Leviticus 26-27: Covenant Fidelity
February 25, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Leviticus concludes with promises and warnings. Undergirding all is the sovereign plan of God to use his people to bring in a Redeemer that will finally rescue his people from their sin.
“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” (Lev. 26:45).
Even though discipline will come for disobedience, God’s covenant will not be finally revoked, and his plan will remain.
That said, there are very real, great, and significant consequences for obedience, as well as for disobedience. Obedience to God results in blessing: all things being equal, the world works in such a way that following God and his law tends to result in blessing. This is not to gainsay other witnesses in Scripture (and even in the Old Testament with the book of Job) to the inexplicable profundity of suffering in our fallen world. Not everyone who suffers has sinned a particular sin which results in a particular suffering, but all suffering is as a result of the sinful fallen world in which we live. And God’s people are especially to be blessed when they stay close to his covenant. This is a relationship, and like a marriage it functions best when the spouse remains faithful to the marriage vows.
“I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 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. 26:12-13).
With such dear-hearted, warm, evocative blessings for covenant, relationship, obedience, there is also dire warning for the contrary, a warning that also needs to be heard. While God’s covenant will not be revoked, and his plan will remain, and his people will be saved, and the gates of hell will not prevail against his church, we cannot presumptuously assume that faithlessness to God and his Word will remain without its inevitable discipline consequence. God promises that disobedience to the covenant will also have consequences. “Then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and I myself will discipline you sevenfold for your sins” (Lev. 26:28).
These warnings came sadly true in the life of Israel as they were disciplined for their idolatrous betrayal of their covenant vows, went into exile, and the land did indeed enjoy its Sabbath rest. Leviticus, as seems typical for such a particular and detail-orientated book, ends not with a bang but a whimper. It cascades off into a final list of rules for vows in chapter 27. This seems particularly incongruous given the majestic blessings and warnings of the previous chapter, which would have seemed a better place to conclude (more like the Book of Joshua concludes). But the incongruity is only superficial: the book concludes with God’s stipulation that vows towards God are to be reflected in oath-keeping towards people as well. “These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai” (Lev. 27:34).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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