Leviticus 26:1-13 ~ 20170423 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

04/23 Leviticus 26:1-13; Blessings for Obedience; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170423_leviticus-26_1-13.mp3

Leviticus 26 is in the style of a typical ancient Middle Eastern covenant document or law code like the Code of Lipit-Istar, Code of Hammurabi, Sefire Treaty, Shamashi-Adad Treaty, and Esarhaddon Treaty (Hartley, p.459). The terms of the agreement are laid out in the body of the document, and at the end the blessings of keeping the treaty are outlined, and the consequences of breaking the treaty or covenant are enumerated in much greater detail. Here at the close of Leviticus, we find the blessings and curses consequent on keeping or violating the terms of this covenant agreement.

This is like all the fine print next to the big 'I Agree' button when you install a piece of software on your computer. By installing this software, I agree to use it only in the ways authorized by the creators of the software, and I agree not to steal, sell, or otherwise take credit for the software, and if I do, the software police are hereby authorized to tear me limb from limb, and take my firstborn son or daughter as their own.

This is like that, only it is given by the God of the universe, who rescued his people out of slavery in Egypt, and took them to be his own treasured possession.

Exodus 24:7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Here in Leviticus 26, we get the fine print of the covenant. Only it's not in fine print. It is bold and clear and up front; full disclosure.

Verses 1-2 are a summary and reminder of the terms of the covenant.

Verses 3-13 are the blessings that come with obedience.

Verses 14-39 are the curses for violating the covenant.

Verses 40-45 are a gracious offer of restoration to covenant breakers who have a change of heart and return. Today we will take the first 13 verses; the blessings for obedience.

The LORD Alone is God

Look with me at verses 1-2.

Leviticus 26:1 “You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God. 2 You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

This is a reminder of the covenant requirements. The familiar 10 commandments begin this way:

Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them...

Here in Leviticus 26, we have the most comprehensive prohibition against idolatry of any kind. 'Idols' is a word that comes from the root 'to be nothing' [Currid, p.345]; a non-existent thing. Image refers to something hewn from wood or stone. A pillar was a standing stone that was common in Canaanite worship. A figured stone was a stone with a relief carved into it. Down in verse 30 he uses a different word that referred to a large image shaped as a human or an animal where he says 'I will destroy your high places ...and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols'. All types and forms of false worship are forbidden, because 'I am the LORD your God'. Our hearts are prone to wander after false objects of worship. We tend to set up things and people and give honor to them with our time and energy and resources. God alone is the sole worthy object of our affections, of our allegiance.

As Deuteronomy 6 puts it:

Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

The primary condition of the covenant is undivided worship or allegiance. God will not tolerate rivals. He has taken us to be his people, and he is to be our God. As Jesus said,

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (cf. Luke 16:13)

A Time and A Place

After stating it negatively, what we are not to worship, he gives it to us positively.

Leviticus 26:2 You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

There is holy time and a holy place. This is not the first place we see this combination of Sabbaths and sanctuary in opposition to idolatry. In fact this verse is verbatim from Leviticus 19:30. In Leviticus 19 we read:

Leviticus 19:2 “...You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. 3 Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. 4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am the LORD your God.

30 You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

In 1851 Andrew Bonar in his exposition on Leviticus [p.472] wrote:

all declension and decay may be said to be begun wherever we see these two ordinances despised – the Sabbath and the sanctuary. They are the outward fence around the inward love commanded by ver. 1.”

Do you feel your heart inclined toward rival gods like silver or gold, riches or honor, houses or land, mother or father, spouse, son or daughter? There is something very practical you can do to keep your affections for the LORD fervently hot. We are creatures of time and place. Make it a priority to gather with God's people in worship. It is true, many attend regularly and are no better for it, but it is also true that “neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” (Heb.10:25) is spiritually perilous.

Verse 3 sets out the conditions for the covenant blessings:

Leviticus 26:3 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,

The blessings of the covenant are for those who keep the laws and the commandments of the covenant. Leviticus is all about how to live in the presence of God; sacrifices and priests and uncleanness and practical holiness. But it is not enough to know the proper procedure. As Jesus said:

John 13:17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

Walk and observe and do are action words. The blessings come only to those who walk in and observe and do them. As James warns:

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.


God goes on to give four main categories of blessing: produce, peace, progeny, and presence.

Leviticus 26:3 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.

Notice, each of these blessings begins “I will”; verses 3, 6, and 11 all begin in the original with the same word “I will give.” These are blessings, gifts from God.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Notice also, these blessings are corporate blessings. They are not blessings on individuals, but on the nation of Israel. Rains in their seasons, the land shall yield its increase, the trees shall yield their fruit. The produce of the land would be so abundant that there would be no lack and all hunger would be fully satisfied. The prophet Amos looks forward to this kind of abundant blessing:

Amos 9:13 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.


The next blessing is peace. Abundant produce is of little value if an enemy comes and kills or steals it all.

Leviticus 26:6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land. 7 You shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. 8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand, and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

This sounds like Psalm 23.

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. ...

We have a verse hanging in our children's room that was given to us when our oldest was a baby.

Psalm 4:8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

The blessings of the covenant include a removal of fear, the gift of real rest. Protection from invasion, no harmful beasts, victory over all enemies.


The next blessing is a restatement of the original covenant with Abraham.

Leviticus 26:9 I will turn to you and make you fruitful and multiply you and will confirm my covenant with you. 10 You shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new.

Instead of the usual 'I will give,' this verse has a string of four verbs; it begins with 'I will turn to you'; I will pay attention to you. This sounds like the blessing to be given by Aaron in Numbers 6

Numbers 6:24 The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

God will be toward his people. He will make them fruitful and multiply them. That is his creation blessing. He promised that he would make of Abraham a great nation. Even with the abundance of children, there will be abundance of provision. Your stores will not run out. You will have to clear out the old to make way for the new.


The pinnacle gift is the gift of God's presence.

Leviticus 26:11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. 12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. 13 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.

Literally, 'I will give my tabernacle in the midst of you'. In Exodus 6 God promises:

Exodus 6:7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

In Exodus 25 God instructs:

Exodus 25:8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

They were to make a special tent for God to dwell in the very middle of the camp of Israel!

Exodus 29:45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.

Exodus details the construction of the tabernacle. Leviticus describes the sacrifices and the priests of the tabernacle. Here God says:

Leviticus 26:11 I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.

Why in the middle of the greatest blessing does he say that? Imagine someone writing that into their wedding vows: “I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, and my soul will not abhor you.' I will not hate you, I will not loathe you. That seems a bit out of context. But if we really understand who we are, this makes perfect sense. To a perfectly holy God, I am utterly abhorrent, loathsome. Leviticus is a book that talks about all manner of unclean bodily discharges and contagious rashes and festering sores that require isolation and separation. For God to dwell in the midst of us presupposes that he is a forgiving God, who will cleanse us of all our impurities.

Leviticus 26:12 And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.

In the garden, God walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day (Gen.3:8). But after they disobeyed, he drove them out of the garden. Since, only a few individual, Enoch and Noah were said to have walked with God (Gen.5:22,24; 6:9). Here God is said to again walk with his people. Not only camped inside a tent in the middle of the camp behind a thick curtain where no one can approach, but walking among his people, involved. I will be your God and you shall be my people.

Do you see how these blessings escalate from external temporal blessings to substantial spiritual blessings? From blessings of agricultural productivity to blessings of peace and protection to blessings of descendants, to the blessing of God's presence in relationship with his people.

God says 'I am YHWH your God. I have already rescued you from slavery. I have broken the bars of your yoke. You are released, you are free, you can walk upright, your dignity has been restored. I desire to live with you and walk with you and be your God. If only you will obey.

Old Covenant Promises

Remember, these are Old Covenant promises to those who keep the covenant perfectly. But we are not under the Old Covenant. The law was given to show us our sinfulness. We are all covenant breakers, and as such, we deserve none of the blessings but all of the curses. No one ever kept the terms of the covenant perfectly. No one but Jesus. The law was meant to show us our desperate need for Jesus. And Jesus came as our representative. Jesus obeyed for us, in our place. His perfect obedience is credited to us. 2 Corinthians 1 tells us:

2 Corinthians 1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, ...in him it is always Yes. 20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

All the promises of God find their 'yes' in Jesus Christ. God's promise 'I will give my tabernacle in your midst' God the Word, who in the beginning always existed with his Father,

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

...17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

God the Son came down in the flesh and tabernacled among us.

Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Jesus is God with us. In fact, Jesus said:

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

Jesus and his Father come to make their home in the believer! Because Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to his Father, they can come to live with us and God's soul does not abhor us.

Paul quotes Leviticus 26:11-12 in 2 Corinthians 6.

2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Paul understands that this promise in Leviticus points to us New Covenant believers in Jesus who have become the temple of God, as God comes to live inside of us. He claims these promises as our own, and uses them as a motivation to pursue a life that pleases God.

2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org