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Leviticus 26:14-39 (Assured Curses)

Mar 25, 2018   //   by Charlie Garrett   //   Leviticus, Leviticus (written), Old Testament, Sermons, Torah, Torah (written)  //  No Comments

Leviticus 26:14-39
Assured Curses

Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists—over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead—about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even as Joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour’s presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the “desert places” round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes. Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land? Mark Twain, 1869

Text Verse: “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.” Romans 4:13-15

Where there is no law, there is no transgression. Thank God for those marvelous words. The law was given, it was agreed upon, and penalties for its violation are clearly stated. Nothing could be more dramatic than reading the words of Leviticus 26, and then comparing them to the words of Mark Twain. It is as if one was penned simply to confirm the other.

I attended a Jewish funeral where the rabbi who spoke mentioned Leviticus 26, and its many punishments. He dismissed what it said as if it was completely irrelevant to the Jewish people, and to the state of the world in which they have lived, and still live. And yet, Leviticus 26 exactingly explains their state now, and what has occurred to them as a people, in every possible detail.

Instead of dismissing what it says, they should be terrified by it, remorseful over how it has been proven true, and repentant in their actions of heart and deed. And even more, they should look to why these things came upon them the second time. It’s been staring them in the face for these past 2000 years. From time to time, one will realize and understand.

That rare soul is mentioned by Paul in Romans 11:5 as one of the “remnant according to the election of grace.” This means, he or she has come to Christ. That soul is now no longer under law, but under grace. For the rest, they are still bound to what has afflicted them all along. And sadly they will be judged by that same law when they stand before their God.

When you say your prayers each day, remember to include Israel. They are back in the land, but they are not right with God. Such truths are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. If You Do Not Obey Me (verses 14-17)

14 ‘But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments,

Verses 3 through 8 gave the assurances of blessing for obedience to the Lord in keeping His statutes and commandments and performing them according to the law. A contrast to those verses is now given. The horrifying consequences for disobedience are now forthcoming. What will be presented as punishment to be inflicted upon those who stubbornly refuse to comply, is documented as having come about in the remaining pages of Scripture. The Lord promised blessing, and it came upon the people when they complied. The Lord now promises curses, and they have come upon the people when they refused to comply.

15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,

A new word, ma’as is brought in here. It signifies to despise unto rejection. It comes from a root meaning “to spurn.” It will become common in Scripture as the people reject the Lord and His word, and He in turn rejects them, individually (such as in King Saul) or collectively (such as in the people rejecting the law). It is used in the 118th Psalm when speaking of the Stone which the builders rejected, a prophecy of the coming Messiah.

What was a passive indifference noted in verse 14, is now an active attitude here. The words used, ma’as (despise), gaal (abhor), and parar (break) are purposeful and active, but they must be taken in their proper light. Individual sins, although regrettable, are not what is being spoken of here. The law provided for the atonement of such sins. Instead, the state of the people as a collective group is what is being addressed. As the overall attitude of the people came to despise the statutes, abhor the judgments, and willingly fail to perform all of the commandments, thus breaking the covenant, then the anticipated curses would be poured out upon them –

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7

They had agreed to it as a collective group, and thus they would be collectively punished for failure to comply as they had promised. One might ask though how this could be collective when Paul says this in Galatians –

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10

The answer is that all who failed to do the things of the law were under a curse, but the Day of Atonement was there to cover those individual sins. As the nation moved away from accepting the need for national atonement for these individual sins, they collectively brought on the national curse. This is why even the individuals who were mournful over their sins were caught up in the national guilt.

16 I also will do this to you:

The word aph, translated as “also,” is not uncommon, but it hasn’t been seen since Genesis 40. Now, it will be used 9 times through the end of the chapter. It indicates addition. One might think of, “This, therefore, that.” The Lord will use this word in the negative six times until verse 41, and then he will use it in the positive three times in verses 42 through 44. There is a sense of increase in punishment due to Israel’s rejection of the covenant, and then an increase in the Lord’s faithfulness in keeping that same covenant.

16 (con’t) I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.

The word “appoint” is paqad. It comes from a root meaning “to visit.” In the words here, the Lord, in the first person, promises a purposeful, divine visitation upon the people. What will be described is from His hand and He is the Source of the calamity which will be described. The first curse is a new word bahalah, or terror. That is then defined by two more new words, translated as “wasting disease and fever.”

Those two words will be seen again in Deuteronomy 18:22 and then never again in Scripture. But the Lord promises the result will be mekalot enayim u-medivot naphesh, or literally “consume the eyes and pine away the soul.” The idea of this phrase is that the eyes – meaning the light of life – will extinguish, and the soul – meaning life itself – will pine away. Though different Hebrew words are used, these same troubles are recorded as having come upon the people in Lamentations. For those who follow these things, the word doov, or pine away, is found only here.

16 (con’t) And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

This is probably speaking of the people laboring in the field, and others eating what is produced. However, the Hebrew says something that may be more terrifying. It more literally says, “you shall sow your seed to no purpose, and your seed will be eaten by your enemies.” The question is, “Why doesn’t it say “harvest” or “produce” instead of seed?” The other four times that zarakem, or your seed, is used in Scripture, it is speaking of descendants. As the first part of this verse is speaking of the dying of the individual, it makes more sense that this is speaking of one’s posterity, being eaten – either literally or figuratively – by the enemy. This would then be fulfilled in Jeremiah 10:25 –

Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You,
And on the families who do not call on Your name;
For they have eaten up Jacob,
Devoured him and consumed him,
And made his dwelling place desolate.” Jeremiah 10:25

17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.

For the Lord to set His face against Israel, means that He will direct He attention towards them in anger, and that will be poured out on them in indignation. Their enemies, the tool of His anger, will defeat them. The first person shows that the Lord determined and is acting, even if it is really their enemies who accomplish it. The defeat of Israel before her enemies is found throughout the OT.

17 (con’t) Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

Israel was subjected to foreign powers on numerous occasions – in both testaments. After the close of Scripture, this continued, even until modern times. An instance of them fleeing when not pursued is found in Jeremiah 43.

The choice is yours, and it is clearly laid out
Will you choose life and walk closely with Me?
No, you will choose another path, there is no doubt
Time will tell, just wait and see

I have spoken in advance, and showed what lies ahead
There could be abundance, mixed with peace and life
But that will not be the case; you have chosen the “instead”
This will lead to nothing but sadness, trouble, and strife

Oh Israel! If you would just pay heed
Oh My people! If you would just cling closely to Me
But your hearts are wicked, lustful, and filled with greed
And great trouble for You is your woeful destiny

II. Seven Times Over (verses 18-39)

18 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

The Lord now promises a second level of punishment, seven-fold punishment upon the people for failing to pay heed. This will be repeated four times. Each time there will be an increase in severity. Here, the word yasar, to chasten or punish, is used for the first time. It will be used three more times in this chapter.

The seven-fold punishment looks first to the meaning of seven, divine perfection. There will be a perfect execution of the anticipated punishment. As it is the sabbatical number, it is also to be a reminder of the breaking of the covenant by the people.

Also, if the punishments of verses 14-17 are an indication of punishment leading up to, and including, the first exile, then the number seven here would be a seven-times multiplication of punishment leading up to and including a second exile. Though the words of verses 14-17 are not nearly all that is recorded elsewhere as punishment before the first exile, they may simply be given as an all-encompassing thought. Now the terrors of verses 18-39 would reflect the absolute horror of what not obeying after the first exile would mean.

19 I will break the pride of your power;

The term geon uzekem, or “pride of your power,” is found here and in Ezekiel 24:21 where it speaks of the sanctuary of the Lord. It is debated if that is what is being referred to, but there is no reason to assume it is not. In destroying the temple by the Babylonians and then the Romans, the land was also destroyed. This led naturally to the plagues which follow…

19 (con’t) I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

In the destruction of the cities, which included Jerusalem and the sanctuary there, the Romans built up siege works. In doing so, they cut down the trees of the land. In this, the natural rain cycles of the land were disrupted. If any rains fell, they were not enough to support crops and produce. This continued on until the return of Israel to the land. In their return, they began planting trees, and the cycle of former and latter rains returned to the land.

Two metals are named here, iron and bronze. Iron has only been mentioned once, in Genesis 4:22. It represents strength, be it in binding together, in government, in hard service, in bondage, etc. Bronze represents judgment. What is being said here is that the Lord will firmly fix up the heavens so that they will not rain. From that, judgment will be realized in the unproductive earth. This same punishment is restated in Deuteronomy 28:23, where the metals are reversed. Thus, judgment in the sky, meaning no rain, would lead to an unyielding earth. In the end, the result is the same as seen in…

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain;

The word riyq, or vain, was introduced in verse 16. It means vain, empty, of no purpose. The people would work in the field, but the result would be completely wasted effort.

20 (con’t) for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

What was promised as a blessing in verse 4, the yield of produce and the yielding of fruit, is now a resulting curse. The land fails to produce, and the trees fail to bear. Exactly the opposite of verse 4 is realized here. This sad state is recorded in Habakkuk 3:17 –

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;” Habakkuk 3:17

21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.

A third level of punishment is now promised. The Lord uses a new word, qeri, translated as “contrary” here. It comes from qarah, meaning “to happen.” And so this gives the sense of people simply allowing life to happen without a care, and thus acting contrary. It will be used seven times; all are found in the verses to come in this chapter. It signifies opposition, and even hostility. If the Lord’s corrective measures are not heeded by the people, He takes it as a hostile act, and thus punishment seven times over is to be expected.

22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number;

The term here is khayat ha’sadeh, or “life of the field,” and thus it is any living creature of the field, be it beasts or vipers. In Deuteronomy 32:24, this is described as “the teeth of beasts” and “the poison of serpents.” In 2 Kings 17, the Lord sent lions among the people. Such words are found elsewhere in Ezekiel. What is more the case though, is that wild animals of all kinds are specifically spoken of as evil people, wicked rulers, and so on. Thus, the wild beasts referred to here are as much to be equated with people as they are actual animals. This then explains…

22 (con’t) and your highways shall be desolate.

The word shamem, meaning to make desolate or astonish is new here. It will become a rather common word after this, but it is notable that it will be seen seven more times in this chapter alone. The emptiness of roads and highways are noted several times in later books such as Judges 5, Isaiah 33, and Zephaniah 3. Such desolate highways are to be attributed more to human foes than actual wild animals.

23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me,

If the previous remedial efforts are found ineffective, then a fourth elevation of punishment is needed. Such was the case at Jeremiah’s time. The people were chastened, and they still did not heed –

In vain I have chastened your children;
They received no correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.” Jeremiah 2:30

The Lord promises that if such is the case…

24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

Now the word qeri, introduced in verse 21, is used as an action by the Lord instead of by the people. If you remember, it comes from a word meaning “to happen,” and thus it seems as if bad, or hostile, things are simply happening – as if God just gave up caring for them. But the truth is that the Lord is attentively punishing the people for their transgressions.

Despite not being a popular view of Jewish history, especially terrors such as the pogroms and the holocaust, Israel has only itself to blame for what has occurred. They have not been obedient to the Lord, and their punishment has come upon them seven times for their sins. Until they come to this realization, there can be no cure for what will continue to come upon them.

25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant;

The sword here is a devouring instrument. This is not merely the sword of the enemy being brought against them, but it is inclusive of it. What is being said here is that for their violation of the covenant, the Lord would bring vengeance on them by first bringing the enemy with their sword to destroy. In this, the people would then retreat into the fortified cities as is seen next…

25 (con’t) when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you;

This is then the second sword, the deber, or pestilence. In 1 Chronicles, this is exactly what the pestilence is called, kherev Yehovah, or the sword of Yehovah.

25 (con’t) and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

Due to the famine and plague which results from a city-besieged, the strength and numbers of the people would finally result in being forced to give up and surrender. This is seen in the fall of Jerusalem in Jeremiah, and it is recorded in detail by Josephus conncering the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans.

26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

b’shivri lakem matteh lekhem – “When I have broken the staff of your bread.” It is a proverbial expression indicating that the supply of bread, represented by the staff which supports man, no longer is enough to feed the people. Instead, the bread of ten families, represented by the women who bake it, would be baked in one oven. From there, the single loaf would be divided by weight, every crumb being precious to those who would share it at home. But what is brought to be eaten by the woman would not satisfy those who received it. This is literally recorded as coming upon Jerusalem in Ezekiel 4:16 and elsewhere.

27 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,

If after such terrible times as have been described, no change in the people’s contrary walk is noted, then a fifth level of punishment is to be meted out upon them…

28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury;

In verse 24, when the people continued to walk contrary to the Lord, He said he would also walk contrary to them. Now He says He will do so, but in fury. There is an elevation to His judgment.

28 (con’t) and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

There is a stress here on the personal nature of the punishment. It is not a by-happenstance thing which would occur to Israel, but rather a purposeful infliction of punishment, directly from the Lord. And the elevation of the punishment is again seven times for their sins.

29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.

The horrifying details of this warning are further described in Deuteronomy 28. And the warning became reality as is seen in the captivity of Samaria in 2 Kings 6, and again in the captivity of Jerusalem in Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel. The horrifying practice then occurred again during the Roman siege of Jerusalem.

30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols;

Three actions against the Lord are promised to be corrected. The first is the destruction of their bamah, or high places. People would go to elevated locations to worship deities, including the Lord, even though they were only to worship the Lord in this way at the temple. The Lord promised these would be destroyed.

The next are the khaman, here translated as “incense altars.” The word comes from khamah, meaning “sun,” or chamam, meaning “hot.” Some translations thus call them “sun-pillars,” as if dedicated to the sun; others “incense altars,” because of the heat of burning incense to false gods. Surely they did both.

The third action is to cast their carcasses on the carcasses of their idols. The gilul, or idol is now first seen here. It comes from galal, meaning “to roll,” and so these are probably circular stones or logs. The irony is not to be missed in how the Lord compares the dead bodies of the people to the dead idols they served. The utter contempt of the Lord for both idols and idolaters is to be noted and remembered. Ezekiel 6 describes the Lord’s promise to bring these words about –

Indeed I, even I, will bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Then your altars shall be desolate, your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars. In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate, so that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, your idols may be broken and made to cease, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 6:3-7

The bodies of the people would be so thoroughly mixed with those of the idols, that it would form one putrid pile of garbage. What is to be especially noted about this verse, is that it presupposes that these things will probably be made. They have not even entered into the land yet, but the Lord identifies what they would make, and how they would prostitute themselves with those things.

30 (con’t) and My soul shall abhor you.

This is exactly the opposite of the words of verse 11, “I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.” Instead of the tabernacle and fellowship, there are idols and abhorring.

31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.

The Lord promises to bring the cities to khorbah, or waste. It is a new word, indicating desolation or ruin. But the promise is on “your sanctuaries.” The word is plural, which could mean the several sanctuaries within the Lord’s house. It is used this way in Jeremiah 51:51. However, it doesn’t say, “the Lord’s house” or “My sanctuary” here. It says “your sanctuaries.” Thus, it is probably what is referred to in Amos 7 –

Behold, I am setting a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore.
The high places of Isaac shall be desolate,
And the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste.
I will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam.” Amos 7:8, 9

Even though these were false sanctuaries, they still burnt incense to the Lord at such places. Eventually, they would no longer even do this. He would utterly destroy them so that the incense would no longer burn.

32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.

The land itself was to be so completely destroyed that even their enemies who dwelt among them would be utterly astounded at what had occurred. Exact words to match this are found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;

The Lord promises to zarah, or scatter, the people among the nations. This word has only been used so far to describe what Moses did to the golden calf that the people had made. Like that, which was crushed to powder and scattered upon the waters, so Israel would be scattered upon the nations. And there, the Lord promised to continue to draw out His sword against them, further scattering, and further destroying. There could be no turning back as the sword followed closely upon them. These words are the exact opposite of what was said in verse 6, “and the sword will not go through your land.” Instead of safety in the land, there would be terror outside the land. Can anyone not see this as fulfilled these past 2000 years?

33 (con’t) your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.

With the destruction and dispersion would come desolation. The land would be ruined and it would turn to further ruin during its time of being unattended. But in this, there is also good seen…

34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land;

The land was to be given a sabbath rest every seventh year and every fiftieth year. It has been calculated by one scholar that from the entry into Canaan by Joshua, until the Babylonian captivity, there were approximately 863 years. In this, there should have been about 123 Sabbath years, and around 17 years of Jubilee. There is no record to say actually how many, or if any, of these were observed or not. But one specific reason for the exile is recorded in 2 Chronicles 36 –

And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21

Seventy years then may be simply be a multiplication of the sacred number seven, decided upon by God as sufficient for what was lacking in the observance by the people. Regardless, we are told…

34 (con’t) then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

This is the second time in the verse this is stated, and it is almost therefore a note of bitter sarcasm. The land was burdened by the people, and now the land would enjoy rest apart from the people. While they were in captivity, the land would rest in freedom.

35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—

for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

There is a note of patient waiting in these words. The assumption is that the sabbaths would be ignored. And yet, the punishment was delayed. Instead of acting on each failed Sabbath observance, the Lord would make a tally. As the people continued to assume that He would never act, another addition would be made to the ledger, but the promise is that action would come.

An arrears of Sabbath years had accumulated for the land while the greed of the people had led them to work when they should not have. Therefore, the land received its days of rest based on the years it was deprived, and the Israelites were deprived of their work based on the rest they had neglected. Justice was served for the land, and judgment was served upon the people.

36 ‘And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies;

A unique word is given here, morek, or faintness. It comes from a word meaning soft, and thus the heart would either be one which was cowardly, or it would not be able to withstand the pressures which troubled it, so much so that…

36 (con’t) the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee;

they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.

Two more new and rare words are introduced here, nadaph (shaken), and menusah (flight). It is a sign of the horrifying nature of the events that Moses uses words that are wholly unique, or extremely limited in their use, in order to reveal the magnitude of what lay ahead for the people if, and when, they disobeyed.

It is sure that a single driven leaf makes almost no sound at all, and yet it would produce a thunderous, deafening noise in the ears of those who had failed to honor the Lord. That single leaf would be as a sword slashing by the ears, causing them to get up and run as if it would cut them to pieces. And so flee they would…

37 They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues;

The sense here is that when terror strikes, the people would simply run over one another like soldiers breaking ranks in a retreat, or a gathering of people running from an oncoming avalanche. Nobody would care about the next person, one would stumble and others would simply run them over. Such would be the terror, even when nobody was actually pursuing. The faintness of the heart would have each on such edge that they would constantly be in fear. As this was so, how much more fearful when facing a real challenge…

37 (con’t) and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

The terror of the ordeal would leave few willing to fight, and none able to win. When the Lord stood against Israel, the enemies would have little trouble destroying their target.

38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.

The sense here is that either through life or death among the Gentiles, those who were dispersed would remain so. They would be lost among the peoples, and most would either lose their identity there, or they would die there. This is the sense of the term, “the land of your enemies shall eat you up.” It is a phrase used in Numbers 13, when the twelves spies went to search out Canaan, and it is used in Ezekiel 36:13 where the land of Israel is said to devour men. For the majority of the ten northern tribes, this was literally fulfilled. Most were absorbed into the nations and their identity was lost. Eventually, they died in those foreign lands while only a remnant of each tribe was left.

39 And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands;

One final new word today is maqaq, meaning to rot or fester. It will be seen twice in this verse and then not again until the Psalms. The idea here is that most of those who go into exile will simply rot away there without ever returning to the land of Israel. In saying they will waste away in their iniquity, it is referring to the punishment of the iniquity. In other words, the same word in Hebrew carries both the idea of sin, and punishment, because sin is its own punishment. As James says, “…when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” Paul explains this in Romans as well.

*39 (fin) also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away.

As I said earlier, the Lord doesn’t simply punish the people for every missed Sabbath year. Instead, the fathers sinned, and eventually a time came when the people were punished in the sin of their fathers. The cumulative wrath of disobedience eventually has to be punished. This is the idea of the flood of Noah, and it is the idea of the coming time of Jacob’s trouble, or the tribulation period. The world is storing up wrath, but people keep sinning. Nobody thinks, “Oh boy, we really deserve to be punished.” And so the sin continues, and the wrath grows.

If nothing else has shown you this, a short and quick sermon on these 26 verses today should do so. As terrible as the content has been at some points, the magnitude of what was promised to Israel will be poured out on a global scale at some point. It will be wrath leading to punishment, including abundant death. For those who die apart from God’s grace and mercy, there will be the continuing eternal punishment which follows. All debts will be settled at that time.

If one looks at the verses today in a broad way, they can see standing out in the words the very cross of Christ. Though he was without sin, terror was appointed over Him. He suffered, as it were, carrying the diseases of the world, His light was extinguished, and His life wasted away. While on the cross, the Lord’s face was set against Him – against He who never sinned, but who bore our sins. Those who hated Him ruled over Him, judged Him, and sentenced Him.

Wild beasts surrounded Him, the vengeance of the covenant was poured out on Him, He was delivered into the hands of His enemy. He was deprived of bread; He the Bread of life. In Him is rest, and yet He was deprived of rest. We could go on, verse by verse looking at what Israel was promised for disobedience, and what Christ Jesus suffered in place of their (and our) disobedience.

Leviticus 26 shows us the penalties for violation of the covenant which Israel had agreed upon. There is nothing unfair in what occurred to them over the years, and there is nothing unfair which will come upon the world when it is judged for its own wickedness. But there is mercy because Jesus Christ accepted the punishment of the covenant for us. He received the pain, the agony, and the shame that others deserve. And in exchange, He has offered us a New Covenant. It is one of peace, fellowship with God, and forgiveness of sin committed.

Next week we will look at the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises to Israel, even in their guilt. In this, He will remember not the covenant at Sinai when He speaks to them, but this covenant to their ancestors – to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. It is not for the sake of the Law of Moses, but for the sake of the everlasting promises to the patriarchs that He will speak out those verses.

The importance of this is not to be missed. The Law of Moses has a termination point. That termination is in the cross of Christ. We will all be judged by that law. It will either be judged in us and we will be condemned, or it will be judged for us in Christ, and we will be saved. Let us understand this, and let us call out now accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for our misdeeds. By faith, we can once again be restored to God, fully and completely, and without fear of failure.

Closing Verse: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Romans 3:21, 22

Next Week: Job 19:23-27 After a weary walk in this life that we trod… (In My Flesh I Shall See God – Resurrection Day Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Assured Curses

But if you do not obey Me
And do not observe all these commandments
And if you despise My statutes
Or if your soul abhors My judgments

So that you do not all My commandments perform
But break My covenant, then hear the words I warn

I also will do this to you:
I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever
———-So I do submit
Which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart
And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it

I will set My face against you
And you shall be defeated by your enemies; My word is true
Those who hate you shall reign over you
And you shall flee when no one pursues you

And after all this, if you do not obey Me
Then I will punish you seven times more for your sins
———-so shall it be

I will break the pride of your power,
thus ending your mirth
I will make your heavens like iron
———-and like bronze shall be your earth

And your strength shall be spent in vain
For your land it produce shall not yield
Nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit
Barren shall be the trees of the field

Then, if you walk contrary to Me
And are not willing to obey Me
I will bring on you seven times more plagues
According to your sins shall it be

I will also send wild beasts among you
Which shall rob you of your children
———-a horrible state
Destroy your livestock, and make you few in number
And your highways shall be desolate

And if by these things you are not reformed by Me
But walk contrary to Me; such are your crimes
Then I also will walk contrary to you
And I will punish you for your sins yet seven times

And I will bring a sword against you
That will execute the vengeance of the covenant
When you are gathered together within your cities
I will send pestilence among you; until you are spent

And you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy
Surely this will come to pass; so shall it be

When I have cut off your supply of bread
Ten women shall bake in one oven your bread
And they shall bring back your bread by weight
And you shall eat and not be satisfi-ed

And after all this, if you do not obey Me
But walk contrary to Me; such are your continued crimes
Then I also will walk contrary to you in fury
And I, even I, will chastise you for your sins seven times

You shall eat the flesh of your sons for your meat
And the flesh of your daughters you shall eat

I will destroy your high places
Cut down your incense altars, so I shall do
And cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols
And My soul shall abhor you

I will lay yours cities waste
And bring your sanctuaries to desolation
And I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas
You who were to be My holy nation

I will bring the land to desolation
And your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it
I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you
Your land shall be desolate and your cities waste
———-for the crimes you did commit

Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths
As long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land
Then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths
Then shall the nations understand

As long as it lies desolate it shall rest, so I submit
For the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it
And as for those of you who are left, so to you I address
I will send into their hearts in the lands of their enemies faintness

The sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee
They shall flee as though fleeing from a sword
And they shall fall when no one pursues
According to My solemn word

They shall stumble over one another
As it were before a sword throughout the land
When no one pursues
And you shall have no power before your enemies to stand

You shall perish among the nations
And the land of your enemies shall eat you up; so shall it be
And those of you who are left shall waste away
In your enemies’ lands in their iniquity

Also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them
They shall waste away, like a branch broken at the stem

Lord God, Israel was warned, and yet they did not obey
They received what was just, right, and due
And we too have walked in a contrary way
We have neglected our duty and responsibility to You

But in Christ there is mercy, and in Christ there is grace
Through Him we are freed from the guilt we bore
And through Him we receive a smile from Your face
And that favor will last forever, and evermore

Thank You for Christ, our Lord Jesus!
Thank You for all, through Him, that You have done for us

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

14 ‘But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments,

15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,

16 I also will do this to you:

I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.

And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.

Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

18 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

19 I will break the pride of your power;

I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain;

for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.

22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number;

and your highways shall be desolate.

23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me,

24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant;

when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you;

and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

27 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,

28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury;

and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.

30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols;

and My soul shall abhor you.

31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.

32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.

33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;

your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.

34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land;

then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—

for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

36 ‘And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies;

the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee;

they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.

37 They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues;

and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.

39 And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands;

also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away.

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