Today’s Bible reading* includes some incredible blessings for those who unwaveringly hold fast to God and His ways. For those who are fully obedient to the entire counsel of God, God promises safety and security. No conquering enemies. No wild animals. Bountiful crops. Plenty to eat. (Leviticus 26:3-13) And best of all, God Himself would live with them. Who could ask for more, right?
But if the people did not fully obey God, He promises the exact opposite of those blessings! No safety. No security. Terror. Wasting disease. Defeat by their enemies. God Himself would be their enemy! (Leviticus 26:14-39) What could be worse?
On its face value, all of this sounds like transactional religion: if you do this, God will do that. But transactional religion is based on false pretenses. Transactional religion is an attempt to manipulate God. And this passage couldn’t be further from the aim of transactional religion.
This passage is all about God’s call for His people to live according to His standards. But as we’ll see in God’s unfolding plan, we are incapable of fully obeying God. All of us tend to think we’re better than other people. But God doesn’t compare us to other people. He sees us as we are. Broken people, permanently marred by the sin we inherited, the sin we will choose if given the change. When push comes to shove, we will all choose our way over God’s way. All of us. All of us will come up short at some point. It’s a never-ending struggle for every child of God.
And God’s standard is perfect obedience or not. Thanks to the choice of our first parents, we are destined to sin. And if you and I were in the garden on that fateful day, we too would have fruit all over our hands and faces.
But God’s promise of blessings or discipline isn’t the end of the story. God promises that if His children respond to His discipline and repent to choose Him and His ways, He will remember His covenant. He will restore His blessings to His covenant children.
We will see in a few months a familiar passage, 2 Chronicles 7:14 where Solomon dedicates the Temple. This verse is God’s response to Solomon’s request to bring hardship on His people if they chose their own way instead of His. He asked God to discipline His people if they stepped out of line.
The Twelfth Chapter of Hebrews also talks about God disciplining HIs people. The author says that discipline is good. A loving father disciplines his children. And a lack of discipline demonstrates the lack of relationship with a loving father. If you step outside of God’s clearly revealed Word, expect discipline.
If you don’t get God’s discipline, you need to seriously check your relationship with God. God only disciplines His children. If you aren’t being disciplined (bringing conviction of sin and a feeling that you need to stop a particular behavior or begin a particular behavior, or you need an attitude adjustment), you have no reason to claim to be His child. It’s just that simple.
The Gospel Message is that God offers grace and mercy to all who will come to Jesus by faith. God’s disciple for His children isn’t for punishment. Jesus took the punishment on behalf of God’s children. God’s discipline is to bring us in line with His design for us. The purpose of God’s discipline is to make those in a covenant relationship with Him to be more like Jesus.
Think about it. And pray about it. And repent.
Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Psalm 139:23–24 (The Message)
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: