Promises and Payoffs: Leviticus 26:1-13

The first portion of chapter 26 piles up benedictions, promises of good outcomes in blessing which God provides to those who follow the Torah. If God is the source of all blessing, as assumed in sacrifice, Sabbath, sabbatical, and Jubilee, then of course God blesses the obedient:

 The rains in their season, the productive fields and orchards and vineyards, full threshing flows and vintage years, of material prosperity, are the first promise

 Peace in the land, protection from people, or beasts, or armies, or enemies, with disproportionate success in military engagements

 Fecundity, fertility, and multiplying population, children born and surviving, with enough food stores that you never reach the bottom of the barrel, and have to consciously turn over the old stores, come next

 The ultimate promise, though, is the presence and relationship with God and this people: I will be your God, and you will be my people. This is better than prosperity, peace, fertility and plenty. This is the point of it all.

We might reduce this to quid pro quo transactions, in our worldview, assuming that natural laws and economics are prior, and divine blessings exceptional and additional. But Leviticus assumes that it’s all providential blessing, the flowing exchange of gifts and loyalties of a cultural model of patronage and obedience.

Who are we and whose are we, and what is my stuff, or our stuff, or God’s stuff, and how will we show it by how we live? The book sums it up. But as we close the book and the season, and our church year or process of union, who are we and whose are we, with whose stuff?

Leviticus 26:1-13

You shall make for yourselves no idolsand erect no carved images or pillars,and you shall not place figured stonesin your land,to worship at them;for I am the LORD your God.

2You shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

3 If you follow my statutes and keep my commandments and observe them faithfully,

4 I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

5 Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and the vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and live securely in your land.

6 And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and no one shall make you afraid; I will remove dangerous animals from the land, and no sword shall go through your land.

7 You shall give chase to your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.

8 Five of you shall give chase to a hundred, and a hundred of you shall give chase to ten thousand; your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.

9 I will look with favour upon you and make you fruitful and multiply you; and I will maintain my covenant with you.

10 You shall eat old grain long stored, and you shall have to clear out the old to make way for the new.

11 I will place my dwelling in your midst, and I 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, to be their slaves no more; I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.