has blossomed physically- but without Israel's obedience. This, then, is the outpouring of God's grace in these last days. This 'remembering of the land' by God will be if dispersed Israel repent (:42). They did not- but God has gone beyond His terms of blessing here, such is His grace and desire to save Israel. In this spirit :45 seems to say that even if they are disobedient, God will still remember His covenant desire to bless them. This is grace indeed.


Lev 26:33 I will scatter you among the nations, and I will draw out the sword after you; and your land will be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.
Lev 26:34 Then the land will enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land. Even then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths-
 
Judah's exile in Babylon was to allow the land to enjoy her sabbaths (2 Chron. 36:21). But the restoration from Babylon was not because of Judah's repentance; it was brought about by God's grace.


Lev 26:35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, even the rest which it didn’t have in your Sabbaths, when you lived on it.
Lev 26:36 As for those of you who are left, I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a driven leaf will put them to flight; and they shall flee, as one flees from the sword; and they will fall when no one pursues.
Lev 26:37 They will stumble over one another, as it were before the sword, when no one pursues: and you will have no power to stand before your enemies.
Lev 26:38 You will perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies will eat you up.
Lev 26:39 Those of you who are left will pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
Lev 26:40 If they confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their trespass which they trespassed against Me, and also recognize that because they walked contrary to Me,
Lev 26:41 I also walked contrary to them, and brought them into the land of their enemies: if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled, and they then accept the punishment of their iniquity;
Lev 26:42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham; and I will remember the land.
Lev 26:43 The land also will be left by them, and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them: and they will accept the punishment of their iniquity; because, even because they rejected My ordinances, and their soul hated My statutes-
 
See on :44.

If we hate or despise God’s word, He will hate us (:30). Our attitude to God’s word is related to His attitude to us. The very least we can do is to read His word daily and love it, through all our weakness.


Lev 26:44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am Yahweh their God; -
 
Although it is true as it was with Saul that those who reject Yahweh's word are rejected (1 Sam. 15:23), God's grace is beyond such a simplistic picture. Israel were to despise / reject God's word (s.w. Lev. 26:15,43), "and yet for all that.. I will not reject them / cast they away" (Lev. 26:44 s.w.). Israel rejected Yahweh when they wanted Saul to be their king (s.w. 1 Sam. 8:7; 10:19), and yet He did not reject them immediately because of that. The relevance to the exiles was in that they were in captivity because they too had rejected God's word and therefore God had rejected them (2 Kings 17:15 cp. 2 Kings 17:20; 23:27), because they rejected His prophetic words, He rejected them (Jer. 6:19,30; Hos. 4:6), "and yet for all that.. I will not reject them / cast they away" (Lev. 26:44; Jer. 31:37 s.w.). For ultimately God has not rejected / cast away His people (Is. 41:9; Jer. 33:26; Rom. 11:2). This is the mystery of grace, no matter how we may seek to explain it away by Biblical exposition and balancing Bible verses against each other.


Lev 26:45 but I will for their sake remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am Yahweh’-
 
See on :32.


Lev 26:46 These are the statutes, ordinances and laws, which Yahweh made between Him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by Moses-

The Hebrew mishpat, "ordinances", has a wide range of meaning. The idea is of judgment, as if God and His Angels gave these laws as their considered judgment after considering the human condition, and Israel were to abide by them. But the word also the idea of a right or privilege; and that is how we should see God's laws. They are only felt as a burden because of human hardness of neck towards God's ways. His laws are not of themselves burdensome, but rather a privilege and blessing. The law was indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), designed to inculcate a holy, just and good life (Tit. 1:8), a way in which a man should "walk" in daily life (Lev. 18:4), a culture of kindness and grace to others which reflected God's grace to man. If we dwell upon the idea of "rights" carried within the word mishpat, we note that the law begins in Ex. 21:1,2 (also Dt. 15:12-18) with the rights of a slave- those considered to have no rights in the society of that day. The "rights" to be afforded by us to others are the essence of God's rightness / justice.