Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.5. The Blessing, the Curse and Israel’s History
1. Obedience and the blessings (Leviticus 26:1-13)
2. Disobedience and the curse (Leviticus 26:14-39)
3. The restoration (Leviticus 26:40-46)
This great chapter is very fitting for the close of this book. We have no types here, but direct utterances of Jehovah. Israel’s history and their future restoration is here predicted. He reminds them that He brought them out of the land of Egypt; they are His people. Therefore He wants obedience. If this is yielded blessings would be the results. These promised blessings consisted in abundance of rain, great fruitfulness of their land, peace in the land, deliverance from wild beasts and the sword, victory over their enemies. They would multiply and His covenant would be established with them; more than that: “I will walk among you, and will be your God and ye shall be My people.” What blessings Jehovah held out to them! They never possessed them in fulness. Some day Israel and Israel’s land will enter into these blessings. Then Moses’ last word will be true: “Happy art thou, O Israel; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places” (Deuteronomy 33:29).
But how dreadful the threatened judgments on account of a broken covenant! judgment after judgment is announced, one greater than the other, every blessing is changed into a curse and the culminating threat is expulsion from the God-given land and dispersion, worldwide, among the nations. The nation called to blessing is threatened with the most awful judgments and disasters. And all these have become historical facts. Jewish history of many weary centuries records the constant fulfillment of these solemn declarations. We have therefore in this chapter, in the predicted curses and the literal fulfillment, a most valuable and powerful evidence of inspiration. The Jew and his history, the land and its desolation, is God’s standing witness for the Gentiles that the Bible is the Word of God.
“The fundamental importance and instructiveness of this prophecy is evident from the fact that all later predictions concerning the fortunes of Israel are but its more detailed exposition and application to successive historical conditions. Still more evident is its profound significance when we recall to mind the fact, disputed by none, that not only is it an epitome of all later prophecy of Holy Scripture concerning Israel, but, no less truly, an epitome of Israel’s history. So strictly true is this that we may accurately describe the history of that nation, from the days of Moses until now, as but the translation of this chapter from the language of prediction into that of history.” (S.H. Kellogg, Leviticus)
To this another fact must be added. It is predicted in this chapter that the people passing through judgment devastated by the sword, famine and pestilence, would continue to exist in their enemies’ land. Israel’s preservation throughout the long period of these executed judgments is a miracle. It cannot be explained in any other way. And the land itself bears witness to all this. It used to be one of the richest of all lands. But ever since the people Israel are driven out of the land and no longer possess it, desolation has come upon it. How remarkable this is!
“We point to the people of Israel as a perennial historical miracle. The continued existence of this nation up to the present day, the preservation of its national peculiarities throughout thousands of years, in spite of all dispersion and oppression, remains so unparalleled a phenomenon, that without the special providential preparation of God, and His constant interference and protection, it would be impossible for us to explain it. For where else is there a people over which such judgments have passed and yet not ended in destruction?” (Professor Christlieb)
Some have speculated on the statement that, they should have the judgments upon them seven times. However, these “seven times” cannot mean the exact duration of Israel’s dispersion. The “seven times,” however, foreshadow the time of Jacob’s trouble, the last seven years of the times of the Gentiles, during which their judgments will be the severest.
This important chapter closes with a promise of restoration. Confession of sin, acknowledgment of their guilt, humiliation and deep sorrow for their iniquity opens the way to this restoration. It will at once be seen that this connects again with the day of atonement. It is the year of jubilee. Then Jehovah remembers His covenant and remembers the land (verse 42). To this future repentance of the remnant of Israel and their regathering, the restoration of the land to the people and the people to the land, the entire prophetic Word bears witness.