Torah Portion: B’chukkotai (By My regulations) Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:3-27:34
HafTorah: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14
New Testament: John 14:15-21; 15:10-12; I John
Today I want us to look at a difficult passage where G-d outlines the blessings and curses associated with obedience and disobedience. I want us to look at these on a personal level. But before we get to that we must realize that these verses were written on a national and a personal basis.
Jewish history is full with examples of these blessings and curses. One looks no further than the Assyrians and Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. It is clear to see here a falling away of the people and their leaders which resulted in the curses mentioned in this scripture. Later, the Greeks, then the Romans also were G-d’s instruments in dealing with a wayward Israel. The dispersion by the Romans is still being felt today. These all were national judgments for the sins of a nation. So nationally this is easy to see and understand. The more difficult question is the hidden deeper meaning of personal blessings and curses. How do we deal with bad things happening to good people? How do we deal with the suffering of G-d’s saints? How do we read Hebrews 2:10, “For in bringing many sons to glory, it was only fitting that G-d, the Creator and Preserver of everything, should bring the Initiator of their deliverance to the goal through sufferings.” Also read I Peter 4:13 and II Cor. 1:5.
Using this as a back drop I want us to look at Leviticus 26:3. What does this verse say to us on a personal basis? It speaks first of “walking.” What does this mean? It means we are moving, going toward something. Here it means we are walking with and toward G-d. One of the earliest names for those followers of Messiah was “People of the Way.” They were going somewhere. They were becoming more and more identifiable as followers of Messiah. What does this mean for us? We must be moving ahead. We must be with the Father everyday as Yeshua was. These verses in Leviticus also give us a picture of “Redemption” and “Galut.” Redemption is pictured as wholeness with G-d and Galut as chaos, evil or fragmentation. We live in a world that is a perfect picture of Galut where children are killing children, hopelessness, sickness and disease abound on every side. This chaos around us touches our physical bodies, good people suffer, evil people prosper. What are we to do? We are to walk after G-d. We are to draw closer and closer to Him so that when trouble intersects our path we have the inner assurance of Redemption, of G-d’s character, of His love. It is impossible to do the second half of verse three, keeping the commandments of G-d, unless we have done the first. If we have not walked in Redemption we will fall in the Galut. We can only know the peace of Redemption when we are free from the chaos of the world. To try to live a redeemed life in our own strength, without knowing Him is impossible. We might be able to fake it for awhile but like here in the Leviticus 26:14 and following, G-d will make it hotter and hotter until we come running to Him or we fall away.
Suffering will come to u. Our purpose however is to be able to be close enough to the Father, to know His character in such a way that we cannot be affected in the spiritual world (Redemption). Only by this are we a light to the world, a world in the Galut.