Our reading today in Leviticus 26 and 27 concludes the Book of Leviticus. Tomorrow we will begin looking at the Book of Numbers as the Israelites prepare to travel to the Promised Land.
Chapter 26 –
This chapter discusses the laws of obedience and disobedience. It is a chapter on obedience and disobedience to the laws of Moses similar in form to the ancient treaties between kings and their subjects found in the land of Israel.
What blessings would God provide in return for faithfulness?
- Abundant rain,
- A rich harvest,
- Protection form their enemies
The land would be fruitful, in fact, the people would have to clean out the uneaten portions to make room for the new.
But how different the life would be if Israel rejected the Lord and His covenant? In that case God would rain down curses on Israel – literally reversing the blessings God had laid out for obedience.
The curses of disobedience also fell on the land. God warned that He would make the sky like iron (the) land like bronze. That is a picture of drought and famine so severe the people’s efforts to raise crops would be useless. Continued disobedience would bring a sword against Israel, to execute the vengeance of the covenant.
Yet continual rejection would bring worse judgement on the people. When God’s patience finally ran out He would send enemies against them, conditions would be so desperate in the coming siege that the people would resort to cannibalism.
Chapter 27 –
It makes sense that a book that begins with the Israelites making sacrifices to conclude with offerings and vows that they were under no obligation to make, but which God took seriously.
There were vows made and payments outlined in the concluding verses in chapter 27. Animals could be used to pay a vow, but they had to be redeemed if a person were to withdraw them from being used as a sacrifice.
Property could also be used to make a vow, but there were various rules here and it was more complicated. No firstborn animals could be redeemed because they belong to the Lord.
Leviticus ends with the instructions for giving the tithe. Vows were voluntary, but the tithe was required. Every tenth of the land’s produce…belongs to the Lord…because it is holy.
One reason for requiring the tithe was this is the way the temple was funded. But the tithe was also a reminder to the Israelites, and us today even though we might earn our salaries we are not the originators of the our blessings.