Sermon #66                                                Leviticus Sermons


     Title:       A Blessing and A Curse

     Text:       Leviticus 26:1-46

     Subject:  The Blessing and the Curse of God

     Date:       Sunday Morning – June 1, 2003

     Tape #    X-62b


Reading: Joel 2:1-3, 10-19, 21-32


(Joel 2:1-3)  "Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; {2} A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. {3} A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them."


(Joel 2:10-19)  "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: {11} And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? {12} Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: {13} And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. {14} Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? {15} Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: {16} Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. {17} Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? {18} Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. {19} Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:"


(Joel 2:21-32)  "Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things. {22} Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. {23} Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. {24} And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. {25} And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. {26} And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. {27} And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed. {28} And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: {29} And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. {30} And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. {31} The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come. {32} And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call."




I hardly know how to begin this message. Words cannot begin to describe the burden of the Word of the Lord. I have been, these last few days, like the minister described in Joel 2:17, weeping between the porch and the altar, crying in the depths of my soul,—“Spare thy people, O Lord!


This much I know:—God has given me a message for you. If you care for your soul, I urge you to give me your undivided attention. Hear what God has to say to you. For just a moment, let me speak exclusively to you who are standing upon the brink of hell, without hope, without God, without Christ, to you against whom the sword of justice is drawn, to you who are yet under the wrath of God. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you who know the grace of God, pray for the poor wretch who sits next to you, for that poor soul you brought with you today to hear the gospel.


O sinner, will you hear what God himself says to you—the God against whom you have sinned—the holy Lord God whose law you have broken—the God whose Son you have despised and murdered with your own hands—the God whose wrath now makes you tremble with terror?


(Ezekiel 18:31-32)  "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? {32} For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye."


(Ezekiel 33:11)  "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"


(Isaiah 48:16-19)  "Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. {17} Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. {18} O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: {19} Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me."


I stand before you this day, as Moses stood before Israel, as a man with a message from God for your soul.


(Deuteronomy 11:26-28)  "Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; {27} A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: {28} And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day."


Now, turn with me to  Leviticus 26 and hear the Word of the Lord, all of you, believer and unbeliever. This is God’s Word  to me and to you. It is a word about obedience and disobedience, about great promises of grace and great threats of wrath.


Proposition: This 26th chapter of Leviticus is God’s own commentary on his holy law.—Here, the Lord God himself tells us the doctrine of all the Levitical Law.


Divisions: There are four things in these 46 verses to which I want to direct our hearts.


1.     (vv. 1-2)—A Fence of Protection

2.     (vv. 3-13)—Promises of Bounteous Grace

3.     (vv. 14-39)—Threats of Indescribable Wrath

4.     (vv. 40-46)—A Marvelous Call to Repentance


I. (vv. 1-2)—A Fence of Protection


In verses 1-2 the Lord God graciously sets up a fence of protection for our souls, a fence for which we can never be sufficiently and thankful.—The fence he has cast around our souls is the blessed fence of public worship.


§        Our Greatest Earthly Blessing

§        Our Greatest Privilege

§        Our Most Important Aspect of Life


A.   First, the Lord God demands that we worship him, and worship him alone, because he alone is God.


(Leviticus 26:1)  "Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God."


Our God demands our whole heart, our entire soul, our undivided devotion. He will have no rival. Salvation is neither more nor less than knowing and owning the Lord God our Savior as our God. It is bowing to and worshipping him as he is revealed in Christ, as “as a just God and a Savior,” confessing Christ as Lord.


(Romans 10:1-4)  "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. {2} For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. {3} For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. {4} For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."


(Romans 10:9-13)  "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. {10} For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. {11} For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. {12} For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. {13} For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."


B.    Second, if we would worship this holy Lord God, we must worship him in the way he requires.


§        In Spirit and In Truth (John 4:23; Phil. 3:3)

§        No Idols

§        No Images

§        No Icons

§        No Relics

§        No Crosses

§        No Rival to Him—Family—Possession—Ambition!


C.   Third, in verse 2, the Lord tells us what this worship is.


(Leviticus 26:2)  "Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD."


Sabbath Keeping


This Old Testament requirement of sabbath keeping was a portrayal of faith in Christ. The only way a sinner can know and worship God is by this blessed rest of faith in Christ, by ceasing from his own works and trusting the finished work of Christ, the sinner’s Substitute (Matt. 11:28-30; Heb. 4:9-11). Come to Christ, and rest!


We must not keep a legal sabbath of any kind (Col. 2:16-23). Our Sabbath is Christ. We rest in him.


Public Worship


"Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD."


This commandment to reverence his sanctuary is a great commandment of mercy. The sanctuary in the Old Testament was the place of worship, instruction, and pronounced blessing, the place where God met with men and men met with God, the place of God’s dwelling, the house of God. All spiritual declension, all spiritual decay begins with the neglect of public worship. This is the fence the Lord has put around us to keep us from idolatry, to keep us believing, worshipping, and loving him (Heb. 10:22-27).


(Hebrews 10:22-27)  "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. {23} Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) {24} And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: {25} Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. {26} For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, {27} But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."


This is exactly what John and Jude are referring to in 1 John 5:21 and Jude 21.


(1 John 5:21)  "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."


(Jude 1:21)  "Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."


Blessing or Curse


In verses 13-39 the Lord promises bounteous blessings of grace upon all who obey his commandments and threatens indescribable wrath upon all who disobey. Without question, our obedience or our disobedience to the revealed will of God are matters of indescribable importance. Let no one imagine otherwise. If we are disobedient to that which the Lord God has revealed in his Word, we bring upon ourselves great trouble. He will manifest his disapproval in chastisement. If we are obedient, we walk in the path of blessing.


§        Moses

§        David


But this passage is not, I repeat, is not teaching conditional grace. Leviticus 26 is God’s explanation of his law. He is here declaring how he always deals with sinners in absolute, strict, unbending justice. The text clearly reaches far beyond temporal, earthly blessedness and temporal, earthly wrath.


II. (vv. 3-13)—Promises of Bounteous Grace


First, in verses 3-13, the Lord God promises bounteous, indescribably bounteous grace to all who obey his commandments. As we read these verses, note that the blessings here promised are seven, the number of perfection and completion, the number of grace; but also the number of perfection and completion.


(Leviticus 26:3-13)  "If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; {4} Then (1.) Land BlessingsI will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. {5} (2.) Satisfaction and SafetyAnd 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. {6} (3.) PeaceAnd 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. {7} And (4.) Triumph ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. {8} And 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. {9} (5. ) Divine Favor—For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. {10} (6.) Blessings upon the Old and the newAnd ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. {11}(7.) Divine Presence And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. {12} And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people. {13} I am the LORD your God, which brought you 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."


What is it that all the commandments of God require? All the law requires that we love God with all our hearts and our neighbors (our most implacable enemies—Remember the Good Samaritan.) as ourselves. There is only one way that we can keep God’s commandments; and he tells us exactly what that way is (1 John 3:23; Rom. 3:31; 10:4).


(1 John 3:23)  "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment."


(Romans 3:31)  "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law."


(Romans 10:4)  "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."


Eternal Blessings


These blessings of grace, promised to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, speak of the perfect, full inheritance of grace in salvation, the blessedness of heaven’s eternal glory, the blessedness of eternal life (Eph. 1:3). They speak of that grace and glory God promises to give his people.


A.   There is a day coming when we shall enjoy the rain of heaven, the former and the latter rain, perfectly (James 1:17).


(James 1:17)  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."


B.    In that day, there will be no barrenness in the earth.—The earth shall yield her fruit to the full satisfaction of our souls (Amos 9:13).


(Amos 9:13)  "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt."


In that day when our God makes all things new, there shall be nothing to cause us pain or tear, sorrow or sighing. The former things shall be passed away forever, never to rise again!


§        No Foes!

§        No Strife (Civil or Domestic)!

§        No Robbers!

§        No Fear!

§        No Evil Beasts!

§        No Sword!

§        Uninterrupted Divine Favor!

§        Uninterrupted Divine Presence!


(Zechariah 12:8)  "In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them."


(Revelation 20:6)  "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."


(Revelation 21:3-5)  "And 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. {4} And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. {5} And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful."


There is a statement in verse 12 that almost seems out of place. As the Lord comes to the end of these promises, he says, “”My soul shall not abhor you.” What is the meaning of that statement? It is just this.—The Lord would have us remember, and we shall forever remember it, that all the blessedness that we shall enjoy forever in heaven is a matter of free grace, established to us and given to us by covenant love. We deserve his wrath; but he has given us his grace for Christ’s sake, because he loved us with an everlasting love.


(Psalms 47)  "To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah. O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. {2} For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth. {3} He shall subdue the people under us, and the nations under our feet. {4} He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. {5} God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. {6} Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises. {7} For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. {8} God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness. {9} The princes of the people are gathered together, even the people of the God of Abraham: for the shields of the earth belong unto God: he is greatly exalted."


But you will not all enjoy such blessedness. These infinite bounties of everlasting mercy are reserved for sinners who obey God, who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To you who believe not the Lord God promises the all the horrid terror of his indescribable wrath and justice (vv. 14-39).


III. (vv. 14-39)—Threats of Indescribable Wrath


(Leviticus 26:14-17)  "But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; {15} And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: {16} I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. {17} And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you."


Without question, your rebellion and unbelief have brought misery of heart and soul to you already. Your life is a wreck. Your are constantly terrified. But your present misery and terror are only forerunners of hell’s everlasting woe! That is what these verses describe. Look at verse 18, and learn this.—In hell you shall reap exactly what you have sown. You shall eat the fruit of your own way and be filled with your own devices.


(Leviticus 26:18)  "And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins."


Notice that the Lord promises seven more plagues to all who despise his Word. In verse 21 he promises seven more. In verse 24 he promises seven more. In verse 28 he promises seven more. Yet, if you count them, there is not a single time when the number seven is succeeded by seven plagues. There are six, then four, then ten, but never seven. Why? These plagues are symbolic of the complete, perfect justice of God in punishing men according to their deserts. In other words, the greater the light you despise, the greater shall be your condemnation.


Would you like to have some idea of what awaits you? This is what God says he will do to you.


§        (v. 16)—“I will appoint over you terror” (2 Cor. 5:10-11)

§        Consumption—Soul Consumption!

§        Burning Ague—Burning Fever that Shall Consume Your Eyes, that shall Consume Your Hope!

§        Cause Sorrow of Heart!

§        (V. 17)—“Set my face against you

§        Slain before your enemies!

§        Those who hate you shall reign over you!

§        (vv. 19-20)—All that you have sought, labored for, and spent your life to gain will prove vanity and vexation!

§        (vv. 21-39)—Wild Beasts—Famine in Your Soul—Pestilence in Your Body—Unsatisfied Lusts—Divine Fury—Mockery By Your Idols (v. 30).


(Leviticus 26:30)  "And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you."


§        The Lord God will rid the earth of you and of all evil and cause all his creation to rest. “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths” (vv. 34-36).

§        You shall fall upon, trample upon and devour one another.

§        You shall perish among the heathen.

§        Now, look at verse 29. Maybe, you will begin to see what awaits you.—Behold the wrath of the Lamb!


(Leviticus 26:29)  "And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat."


Such is the death you have chosen. Such is the wrath you deserve. Such is the end to which you run. But this does not have to be your end! In verses 40-46 the Lord God himself, the God whose honor you trample under your feet, whose character you attempt to rape, whose very being you despise opens to you a door of hope!


(vv. 40-46)—A Marvelous Call to Repentance


Here the Lord God himself calls hell bent, hell deserving sinners to repentance, and promises eternal salvation to all who turn to him, confessing their sin, trusting his Son.


(Leviticus 26:40-46)  "If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; {41} And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: {42} Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. {43} The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. {44} And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God. {45} But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD. {46} These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses."


(Micah 7:18-20)  "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. {19} He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. {20} Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old."


(1 John 1:7-10)  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. {8} If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. {9} If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.