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midweek Vespers

Leviticus 26:40-45

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Wednesday after First Sunday after Trinity
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Wed, Jun 21, 2017 

Wednesday after First Sunday after Trinity

The text starts with the word, “But,” which means that we need some context.  What went before?  Earlier in the chapter, the Lord Jehovah said, “If you will not listen to Me and not do all these commandments, but break My covenant, then I will visit you with panic, wasting disease, and fever.  Your enemies who rule over you will eat your crops.”

How could Jehovah, the loving Lord, threaten such things?  Because He wanted to save them from their stubborn disobedience.  If they did not turn away from their wickedness, they would perish eternally.  Because He loved them, He does not want that to happen.  So He sent troubles to get them to repent.  Often, that worked and the people of Israel would turn back from their sins.

But sometimes it did not work.  So Jehovah said again, “If, in spite of the troubles I send, you do not listen to Me, I will send more and worse troubles.  Harvests will fail.  Wild beasts will kill children and livestock.  I will send the sword upon you, and pestilence, and deliver you into the hands of your enemies. 

“If you still do not listen, but walk contrary to Me, then I will send My fury against you.  In famine, you will turn to cannibalism.  Dead bodies will litter the land, and cities be laid waste, and sanctuaries made desolate.  And I will scatter you among the nations.”

These are solemn words from the Lord.  He is not messing around.  This is not a joke with Him.  His people must listen to His words, and He will not take it lightly if they ignore Him.

Now I must note here that these were words specifically addressed to the people of Israel.  They do not have the same force with us.  He will not necessarily do these specific signs against us if we disobey and ignore Him.

He may happen to do some of these things to warn us to turn from our sins.  The problem is, we do not have a direct revelation from Him telling us when events in our lives are warnings from Him.  A healthy reaction from us to all troubles is to repent of our sins and beg for His mercy.

But if we refuse to listen to His Word, He will do worse signs than these.  If we disobey His commandments and will not repent, then He will cast us into eternal flame.

How could a loving Lord threaten such a thing against us, His people?  Because He loves us and does not want us to end there.  He wants us to hear His warnings and be sorry for our sins and throw ourselves upon His mercy.  He is most serious about this.  He is not joking.

So, out of the same kind of love for the Israelites, He promised them, “If you confess your iniquity, and if your sinful, rebellious hearts are humbled, and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob and Isaac and Abraham.  That is, I will preserve you even in the land of your enemies.  I will not utterly destroy you.”

These words given through Moses were fulfilled when He sent the people away to captivity to the Babylonians, yet preserved a remnant that eventually returned to their own land.  He restored them when they repented, and through those people He brought forth His Son.

Even if we repent, the Lord may leave us for a time in whatever captivity He has delivered us.  But He will preserve us.  He will restore us in His time and His way.  But He will remember His covenant with us.

That covenant is the one that He wrote with the Blood of His Son.  The horrors and curses of His Law that our rebellion deserve fell upon Christ.  The Lord Jehovah never wanted us to suffer the punishment of His curses upon human iniquity.  So He sent forth His Son, Jehovah in human flesh, to suffer the full curse in our place.  We turn away from our sins in sorrow, and so the Lord has turned away from us the curse, and sent it to the Cross.

And as Christ was restored from the captivity of death, so will we.  As He ascended to heaven to His rightful place as God’s Son, so we shall ascend as sons in His image.

For Christ is the true Israel.  All who are in Him are Israel by faith.  It was never that Israel was only one nation, defined genetically by the blood of fathers.  No, it has been defined by the Blood of one Man, not by genetic inheritance, but by faith.

This is Jehovah’s plan of love for us.  He has promised life and salvation to all who believe His Word about His Son.  Those who trust in His covenant of Blood will be saved.  But those who reject the covenant by stubbornly rebelling against God should expect no salvation, since they have thrown away both faith and Christ.

Therefore guard yourselves.  Stay in the faith which has been given to you as a gift.  Heed the Word of the Lord.  Continue to repent at the iniquities that you commit.  And the Lord will remember His covenant with you, to all eternity.

In the Name of Jehovah, the only true God.  Amen.



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