Parashat Bechukotai (In my decrees)
Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:3–27:34
Our weekly parasha opens with the word “if”:
If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out.
“If”, in my opinion, is one of the most important words that we find in the Scriptures. So often, we miss this important word, and consequently miss the important message behind it. I would like to encourage you to pause for a moment whenever you see this word when you study of the Bible, and ask yourself why it’s there.
This conditional statement is followed by an amazing promise to the children of Israel that God will abundantly bless them with rain, that the land will yield its produce, and the trees will bring fruit and other blessings (vs. 4–12), which will ultimately result in this promise 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, be our God, and that we would be His people!
However, as we continue to read, we also find the inevitable byproduct of not obeying God. The entire chapter from verse 14 till the end is devoted to the consequences of disobedience, which happen to be quite severe. When one reads the list punishments, one ought to feel great fear!
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…
When one reads these words, one may ask, “Where is the loving God that I learned about? Where is His grace?” While it is true that the curses written in Leviticus 26 are harsh and difficult to grasp, I personally find it helpful to remember that, despite His righteous anger and judgment, God shows us endless grace.
In between all the judgments listed in chapter 26 (and I strongly encourage you to read the entire chapter), we find these words:
...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.
As I read this, I am greatly encouraged by the fact that, just like Israel of the past, so we are today. The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, and so forth is the same God in whom I choose to trust! In spite of the fact that I deserve punishment for my acts of disobedience, in spite of the fact that I fall short of His glory, He showers me with grace. In the same way He demonstrated His grace to Israel in the past by remembering His covenant, so it is today; He remembers that He gave His Son to die and atone for my sin.
The more I reflect upon this truth, the more I desire to honor Him through my actions! Our salvation is the ultimate act of grace!