New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary


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-
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 highly visual, screen oriented 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-
The stress may be upon the word "My". The systems of idol worships also required days to be kept as holy to them, and their sanctuaries to be reverenced. For the context here is all about avoiding idolatry. Yahweh's claims upon His people are supreme. There is no way we can worship both Yahweh and idols; the Sabbath was to kept exclusively for Him rather than also to the other gods who also demanded that a Sabbath be kept to them. Perhaps this was one reason for the Sabbath legislation at this time- to preclude keeping Sabbath to any other god. But Israel as so many today sought to worship Yahweh through idol worship. The church at Corinth made the same mistake. 

Lev 26:3 If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them-
The list of blessings in Lev. 26 and Dt. 28 were given by God perhaps knowing at the start that they would never be realized- "It shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord" (Dt. 28:1). God gave such detailed blessings for obedience even though they would never be realized by Israel. Likewise He gave such detailed plans for the temple in Ez. 40-48- even though the envisaged, possible scenario never came about because Israel chose to be disobedient.

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-
The amount of fruit given was going to be huge (:5). But it would be because of the rains given by God, as if God was still going to bring about the blessing through natural means. This could imply a change of climate to almost tropical. The creation of such a specific microclimate over the promised land would be no difficulty for God.

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-
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 fulfillment in Israelite history to date.

The experience of preaching is in itself a foretaste of the future world-wide Kingdom. The harvest is both at the end of the age, according to the parables of Mt. 13, but also is ongoing right now (Jn. 4:36) as we gather in the harvest of converts. The Lord in Jn. 4:35,36 took this figure far further, by saying that the harvest is such that the interval between sowing and harvesting is in some sense collapsed for those who engage in preaching. The reaper was already collecting his wages; the harvest was already there, even though it was four months away (Jn. 4:35). This clearly alludes to the promises that in the Messianic Kingdom there would also be no interval between sowing and harvest, so abundant would be the harvest (Lev. 26:5; Am. 9:13). And hence, we are impelled to spread the foretaste of the Kingdom world-wide by our witness right now. God's ideal was that there would be a continual harvest; but His legislation in Lev. 25:16 accepts the reality that this would not happen. His awareness of our failure to reach our potential height of blessing is seen throughout His word.

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
But the acceptance in Lev. 25:7 LXX that wild animals would exist is perhaps a tacit recognition that the full blessing of the covenant would not come, for the presence of wild beasts in the land was a sign of lack of blessing (Lev. 26:22). It's rather like the promise that there would be no poor in the land, and yet there is plenty of Mosaic legislation about poor Israelites. We see in this God's acceptance that His people would not live and experience as they should, and yet His legislation accounted for that- for He so thirsted for relationship with them. And He likewise is acceptant of our imperfection and failure to receive the blessings we could and should receive.

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-
If five chased 100, this meant that one Israelite chased 20. But then the ratio increases- 100 chasing 10,000 means that one Israelite chased 100. The idea may be that their victories would ever increase in wonder. But if we understand by "a hundred" '100 groups of five', i.e. 500 men, then we have the same ratio- for 500 men chasing 20 each would mean they chased 10,000. 

Lev 26:9 I will have respect for you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and will establish My covenant with you-
This is all the language of the Abrahamic promises. These promises can come true in a progressive 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.

They had left Egypt with great riches of silver and gold, and this is "your silver and gold" which was to be multiplied even more (Dt. 8:13). The multiplication of Abraham's seed promised to him clearly meant not simply numerical multiplication, but material multiplication too. That is the sense too in Lev. 26:9; Dt. 30:5. We wonder why God gave them all this blessing, knowing that it would lead to such spiritual temptation and failure. We wonder why He gives so many of His people today the same huge blessings, however unappreciated they are. One simple answer is that it is because He loves us with all the love of a father for his children; He rejoiced to multiply them (Dt. 28:63). The king of Israel was warned in the same words not to multiply silver and gold lest his heart turn away (Dt. 17:17). The idea may be that we are to leave God to multiply our silver and gold if He wishes, and not set our heart to doing so.

Lev 26:10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall move out the old because of the new-
This may be a specific reference to the legislation about the year of Jubilee just given in Lev. 25. They would be given such a big harvest before the year of Jubilee that they would eat it for three years. But if they were obedient to the covenant, then every year would be like the year of Jubilee. They would live permanently in that spirit. Having to move out the old begs the question "Where to?". Presumably to the poor and marginalized, to the extent that there would be no poor left in the land, as was God's ideal intention. The Lord seems to have had this verse in mind when speaking of the householder who brings out of his treasures things new and old, once he accepts the new covenant (Mt. 13:52). And Paul likewise speaks of the person in Christ letting the old things pass away ["move out"] because of the new things (2 Cor. 5:17). Clearly we in Christ are to live in the spirit of this, in spiritual terms.  

Lev 26:11 I will set My tent among you: and My soul won’t abhor you-
David and Solomon sought to force the fulfillment 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-
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" is alluded to in the closing visions of Revelation, which 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 fulfillment 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’-
The emphasis is on the word "their". Israel were to change masters- to become God's servants and not those of Pharaoh. We do the same at our Red Sea baptism, as Rom. 6 explains.

Lev 26:14 ‘But if you will not listen to Me, and will not do all these commandments-
The judgments to come upon the earth / land of Israel in Revelation are presented in four groups of seven. This is exactly the pattern of Lev. 26, where Israel are threatened with seven-fold judgments; and if they did not repent, then the seven-fold judgments would be repeated. Four times this is threatened; if they had repented after the first seven-fold judgments, there would have been no need for the others. It seems to me that the sequence of events in the last days is likewise impossible to predict in detail, because depending upon human freewill, the fulfillment of the various prophecies may be suspended or be realized in more symbolic ways, as we have already seen God working like this in the past.

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. God promised that even if Israel sinned, He would never break His covenant with them (Lev. 26:44; Jud. 2:1). But He did (Zech. 11:10 cp. Jer. 14:21), as witnessed by the termination of the Law of Moses, which was the basis of His covenant with Israel. His love creates yet another Bible paradox. Israel broke the covenant by their disobedience (Lev. 26:15; Dt. 31:16 and many others). God therefore broke His part of the covenant. Yet God made His promises concerning the unbreakable covenant because He chose to speak in words which did not reflect His foreknowledge that Israel would sin. The apparent contradiction is resolvable by realizing that God did not set His mind upon Israel's future apostasy when He made the 'unbreakable' covenant with them. And yet the paradox still ultimately stands; that He broke His covenant with them when they sinned. He worked through this punishment in order to establish an even more gracious new covenant.

Lev 26:16 I also will do this to you: I will appoint terror over you-
"I will appoint over you terror" uses a Hebrew word which appears elsewhere concerning appointing officers over a land (Gen. 41:34), implying some form of enemy rulership over Israel during the desolation period. The curses to come upon Israel as a result of the latter day invasions are described in terms which are extremely apposite to modern warfare. The plagues to come upon Israel as a result of the invasions are almost impossible to identify with anything presently known: "a consumption... a fever... an inflammation... an extreme burning... blasting... the burning ague that shall consume the eyes" (Dt. 28:22; Lev. 26:16) all seems to echo the language of nuclear fall-out. "They shall be burnt... and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction" (Dt. 32:24) is similar. The release of complex chemical weapons, as well as nuclear detonation, would explain why rainfall patterns will be interrupted during this latter day tribulation (Dt. 28:23). The fall-out from such weapons would create the murderous rain of dust upon the land which Dt. 28:24 speaks of: "The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed". It is twice emphasized that those in the land would suffer blindness (Dt. 28:28,29), which may also be related to such nuclear or chemical fallout. This has not yet happened;  the context invites us to read this as literal rather than figurative. We know that the latter day invaders who attack Jerusalem will both fight each other and have their eyes rot in their sockets (Zech. 14:12), the implication being that they use their weaponry against each other as well as against Israel. Their earlier use of these weapons would account for this blindness coming upon Israel, and again we see the principle that what the attackers do to Israel will be inflicted upon them.

And make the soul to pine away; and you will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will eat it-
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 willful 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-
It should be noted that the record of the curses in Lev. 26 splits them up into six sections, each introduced by a phrase like, "If you will not for this hearken unto me... then..." more curses would come (Lev. 26:14,18,21,23,27,36). It is tempting to associate this with the series of six judgments to be poured upon Israel and her enemies as outlined in the six seals (Rev. 6) and six vials (Rev. 16), leading up to the seventh period, of Israel's repentance and Christ's Kingdom. There are many other points of contact between the curses and the language of the seals and vials.  

"If you will not for all this hearken unto me" (Lev. 26:18) may suggest that God's word will be spoken to Israel along with the trials brought about by the curses.   This again indicates that the Elijah ministry will operate within Israel during their period of final downtreading. See on :23.

Lev 26:19 I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your sky like iron, and your soil like brass-
The same word is used in 2 Kings 25:13 concerning the breaking of the brass temple pillars by the Babylonians. The Babylonian invasion clearly looks forward to the final destruction of Israel in the last days. The lack of rain recalls how this was the situation during the three and a half years of Elijah's appeal to Israel to forsake idolatry. And that looks ahead to the latter day Elijah ministry.

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-
"Ye shall sow your seed in vain... your strength shall be spent in vain:  for your land shall not yield her increase" (Lev. 26:16,20), not only confirms the many other hints that Israel's physical fertility will be ruined during this period, despite that implication that Israel will make a major effort to be agriculturally self-sufficient in the tribulation. This may indicate a world-wide trade embargo against her, or a blockade which the West refuses to challenge.

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-
"If..." could suggest that when suffering the curses for disobedience, they would then be offered the opportunity for repentance. But if they refused this, then the plagues would not be of 'short continuance' as was potentially possible, but would last "long" (Dt. 28:59), or made seven times heavier (Lev. 26:21).

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. "Your highways shall be desolate" (Lev. 26:22  AV) is definitely picked up in Jud. 5:6, concerning the result of the  reign of terror in Israel. They were saved from it through repentance and the raising up of a saviour / judge, looking ahead to the Lord Jesus in the last days. The highways and transport infrastructure of modern Israel face a like fate.

"I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle" (Lev. 26:22 cp. Dt. 28:31) speaks of the "beasts of the earth / land" (Dt. 28:26), who refer to the nations within the earth / land promised to Abraham. The use of cattle raiding language in Ez. 38:12 would then lead us to equate that latter day invasion with the final fulfillment of the curses upon Israel here.

But the acceptance that wild animals would exist in the land (Lev. 25:7 LXX) is perhaps a tacit recognition that the full blessing of the covenant would not come, for the presence of wild beasts in the land was a sign of lack of blessing. It's rather like the promise that there would be no poor in the land, and yet there is plenty of Mosaic legislation about poor Israelites. We see in this God's acceptance that His people would not live and experience as they should, and yet His legislation accounted for that- for He so thirsted for relationship with them. And He likewise is acceptant of our imperfection and failure to receive the blessings we could and should receive.

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).

"If you will not be reformed by me" (Lev. 26:23 AV) uses a Hebrew word elsewhere translated 'to teach', defined by Strong as 'to chastise by words'. This provides further confirmation of the ideas discussed on :18 about a latter day appeal by a teaching ministry to Israel, as they go through these curses.

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). But they had walked contrary to God (:21), and so inevitably they would find Him walking against them. It was their choice. It was not that God was walking with them and then turned around and walked against them. They decided to walk against God, and so it is axiomatic that He was therefore walking against them. All judgment is effectively chosen by men, sin is its own judgment. Men more condemn themselves rather than being condemned by Him against their will.

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). It will do in the last days (Ez. 33:27-29). 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.

Withdrawal into fenced cities was what happened in the Assyrian invasion (2 Kings 18:13). The great emphasis on how famine and plague would lead to Israel's capture by their enemies rather than straight military defeat (Lev. 26:25), is especially relevant to Nebuchadnezzar's taking of Jerusalem (cp. Jer. 14:12).   All these curses had elements of historical fulfillment, but will have their main fulfillment in the last days.

Most especially is Babylon called "the enemy": Ps. 78:61; Jer. 6:25; 15:11; 18:17; 31:16 and an impressive 11 times in Lamentations.  'Babylon' has specific latter-day application to the neighbouring enemies of Israel.

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-
These words are quoted in Is. 3:1 concerning Judah's deprivation at the hands of the Assyrians. The curses, like all Bible prophecy, had multiple fulfillments over Israelite history- but will come to complete fulfillment only in the last days.

Ezekiel's prophecies of the coming Babylonian tribulation have several references to Lev. 26. The initial fulfillment was in Babylon, but it looks ahead to that in the last days. "They shall eat bread by weight" (Ez. 4:16) = "They shall deliver you your bread by weight" (Lev. 26:26); "The fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of (Zion), and the sons shall eat their fathers" (Ez. 5:10)= "You shall eat the flesh of your sons" (Lev. 26:29). "I will make you waste" (Ez. 5:14) = "I will make your cities waste" (Lev. 26:31, s.w.); "...draw out a sword after (you)" (Ez. 5:12) = "I will scatter you among the heathen, and draw out a sword after you" (Lev. 26:33).

Note that to break the bread in a place was an idiom for breaking the life there (Ez. 4:16; 5:16; 14:13; Lev. 26:26). This was what the Lord asks us to remember- not the physical breaking of His body, but the breaking of His life for us and sharing it with us (Is. 58:7). The Lord’s death is surely to be understood as a tearing apart of the flesh nature and tendencies which He bore; and it is this we remember in breaking the bread which represents His flesh.

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. And He uses that ability today through the work of the Spirit on human hearts. Israel were given manna in the wilderness, and they ate it and were full (Ex. 16:8,12). But they were promised that in the promised land of the Kingdom, they would likewise eat and be full, again from blessing given by God (s.w. Dt. 8:10; 11:15; 14:29; 26:12; 31:20). After our Red Sea baptism, we are now in the wilderness; but by feeding on the manna, the word of God in the Lord Jesus, we have a foretaste of the Kingdom experience. But the curse for disobedience was that they would eat and not be full / satisfied (Lev. 26:26). 

The description of the thin cows eating up the fat cows (Gen. 41:21) is alluded to in the Hebrew text of the curses for Israel's disobedience in Lev. 26:26: "you shall eat, and not be satisfied". The seven years of famine were therefore to be seen as a curse. Disobedient Israel would be treated like Egypt, which is a theme throughout all the curses of Lev. 26. Egypt represents the world, and those rejected from the new Israel will likewise "be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32), sent back into the world they loved to share the world's judgment.

Lev 26:27 If you in spite of this won’t listen to Me, but walk contrary to Me-
See on :24 for "walk contrary". We note the parallel between listening and walking. Daily life, walking, is to be guided step by step by our listening to God's word. In our age and situation, daily Bible reading is a major part of this process, as well as developing the ability to hear those ancient words speaking to us as we face the life moves which make up daily walking in this world.

Lev 26:28 then I will walk contrary to you in wrath; and I also will chastise you seven times for your sins-
This chastisement was in order to elicit repentance and change, s.w. Dt. 8:5; 21:18- it was not the lashing out of an offended Deity, but the chastisement of a loving Father. God had spoken to Israel from Heaven with His own voice, that He might "instruct" (s.w. chastise) them (Dt. 4:36). Although He was madly in love with Israel in the wilderness, He chastised them even there and tried to teach them to live by His word daily (Dt. 8:5 s.w.), but they refused all this. If we refuse God's direct statements to us through His word, then He uses life situations to try to teach or instruct us. And this will come to full term in Israel's latter day afflictions, until they finally admit they have been chastised / instructed and turn to God and His Son in repentance (s.w. Jer. 31:18).

Lev 26:29 You will eat the flesh of your sons, and you will eat the flesh of your daughters-
In the account of the great famine in Samaria which this invasion brought about, there is the extraordinary record of the two women arguing about the eating of their children (2 Kings 6:29). The inclusion of this incident in the record must be to recall Lev. 26:29, where it is prophesied that this is exactly what would occur. Ben-hadad's invasion is typical of the onslaught of the last day. Likewise in the Babylonian context "The fathers shall eat the sons in the midst of (Zion), and the sons shall eat their fathers" (Ez. 5:10); see on :26.

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. He was agreeing that this curse was true and legitimate and hastened to bring it about, with the humility which only comes from conviction of sin.

Lev 26:31 I will lay your cities waste, and will bring your sanctuaries to desolation-
The same word is used of the Babylonian desolation of Judah, both historically and in the last days "I will make you waste" (Ez. 5:14). See on :26. "Waste" uses a Hebrew word which means 'wasted by intense heat' - i.e. nuclear fission? See on :16.

And I will not take delight in the sweet fragrance of your offerings-
As can be imagined, there will be much Jewish prayer in the last days, but the majority of Israel will fail to accept that it is faith in Christ's mediation of prayer, rather than the mental intensity of supplication, which brings a response. Spiritual Israel may have to re-learn this lesson at the same time.

“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. But Israel in their tribulation will still have rejected the Lord Jesus, so they can never be a pleasing aroma. 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-
The same phrase is used of the Babylonian desolation of Judah, both historically and in the last days:  "I will... draw out a sword after (you)" (Ez. 5:12). See on :26.

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, because Judah were largely impenitent. "Enjoy" is literally 'repay', and this idea is found in Is. 40:2 "her iniquity has been repayed". The idea of the Isaiah reference was that the exile had as it were repayed for Israel's refusal to obey the legislation about the Sabbath years and Jubilee years, which as explained on Lev. 25 required huge faith to obey- which they didn't have. We see that God has His way ultimately; Israel didn't obey that legislation, and yet God made the land have that Sabbath rest through the exile of the people upon it. 

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-
Closer study reveals the variableness of outworking of the time periods. Jer. 25:11,12 and Jer. 29:10 speak of a 70 year period of Babylonian rule over Judah, beginning with the invasion of BC597. But Babylon only ruled over Judah for 49 years, before Babylon fell to the Persians. This would connect with the way that Zech. 4:3 speaks of 7 menorah candlesticks each with 7 lamps, making 49 lamps. 49 is the cycle of 7 Sabbath years that culminated in the jubilee year, and the jubilee year, the proclamation of liberty to the land (Lev. 25:8-12; 27:7-24) is a figure used so often in Isaiah to describe the freedom of Judah once released from Babylon. Lev. 26:34,43 speak of the land enjoying her Sabbaths whilst Israel were in exile for their sins- i.e. for 49 years. So it seems that there could have been some restoration after 49 years- but it didn't happen. But Dan. 9:2 and 2 Chron. 36:21 seem to reinterpret those 70 years of Jeremiah's prophecies as speaking of a 70 year period during which Jerusalem and the temple would be desolate. And yet there again, Ezekiel was asked to prophecy that Judah would suffer for their sins for 40 years (Ez. 4:6). Perhaps something could've happened after 40 years... Perhaps some restoration could have happened to the ten tribes after 390 years (Ez. 4:5), although there's no sign it ever did. And then, the starting point of the 70 or 40 years was somewhat flexible- for Ez. 22:3,4 records Ezekiel's prophecy that the desolation of Jerusalem by the Babylonians [the starting point of the time periods] was actually being hastened, brought forward, by the terrible behaviour of the Jews living there after the initial Babylon invasion of the land. In fact, if a person had been found who would have powerfully interceded for Jerusalem, 'stood in the gap' (Ez. 22:30), God wouldn't have destroyed Jerusalem - "that I should not destroy it" is an allusion to Abraham interceding for Sodom in Gen. 18:28. There were simply so many possible scenarios! And this is what we must expect if even time periods can be shortened or extended in response to human behaviour.

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-
During their latter day tribulation, Israel will experience "faintness in their hearts", intense "terror" (Lev. 26:16), which would be enough to kill them (Dt. 32:25). This extraordinary level of paranoia will be modelled upon that of Jacob as he faced Esau - representing Israel's confrontation with the Arabs in the last days (Jer. 30:5,7). This state of fear will result in many Jews going to live in Jerusalem, as happened during the Babylonian and Assyrian invasions (Jer. 35:11). Ezekiel had prophesied of this time: "Terrors (an intensive plural - i.e. 'the one great terror') by reason of the sword shall be upon my people" (Ez. 21:12). Likewise our Lord spoke of "fearful sights" being seen in latter-day Israel (Lk. 21:11). This fear will be absolute paranoia:  "I will make you a terror to yourself" (Jer. 20:4) because of latter day Babylon's invasion; "ye shall flee when none pursueth you... I will send a faintness into their hearts... the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them" (Lev. 26:17,36). "I will bring the land into desolation" (Lev. 26:32) uses a Hebrew word which can imply stupefaction by fear. This paranoia will be associated with a manic depression which will have its roots in a chronically bad conscience towards God, going back thousands of years to their national childhood: "I will... cause sorrow of heart... they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity... and also in the iniquity of their fathers shall they pine away" (Lev. 26:16,39). Note how the land will be brought into this mental desolation. Frequently the land of Israel is paralleled with the people (e.g. Jer.19:14 cp. 26:17). The intense desolation of Jewry will be reflected physically in the state of their land. And the resolution of this psychological torment will only be through repentance and acceptance of the Saviour Messiah whom they crucified.

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-
This is one of a number of word pictures among the curses which recall the scenes of Nazi death camps. But even they were nothing to the scenes which tragically are yet to come in the last days. The stumbling when no man chased them is another indication of a psychological state given to them. We recall that this was the method of destruction God used against Israel's enemies, e.g. in the time of Gideon. And they were to experience the same judgments as their enemies. Revelation makes this clear in a latter day context, where the seals of judgment upon Israel are in fact essentially the same as the vials of judgment upon their enemies.  

Lev 26:38 You will perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies will eat you up-
"The land of your enemies will eat you up" implies that Israel's enemies are to be seen as a beast. This sort of language is quite common in the prophecies which speak of a latter-day beast devouring Israel (e.g. Is. 49:19;  Joel 1:6). 

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-
Israel's repentance would involve a recognition that their fathers had sinned; in contrast to their way of praising their ancestors as great men of God, when in fact they slew God's prophets and crucified His Son. There is no religion like Judaism for quoting with veneration the various fathers of their faith, and seeking to whitewash all Jewish Bible characters from any real wrongdoing.

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-
"Confess" is the word for praise. Praise is related to the realization that sin has been forgiven. Hezekiah's praise on realizing God's mercy to him was expressed in a desire to walk in quiet fellowship with God for the rest of his life. There is no suggestion that praise was some kind of ecstatic exuberance of emotion. The normal Hebrew word translated "praise" is also translated "confess" in the context of confessing sin (Lev. 5:5; 16:21; 26:40; Num. 5:7). Contrition of heart because of appreciating our own failures is therefore one way of praising Yahweh's Name. So often does the word "praise" occur in the context of praising the Name of Yahweh, or the praising of "the God of Israel", i.e. Yahweh.

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-
See on :24 for "walk contrary". This clearly demonstrates how the whole of Jewry will be destroyed apart from this righteous remnant who are left (:39) - and that even they will be a remnant of a remnant.  This accords with our previous conclusions, that there will be a group within latter-day Israel who associate themselves with the remnant, but who do not fully repent. They may well meet their final curse in the (temporary) fires of Gehenna, outside the city of their refuge.

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-
We read of God ‘remembering’ His covenant (Ex. 2:24; Lev. 26:42; Jer. 14:10,21); and of God ‘not remembering’ or forgetting the sins of His covenant people (Is. 43:25; Jer. 31:34). If words mean anything, this surely implies that sins which God once remembered, He then stops remembering and ‘forgets’. Such language seems on one hand inappropriate to the God who by nature doesn’t have to forget and can recall all things. But He has willingly entered into the meaning of time which is experienced by those with whom He is in covenant relationship. He allows Himself to genuinely feel it like it is. The 'gap' between God stating His plan and its actual fulfillment is the opportunity for men and women to plead with Him, as Moses did, as Abraham did regarding Sodom (Gen. 18:17-22), as so many have done...

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-
Some prophecies were delayed / rescheduled in their fulfillment. Others have their intended fulfillment changed into another form. Is. 40:2 speaks of how Jerusalem’s “punishment is accepted” (RVmg.), referring to how Lev. 26:43 had said that the land would lie desolate until her punishment was fulfilled. This passage could have come true when Judah returned from captivity. But it didn’t. It is applied to the preaching of John the Baptist in the first century; but again, Judah would not hear. And so once again the land lay desolate again, until now the time has arrived for the final Elijah prophet.

Because, even because they rejected My ordinances, and their soul hated My statutes-
See on :44. Israel have ever claimed to love God's word, studying every letter of every word in the Mosaic law with apparently great respect. But God sees things from His perspective. And they despised and even "hated" those statutes and rejected them. For they all led to His Son, whom they crucified. We have here an example of how God sees to the essence of implied positions. 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-
The covenant was broken, not least because Israel broke it and abrogated it (see on :15). The promise here however is that even when Israel were to be in the land of their enemies as punishment for their sins, “I will not cast them away”. God will not cast away Israel (Is. 41:9). Only if Heaven can be measured will God cast away Israel (Jer. 31:37). God has not cast away His people (Rom. 11:2). And yet the same word is found in statements like “My God will cast them away” (Hos. 9:17; Is. 54:6); the same Hebrew word occurs when God says He would “reject” Israel (Hos. 4:6). This is only explicable as a paradox of God's grace. Although we could read Romans as Paul arguing that God has only not rejected His people in that He has redefined His people as those now "in" His Son who was "Israel" as intended.

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. See on :15.

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. The "memorial portion" of the offerings was to serve as a reminder to God, as it were, of the covenants which He "remembered". He of course doesn't forget His covenant but ever remembers it (Ps. 105:8 etc.), yet He is presented in human terms as having His memory rekindled, as it were, by human prayer, faith, situations and sacrifices so that He "remembers the covenant" (Gen. 8:1; 9:15; Ex. 2:24; 6:5; Lev. 26:42,45; Num. 10:9 and often). The regular sacrifices were such a "memorial" or 'reminder'- both to God and to His people. The place of prayer, regular sacrifice of giving, breaking of bread at the "memorial meeting" etc., are all equivalents for us under the new covenant.   

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.