Parashat Bahar (On the Mountain)
& Bechukotai (In My Decrees)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:1-26:2 & 26:3-27:34
Haftarah: Jeremiah 16:19–17:14
One of the most important words that we find in the Word of God is “if”. So often we gloss over this important word without understanding just how significant it is. The word “if” shows us that there is a choice being presented to us. Some people look at it more as a condition, but really, choice is at the heart of it. Leviticus 26:3 begins with this important word:
If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out…”
The choice to walk in His statutes and keep His commands will result in some amazing promises that were given to Israel. What are some of those promises? The remaining nine verses tell us. God will bless Israel with an amazing amount of rain; the land will abundantly yield its produce; the trees will bring forth fruit and other blessings (vs. 4-12), which will ultimately result in the amazing promise which is found in verses 11–12:
Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.
What an amazing prophetic promise that God Himself would walk among us, and that He will be our God and we His people!
However, as we continue to read the chapter, we find the sad reality of what will happen if we choose to disobey His statues and fail to keep His commandments. The list of consequences of disobedience should stir up a great amount of fear in our hearts:
I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up. And I will set My face against you so that you shall be struck down before your enemies; and those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when no one is pursuing you.
I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent uselessly, for your land shall not yield its produce and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.
And the list goes on… I believe that there is an important element that we often miss, which is that the choice is ours. We can choose to obey God and we can choose to disobey. If we choose not to obey God, we cannot blame Him for the results.
Sadly, as we know, Israel chose to disobey God repeatedly. The prophet Jeremiah describes the depth of that disobedience:
The sin of Judah is written with an iron stylus; with a diamond point it is engraved on the tablet of their hearts and on the horns of their altars...
The description of the “iron stylus” and “diamond point” which is engraved on their hearts shows just how deep the sin in their hearts ran. So much so that they used God’s altars for idol sacrifices, which according to God’s Word meant death, both physical (from the Land) and spiritual (from being His people).
One might be led to think that Israel's disobedience caused God to reject them. However, that's not the end of the story! How grateful we should all be that His grace runs deeper than our sin. In between the judgments written in Leviticus 26:14-46, we read of God’s amazing grace:
...then 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.”
But 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.
If we truly understand that each of us deserves eternal separation from God, then we ought to be all the more thankful for His grace and have a greater desire to walk in His ways. We need to remember what Jeremiah writes in chapter 17:12:
A glorious throne on high from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.
He is our only hope!
Yet, as the prophet Jeremiah warns, we must be careful not to take God's amazing grace for granted, or to reject it. He also shows the importance of choosing obedience and not abandoning the LORD:
LORD, the hope of Israel, all who abandon You will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, that is the LORD.
In other words, if you choose to abandon God, there are consequences. Who can choose to abandon God? Who can turn away? Let me suggest that it is those who already belong to Him.
That is a sobering thought!
Where are you today? Don’t forget that it is not too late for you; we can always choose Him while we still have breath.
Remember that our only hope is found in Him, in His amazing grace and His promises!
Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved,
For You are my praise.
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