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Thursday, September 28th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 26

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-46

Religion as determining a Nation’s Destiny


Leviticus 26:1-13.—If ye walk in My statutes, etc. The Lord engaged to enrich them as a nation with temporal blessings and religious advantages, if, and so long as, Israel maintained allegiance to God’s worship and statutes, His Sabbaths and sanctuary. He crowns the enumeration of favours relating to this life with higher assurance that He would dwell among them in all the spiritual nearness ensured by His “covenant.” Our fidelity to God is the measure of our prosperity and happiness. They who fear the Lord shall not lack any good thing. Human life is so dependant, in nothing sufficient of itself, either to provide the necessities of physical being, or to ensure for the soul fitness for Divine acceptance and favour; that we may well prize the “exceeding great and precious promises,” which are all ours in Christ, if we but maintain a true relationship with Him by obedience and faith. God does not ask a hard thing in what He requires: how gratefully we should yield Him our utmost in return for the riches of His grace!

Leviticus 26:14-39.—But if ye will not hearken unto Me. A happy people, honoured and privileged so long as they were religious, could sink to lowest degradation and misery by revolt against the Lord their God. The picture of Israel’s pitiable desolation and anguish delineates the awful spoliation which now sin inflicts on transgressors, and the dark terrors which will follow in the world beyond. These terrible denunciations show how aggrieved God is with human wrong doing, how He regards with abhorrence man’s impious rebellion against His goodness and grace, and how heavily He will avenge it. Let sinners “fear before Him,” and “kiss the Son, lest He be angry.” A brilliant light casts the blackest shadows. God’s great grace for unworthy men throws on those who maltreat it the darkest gloom of His indignation and wrath (Romans 2:8-9.)

Leviticus 26:40; Leviticus 26:46.—If they shall confess their iniquity. Though having deeply sinned, yet, if by their miseries they return in contrition, infinite mercy would receive them again. Wondrous pity: grace abounding! “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” It is the glory of the gospel to proclaim salvation “even unto the uttermost,” and our comfort to know that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9.)


i. Ceremonial institutions, social regulations, and moral injunctions, have hitherto constituted the substance of the book of Leviticus. Now they yield place to PROPHETIC PROMISES AND WARNINGS concerning the nation (which extend over all after ages of Israel’s career, sketching the national apostacy and overthrow, its disappearance through long centuries, and its ultimate repentance and restoration.
ii. The camp of Israel has hitherto been regarded as a sacred community surrounding the Shekinah within the Holy of Holies, with whom Jehovah was maintaining gracious relationship and hallowed fellowship, through priests and sacrifices. Now Israel is viewed as a NATION TO BE RULED BY DIVINE GOVERNMENT, with material rewards and secular blessings, affixed to loyal obedience to Jehovah’s laws, and likewise secular punishment threatened in the event of revolt from the Divine sway.
iii. Although the aspect of Israel as a sacred community passes into that of a nation under Divine government, yet THE BOND OF SPECIAL AND SPIRITUAL UNION BETWEEN JEHOVAH AND ISRAEL is forcefully emphasized, and Israel’s national security and prosperity are bound up with the maintenance of the Theocracy: Religion being the secret of her life and continuance.
iv. The predictions of this chapter form THE BASIS OF ALL AFTER PROPHECIES concerning the future of Israel, the very phraseology of these promises and threatenings reappearing almost literally in the messages of God’s prophets in successive ages—E.g.,

Leviticus 26:4.—“Then will I give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit;” Leviticus 26:5.—And your threshing shall reach unto 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 safely;” Leviticus 26:6.—“And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.”

Compare Ezekiel 34:0, Leviticus 26:26, “I will cause the shower to come down in his season, there shall be showers of blessing;” Leviticus 26:27.—“And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land;” Leviticus 26:25.—“I will make with them a convenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land.”

Compare with Leviticus 26:5, Amos 9:13, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed.”

Notably, let Joel 2:19-27, be read with these verses under view. Thus Leviticus 26:23, “He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month;” and Leviticus 26:24.—“And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.”

v. The providential sway of Jehovah is claimed as ORIGINATING, AND ORDERING THESE MATERIAL FAVOURS or distresses, making them consequent upon the religion or irreligion of Israel, although they may be naturally accounted for as results ensuing from certain physical conditions in the land or in the nation’s social development. But behind natural incidents lies the supernatural hand of God, physical laws have an invisible legislator administering them, and all the occurrences in Israel’s career, bright or dark, are traced directly to Jehovah’s personal dealings with His people. “If ye walk in my statutes, then I will give you rain” (Leviticus 26:3-4). “I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my convenant with you” (Leviticus 26:9), etc.



“We know,” says Burke (in his Reflections on the Revolution in France), “and, what is better, we feel inwardly, that religion is the basis of civil society, and the source of all good, and of all comfort.”

To this may be added the famous testimony of Josiah Quincy (Boston, 1830): “Human happiness has no perfect security but freedom; freedom none but virtue; virtue none but knowledge; and neither freedom, nor virtue, nor knowledge has any vigour, or immortal hope, except in the principles of the Christian faith, and in the sanctities of the Christian religion” (see Addenda to chapter, National Irreligion).


The recognised presence of God in the midst of the people (Leviticus 26:11-12): “I will set my tabernacle among you; and I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” This may be realized—

1. In sanctuaries consecrated to Divine worship throughout the land, and in assembled congregations gathering to adore Him (Leviticus 26:2).

2. In sacred literature diffusing religious knowledge among the people.

3. In benevolent and elevating institutions diffusing Christianity in its practical forms.

4. In educational agencies for the training of children early in moral and religious truth.

5. In homes and family life sweetened by the influence of piety.

6. In a legislature ruled by the fear of God and observant of Scripture precepts.

7. In wealth, gathered righteously, being expended for evangelical and Christian ends.

8. In the happy relationship of all social classes, based upon goodwill and respect.

9. In the stores of harvest and gains of commerce being acknowledged as God’s providential gifts and generous benefactions (Leviticus 26:4-5). All such public recognitions of the authority and the claims of religion, emphasize and declare that within this nation’s life God dwells—known, revered, and served.


1. Religion impels to industry, intelligence, self-respect, and social improvement; and these will affect every branch of labour and enterprise, resulting in material prosperity (Leviticus 26:4-5).

2. Religion leads to avoidance of agitation and conflict, checks greed, ambition, and vainglory, and thus promotes a wise content among the people, and peaceful relationships with surrounding nations (Leviticus 26:6).

3. Religion fosters sobriety, energy, and courage, and these qualities will assert themselves on the fields of war when sad occasion arises, and will ensure the overthrow of tyranny and the defeat of invasion (Leviticus 26:8).

4. Religion nurtures the wise oversight of homes and families, the preservation of domestic purity, the development of healthful and intelligent children, and these will work out in a strong and increasing population (Leviticus 26:9).

5. Religion corrects the intrigues of self-destructive commerce, and teaches honesty, forethought, and justice in business arrangements; thus checking waste, extravagance and insolence, and these issue in the enjoyment of plenty (Leviticus 26:10).

6. Religion enjoins Sabbath observance and sanctuary services (Leviticus 26:2) which nourish holiness in thought and life, sweeten character, purify the springs of action, incite to righteous and noble deeds, to social good will, to mutual regard, to sacred ministries, to reverence for Scripture, to recognition of the claims of the unseen world, and thus bring down upon all people the blessings of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Leviticus 26:11-12).

How can religion fail to convey benefits of every valuable order to society and the whole nation when it makes the individual a nobler, kinder, purer, Godlier man? That land is enriched in which dwells a people whose individual character may be sketched thus:

I venerate a man whose heart is warm.
Whose hands are pure, whose doctrines and whose life
Coincident, exhibit lucid proof
That he is honest in the Sacred Cause.—Cowper.


And where He makes His tabernacle (Leviticus 26:11) there—

1. Happiness will be realised, the joy of the Lord will be known, “His loving kindness, which is more than life,” will be enjoyed.

2. Security will be assured. “None make you afraid” (Leviticus 26:6), for He will be as a “defence to His people.”

3. Sanctity will flourish. Intercourse with God (Leviticus 26:12) will elevate, refine, and grace a people’s character and life. “Happy the people in such a case, yea, happy the people whose God is the Lord.”

Topic: THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE (Leviticus 26:3-14)

Throughout Leviticus the voice of mercy sounds; for what is mercy but a remedy for woe? At Sinai’s base grace sweetly smiles; for what is grace but safety for the lost? These final words from God have an awakening import. There is a seriousness in parting words. Last admonitions usually sink deep.
Ere the tribes advance to Canaan, God seeks to admonish and impress. Truly when sinners rush to ruin they strive against a warning God, they stop their ears, they set their faces like flint, they harden their necks. Here God adjoins paternal counsels to a Sovereign’s command. He shows what blessings crown obedient paths, what miseries beset the rebel-way.


Unfold the roll (Leviticus 26:3-13). It is a picture in which plenteousness abounds:—

The earth in season yields luxuriant stores. Peace waves her gentle sceptre. No invading hosts scare the quiet vales. No ravening beasts watch for prey. If assailing armies dare make attack, they advance to sure defeat. A little band puts multitudes to flight. A happy progeny rejoices in each house. These are external gifts.

Spiritual delights are scattered with copious hand. God’s presence is assured. His near abode is among His people. He claims them as His own (Leviticus 26:12). He gives Himself to them.

Such are the blessings pledged if His statutes are observed. Could any hear, yet choose the rebel path?


The scene now changes. Peal follows peal of terrifying awe (Leviticus 26:14-39). The disobedient must prepare for appalling miseries:—

Health shall wither: pining malady, sore disease, and racking pain shall prey upon the tortured frame.

Famine shall raise its ghastly form: penury shall sit at every hearth.

Nature shall not yield increase: no crops shall spring from sown seed, the trees shall mock with fruitless boughs.

Savage life shall ravage: children and cattle shall be mangled in the roads, and the homesteads become solitary.

War shall rage: the hostile banner deride the fallen city.

The holy sanctuary should be no refuge: its offerings God would refuse.

Such is the heritage if God’s covenant be not kept.


God’s word is sure. Performance follows.

1. Israel madly scorned His sway. They rashly followed their own hearts desire.
3. Threatened vengeance fell. Witness the desolation of their bounteous land and the tribes scattered through the world’s breadth. The sterile plains at home, the outcast wanderers abroad, bear witness that the doom predicted comes.


1. A picture is given of the fair land of grace. The obedience of faith wins the full possession of that beauteous inheritance which Christ purchased for His redeemed. And faith finds abundance in the land of grace. Surely that life is blessed which gains all-sufficiency in Christ’s perfect righteousness, renewing power, plenteous redemption, unspeakable peace. “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s.” Supplies of grace are lavishly given; the heavens come down in showers of goodness.

2. But a fearful contract appears. Crowds upon crowds refuse to obey; slight the Saviour’s charms. Therefore sins remain. The world enslaves. Troubles abound. Misery steeps your life. If you look upward the heavens are barred; God frowns; each attribute condemns. Friends bring no peace; foes wound, and no balm heals. Life is a misery, death plunges into deeper woe, eternity is hell.

When God’s grace is scorned, when His precious Son is crucified afresh, Mercy can show no mercy, pardon cannot release. The heritage of unbelief is one unmitigated curse.
The blessing and the curse are set side by side. So sweetly point the blessing that eager souls will grasp it. So awfully pronounce the curse that alarmed sinners may dread it. Happy souls are they, who, yielding obedience to the persuasions of Almighty goodness, inherit the blessing.

Partly evolved from Dean Law’sChrist is All.”


For 770 years before they were literally fulfilled in their bitter experience, these appalling warnings, graphic and minute in their details, were in the hands of the Hebrew nation, were continuously read in their hearing as a voice of entreaty that they would cleave to the Lord their God. But “because sentence is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:12).

Yet deferred sentence, both

1. Manifests the Divine patience and His unwillingness to smite; and

2. Prolongs mans opportunity to forsake evil and find mercy.

Nevertheless: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise”; He does not relax because He delays. The storm only gathers greater violence when long pent up. Here is vividly delineated.

1. Passive indifference to divine teachings and appeals (Leviticus 26:14). Mental obliquity or wilful inattention to the known will of God. This mere listlessness is commonly the first downward step: “Ye will not hearken unto Me.” To this non-attention next succeeds,

2. Non-compliance with divine calls and claims (Leviticus 26:14). “Will not do all these commandments.” Practical resistance of God’s authority: “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Not as yet profane rebellion, but settled unconcern and neglect. This leads forward to,

3. Contemptuous rejection of God’s statutes. “Ye shall despise My statutes” (Leviticus 26:15). Pride lifts the heart into dislike and derision of sacred regulations and requirements. “Who is the Lord that I should serve Him?” “It is vain to serve God,” etc. (Malachi 3:14-15).

4. Spiritual revolt from all sacred demands. “Your soul abhor my judgments” (Leviticus 26:15). “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light,” etc. (John 3:20). “These are they that rebel against the light” (Job 24:13). It is the soul’s loathing of all holy rule and heavenly allurement. It argues a fearful departure from God. How great a fall was that!

5. Violation of all covenant relationship. “Ye break my covenant” (Leviticus 26:15). It severs all bonds between the soul and God; denies His right to command; rejects Him utterly—in atheistic scorn, in wilful rebellion. The “thing made” disowns Him who made it.

Notes: (a) Such decline from God, whether by communities or individuals, only occurs by progressive stages. The wreck is not instantaneous. The castle falls not a ruin by one stroke; it wastes by the process of dilapidation—stone from stone; crumbles to decay.

(b) This decline from God is not allowed to proceed without gracious efforts made to arrest its course. God sent His prophets to plead and warn, His judgments to awaken, His providential mercies to win, His sanctuary privileges to allure. A sinner goes from God amid pathetic pleadings and arresting importunities: “Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?”


1. Sin brings disease and physical suffering in its train (Leviticus 26:16). “Terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.” Impiety inevitably drifts into impurity. When God is rejected, the “lusts of the flesh and the eyes and the mind” dominate. And in physical degradation, defilement, and decay the fruits of sin are reaped. “Destruction and misery are in their way.” These are the natural consequences of sin; but God smote Israel with supernatural afflictions.

2. Failure and penury follow quickly upon habits of indulgence and impurity. “Sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it” (Leviticus 26:16). Nothing succeeds in the hands of a dissipated and dissolute man; and he becomes a prey to his hated scorners and rivals. There was a peculiar fulfilment to Israel of this threat; for God laid their land open to the incursions of predatory tribes and despotic spoilers, by which the people were continually wasted.

3. A godless life invites the ravages of the enemy (Leviticus 26:17). God withdrew His protection, and adversaries swept down upon Israel. They who repudiate Divine government are “taken captive by the devil at his will,” and serve their enemies. Sin is very cruel. It “slays” its victims; slaughters their virtue, peace, happiness, hopes; detroys precious souls.

4. Sin also fills the life of wrong-doers with terrors: they “flee when none pursuit.” Even in nations there is “strong confidence” and “a sound mind” only when conscious of rectitude and the enjoyment of God’s approval. It paralyses a people’s heart to feel that Heaven is alienated and Divine favour lost. Armies, too, have gone with assurance into battles when convinced that God is with them; as Cromwell’s “Ironsides”: while enemies have fled with panic, as did the Spanish Armada, when possessed with alarm that God was against them.

5. There are the yet darker calamities of abject overthrow and Divine desertion: “I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass” (Leviticus 26:19)—a picture of prostration and helplessness which finds verification in

(a) Babylon’s fall: now lying buried amid bleaching sands, emblem of rebuked pride.

(b) The desolation of Jerusalem: now a waste scene, and her children the “tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast.”

(c) The buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum: interred beneath volcanic ashes, a monument of sudden wrath on a voluptuous people.

Such historic admonitions—Warn against National Impiety, and Call mankind to seriousness and prayer. For even in the solemn threatenings of God, there lies an overt assurance of mercy, that “if a nation or individual will cease from apostacy and sin and hearken unto Him” (Leviticus 26:18), He will turn aside the “seven times more” punishment for sins, and show the forgiveness in which He delights, and the salvation which the glorious gospel of His grace proclaims. (See Addenda to chapter, National Irreligion).

Topic: DESOLATION UPON ISRAEL (Leviticus 26:29; Leviticus 26:39)

Though chosen in grace, and pledged in covenant, as God’s people; though being led miraculously to Canaan, to be settled in the goodly land; yet an alarming picture of woe and ruin is outspread whose realisation seemed incredible.


The miseries of penury and siege (Leviticus 26:29); of captivity and slaughter (Leviticus 26:33); of anguish and derision (Leviticus 26:36); of pitiless misery and disaster (Leviticus 26:39).

1. None are so secure in grace and privilege that they can disregard the possibility of a fall.

2. None are so rich in sacred favours as to be beyond danger of their total loss.

3. None are so honoured by God’s selecting and distinguishing grace but they may lapse into alienation and desolation.


Canaan was a wealthy land, a scene of loveliness, abundance and delight. Yet on it came the disasters of depopulation (Leviticus 26:31): sterility (Leviticus 26:32); desertion (Leviticus 26:35)—even enemies abandoning it.

1. National plenty and prosperity are conditional upon national righteousness and piety.

2. National greatness and glory have been withered by the anger of an insulted God.

3. National strength and safety are only guaranteed as religion is fostered by the laws of a country, and in the habits and lives of its people.


Canaan was the scene of Jehovah’s sanctuary: the Temple rose on Zion; and the land sent up her tribes to the celebration of sacred feasts and to the holy worship of God. Yet all her “sanctuarieswere broughtunto desolation” (Leviticus 26:31), all the fragrance of her sacrifices became loathsome to Jehovah (Leviticus 26:31), and her desecrated Sabbaths were avenged in the bleak silence and loneliness which fell on hallowed scenes (Leviticus 26:34).

1. Religious favours, if abused, may be utterly withdrawn from us.
2. God loathes the offerings once delightful to Him: when the offerer’s love is estranged.
3. Holy scenes and holy days become a barren mockery if a trifling spirit alienate the sacred Presence:—“Ichabod!”

Topic: THE LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL (Leviticus 26:38-39)

“Ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat yon up. And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ land: and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.”
Does this threat import the complete extermination of the outcast Israel! Are the exiles from Palestine literally “eaten up” in the land of their enemies! What are the rival theories?

i. THAT THE OUTCAST TRIBES OF ISRAEL ABSOLUTELY PERISHED IN THE LANDS OF THEIR CAPTIVITY: that they have ceased to be a distinct people; that they or their descendants are not to be discovered in any portion of the globe; and that, therefore, there is no possibility or hope of their recovery.
Against this theory it is to be urged that,

1. This threat applies equally to Judah and Israel; and that as certainly Judah it not exterminated, so equally it is probable that Israel, though not discovered, is still existing.

2. That as nineteen centuries have not sufficed to extinguish the Jewish part of the original Hebrew nation, so neither can it be thought that the preceding eight centuries, from the Assyrian captivity till the Christian age, would effect the obliteration of the Israelitish tribes.

3. That as it was predicted of the Israelitish tribes that they should be “lostfrom sight (2 Kings 18:18), whereas the Jewish tribes were to be preserved as a visible witness among the nations, the non-discovery of the lost ten tribes is as literal a part of God’s plan as the distinctive preservation of the Jew.

4. That there are promises of God which absolutely affirm Israel’s ultimate discovery and restoration equally with Judah’s.

Therefore this threat must be equally applied to all the twelve tribes, and can only mean their destruction as a distinct nation.


1. The covenant of God with the whole nation ensures their imperishableness.

2. The threat of obliteration is qualified by the promise of recovery and restoration, if they should repent (Leviticus 26:41-42). [Compare Deuteronomy 4:27; Deuteronomy 4:31].

3. It is pledged here absolutely that, though driven away in exile, God would not Himself “cast them away,” “nor utterly destroy them” (Leviticus 26:44); because His “covenant” with them must stand (Romans 11:2).


Israel was ever prone to depart from the living God, to forget His commandments. Hence the need of frequent reiteration of the divine precepts. The inculcation of statutes respecting fundamentals in religion comes very suitably here, enforcing Jehovah’s claim to sole and supreme worship. Thus Israel was solemnly reminded—

I. OF THE PERSON to whom alone religious worhip should be presented.

The light of nature and our inner consciousness suggest that the author of all things, our Creator and King, ought to be reverently worshipped; but they do not teach us whether or not He will accept our worship, nor what kind of worship He requires. In Levitical ritual the needed information was given, not only as to what He would accept, but what He righteously demanded. No idol of any kind was to be set up in Canaan. No material object could fairly represent the invisible and eternal Lord. Idolatry degrades and brutalises men; men never rise above their ideals. Idolatry is an insult to the only true and living God. The only image of the invisible God ever presented to the world was the Man Christ Jesus. “Great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh,” etc. Nothing short of the living God can satisfy the longing of the human heart. All his needs are fully met in the person and work of Christ.

II. OF THE TIME most favourable for the presentation of religious worship.

Worship is the duty, privilege, and prerogative of man at all times. His very work should be done in such a fervent and devout spirit that it may be worship, and all worldly service so performed that it may partake of the character of sacrament. But there are times when worship may be more full and devout: such are the divinely-appointed and weekly-occurring Sabbaths. They arrest the rush and roar of secular life. The hallowed associations of the day, the opportunity for public communion and fellowship suggest and foster reverence. The Sabbath reminds man that he has a soul to care for; and divine life in the individual and nation is generally concurrent with the extent to which the day of holy convocation is observed. Let the Sabbath be neglected and desecrated and at once the way is open for all kinds of irreligion and iniquity. The people were also reminded.

III. OF THE PEACE where religious worship is the most acceptable to the Lord.

Under the old dispensation God appointed certain spots and localities, where He would meet His people, and consecrated certain buildings as His audience chambers: among such places were the Tabernacle and Temple. “He loved the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob,” and spake glorious things of his own favourite city. The devout heart, nevertheless, could find any place a “house of God” and “gate of heaven” when God saw fit to make Himself known, as he did to the Patriarchs, especially to Jacob at Bethel. It aided men in worship, and gave them courage and confidence in seeking the Lord to know that He was to be found “always at home” as it were, in some places, and ready to manifest Himself, as He did, not to the world or out in the world. Reverence for special sacred places among the Jews was not superstition; Christ paid respect to the Temple, and twice showed His indignation at its profanation by expelling the unholy traders. Though under the new dispensation we have no Tabernacle or Temple, as of old, yet our meeting-places for prayer and praise are sanctuaries of the Lord, for He has promised to meet with those who gather together in His name, even though there be but two or three. The Divine presence consecrates the house where believers meet, and earthly worship may become preparatory to the worship of heaven, where “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of it.”—F. W. B.

Topic: INCENTIVES TO TRUE RELIGION (Leviticus 26:3; Leviticus 26:42).

The injunctions of this chapter are contemporaneous with, and confirmatory of, the laws contained in the Book of Exodus, especially of the Ten Commandments given on the tables of stone. The people were evidently not elected to unconditional favours and salvation; they are addressed as free and accountable agents, in a state of trial, and passing through a period of probation. It was merciful and just to acquaint Israel of the conditions of service and stewardship, to warn them from evil doing, to excite them to holy living. Notice,


To those who would walk in the statutes of the Lord and keep His commandments, there would be vouchsafed,

1. Temporal blessings. (a) Seasons of plenty; (b) Times of tranquility; (c) Joys of society. Thus their physical and social wants would be met, their minds kept in peace, their hearts and homes filled with joy.

2. Spiritual blessings. (a) The Lord would own them; be their Friend and King; (b) The Lord would dwell among them. These were blessings and honours enjoyed by no other nations, and which laid upon Israel commensurate responsibility. The Lord would be with them, and bless them abundantly, if only they would walk in His statutes. The Gospel does not destroy the moral teaching of the law; Antinomianism is not taught in the New Testament. Christ comes to and blesses those who love His commandments and do them, and will pronounce His final approval upon those who have in this life, not simply believed, but “well done.”


Here we have held out the red danger-light, the warning beacon, that the people might be deterred from breaking the divine laws. When the Lord entered into judgment with His people, they could plead no excuse, they had His mind and will made known repeatedly. In this chapter to the disobedient are threatened—(a) Physical and mental sufferings; (b) Useless labour; (c) Ignominious defeat; (d) Aggravated sorrows; (e) Degradation; (f) Desolation; (g) Destruction. Thus they would be chastised, and almost exterminated, if they turned from God and gave themselves up to iniquity.

We are here taught the doctrine of a righteous retributive Providence. The world is under, not only the natural, but the moral government of God. In this world God visits the sins of nations, and sometimes the sins of individuals—this is a place, though it is not the place of punishment. The covenants of the Lord with men have always been conditional; to obey has been to live; to disobey has been to die. While Israel obeyed, as in the days of Solomon, the blessing of this chapter came upon them; but when they forsook the Lord and gave themselves up to every kind of iniquity, the judgments denounced here were literally fulfilled. To-day the land of Canaan lies waste; and the Jews are scattered to the four winds of heaven. Blessing and curse are set before us in the gospel Life or death depend on our choice. “The wages of sin in death, but the gift,” etc.—F. W. B.

Topic: THE BOW IN THE CLOUD (Leviticus 26:42-45)

In the hope held out to the rebellious, and the mercy promised to the penitent at the end of this chapter, we see how the Lord delighteth in mercy, how slow He is to anger, and plenteous in goodness and truth. For though the people should rebel and bring upon themselves all the threatened punishments; yet if they would repent and confess humbly their sins, the blessings promised to obedience should come upon them to replace the punishments, as they again took delight in the commandments of the Lord. On the black cloud that hung threateningly over the land, there fell rays of hope, a bow of promise arched the darkest sky. “The Lord was not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” These verses show,


1. It was the way of reflection. They were to look back upon the wrong doing of their lives, and see how far they had deflected from the good old way, how they had been guilty of dereliction of duty.

2. It was the way of confession. They were to feel sorry for their sins, and confess and acknowledge their iniquity.

3. It was the way of humiliation. They were not to return proudly, feeling they had not been rewarded according to their iniquities. The way is still open for the vilest to return; for, the New Testament teaches that these are the steps in the ladder of life, out of sin to holiness, from earth to heaven, from self to God, viz.: Repentance, conversion, consecration.


1. He would do so for the sake of their fathers. He would remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

2. He would do so for the sake of His name. “For I am the Lord.” He had purposed, as well as promised, to deal mercifully with them.

3. He would do so for the sake of the land. He had selected Canaan as the arena where He would specially display His glory to men, and He would not allow it to lie waste for ever.

4. He would do it for the sake of His covenant. “I will remember my covenant.” The Lord does not make a covenant and then tear it rashly to pieces; if broken by man He will speedily renew, nor allow the irregularities and irreligion of men to thwart His beneficent arrangements. Here, indeed, was a resplendent bow of many colours, beaming with the beautiful light of the mild and merciful countenance of the Most High.

What encouragement for sinful men to return to the Lord, “for He will have mercy upon them, and abundantly pardon.” The Levitical Law closes with offers of mercy, the last words of the Law are words of entreaty and promise. Glad tidings reached the ears of Israel in the desert. The object of the Law was to restrain from sin and restore from its practice and power. Design of Law and Gospel identical; the tree of life has its roots deep down in the soil of the old economy. God’s written word is natural religion vocalised, and Christianity is Judaism fulfilled, in the final declaration of how sins may be forgiven. This truth could not be learned from Nature, and was only symbolically and typically taught by Moses. Whosoever will, may come now and take of the water of life freely.—F. W. B.


Leviticus 26:1.—Theme: IDOLATRY INTERDICTED.

The Israelites, having been surrounded by idolators during their sojourn in Egypt, would be in danger of yielding to the influence such surroundings would exert upon them, even when in the presence of circumstances calculated to keep alive constant recognition of the only true and living God. Hence the repetition needed of injunctions against all idol worship; indeed, the whole system of Judaism rests upon the sublime truth, there is but one God. Let us inquire—


It shows both the dignity and depravity of man; that—

(a) He is endowed with religious instincts. Capable of worship, of exercising faith, hope, love, reverence, fear, etc.

(b) He is conscious of amenability to some supreme power. Seeks to propitiate, secure favour, and aid.

(c) He is apprehensive of a future state of existence. Ideas vague, indefinite, absurd, yet the outcome of inward presentiment, etc.

(d) He is unable by light of nature to discover God. His knowledge is so faded, light so dim. How low the soul must have fallen to substitute “nothings” for the Eternal One! Heathenism has never of itself emerged into the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, as seen in the voice that has spoken from heaven, and has been recorded by holy men moved by the Holy Ghost.


(a) Degradation. Worship of heathen deities demoralising In their temples, at their services, the rites observed are grovelling, and, in some instances, demoniacal.

(b) Superstition. Devotees are duped by priests, enslaved by torturing ritualism, subject and victims of absurd delusions.

(c) Misery. Fear the ruling passion, not love. Nothing ennobling, inspiring, quickening, comforting. Idol worship mucks the longings of the human soul, cannot appease its hunger, satisfy its thirst.


Darkness can only be dispersed by the letting in of light. The folly of idolatry must be shown, its helplessness, misery, sin by the spread of the written revelation of heaven, the preaching of the glorious Gospel. Israel, by its worship of Jehovah, was a living protest against all idolatry; and the Christian Church is commissioned to proclaim the gospel among all nations, that the kingdoms of this world may become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. No person, place, or thing must come between our souls and God, or have the faith, hope, love, trust that are due only to Him. We are guilty of idolatry if we regard anything as a representative of, or substitute for Him. What we supremely love and live for is our God. Christ is God, we ought, therefore, to live to Him—F. W. B.

Leviticus 26:3; Leviticus 26:14.—Theme: THE EQUITY OF GOD’S WAYS “If ye walk in my statues … then,” etc. (Leviticus 26:3). “But if ye will not … I will,” etc. (Leviticus 26:14).

Natural religion teaches us that the government of the author of nature is retributive Revealed religion teaches analogous truth in other realms of the divine procedure. Penal consequences of wrong doing act as warnings against sin, and awaken regret for transgression Retribution is—

I. UNIVERSAL. Everywhere, and in all time, the transgression of God’s laws entails, in some way penalty.


Intended to prevent defiance of heaven, usurpation of divine sovereignty. Pain has a merciful ministry. The peace and satisfaction virtue and obedience bring are a proof that God is holy and on the side of goodness. Israel was shown not only that God demanded worship and loyalty on account of what He is in Himself, but because of what they would secure for all who lived in harmony with His revealed will. Hence the positive commands in connection with the Levitical ritual were supplemented by persuasives to a holy life. Inducements were held oat to win obedience, threatenings pronounced to deter from transgression. Thus the people were taught that Jehovah was not arbitrary and despotic, but merciful as well as just, unconditionally excluding none from the blessing of the covenant made to their fathers.

Not only was the sovereignty of God revealed to Israel, but the prerogative of choice in man, by which he is distinguished from all inanimate things and irrational creatures. In the gospel these truths are republished with additional clearness and power. Christ invites to supreme blessedness; those who remain unblest are those who will not come unto Him that they may have life, who destroy themselves, reap what they sow. Thus the ways of God are just and right, and will so be acknowledged at last before an assembled universe.—F.W.B.


“Five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.”
[See addenda to chapter, Valour].

I. Religion begets a DAUNTLESS ARDOUR.

A fervent enthusiasm is awakened, which defies obstacles, perils, foes.

Proved by the heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:0); by the sufferings of Huguenots Puritans, and Covenanters; by the records of martyrdom.

II. Religion imparts an INTREPID CONFIDENCE.

They who have God on their side, see armies of horses and chariots fighting with them (2 Kings 6:17.); so as to realize that “they that be with us are more than they that be against us.” And John Wesley’s strong boast becomes their motto: “The best of all is, God is for us.”

III. Religion animates with STRONG CONSOLATION.

Foes may be many, and life may be beset with devices of evil; yet this is the stay of the believer, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).

IV. Religion ensures a GLORIOUS VICTORY.

Adversaries, however numerous, shall flee. Peace shall be realized, not by complicity with the world, nor compromise with enemies, but by their vanquishment. “We are more than conquerors through Him that loveth us:” and even now our pæon shout is this, “Thanks be unto God who always causeth us to triumph in Christ”; while beyond death this shall be our record: “They overcome by the blood of the Lamb.”

Leviticus 26:10.—Theme: EMMANUEL AMID HIS PEOPLE.

I will set my tabernacle among you.”


“In Salem is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion” (Psalms 76:2).

II. INCARNATE ON EARTH dwelt the Lord Jesus.

“The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

III. ENSHRINED IN LOWLY HEARTS abides the Holy Spirit.

“He shall abide with you for ever” (John 14:17).

IV. ETERNALLY AMID THE GLORIFIED is manifested the glad presence of God.

“I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying. Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).

Leviticus 26:13.—Theme: EMANCIPATED AND ELEVATED.

I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright

I. FREED FROM OLD ENSLAVEMENTS: such is the initial act of redeeming grace, “Being made free from sin,” “Christ hath made us free,” “The Lord’s free men.”


The “yoke broken” is not the end; it sets the life free that it may “go upright”; in rectitude of conduct. in elevation of desire and aim; in uplifted longings and affections; in righteousness and holiness of spirit.


“Old things have passed away; behold all things are become new: and all things are of God.” He is the emancipator from old sins, He our sufficiency for an “upright” walk.

“I am the Lord your God, which brought yon forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen: and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.” (See 1 Corinthians 1:30) “But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus,” etc.

Leviticus 26:17.—Theme: THE COWARDICE OF GUILT.

“Ye shall flee when none pursue you.”


A righteous soul scorns cringing, and counts fear a degradation of soul and a dishonour to his avowed faith in God. It is weak and unmanly.
“There is,” says Montaigne, “but one thing of which I am afraid, and that is fear.”
And most truly.

“To fear the foe, since fear oppresseth strength
Gives, in your weakness, strength unto your foe.”—Richard H, iii 2.


By showing what resources the soul has in God, and by embracing the promises, which assure him of all grace and strength equal to his day. “Who is he that shall harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?”

Froude says, “Courage is, on all hands, considered as an essential of high character.”
“The righteous are bold as a lion.” In God’s favour the soul dwells confident.


Fear is the black spectre ever before the ungodly.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths.”—Julius Cæsar, ii. 2.

Sinners “flee” from purity, salvation, Heaven; driven by their lusts, their folly, and their guilt to sin, to danger and to doom.

Leviticus 26:17.—Theme: PRIDE CRUSHED.

“I will break the pride of your power.”


The “power” of these Hebrews, what was it? They beguiled and deluded themselves by imagining themselves strong and secure.

So sinners rest elate on satisfaction with their health, their possessions, their self esteem.


Every dealing of Jehovah with this people taught that they were nought in themselves; all they were God had made them.
Pride is despicable in those who owe everything to Divine pity and grace. It is specially offensive to Him who has “wrought all our works in us”; for “what have we that we have not received?


It led Israel to disregard Divine warnings, to indulge their own wayward inclinations, to disbelieve God and substitute idols after their own vain conceits; and thus to sever themselves from God’s covenant of protection and peace.
Pride still rejects Christ; grieves the Holy Spirit; and “goeth before destruction.”


God will put it to shame. “I will break the pride of your power.”

By sickness—laying us even with the dust.

By losses—desolating us of all our boasted gains.

By terrors—filling the soul with horror and forebodings.

By death—stripping us of earth’s frivolous glory, and brings us face to face with the realities of righteousness and judgment.

[See Addenda to chapter, Pride crushed].

Leviticus 26:23-24.—Theme: OBSTINACY PUNISHED.


One who persists obstinately in evil courses: “will not be reformed.” This may apply to

1. A nation;
2. An individual.

Such obstinacy may be the effect of

(1). A proud confidence in human wisdom and resources
(2). A rooted love of sin.

It betrays

(1). Great blindness of mind.
(2). Great hardness of heart.

II. THE DIVINE PROCEDURE in relation thereto.

1. Opposition. “I will walk contrary,” etc. Nature and Providence armed against the rebellious.

2. Punishment: which will be,

(1) Severe;
(2) Proportionate;
(3) Increasing.—J. Comper Gray.

Compare also Outline on Leviticus 26:27-28 below.


“And if ye will not for all this hearken unto Me, but walk contrary unto Me, then will I walk contrary unto you also in fury.”


The Lord here supposes that His people may commit three grevious sins:

The sin of disobedience. “If ye will not hearken unto Me.” Hence observe—

(a) That the Lord in His word speaks to us (Hebrews 8:12).

(b) That whatever the Lord says in His Word it is our bounden duty to hear (Hebrews 3:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:20; James 1:19).

(c) That we are too apt to turn a deaf ear to Him (Exodus 5:2; Psalms 12:4).

2. The sin of incorrigibleness. “If for all this ye will not hearken.” Note here—

(a) That afflictions sometimes have the nature of punishments (Jeremiah 13:21).

(b) That punishment is the natural and necessary consequence of transgression.

(c) That in the punishment which God inflicts He seeks our reformation (2 Chronicles 18:22).

(d) That our depravity in too many cases frustrates His designs (Zephaniah 3:2).

3. The sin of perverseness. “If ye walk contrary to Me.” Observe again—

(a) That the Lord’s pleasure is, we should walk with Him (Micah 6:8).

(b) That we walk with the Lord when we walk in His way (2 Kings 20:3; Ecclesiastes 12:13).

(c) That walking otherwise than He has commanded is to show a perverse and untoward heart.


“I will walk contrary also to you in fury. Thus we see that

1. Conformable to our character will be our end.

If God should deal thus with us
(a) We shall lose the blessing which He imparts to His obedient followers (Leviticus 26:4-12).

(b) Our expectations will issue in disappointment and vexation (Hosea 8:7); and

(c) Like chaff before the wind we shall speedily be carried to destruction (Psalms 1:4-5).

2. Enforcement of these considerations; We see

(a) That a religion consisting of mere notions will never save a man.

(b) That men are not at liberty, as some suppose, to live as they please.

(c) That God takes notice of the ways of all.

(d) That if He displays His anger we should be anxious to find out the cause; and
(e) That if anyone perish he will have no one to blame for it but himself (Isaiah 3:11).—Wm. Sleigh.

Leviticus 26:34.—Theme: SABBATH BARRENNESS.

“Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths.”

God had required that Sabbatical years should be observed, during which the land should rest; no tillage or harvest work being done. Owners of the soil would disregard this enactment, thinking they would benefit by making the land yield its produce through these Sabbath years. For this sin against God’s ordinance, the people would forfeit occupancy of the land, and pine in exile. “Then shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths.”


This abuse consisted in turning God’s sabbath into a time of selfish gain.
1 The interval of rest is not only genial but essential.

2. To invade that interval by exacting toils is to violate a benignant ordinance and to outrage God’s right of control.

3. All infringement of Sabbatic rest is both folly and a profanation; for greed defeats itself in this undue exaction of return, whether from man or soil.

4. The Sabbath repose was designed to give leisure for sacred interests and the service of God. Man’s spiritual life needs the pause.

5. The intrusion of selfish and covetous schemes into the holy period is the assertion of self-will to the rejection of God’s will; the enthronement of self in the supremacy claimed by God; thus “serving the creature more than the Creator.”


God was refute such impious greed, such selfish effrontery. In the experience of these Israelites He cast off from the soil those who robbed it of the Sabbatic rest, and He gave full requital to the land in the years of depopulation.

1. Desolate Sabbaths are still requited upon transgressors.

Men neglect the holy day, in scorn of Heaven’s blest law; and do their own work and think their own thoughts through its sacred hours. As a fact in human experience now, God requites this wrong upon sinners in a restless life, A weary heart, a troubled conscience, a shadowed happiness.

2. Even God’s children suffer exile from sacred scenes and Sabbath privileges.

In days of health they trifled with their Sabbaths; spent them in indulgence rather than in earnest zeal and hallowed communion; even desecrating in part the sacred hours by selfish enjoyments or worldly concerns. This sin lies at the door of professedly Christian people to-day; God’s day is misused. There will come afflictions—the exile time, when the soul will cry out for the living God, to “appear before God;” and in Sabbaths spent in pain and banishment, in restless discomfort of soul, God will requite the wrong.

3. Unblest Sabbaths have their explanation in this law of requital. The sanctuary services bring to the hearer, when he went with eager longing, no relief or help. But it is the requital for those Sabbaths of indifference and undevoutness in which the sanctuary services have been contemned and marred. “Take heed how ye hear.” “Call the Sabbath a delight; the holy of the Lord, honourable.”

Leviticus 26:40-42.—Theme: GOD’S PROMISES TO PENITENTS.

Though God foreknew and foretold that His people would bring upon themselves His heavy judgments, Ho yet assured them that, if even in their lowest misery they should return to Him with humiliation and contrition. He would restore them to His favour, and to the land from whence they had been expelled.

What consolation Nehemiah derived from these declarations (Nehemiah 1:5-9.)!


That we acknowledge our guilt. Our father’s sins as well as our own are first grounds of national humiliation. Our own sins are the chief burden of personal contrition. But sin should be viewed in its true light, as “walking contrary to God” (Psalms 51:4).

2. That we justify God in His judgments. If we have dared to walk contrary to Him, is not He justified in “walking contrary to us”? Whatever inflictions He imposes we have reason to own it as less than our deserts (Ezra 9:13), and that His judgments are just (Revelation 16:7).

3 That we be thankful for His dealings by which He has “humbled our uncircumcised hearts.”

Only real contrition can produce this. It realises mercy in judgment, and love in affliction.


Repentance is void of merit. Even obedience is destitute of merit; “when we have done all we could we are unprofitable servants.” The acknowledgment of a debt is a very different thing from a discharge of that debt. A condemned criminal may be sorry for his offences, but that sorrow does not obliterate his crime, still less entitle him to rewards. Yet there is connection between repentance and pardon, and meekness in the exercise of mercy towards the penitent—

1. On God’s part. For repentance glorifies God. [See Joshua 7:19].

2. On the part of the penitents. It incites to loathing of the sin, and to adoration of Divine grace.

So God insists on the condition, “If they be humbled, then will I pardon” For then God can do it consistently with His honour, and they will make a suitable improvement of the mercy vouchsafed them.


God’s covenant with their ancestors was the basis and warrant for His mercy to Israel (Leviticus 26:42; Leviticus 26:44-45).

His covenant with us in Christ is our hope and guarantee.

1. Be thankful that you are yet within reach of mercy.

2. Have especial respect unto the covenant of grace. It is to that God looks, and to that should we look also. It is the only basis in which mercy and redemption are now possible. C. Simeon, M.A.

Leviticus 26:45.—Theme: GAINS OF A GOOD ANCESTRY.

“I will for their sake remember the covenant of their ancestors.”


That “covenant” is thrice referred to as determining God’s arrangements (Leviticus 26:42; Leviticus 26:44-45).

Note Job’s prayers for his children (Job 1:5); comp, with Leviticus 26:10, “Made a hedge about Job and about his house.”


This “covenant “with Abraham was made 1900 years B.C. (Genesis 15:13-14). It is now 1900 years A.D., yet the word stands, “They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:28-29).

God is at work, though He seems to wait. “In due season ye shall reap if ye faint not.” Praying soul, anxious heart, clinging to the promises—

“Hope, and be undismayed;
God hears thy cries, and counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head.”


1. Live and pray for your descendants.

2. Value the sacred benefits even though as yet unrealised, of a godly ancestry.

3. Rest in the unfailing pledge of God to reward piety and prayer. [See Addenda to Chapter, Ancestors.]



“Men come to think that the guilt of sins committed in concert is distributed; and that, if there be a thousand men banded and banded together in wickedness, each shall have but one thousandth part of guilt. If a firm succeeds, the gain is distributed to each partner; but, if it fails, each one may be held for the whole loss. Whoever commits a sin will bear the sins, whether alone or with a thousand; whoever commits or connives at public sin will bear the blame. Public guilt always has private endorsement; and each man is liable for the whole note.”—H. W. Beecher.

“Sail on, O Ship of State!

Humanity, with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!”


“To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely.”—Burke.

“Our heart, our hopes are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o’er our fears,
Are all with thee, are all with thee.”



It was said by a nobleman at the grave of
John Knox: “Here lies one who never feared the face of men.”
“The brave man is not he who feels no fear,
For that were stupid and irrational;
But he whose noble soul its fear subdues,

And bravely dares the danger nature shrinks from.”

Joanna Bailie.


“Remember what thou wert before thy birth—nothing; what thou wert for many years after—weakness; what in all thy life—a great sinner; what in all thy excellencies—a mere debtor to God, to thy parents, to the earth, and to all creatures. Upon these or the like meditations, if we dwell, we shall see nothing more reasonable than to be humble, and nothing more foolish than to be proud.”—Jeremy Taylor.

“Pride thrust proud Nebuchadnezzar our of men’s society, proud Saul out of his kingdom, proud Adam out of paradise, proud Hamaan out of court, and proud Lucifer out of heaven.”—Henry Smith.


“My chastity’s the jewel of our house,
Bequeathed down from my ancestors.”


Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Leviticus 26". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/leviticus-26.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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