Leviticus 26 is difficult. The first half paints a breathtaking picture of a life of obedience. This is the life that God wanted for his people – this is the life that God wants for us!
But I know the story of the Israelites, and I know they fail to obey. God is true to his word. The horrible curses described in the second half of Leviticus 26 come on Israel – so much that the land will be laid desolate and the people will live as captives in a foreign land. But God gives a glimmer of hope…
Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God. But 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” (Leviticus 26:44-45).
Because the strict language of Leviticus seems so different from Jesus’ love and compassion, it might be easy to discount the Law as obsolete and meaningless to the modern Christian. No! God is still holy!! And our disobedience is still costly!
Fast forward to Mark… The Jews questioned Jesus in Mark 2 several times… “Why do you make yourself unclean by associating with sinners?” “Why don’t your followers obey the fasting laws?” “Why do you break the law and pluck grain on the Sabbath?” On the surface, it seems like Jesus is voiding the law with his actions. But he refutes this in the parable of the wine skins… No, he fulfills the law and deepens it to include what flows from the heart instead of describing only outward actions.
The Israelites disobeyed God’s law and they reaped the consequences.We are no different from the Israelites. We reap what we sow. If you look back at Leviticus 26 (in the ESV translation), God describes the consequences for Israel’s disobedience as “discipline” not “punishment.” Every consequence was brought about with the hope of repentance. Ultimately, God just wants us to repent. He is waiting for the turning… for our hard hearts to be brought low in humility and surrender. What are you sowing?? Humble reliance or hard-hearted independence?? Just like the Israelites, we will reap what we sow.