The Parashat today is a double one. It comprises three important chapters of Leviticus; chapters 25-27. It is called Behar-Bechukotai, meaning on the Mountain and in My Law.
From Leviticus chapters 1 to 24, the Lord spoke from the Tent of Meeting, that is the Tabernacle, a more neutral and positive place, but chapters 25-27 are spoken on Mount Sinai, where the Law was given. This reminds us of how the people were so afraid when Sinai trembled and was covered with smoke and enveloped in loud trumpet sounds. This is a strong indication of the seriousness of the message.
Chapter 25 describes the laws surrounding resting the land every 7 years as well as the Jubilee Year every 50 years. Chapter 26 describes the blessings from obeying this law and the curses for not obeying these and other laws. In this section, the Land, Eretz, the main theme, is mentioned 20 times in chapter 25 and 23 times in chapter 26. This adds up to 43 times in both chapters together.
The final punishment of Leviticus 26 describes the loss of this land and the Diaspora, the current one where most Jews are still scattered around the globe. But it ends with a prophecy of regathering all the Jewish people into this promised land once the Messiah comes back. It is then a prophetic portion of the Torah as this chapter gives us is a very detailed and comprehensive prophecy, covering the history of Israel from the Exodus, through her stay in the land, to the Diaspora, until the Second Coming of Yeshua. This portion then is very contemporary.
Let us look at this important chapter of Leviticus 26 where the curses have especially impacted the Jewish community throughout the ages and even today. During the reading of this Parashat, when it comes time to reading the judgments, at the synagogue service they read it in a low voice and very quickly, because the words are painful especially when we compare them to the history of Israel for the last 2000 years and in light of the recent Holocaust.
This prophecy of blessings and curses was repeated twice to the Jewish nation. The first time it was given was, as was mentioned earlier, on Mount Sinai, and to the first generation of Jewish people who left Egypt. This is the one we have here in Leviticus 26. The second time was around 40 years later, when it was given to the second generation of Jewish people, just before they entered the land of Israel. This second giving is found recorded in Deuteronomy 28. The rabbis have counted 39 judgments here in Leviticus 26 while in Deuteronomy 28, the “almost twin chapter” they counted 98 judgments. Together we have 147 judgments which incidentally correspond to the exact number of years that Jacob lived; 147 years. This is the Jacob whose name was changed to Israel and through these verses we can see the history of his descendants.
As we look at these curses and punishments, one important message found in Leviticus 25-26 is that Israel’s wellbeing and her blessings were dependent on their following the law of God. When they did not, they suffered great loss. This loss was gradual, growing further in intensity until the whole land was eventually removed from them. However, this does not mean that they lost their blessings forever. It was and it is temporary that Israel is suffering losses, but this is where the text speaks to all believers today.
As it is with Israel, so we can apply this same rule of thumb to the believers in Yeshua. Our wellbeing is directly linked to our spiritual walk; this we have come to experience over and over again in our personal relationship with the Lord. Like it is with Israel, when we walk with the Lord, blessings flow and life is so much more stable. Like it is with Israel, when we do not walk with the Lord, He will move heaven and earth, and intensify the punishment until we return to Him.
Reading the list of blessings, they are so great, but they are conditional. Notice how the word if precedes many of these blessings in this chapter; if you walk in my Word… then But if you do not obey … then these blessings will be held back.
The phrase, but if you will not obey Me is repeated 4 times, and the phrase if you act with hostility against Me is found 6 times within this text. God complains that they left Him, but He never left Israel. He is always there, waiting for them, for us to make the first move toward Him. In all of this text, another very strong message surfaces; the Lord wants very much to have a relationship with each of his lambs. Five times in this chapter, we find these all-powerful words: “I am the Lord your God ” (vv. 1, 2, 13, 44, 45.)
I am, not I was, not I will be; God reminds them that He is always present. Never is there a time when He is not. Nothing, no action, no thoughts ever escaped His attention. He is omnipresent, always loving, always caring and always calling us back to Him; this is what is behind the words; I am the Lord. And there is a strong sense that this chapter is not only written for Israel but for all the nations of the world.
While it is divided into 5 sections, in the one just before the last judgment, the Lord speaks of war, plagues and famine. These are the same conditions that Yeshua mentions in His prophecy of the end times, just before His Second Coming. We read in Leviticus 26 vv. 25-26, “I will also bring upon you a sword…I will send plagues among you … your bread in rationed amounts”. Let’s compare that with what Yeshua said in Luke 21: 10, “Nations will rise against nations, and in various places plagues and famines…”
And when considering these blessings and curses, have you ever wondered why the Jewish people have for the last 2500 years up to today, remained scattered around the world? Here is the prophecy in Leviticus 26: 33
“You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste”. If today the Jews are back in the land, it is not because the Messianic Times have begun, but because the end time prophecies have begun; those about Armageddon, and the building of 3rd Temple, and other prophecies which require that Israel become a nation, however, first in unbelief. Reading the whole chapter, one can taste the sadness and reality of the many persecutions and holocausts against the Jewish people which they, and my own ancestors have gone through during these last 2000 years.
But the prophecy ends with a great relief, where the LORD says in vs.44-45… “I will not reject them…for I am the LORD their God… I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, … I am the LORD.’”After these many judgments, through these words, the Lord assures and guarantees the return of His people, by reminding us that He is the LORD. And He also gives the remedy. After the long list in these 29 verses, the LORD says in vs.40, ‘If they confess their iniquity vs.40 …then I will remember…vs.42. Here is the supernatural and outstanding word; confess. Simple!! Or is it?
The whole process of judgments could be interrupted at any time, should anyone confess their wrongdoing, their misdeed, their error which the Bible calls sin. If they confess it to God, then He will be more than willing to restore this person back with Himself. This then is the main thrust of this great Parashat.