Lent Devotion for February 21
"I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt."
Reader: “You must keep my Sabbath days of rest,”
Response: “…and show reverence for my sanctuary."
3 “‘If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.
14 “‘But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Let me encourage you to look again at the entire chapter twenty-six. We come to the end of Leviticus which has stressed again and again throughout the entire book the words of God giving specific instruction in holiness and holy living. We have clearly seen God’s perspective in His instructions to Moses on the mountain. In the First Testament, God’s blessing of His people shows itself in material blessing, be it crops, offspring, animals, rain, harvest yields, and so forth. I want to make a few observations from the text. Notice the recurring phrase “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves.” (v.13); “I am the Lord your God. You must keep my Sabbath…” (v.2); “I am the Lord their God…” (v.44-45). We came back again and again pointing and reminding the people of the actions of God on their behalf. The Israelites are learning again and again of God’s care and provision for His people. There is a clear condition for receiving God’s blessing. There are several “I will’s.” The covenant between God and His people begins with an “If” followed by an “I will.” As we have often said previously, note the verbs associated with God’s covenant. “I will send you rain; I will give you peace; I will rid the land of wild animals; I will look favorably on you; I will fulfill my covenant with you; I will live among you; I will not despise you; I will walk among you; I will be your God.” Then God underscores each of these promises with the reminder I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt… Obedience to God is the key. This first part of the covenant is then followed by the stipulations. However, if you do not listen to me or obey these commands. (Again, note the verbs.) I will punish; I will bring sudden terror; I will turn against you; I will punish you seven times over; I will break your proud spirit; I will inflict disaster; I will send wild animals; I will be hostile toward you; I will personally strike you; I will send armies; I will send a plague; I will destroy; I myself will punish you; I will give full vent to my hostility; I will leave you lifeless; I will make your cities desolate; I will leave your lifeless corpses pile up; I myself will devastate your land; I will demoralize you. This is not good! You would think with that kind of a warning people would have been inspired to obey. Then you realize we are the same way. People want what they want when they want it regardless of the consequences. Whenever you read about the “stiff-necked” Israelites, remember you are reading your autobiography. In contrast, we have Jesus’ perfect obedience in His journey to the cross.
“I Need Thee Every Hour” by Sam Robson (Watch on YouTube)
Lord Jesus, I find it so easy to be really hard on the Israelites for their seemingly stubborn and bull-headed rebellion against you. How could they be so blind and self-willed? It seemed like they never did get it! They would promise so boldly and then at the moment of follow-through they would fade. The truth is Father, I am that Israelite all too often. How many times I have made promises to you only to forget, neglect, or simply fade into doing what I wanted to do in the first place. During this Lenten season, help me to follow hard after you in obedience. I can will it, but I cannot do it without your Holy Spirit melding my heart to yours. Give to me an undivided heart that no amount of pressure would push me off the course of complete and joyful obedience. In the name of my redeeming Savior, Jesus. Amen.
- Dan Sharp