Leviticus 26-27: Blessings & Curses
We started this series in the BOOK OF LEVITICUS, for the purpose of giving you the keys & tools you need to understanding LEVITICUS w/out getting bogged down …
… when reading the Bible cover to cover …
So we’ve come to the last sermon in the Leviticus series.
When we started, I thought we would do this in 3-4 sermons, and here we are, in sermon #9.
There’re are just too many fascinating details in this book.
In the last 2 sermons, we covered the FEASTS OF THE LORD (in chapter 23) and the Jubilee (in Chapter 25).
So let’s cover the chapter in between, CHAPTER 24, before going on to the meat of today’s sermon …
… which is on the BLESSINGS & CURSES orwarnings against apostasy & disobedience in CH. 26 and some final instructions in CH. 27.
SO TURN TO LEVITICUS 24.
* LEVITICUS 24 begins with further instructions on 2 of the HOLY VESSELS inside the TABERNACLE: the GOLDEN CANDLESTICK & the TABLE OF SHEWBREAD.
READ LEVITICUS 24:1-4.
* OLIVE OIL
* BURN CONTINUALLY
* EVENING UNTIL MORNING (1 WHOLE BIBLICAL DAY / 24 HOURS)
READ LEVITICUS 24:5-9
The bread was a form of sustenance for the Levitical priesthood & also symbolized JESUS as the BREAD OF LIFE.
• Now there is only one other time in LEVITICUS where there is real action or narrative, in between the giving of the LAW.
1. At the end of CHAPTER 9, God’s fire came down and consumed the burnt offering upon the altar & the people SHOUTED and FELL ON THEIR FACES.
2. And in CHAPTER 10 NADAB & ABIHU offered STRANGE FIRE and were consumed by the same FIRE OF GOD which had consumed the burnt offering.
Besides these events and some conversation between Aaron & Moses, we see very little in way of a storyline or narrative in LEVITICUS.
• But we see another story emerge in CHAPTER 24, about the son of an Israelite woman & an Egyptian man who blasphemes the name of God.
READ LEVITICUS 24:11-23
BLASPHEMY or CURSING THE NAME OF GOD was a SERIOUS SIN in the Bible, which was punishable by death.
That’s why we see that when Jesus was accused of blasphemy, they wanted to pick up stones and stone Him.
We see this in John 10, where Jesus says:
30 I and my Father are one.
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.
32 Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.
Leviticus 24:22 also explains the equality of the LAW for both Israelites & strangers living among them …
There was to be no difference. The same law applied to all.
AND Leviticus 24:20 speaks of GOD’S JUSTICE: “Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.”
The punishment was to be commensurate with the crime.
We see Jesus mention Leviticus 24:20 in the NT.
READ MATTHEW 5:38-39:
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also…
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
But Jesus was not abolishing the LAW or contradicting it.
• THE MESSIAH WOULD NEVER DO THAT.
• In fact, Jesus WROTE the Law.
Jesus was denouncing the PHARAISICAL ABUSE of the Law, to JUSTIFY personal vengeance.
Jesus was speaking against taking action against your personal enemies.
It had nothing to do with matters of the Law.
Jesus is about individual MERCY. He wants us to be merciful to people … and not become hateful Pharisees.
And this debate comes up often, even in relation to self-defense.
If somebody breaks into your house at night and is about to physical harm you or your family ….
You have Every Right to Shoot to Kill.
But when it comes to our personal enemies … people we have personal animosity against …
Jesus wants us to TURN THE OTHER CHEEK.
Psalm 103:8: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”
*** OK, so Let’s continue to the last 2 chapters in LEVITICUS.
READ LEVITICUS 26:1
* The question that often comes up is: Are ALL graven images forbidden?
For example, can you wear a cross necklace or have a statue commemorating somebody from history or hang a picture of a loved one on your mantel?
Is it graven images themselves that’s forbidden or is there more to it than that?
This goes back to the 1st & 2nd of the 10 Commandments.
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (That’s the 1st Commandment)
4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: (2nd commandment)
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God
The 1st & 2nd Commandments are closely connected.
What this is really talking about is GRAVEN IMAGES for the purpose of idol worship.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
• These are really connected.
That’s why in v. 5 when the Bible forbids graven images …
… it doesn’t just say not to have graven images
It says: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them …”
The GRAVEN IMAGES of the Bible were carved out of wood, stone, or metal like silver or gold, and were literally idols to be worshiped.
An idolatrous culture would take the image and characteristics of a pagan god …
… and carve the image in its likeness. & they believed that the force of that god would indwell the carved object.
God had freed Israel from bondage in EGYPT & did not want them to worship the Egyptian pagan gods which they had left behind …
So the 2ND COMMANDMENT was a restriction on creating idols, not on carving images or statues for art or as memorials.
& that’s why we see representations of cherubim in gold in the MOST HOLY PLACE next to the ARK OF THE COVENANT.
There were graven images in the temple.
There were CHERUBIMS on the CURTAINS of the tabernacle and on the VEIL that separates the HOLY PLACE from the MOST HOLY.
EXODUS 26:1: “Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.”
EXODUS 26:31: “And thou shalt make a vail [of] blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:”
*** So we now get to the MEAT OF TODAY’S SERMON, THE BLESSINGS & CURSES.
THE BLESSINGS start at LEVITICUS 26:3-13 …
THE WARNINGS AGAINST APOSTASY (or CURSES) are covered in VERSES 14-39.
The BLESSINGS are 10 VERSES & the CURSES are 25 VERSES (2.5x as long!)
And the last 7 VERSES of CH. 26 are about repentance and restoration …
… when God’s people stray & fall subject to the curses.
Let’s begin with the BLESSINGS:
• VERSES 3-5:
ABUNDANCE & PROVISION.
God will provide rainfall & the earth will provide an abundant harvest.
THRESHING is when you beat the stalks of wheat or corn or grain, to separate out – for example – the wheat from the chaff.
V. 5 is saying that the time of threshing will be long (because there will be such a BIG HARVEST).
& the PRODUCE OF THE HARVEST will last until it’s time to sew the fields again, so there will never be any lack.
• WE CAN TAKE IT TO HEART that these promises still apply to us today, AS WE LIVE LIVES THAT ARE OBEDIENT TO GOD.
God will provide PEACE & SAFETY from our enemies & from nature …
… from the wild beasts of the earth … &also from WAR.
… God will give us great strength, though we be few in number.
… 5 shall chase an 100, and an 100 shall put 10,000 to flight!
God will WALK among us and COVENANT with us.
He will be our God and we shall be His people …
Jesus also tells us to keep His commandments in the NT:
Jesus said in John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
It’s the same admonishment that God gave the Israelites In Leviticus.
None of God’s Word contradicts itself.
Everything Jesus said, had its root in the Law.
As Christians, we are supposed to obey God’s Laws.
• Now people misuse this verse and say that if you don’t keep God’s commandments, you’re not saved …
But Jesus is ADMONISHING those WHO ARE ALREADY SAVED to keep God’s commandments.
Elsewhere, we also see that the Bible equates keeping God’s commandments with having faith in Jesus Christ.
1 John 3:23: “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
This is the same as Jesus’ command to love God and your neighbor as yourself …
Mark 12:30-31: “30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment. 31And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Here, Jesus is replacing the commandment to LOVE GOD and your neighbor as yourself w/ BELIEVE in JESUS and love your neighbor as yourself, because Loving God IS believing Jesus.
That’s the commandment.
James 1:22 says: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
So all that LEVITICUS 26 & James 1 and all the passages in the NT are saying is that: GOD WANTS OUR OBEDIENCE.
1 Samuel 15:22: “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams.”
*** LET’S NOW LOOK at the WARNINGS against disobedience and the CURSES that follow.
So no matter how much you work, your labor will not come to fruition.
Everything you earn will be consumed & there will not be enough provision.
You will always be lacking …
You’ll have TERROR, CONSUMPTION, & the BURNING AGUE.
A BURNING AGUE is sickness & the chills that accompany fever.
Instead of peace & safety, you will be slain by your enemies and there will be war in your midst …
This is exactly what happened to the Israelites as they were given over to captivity in Babylon, generations later.
As ISRAEL turned to IDOLATRY and ignored the warnings of prophets like Jeremiah, they were taken captive into Babylon.
• And this was for the purpose of REFORMATION.
6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
If you truly are saved & you live a wicked life …
Live a life of sin … live for yourself instead of for God …
And SERVE the WORLD rather than SERVE GOD!
… GOD WILL chastise you, in order to bring you back & set you on the right path!
This was exactly what happened in the time of the KINGS, as wicked king after wicked apostate king reigned in Israel …
… and led the people into apostasy and the worship of idols.
The climax of this was the last King of Judah, King Zedekiah during the days of Jeremiah’s.
TURN TO 2 CHRONICLES 36:11-21
It describes EXACTLY, almost word for word, what God warned about in LEVITICUS 26.
1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us [required of us] mirth, [saying], Sing us [one] of the songs of Zion.
4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?
1 The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof, saying,
2 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire:
3 And thou shalt not escape out of his hand, but shalt surely be taken, and delivered into his hand; and thine eyes shall behold the eyes of the king of Babylon, and he shall speak with thee mouth to mouth, and thou shalt go to Babylon.
Israel’s captivity is even mentioned in the BOOK OF ACTS 7:43: “Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon.”
THE BLESSINGS & CURSES even goes back to the time of JOSHUA, when the children of Israel received their inheritance from God.
And God spoke to them by the mouth of JOSHUA.
*** But God speaks of RESTORATION if His people will humble themselves and turn to Him.
So chapter 26 ends with a call for the people to repent and turn back to God.
2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
We see the same admonitions throughout the entire Bible, such as in ISAIAH 1:18-20:
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:
20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.