Walking Contrary To God

Lev. 26:21-28

Dan Kessinger

Many Levitical laws seem to have little bearing on modern Christian life. What real value is there today in the clothing, diet, hairstyles, farming techniques, and cleansing rituals? Leviticus is valuable because it teaches the concept of holiness. God is holy, and He demands that His people also practice a divinely defined holiness. Those who reduce Leviticus to ritual or physical well-being have missed the point. They fail to see that God’s people are obliged to be holy even as He is holy. That is why Peter quoted Leviticus in calling upon us to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). The holiness of God is enough to cause us to comply with His commands, even when we do not perceive the value.

Leviticus 26:21-28 is, in effect, a binding contract written in the format of the legal documents of the era, threatening curses against those who break it. One might suppose that such warnings would not be needed among God’s people, but the covenant’s terms were broken before Moses descended from the mountain (Exodus. 32). The 10 centuries following Sinai were marked by unheeded warnings. Of course, it is not just Old Testament Jews who are rebellious and stubborn toward a merciful God.

While warning against disobedience, this section contains much evidence of God’s forbearance. Immediate destruction on the rebellious would have been just, but He is not that kind of God. That rebellious Israel survived at all is proof of God’s mercy, and the same can be said today. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Leviticus 26:21-28 also proves that God’s patience has an ending point. The section includes warnings of “seven times” plagues, punishment, and chastisement. It warns of God’s using the natural world against His people through beasts, pestilence, and famine. The God who had promised to defend His people against superior forces threatens to aid the enemy against His rebellious people. Just as surely as God is able to care for His people today, He is also able to reject them. We have enough difficulties making it through this world without making an enemy of God!

The curses escalate from God’s walking contrary to the people (vv 21-22), through more consequences in vv 24-26, reaching a zenith in v 28. “(T)hen I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.” It is a foolish thing to explore God’s patience, but Israel did exactly that. Amos pictured God as a cart that had been over-laden with sheaves (Amos 2:13). While God is of infinite mercy with regard to what He will forgive, His mercy is not eternal. The cart could only hold the sin of so many generations before it reached a breaking point. Israel filled God’s cart full with sin, perhaps with the sides bulging outward and bent axles, and proceeded to simply pile on more offenses. While 2 Peter 3:9 shows that God is patient, the next verse indicates that his patience will end. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”

When will God walk against us? It is when we walk against him. Among the possible paths, the only walk (lifestyle) pleasing to God is His path. Fellowship with God depends on our walking with Him in His paths, not on His varying His direction to suit our whims. “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3).

Leviticus 26:21-28 is a direct warning against a lifestyle followed determinately in spite of instruction, not against a life lacking direction or purpose. However, since God has given us a Bible, can we argue that any wrong path is not rebellion? They all have the same eventual consequence.

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14). –704 Dewey Ave., St. Marys, WV 26170. DKESSINGER01@aol.com

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