James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
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.Leviticus 26:1-46
THE GREAT PROPHECY
This chapter opens with injunctions (Leviticus 26:1-2), which practically cover the first table of the law, and then follow promises of blessing in the case of obedience (Leviticus 26:3-13); warnings of judgment in case of disobedience (Leviticus 26:14-39); and a prophecy of ultimate repentance and restoration to divine favor in the latter days.
THE PROMISED BLESSINGS (Leviticus 26:3-13)
These blessings include fruitful seasons (Leviticus 26:3-5); internal security (Leviticus 26:6-8); multiplication of numbers and the increased harvest needed to support them (Leviticus 26:9-10); and the abiding presence of God with them (Leviticus 26:11-12). All these promises are based on and grow out of their original redemption from Egypt and God’s covenant with them at that time (Leviticus 26:13).
WARNINGS OF JUDGMENT (Leviticus 26:14-39)
The judgments are first spoken of in general terms, and include physical disease, bereavement, famine, conquest and dispersion (Leviticus 26:14-17).
Then there follow four series of warnings, each conditioned on the supposition that they did not repent as the result of the preceding experiences. Each series is prefaced by the formula “I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:18; Leviticus 26:21; Leviticus 26:24; Leviticus 26:28). The thought is that each new display of impenitence on Israel’s part shall be marked by increasing severity. Notice that the rains will be withheld (Leviticus 26:19-20); wild beasts will destroy their children and cattle (Leviticus 26:22); war, pestilence and famine shall follow (Leviticus 26:25-26); and all these calamities will come upon them with increasing terror so that they shall eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and their city shall become waste and their land desolate to that extent that their enemies shall be astonished at it. Moreover, they will be scattered among the Gentile peoples (Leviticus 26:29-33).
The importance of this prophecy is that all the later prophecies concerning the judgments upon Israel are a kind of application of it to the later conditions. It is also an epitome of Israel’s history from the death of Joshua, say, until the present time.
This chapter is of great importance as proof of the Bible’s divine origin. We have here an evidence of foreknowledge, and therefore, of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which cannot be gainsaid.
REPENTANCE AND RESTORATION (Leviticus 26:40-46)
The word “If” at the beginning of Leviticus 26:40 is in the RV “And.” It thus becomes a positive statement of God that Israel shall confess her iniquity and be humbled before Him; and that in consequence, the Lord will remember His covenant with Jacob (Leviticus 26:42).
These words had a partial fulfillment in the return from the Babylonian captivity, but this did not exhaust the prophecy. Israel again forgot Jehovah and committed her greatest sin in crucifying her Messiah. As the result her people are now scattered among the nations, and her land is desolate. Nevertheless, God’s covenant with her fathers is not forgotten. The promises to her were renewed after the return from Babylon with reference to events that shall take place in her history at the end of this age (Zechariah 12:8-14; Zechariah 13:1). See also Paul’s epistle to the Romans (11:2, 25-29).
Observe that the promises for the future pertain to the land as well as the people of Israel (Leviticus 26:42). Compare Luke 21:24. The inference is clear that Israel shall not only be restored to God in repentance through faith in her Messiah, but she shall also be restored to Palestine, whose fruitfulness will be greater than ever.
1. Give a general outline of this chapter.
2. What blessings are promised on Israel’s obedience?
3. How does this chapter prove the divinity of the Bible?
4. How does Leviticus 26:40 become a positive statement?
5. Have you read Romans 11 ?