Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20080716.htm
THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Leviticus: Fellowship With A Holy God
Part III: Acceptable Living Before A Holy God, Leviticus 11:1-27:34
R. Learning To Heed God's Discipline From Israel's Five Levels Of Discipline, Leviticus 26:1-46
1. Learning To Heed God At The FIRST Level Of His Discipline
(Leviticus 26:1-13, 14-17 et al.)
Lesson: When God began to discipline Israel with disease, stolen crops and painful defeat by her enemies in the FIRST level of discipline for disobeying His Word, and Israel then temporarily REPENTED, God RELEASED the DISCIPLINE and DELIVERED the nation in BLESSING!
- Though God is gracious, He is also a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29), a God to be revered and obeyed.
- Thus, when He disciplines us for sin, we do well to heed it as soon as it arrives, a lesson in Israel's first level of discipline in Leviticus 26:14-17 et al. (as follows):
- Learning To Heed God At The FIRST Level Of His Discipline, Leviticus 26:1-13, 14-17 et al.
- Typical of ancient Near Eastern vassal treaties where a section exists on blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience, Leviticus 26 comprises such a section, Bible Know. Com., O. T. , p. 211.
- Accordingly, Leviticus 26:1-2 summarized the basics of the Law, calling Israel to worship God alone opposite all other (false) gods, to observe His sabbaths and to respect His sanctuary, Ibid., p. 211-212.
- Following this directive, Leviticus 26:3-11 summarizes blessings from God for such obedience: heeding the Law would bring the nation rain and abundant harvests (Lev. 26:3-5; Ibid., p. 212), peace and dominance over enemies (Leviticus 26:6-10, Ibid.) and the gift of God's presence. (Lev. 26:11-13; Ibid.)
- However, typical of Ancient Near Eastern vassal treaties, Leviticus 26:14-39 includes an extended section on warnings of discipline for disobedience, Ibid. These warnings include the threat of five increasingly painful levels of discipline Israel would experience for continuing to resist repenting of sin, J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible, vol. I, p. 444-446. We view the FIRST level in Leviticus 26:14-17 as follows:
- God warned that if Israel failed to heed His Law, as the first level of discipline, He would bring disease, allow crops to be stolen and let Israel be defeated by her enemies, Leviticus 26:14-17.
- Samples of this level of discipline occurred in the days of Ehud in Judges 3:12-13 and in Gideon's days in Judges 6:1-6, and we view them for lessons and insight today (as follows):
- In the days of Ehud, the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord to where God enabled Eglon, king of Moab to make war with Israel, Judges 3:12. Eglon gathered the Ammonites and Amalekites with him to fight and defeat Israel in battle, and to possess Israel's city of the palm trees, Jud. 3:13.
- What made Israel's defeat by these nations particularly painful was the fact that (1) the Moabites and Ammonites, as Lot's descendants, were relatives of theirs through Abraham, but relatives who were produced in sin by Lot and his daughters, making it shameful for Israel to be defeated by them! (Genesis 19:30-38). (2) The Amalekites were a people God despised for attacking Israel's stragglers when they came out of Egypt, and God promised to annihilate them for this atrocity, Deut. 25:17-19. Thus, for God to let this abusive nation of all nations defeat Israel was especially dreadful for Israel!
- As for the case in Gideon's era in Judges 6:1-6, the Midianites who then dominated Israel were also relatives, descendants of Abraham by his wife Keturah who he wed after Sarah's death, Gen. 25:1-2. The Midianites were thus painfully used of God to fulfill Leviticus 26:16b in that Israel would sow her seed in vain while her enemies took it: the Midianites stole Israel's animals and crops while the people of Israel hid in the dens of the mountains and in the caves of the earth and in forts, Ju. 6:1-6.
- Thankfully, in Ehud's day, Israel repented, and God gave her deliverance by Ehud, Jud. 3:15-21, 26-30.
- Also, in Gideon's day, God raised up Gideon at Israel's temporary repentance to deliver Israel from the Midianites by a mighty victory in which a few put to flight the many in fulfillment of the promised blessing in the blessing part of the vassal treaty section in Leviticus 26:8, cf. Ju. 6:6, 11-14; 7:19-22.
Application: (1) When God FIRST BEGINS to discipline us, may we REPENT for His BLESSING! (2) If particularly painful circumstances afflict us as in Israel's cases in the lesson above, may we examine ourselves to see IF we have sinned, and IF so, may we REPENT!