Friday, February 02, 2024

2024.02.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 26

Read Leviticus 26

Questions from the Scripture text: What shall they not make (Leviticus 26:1a)? For whom? What types would they be tempted to make (verse 1b–c)? What is the biggest reason not to do this (verse 1d)? What has God done instead (Leviticus 26:2a)? With what authority (verse 2b)? What condition does Leviticus 26:3 establish? What blessings does Leviticus 26:4 immediately promise (cf. Genesis 2:16, Genesis 3:17–19)? To what extent and what result (Leviticus 26:5)? What else will the Lord do for them (Leviticus 26:6)? To what extent (Leviticus 26:7-8Leviticus 26:10)? How will this happen (Leviticus 26:9)? What will their greatest blessing be (Leviticus 26:11-12, cf. Genesis 3:8a)? What has YHWH done to make this possible (Leviticus 26:13)? What else might they do—Whom wouldn’t they obey (Leviticus 26:14)? Whose statutes would they despise (Leviticus 26:15)? Whose judgments would they abhor? With what would they abhor them? Whose commandments would they not obey? Whose commandments would they break? What would the Lord then do to their bodies (Leviticus 26:16a–b)? What would He do to them economically (verse 16c)? What would He do to them militarily and politically (Leviticus 26:17)? What is this designed to do (Leviticus 26:18a)? What if they don’t repent (verse 18b)? What is the point of this discipline (Leviticus 26:19a)? How do the further economic curses in Leviticus 26:19-20 compare to the previous one in Leviticus 26:16c? What might they still not do (Leviticus 26:21a)? What word does He use to describe the next level of discipline (verse 21b)? What particular suffering will He add to those plagues (Leviticus 26:22)? What might this still not do (Leviticus 26:23)? In what way might they walk? The in what way will the Lord walk (Leviticus 26:24)? What does He call this level of punishment (Leviticus 26:25a)? What will He send among them (verse 25b)? Into what will He deliver them (verse 25c, cf. 2 Samuel 24:14)? How will He punish them economically? What do Leviticus 26:27-28 add to Leviticus 26:23-24? What is so dreadful about the judgment in Leviticus 26:29? How does the end of Leviticus 26:30 indicate a new horror to their condition? What will the Lord do, and what will He reject (Leviticus 26:31)? What two things will He bring to desolation (Leviticus 26:32Leviticus 26:33)? And who will see it and respond how? What will the land, then, finally enjoy (Leviticus 26:34-35)? What will happen to the remnant (Leviticus 26:36-39)? And yet, even at this point, what may they do (Leviticus 26:40-41)? What two things will the Lord remember then (Leviticus 26:42)? What will still be enforced (Leviticus 26:43)? But what will the Lord not do (Leviticus 26:44)? And what will He fulfill (Leviticus 26:45)? Where does v46 remind us that these instructions are being given?

What implications do the favor and fellowship of God have for our obedience? Leviticus 26 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these forty-six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that obedience shows personal affection for the Lord, and disobedience shows personal rejection of the Lord. 

Commands for worship that is fellowship with the true God, Leviticus 26:1-3. The two instances of “for yourselves” in Leviticus 26:1 are emphatic in the original. It is reminding us that any innovation that we bring to God’s worship is not for Him. It is for ourselves. Though men reason or feel that it is for the Lord, they deceive themselves. Any false worship needs our innovation (“carved,” verse 1b; “engraved,” verse 1c) and help (“rear up,” i.e., make to stand, verse 1b). But it is God Who creates us, God Who holds us up (verse 1d, cf. end of Leviticus 26:13). He is YHWH our God. And it is God Who has given us time and place (and, implicitly, method) of worship. 

Even worse, all of these things are set over-against the Lord’s own provision of His worship in Leviticus 26:2. He has given weekly, annual, multi-year, and general Sabbaths to punctuate Israel’s life by the shining of His favor and the sharing of His fellowship. He has given the holy place, the sanctuary, with all of the ways of drawing near (“offerings,” in NKJ), and all of the cleanliness code and holiness code. And these are His: “My” Sabbaths and “My” sanctuary. 

After the Lord has done all of this, will Israel really invent their own way of coming to Him? Will they really despise Him as He is and introduce corruptions, so that despite what they might think, feel, or  claim, it is not really the Lord that they serve? We see the answer to that question in the rest of the chapter. 

But, let us ask another: after the Lord has obsoleted all of these things in His own Son, will century upon century see the Christian church rejecting and rebelling even against the worship that is in Him? Will they really introduce innovations that are for themselves and corrupt their knowledge of God? O, let us lament and weep and mourn that despite the living God giving Himself to us in such a way, manmade worship and manmade calendars are myriad, and the Lord’s simple worship and Lord’s Day keeping are rare! As the church waits until the resurrection for the fullness of the physical blessing of the covenant administration under Christ, let her behold how she has repeatedly suffered spiritual affliction analogous to the physical in this chapter. Let her take heart from the Lord’s readiness and willingness to receive her repentance, and let her repent and come back and stop walking contrary to Him. Let her come back to the enjoyment of the shining of His face and the sharing of His fellowship, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day in that simple New Testament worship that is administered by Christ from glory!

These two commandments, the second and the fourth, are at the heart of keeping all of the Lord’s commandments (Leviticus 26:3). 

Blessings of redeemed fellowship with the true GodLeviticus 26:4-13. While the tabernacle’s internal appearance was something of a hybrid of Eden and heavenly glory, the blessings in this section of Leviticus 26 correspond to paradise. The blessing upon the land of Leviticus 26:4-5 turn back the curse of Genesis 3:17–19 and restore the blessing of Genesis 2:15. The blessing of peace, and the removal of all evil life (more literal than “beasts” (Leviticus 26:6), recalls when Adam named all the beasts that submitted to him (cf. Genesis 2:19–20) and fulfills the dominion mandate of Genesis 1:28. Here are the first whisperings of what would come in the administration under Christ. He will usher in not just a new Eden but a new and superior creation.

Israel’s promises, however, belong to this creation in which enemies remain (Leviticus 26:6-8). But they are promised that the Lord will meet faithfulness with His own favor (Leviticus 26:9) and His own fellowship (Leviticus 26:11-12). These blessings are personal. Providence is personal. It is not just transactional, where the Lord does things for us. It is personal, where the Lord is Someone unto us! So it was for the blessings of Israel. So it is for the believer in Christ, who ought to take every moment and event of his life as a personal interaction with the Lord. 

The end of Leviticus 26:13 takes one last shot at the foolishness of idolatry. It uses the same root for the Lord making His people to stand as is translated “rear up” back in Leviticus 26:1b. When the Lord saves us and brings us into His favor and fellowship, we come to know Him as the One Who holds us up.

Curses of breaking fellowship with the true GodLeviticus 26:14-39. Disobedience is also personal. The string of divine possessives in Leviticus 26:15 remind us that every disobedience is a personal rejection of and attack upon the Lord Himself. “My” statutes. “My” judgments. “My” commandments. “My” covenant. The wicked walking is not just legally incorrect or morally corrupt. It is “walking contrary” to the Lord (Leviticus 26:21Leviticus 26:23Leviticus 26:27Leviticus 26:40).

And so God’s chastising them will be personal: “set My face against you” (Leviticus 26:17). “I also will walk contrary to you” (Leviticus 26:24Leviticus 26:41). “I also will walk contrary to you in fury” (Leviticus 26:28). Their soul abhorring the Lord in Leviticus 26:15 is responded to by His soul abhorring them in v30. Oh that we would see that this is how the Lord responds even those who think that they are offering Him fragrant worship (Leviticus 26:30a, Leviticus 26:31b)!

Land Sabbaths in Leviticus 26:33-34Leviticus 26:43 are not some sort of divine environmentalism, but a testimony against Israel. Their lives were to revolve around these devotional years of enjoying God’s favor and fellowship, but when they reject Him, the land itself will witness against them that they have rejected such a glorious fellowship (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21). 

The section as a whole covers five sets of curses, each escalating upon the previous one. It is in the final set that the Lord gives them over to the most unnatural of wickedness (Leviticus 26:29, cp. the giving up to unnatural wickedness in Romans 1:24–28). Surely rampant abortion, also, must be seen in the same lite as not only an abomination but an unnatural one. 

But how can those in the church bemoan these things if her worship is drowning in smells and bells, or performances and skits, or sound and light shows, or manmade holy days and the profaning of the Lord’s Day? Though the covenant administration has changed from that under Moses to that under Christ, God Himself hasn’t (cannot!) changed (cf. Hebrews 12:28–29). When He teaches us what He is like, and how personally He takes (and we are to take) these issues, may the Spirit open our eyes to walk with Him according to His own way of doing so. Indeed, though we see the culture given over to unnatural sin, and even see it creeping into the church, we still rather marvel at His great patience with the church! He Who was so patient with Israel, though they perpetually provoked the curses in this chapter has exceeded by far the “seventy times seven” of the church’s offenses against Him. For the sake of His grace and the blood of Christ, He even blesses what is of His Word to believers, in the midst of much that they do that His “soul” abhors.

Opportunity for repentanceLeviticus 26:40-46. The final section gives us not just to marvel at His patience but to lay hold of Him by confession of sin (Leviticus 26:40). Change of deeds is implied, but not even mentioned, highlighting the quickness of the Lord to forgive upon repentance. All that is said here is that their “hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt” (Leviticus 26:41b). Accepting their guilt for abhorring His statutes (Leviticus 26:43b) is met with his own refusing to abhor them or cast them away to utterly destroy them (Leviticus 26:44). While there is life, there is hope. 

Even as the Lord has not changed in being a consuming fire, so also He has not changed in the greatness of His patience and forgiveness. He has not changed in the greatness of their covenant faithfulness. And if He remembered these on account of their fathers (Leviticus 26:42Leviticus 26:45), how much more will He remember us on account of Christ?! Surely, the greatness of His patience toward the church is not unrelated to a Great High Priest, Who is continually praying for her in glory. If He prayed “forgive them for they know not what they do” of His enemies at the cross, how much more He prays it now for His friends and saints, even now in glory! Shall we not take encouragement to pray it with Him and to turn from our evil ways, for which He also must surely be praying?!

Whom should our worship be for? Who decides what may be done in this worship? Who decides what those holy days are that establish the rhythm of the church’s life and believers’ lives? If He takes these most personally, as well as the rest of His law, what are we really doing if we break these commandments? What mercies has the Lord shown believers, even in the midst of such sin? But what unnatural sins has He given the culture over to and even allowed to creep into much of the church? What hope can there be? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us the way of enjoying Your favor and walking in fellowship with You. Forgive us for coming up with our own ways, which provokes You to wrath and enmity toward Your church. Grant unto us to confess our sin, humble our hearts, and accept our guilt. And remember us for Christ’s sake, turning us back unto Yourself in repentance. So, bring us into an age of rich blessing and fruitfulness by Your Spirit, which we ask through Your Son, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP80 “Hear, O Hear Us” or TPH78 “O My People, Hear My Teaching”

No comments:

Post a Comment