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Leviticus 26 and God's future Judgments on Israel
The book of Leviticus continues [through chapter 23] with various ordinances and rituals necessary for cleansing and fellowship with God. We study the book of Hebrews and its relationship to Leviticus in order to understand the various typologies and to see Christ more fully in the Old Testament in His role as the substitutionary sacrifice. Part of this wonderful typology is contained in Leviticus 23. In verse 16 the people are instructed to count fifty days after the seventh Sabbath and to present a new grain offering to the Lord. This offering was to be two loaves of bread baked with leaven as first-fruits unto the Lord. If we look back earlier in the chapter to verses 9-11, we see that the children of Israel were instructed to give a sheaf of first-fruits of the harvest which would be made as instructed in verse 13 without leaven. The first fruit was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, so there was not to be any leaven in the wave sheaf which symbolized Him. However, the offering given fifty days after the wave sheaf is identified with the day of Pentecost in the New Testament. The formation of the church fifty days after the resurrection (Acts 2) was symbolized in the wave sheaf which contained leaven. There is no evil in Christ, our resurrected Lord, but there are imperfections in the church, and there are imperfections in the believers. The two loaves are symbolic of the Gentiles and the Jews as ex-plained in Ephesians 2:11ff. and further careful study of this chapter and other portions of Scripture (Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 12) reveals a tremendous truth in the beautiful picture of Christ as the first-fruits and the believers of the New Testament, typified in the new-grain offering made to the Lord some 50 days after the wave-sheaf is presented.
Chapter 26 demonstrates what has been called the "if-but" principle which was often found laid down at the conclusion of vassal treaties in the Near East, having a section on blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.8 The manner in which God treats the Israelites at any given time is determined by Leviticus 26 (related passages to the blessings and curses of the Mosaic Law include Exodus 23:22-23; Deuteronomy 28; and Joshua 24:20) and the punishment and chastening which the Israelites received is predicated on the "if-but" principle laid down here and careful examination of the verses in this chapter reveal this fact. Beginning in verse 3:
"If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments. . . . Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, . . . your threshing shall reach into the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safety."
Verse 7: "Ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight."
Verse 12: "And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people."
God gave tremendous promises to the inhabitants of the land which we read through the passage to verse 13 before picking up the "but" section:
Verse 14: But if you will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments,"
Verse 16: "I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption."
Verse 17: "I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies."
Verse 19: "I will break the pride of your power."
Verse 20: "Your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits."
Verse 22: "I will also send wild beasts among you."
Verse 24: "Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you."
Verse 25: "And I will being a sword upon you."
Verse 28: "Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins."
Looking forward prophetically to the time when they would be sealed up in their cities because of the siege laid to the city by an enemy, we read:
Verse 29: "And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat."
Verse 32: "And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it."
Verse 33: "And I will scatter you among the heathen."
Verse 34: "Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths."
Not only does chapter 26 contain the "if-but" principle, it is also prophetic because it details the activity which will take place from the latter part of the fifteenth century B.C. down until the early part of the sixth century B.C. during the invasion of the Babylonians, for the principles of chapter 26 will apply for the next eight hundred years. As the children of Israel failed to obey God, He brought all of these calamities upon them. Enemies invaded and famine ravaged the land as drought caused the crops to shrivel and invading enemies and occupying forces surrounded their cities and forced the inhabitants within the cities into cannibalism.
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