October 12, 2016
Leviticus 26:14, 16-18
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I am generally concentrating this study on the actual happenings the Israelites experienced as they traveled From Egypt to Canaan. As I inferred in the last blog, if we included studies of all the 613 laws God gave during this time, we would be well into the year 2020! However, as I read over Leviticus, I came to chapter 26, and here is found warnings that all of us need to hear! I will start with Leviticus 26:14 and 16 through 18:
…if you do not obey Me…I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease
and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you
shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My face
against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you
shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. And after
all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for
In Leviticus 26:3 through 13 – the 11 verses before our featured Scripture – God had given the people of Israel a preview of the blessings He had for them if they obeyed Him! Chief among the blessings is what God said in verse 12: “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.”
Deuteronomy 28 is a parallel chapter to Leviticus 26 in that it is Moses’ review of God’s blessings and cursings. Here is what Moses said that seems to summarize the blessings God promised upon obedience of His people – verses 3 through 6:
Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and
the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring
of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when
you go out.
But the majority of both chapters – Leviticus 26:14 through 39 and Deuteronomy 28:15 through 68 – deals with God’s curses upon His people when they disobey. Here is the thing, though, on which I want to concentrate: In Leviticus 26, four times God gives this warning if His judgment does not wake up His people and turn them back to Him: “…then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.” (Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24, and 28). If His first judgment did not get the Israelites’ attention, God would increase the penalty seven times…and seven times more if that did not wake them up to repentance…and seven times more…and seven times more! This finally played out in the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC, and the 70 year Babylonian captivity of the southern kingdom of Judah starting in 605 BC. There was one more cataclysmic judgment about 670 years later, when Titus, the Roman general (who later became emperor) put down the last of the Jewish revolt and decimated the nation in 70 AD. The Jews did not gain national stature again for almost 19 hundred years – until 1948 with the formation of the modern nation of Israel.
What might all this mean to us? I will use the example of the Islamic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. On that horrific day, 2,977 people were killed, plus 19 terrorists. The following Sunday, September 16th, I witnessed an increase in attendance of the small Presbyterian church I was then pastoring – from about 40 people to over 60! I also heard of other churches that experienced that kind of increase. I thought, “O, God, are you bringing revival to America out of this horrible incident? Will people realize their utter dependance upon You and turn back to their God?” The following week, September 23rd, there were a few less in church. Each Sunday for the following four weeks there were less and less in attendance. Within six weeks of the worst terrorist attack in American history, things got back to ‘normal’ in my church, and other churches also, from what I later heard.
In Malachi 3:6 God says, “…I am the LORD, I do not change….” And in James 1:17 it tells us, “…with…the Father of lights…there is no variation or shadow of turning.” If God applies the same principle to His erring children in America today as He did to Israel back then, how might it work?
• Almost 3,000 were killed on 9/11! If that did not wake us up, what if the Lord then said, “…I will punish you seven times more for your sins.” Could it be that 21,000 might die in the next big attack?
• …and if that didn’t shake us into revival, would the next judgment kill 147,000?
• …and if we still stubbornly refused to turn back to the Lord and His ways, seven times more might be sent our way – 1, 029,000 killed (well over a million)!
• The fourth seven times more would result in the death of seven million, two hundred and three thousand people (7,203,000)! Would that wake us up so we would return to Him heart, soul, mind, and strength? (See Mark 12:30).
I think you can see that all this needs to be taken seriously – God’s promise of judgment! But when repentance is genuine, judgment is averted! (See John 5:24).