Sunday, February 06, 2011

New Year: Lev 25-26 for Feb 6

How can we properly understand God saying to the Israelites that if they are disobedient in certain cases "My soul shall abhor you" (Lev 26:30), yet also saying "nor will I abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God" (26:44)?

This language of intensity exists on both the calamitous predictions and the predictions of blessing (26:29; 26:8). Should we water this down? No! Right after the crossing of the Red Sea, there was a precursory announcement of the blessing for obedience (Ex 15:26). More such things are elaborated to Moses regarding the conquering of the land, which was to be more than forty years future, in Ex 23:22-33. In Lev 26 it comes up again: there are eleven verses describing the blessings of obedience (26:3-13), but 26:14-39 describes the actions for disobedience: 26 verses, more than twice as many. Seven verses, at the end of our passage (26:40-46), describe what happens when the people confess (26:40), are humbled (26:41), and make amends (26:41,43). What is promised, is 26:45. This is mercy, characterized in a characteristic OT manner: "I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord" (26:45).

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