Leviticus
Introduction 1 Prohibition to Make Idols 2 God’s Sabbaths and God’s Sanctuary 3-13 Promise of Blessing 14-17 Consequences of Disobedience (1) 18-20 Consequences of Disobedience (2) 21-22 Consequences of Disobedience (3) 23-26 Consequences of Disobedience (4) 27-39 Consequences of Disobedience (5) 40-42 Confession and Covenant 43-45 God Remembers for Good 46 Closing
Introduction

After Leviticus 25, where we hear about the certainty of the restoration of all things, the certainty that God’s plans will be fulfilled, this chapter follows with our responsibility as the people of God. Here we do not hear about God’s counsels, but about His ways in connection with man’s responsibility. This is not in conflict with His counsels, but another side of God’s truth.

Here we see what God will do if man is obedient and what He will do if man is disobedient. The blessings are made dependent on what man does. In Deuteronomy 28 we hear about the same things as here, but in more detail. There everything is said to a people who have their wilderness journey behind them, while here the people still have to go through the wilderness.


Prohibition to Make Idols

1‘You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a [sacred] pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.

God first establishes His absolute exclusive right to the worship of His people. Their tribute may only go to Him and to nothing and no one else. He does not tolerate any object besides Him. He is not part of His creation. Each made object is less than He and everything there is, is made by Him and therefore less than He.


God’s Sabbaths and God’s Sanctuary

2You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD.

After the negative prohibition to make idols, follows the positive commandment to observe “My sabbaths” and to respect “My sanctuary” (cf. Lev 19:3030You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD.). This allows them to show that their hearts go out to Him instead of to the idols. It covers their entire lives. In keeping the sabbath commandment they show respect for the LORD in their social life; in honoring the sanctuary they show on religious ground that they want to live according to God’s will.


Promise of Blessing

3If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, 4then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. 5Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. 6I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making [you] tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. 7But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; 8five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. 9So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. 10You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. 11Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. 12I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. 13I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that [you] would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

The blessings of the land are abundantly presented. The first blessing talked about is the rain. The entire harvest depends on this (Deu 11:13-1413“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul,14that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil.). With obedience, rain is promised, always at the right time for the harvest. As a result, it will be a year-round harvest as it were (Amos 9:1313“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“When the plowman will overtake the reaper
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
When the mountains will drip sweet wine
And all the hills will be dissolved.
).

They will be able to enjoy the fruit in peace, without having to be in fear of the threat of enemies or wild animals. If an enemy dare to attack them, they will chase him away with little effort (cf. Deu 32:3030“How could one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And the LORD had given them up?
). The LORD will turn to them in favor. He will make them numerous and give them plenty of food.

Besides this material blessing there is also spiritual blessing. It is the privilege that He dwells among them, and will be their God, and that they will be His people. The material blessing is also proof that God dwells constantly in their midst. The people have blessing and rest where God has rest.

They will enjoy the full result of God’s liberation from Egypt in beneficent freedom. There will be no question of a posture bent under the slave yoke. God has broken their yoke and will make them “walk erect”, they walk with their heads held high. Thus the Christian may “stand” in the grace of God (Rom 5:22through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.). Many times in the history of Israel their liberation from Egypt is referred back to by the LORD. The Christian must also be reminded time and again of his salvation from the power of sin. That will keep his gratitude alive and make him longing to continue to honor God in all things.


Consequences of Disobedience (1)

14‘But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, 15if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, [and] so break My covenant, 16I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up. 17I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.

In verses 14-4014‘But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments,15if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul abhors My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, [and] so break My covenant,16I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you will sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies will eat it up.17I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.18If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.19I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze.20Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.21‘If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins.22I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which will bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle and reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted.23‘And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me,24then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins.25I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant; and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands.26When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.27‘Yet if in spite of this you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me,28then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins.29Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat.30I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your remains on the remains of your idols, for My soul shall abhor you.31I will lay waste your cities as well and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your soothing aromas.32I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it will be appalled over it.33You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.34‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.35All the days of [its] desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.36As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall.37They will therefore stumble over each other as if [running] from the sword, although no one is pursuing; and you will have [no strength] to stand up before your enemies.38But you will perish among the nations, and your enemies’ land will consume you.39So those of you who may be left will rot away because of their iniquity in the lands of your enemies; and also because of the iniquities of their forefathers they will rot away with them.40‘If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— it is about the consequences for the people if they are disobedient. Not listening to God’s commandments shows contempt for it. It is not about sins of ignorance or weakness. In that case, offerings can be made. But if the people consciously ignore God’s statutes and commandments, the blessing will diminish, and God will finally expel the people from the land. The people will be scattered among the nations. The Divine threats concern Israel’s future.

The scattering of the people is literally fulfilled. This could make it difficult to believe that the prophecies of Leviticus 23 and Leviticus 25 will be fulfilled for the people and the land. But God will do what He has determined. He Himself will cause conversion in the astray people. He will do a work of grace in the people so they will be in a condition that He can fulfill all His plans for the converted people.

That converted people will be a remnant, but that remnant is also “all Israel” (Rom 11:25-26a25For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;26and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”). God will bless them on the ground of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (verses 42,4542then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.45But I will remember for them the covenant with 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 the LORD.’”).

The first announcement of the consequences of the disobedience of the people promise illness, hunger and defeats. The plagues result from this fearful fact that the LORD has turned His face against them (verse 1717I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.). He will resist them (verses 24,2824then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins.28then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins.). If that is the case, any measure to turn God’s wrath away will prove a worthless, futile effort. When obedient no diseases shall affect them (Exo 23:2525But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst.; 15:2626And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.”).


Consequences of Disobedience (2)

18If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. 19I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze. 20Your strength will be spent uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.

If the discipline of God is not successful, and the people remain disobedient, the people will have to suffer even more terrible things. The fact that God speaks of following discipline indicates that He knows the heart of man, that it is incorrigible. God’s purpose with His discipline is to make His people change their ways, but the people act in a contrary way (Amos 4:66“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities
And lack of bread in all your places,
Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.
; cf. 2Chr 28:2222Now in the time of his distress this same King Ahaz became yet more unfaithful to the LORD.).

In this second announcement God says that He will make His discipline sevenfold upon them if His first judgments are unsuccessful. Drought and infertility are promised. Facing an iron sky – no rain falls out – and a copper ground, which cannot be worked because of its hardness, they will be powerless. Every effort ends in nothing but consuming of power without any result in food. That will have to break down their pride of power.


Consequences of Disobedience (3)

21‘If then, you act with hostility against Me and are unwilling to obey Me, I will increase the plague on you seven times according to your sins. 22I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which will bereave you of your children and destroy your cattle and reduce your number so that your roads lie deserted.

If the discipline that follows the ignoring of the second warning does not work out either, and the people remain disobedient (cf. Jer 6:2929The bellows blow fiercely,
The lead is consumed by the fire;
In vain the refining goes on,
But the wicked are not separated.
), a third warning follows, pointing out what awaits them. If smaller judgments have no effect, God will send larger judgments. He will increase the plague on them, and will punish them seven times harder (cf. Dan 3:1919Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with wrath, and his facial expression was altered toward Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. He answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.) and release the wild animals on them (Eze 14:2121For thus says the Lord GOD, “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts and plague to cut off man and beast from it!). That will eat children and cattle. For fear no one will dare to come out on the street.

Man is created to rule over the animals. By their conduct, because they have turned their backs on God, they have set themselves below the animals. Those animals will now reign over them. God uses the animals to exercise His discipline over His people.


Consequences of Disobedience (4)

23‘And if by these things you are not turned to Me, but act with hostility against Me, 24then I will act with hostility against you; and I, even I, will strike you seven times for your sins. 25I will also bring upon you a sword which will execute vengeance for the covenant; and when you gather together into your cities, I will send pestilence among you, so that you shall be delivered into enemy hands. 26When I break your staff of bread, ten women will bake your bread in one oven, and they will bring back your bread in rationed amounts, so that you will eat and not be satisfied.

If the people continue to resist, the fourth promise follows what awaits them in seven times heavier form. The enemy will come and kill them with the sword. He who thinks he is safe from the sword in a city, will be beaten with the plague and thus driven into the hands of the enemy.

The scarcity of food will be great; no one will be able to be satisfied. Ten families will have to deal with the ration for one family. Hunger will become more and more gnawing, leading people to resort to the horror of cannibalism, mentioned in the next section.


Consequences of Disobedience (5)

27‘Yet if in spite of this you do not obey Me, but act with hostility against Me, 28then I will act with wrathful hostility against you, and I, even I, will punish you seven times for your sins. 29Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters you will eat. 30I then will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and heap your remains on the remains of your idols, for My soul shall abhor you. 31I will lay waste your cities as well and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your soothing aromas. 32I will make the land desolate so that your enemies who settle in it will be appalled over it. 33You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste. 34‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35All the days of [its] desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it. 36As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall. 37They will therefore stumble over each other as if [running] from the sword, although no one is pursuing; and you will have [no strength] to stand up before your enemies. 38But you will perish among the nations, and your enemies’ land will consume you. 39So those of you who may be left will rot away because of their iniquity in the lands of your enemies; and also because of the iniquities of their forefathers they will rot away with them.

If the people continue to resist after all the previous disciplinary measures, the fifth announcement of disciplinary measures is also the final blow to the resistance. The people will be driven out of the land and scattered over the earth. Before that time, they will fall into cannibalism and that in its most horrible form: their own children are eaten (2Kgs 6:28-2928And the king said to her, “What is the matter with you?” And she answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’29So we boiled my son and ate him; and I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him’; but she has hidden her son.”). Egoism is so great that all natural love has disappeared. Children are not only sacrificed to idols, but here they are sacrificed purely for the sake of survival.

The LORD shall cast their corpses on the corpses of their idols, and disgust them. He Himself will destroy their cities. When the people have finally been driven out of it, the land will have rest and will be retributed for its sabbatical years which the people have withheld during their stay in it (2Chr 36:2121to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.).

The cities where the people have felt at ease and at home will be made a mess by the LORD. There will no longer be a place where they will have rest and feel at home. Nothing will remain of their sanctuaries, which as religious places have given them a sense of security and by which they have assumed themselves to be God’s people. Nothing of their religion is acceptable to God: “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon [festivals] and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing [them]” (Isa 1:13-1413“Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14“I hate your new moon [festivals] and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing [them].
).

The land as a whole shall be destroyed by the LORD in a way that even their enemies shall be appalled. The people will be driven out and will be destroyed on foreign ground outside the land.

There will be no force to hold against the enemy. They will see enemies where there are none and flee following their imagination (verse 1717I will set My face against you so that you will be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you.). He who rejects the fear of God will even be afraid of the sound of a driven leaf (verse 3636As for those of you who may be left, I will also bring weakness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. And the sound of a driven leaf will chase them, and even when no one is pursuing they will flee as though from the sword, and they will fall.; Pro 28:1a1The wicked flee when no one is pursuing,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.
).

Just as it was with Israel, so it will be with the confessing Christianity. If those who were once in connection with God are judged by Him because of their total hardening, this will surprise even all those who have never been in connection with Him (cf. Jer 19:88I will also make this city a desolation and an [object of] hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters.).


Confession and Covenant

40‘If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me— 41I also was acting with hostility against them, to bring them into the land of their enemies—or if their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, 42then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.

If they confess, God will remember His covenant. The confession is accompanied by repentance and humiliation. However persistently the people have despised all the discipline of God, there remains a possibility of conversion. They will also do so when the need has risen to heaven. Their confession is a recognition of God’s righteousness in dealing with them. They will acknowledge that God has done with them according to what they deserved. Nehemiah appealed to these verses in his prayer to the LORD (Neh 1:8-98Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples;9but [if] you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’; 1Kgs 8:46-5346“When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near;47if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’;48if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name;49then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause,50and forgive Your people who have sinned against You and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You, and make them [objects of] compassion before those who have taken them captive, that they may have compassion on them51(for they are Your people and Your inheritance which You have brought forth from Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace),52that Your eyes may be open to the supplication of Your servant and to the supplication of Your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to You.53For You have separated them from all the peoples of the earth as Your inheritance, as You spoke through Moses Your servant, when You brought our fathers forth from Egypt, O Lord GOD.”).

Repentance means that they consider themselves guilty and understand that they have acted against God. They condemn themselves and humiliate themselves before God. Their uncircumcised heart (cf. Jer 9:2626Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”), that is to say their actions in their own will and rebellion, comes to self-judgment. Circumcision speaks of judgment over the flesh. That is what God seeks (Rom 2:2929But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.).


God Remembers for Good

43For the land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them. They, meanwhile, will be making amends for their iniquity, because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes. 44Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. 45But I will remember for them the covenant with 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 the LORD.’”

God remembers for good. If they have the right mind, a mind that is worked by the LORD in them, and therefore also acceptable to Him, He will remember His covenant, and on that basis, He will bless them. He remains faithful to His covenant, not because of His people, but because of Himself and on the basis of the work His Son accomplished on the cross.


Closing

46These are the statutes and ordinances and laws which the LORD established between Himself and the sons of Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai.

This verse closes the book of Leviticus. Moses is the mediator given by God. Through his service the people receive God’s revelations, while they camp at Mount Sinai. The following chapter is a kind of appendix, but an important one.


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