Saturday after Cantate
Scripture: Leviticus 26:21-33, 39-44 (NKJV)
21 “‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. 22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.
23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, 24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant; when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.
27 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, 28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. 29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters. 30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. 31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. 32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.
39 ‘And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away.
40 ‘But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, 41 and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt—42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land. 43 The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.'”
Today’s lesson is meant as a warning to Israel. To those who know the history of Israel through the Old Testament, it seems like a prophecy of exactly what would happen. Israel would walk contrary to the Lord. They would turn their ears away from the Word of the Lord and not listen to their Savior. Pestilence comes. Israel is delivered into the hands of their enemies repeatedly. Famine, war, disease, and sword perpetually follow Israel as divine punishment for their wickedness and apostasy. Yet, even exiled in a foreign land, if Israel confesses their iniquity and treachery and humble themselves, then the Lord will not abhor them, spurn them, or abandon them. The Lord teaches Israel that He will punish them for their sins in order to bring about repentance. Even in His chastisements the Lord will not abandon them completely.
The Scriptures teach us that God disciplines His baptized sons and daughters for their growth, and also so that they learn to repent of their sin and flee from temptation. We pray with the Psalmist, “O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure.” (Psalm 6:1). We know that though He chasten us, it is not in wrath, but to discipline us as sons. Hebrews 12:11 reminds us, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” We know that the Lord’s chastisement is a manifestation of His fatherly love and mercy and that, like Israel, the Lord will not abandon us completely.