| BLESSING AND CURSE |
For the past few weeks I have been pointing you to the fact that at the heart of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and all of Israel is a promise to redeem a people for Himself and to give them a land. Today’s passage opens highlighting this promise.
The Condition and Reward
Verses 1 and 2 open with a word of warning. The greatest struggle that the people will have will be keeping themselves from worshiping the gods of other nations, with their idols, pagan feast days and high places for worship. God roots His warning in a call to remember that He along is the LORD.
All the promises that follow, rain and the fruitfulness of the land, peace and the fruitfulness of the people, hinge on the people walking in the way of God’s kingdom. God demands that they walk according to His statutes and commands. If the people will follow after the Lord, not only will they have peace and plenty, but they will also have the Lord, Himself, in their midst!
I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. – Leviticus 26:11–12
Is This Good News?
The chapter follows a pattern. In verses 3-13 God announces the blessing of following after the Lord. Then, in verses 14-39, God annouces the curse of not listening to the Lord and walking contrary to Him. Where the blessing finds its pinnacle in the very presence of God among the people in the land, the curse find its pit in God visiting the people with His fury and the removal of the people from the land.
Is that it? Do good and you get good. Do bad and you get bad?
Where is the Gospel? Where is the grace? Is there any hope?
Let’s be honest. God’s promise doesn’t look good at this point. If we have learned anything from the story thus far we should have noticed that none of these people are anywhere near perfect. In fact, they are a pretty messed up, sinful bunch. Noah, in true sailor fashion, gets drunk, naked and shamed by his son. Abraham has a child with his wife’s servant lady. Jacob is a liar. Jacob’s favorite wife (yeah, he had two) steals idols from her dad. Joseph’s brothers plot to kill him and end up selling him into slavery. Moses kills an Egyptian. And when the people are finally rescued from slavery in Egypt by God they spend the whole time on the other side of the Red Sea griping!
Now, think hard about this one. Are these people going to “walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them?”
At this point we could say, God’s promise is nice and all, but these people have been sinners and commandment breakers since their first parents, Adam and Eve. There simply isn’t a chance that they are going to be on the blessing end of this promise.
Don’t miss one more thing. God’s promise to curse is just a sure as God’s promise to bless. It really is a two part promise. If you listen, blessing. If you don’t listen, curse. That’s a promise.
I Will Remember
Wait. There is a third part of the promise. It isn’t just blessing or curse. It’s actually, blessing, curse, then forgiveness.
Verse 40 opens that if the people, who are sure to end up on the curse side of this promise, will repent, if they will confess, God will restore them. God will remember HIs covenant. You see, God’s promise in the first part of this chapter is blessing and curse. But He made a promise that stands underneath. He made a covenant to Abraham to bless him and through him to bless all the families of the earth. The condition isn’t perfect obedience, but rather repentance. God will remember and restore even broken sinners who turn to Him in faith.
So it is Gospel. It is grace. There is hope.
This is the pattern not just of this chapter, but of the whole story. God creates things good, with His blessing and presence. People rebel and are cursed for their treason. God provides the means of redemption, rescue, atonement and restoration for those who turn to Him in faith.
God will remember. The question is, will we remember that He is both Lord and Savior.