“If, in spite of all this, you refuse my correction and still go against me; then I too will go against you; and I, yes I, will strike you seven times over for your sins. I will bring a sword against you which will execute the vengeance of the covenant. You will be huddled inside your cities, I will send sickness among you, and you will be handed over to the power of the enemy.”-Leviticus 26:23-25
If Israel breaks their covenant with YHWH, the Lord makes it clear that they can expect the following consequences:
-their people becoming sick and suffering from all manner of diseases
-wild animals roaming around and attacking them
-violent weather wreaking havoc on the ecological system
-their children perishing
-gentile enemies continually seeking to destroy Israel
Yet, God continues to make it clear that in spite of all these judgments if Israel continues to remain defiant in their disobedience, things are going to get even worse!
Now at this point, your average person would probably be thinking: “what kind of fool would continue to rebel against YHWH when all of these horrible judgments are being leveled against him?”
Well, that’s fallen man for you.
We are thickheaded, forget quickly and don’t learn easily.
YHWH practically destroyed Egypt and killed Pharaoh’s firstborn, yet Pharaoh still refused to let the Israelites go, literally until he was destroyed in the Red Sea.
Now there is a very interesting Hebrew phrase being used here that expresses what God will do to Israel if they still persist in their disobedience.
I’m talking about Leviticus 26:25 where YHWH says He will “execute the vengeance of the covenant”.
The Hebrew is NOKEMET NEKAM BERIT.
Note that BERIT means “covenant”, for example from BERIT HADASHAH (New Covenant).
This is a very unusual and unique phrase that carries the sense that the very cause and purpose of all these punishments is to carry out the promises (both negative and positive) spelled out in the covenant.
You may recall I mentioned that when God makes a covenant, it is literally like a new law is being put into effect in our universe much like the “law of gravity” for example.
In other words, if Israel breaks the covenant, then YHWH has no choice but to bring forth those curses promised in the covenant.
God has no choice because He does NOT change and He NEVER, and I mean NEVER goes back on His promises.
On a somewhat positive note, one of the results of God’s divine punishments being justly visited upon His disobedient people is that the goals will covenant will be fulfilled.
Let’s take a quick look at history to see this is true.
It’s no secret that the people of Israel were scattered and dispersed for their rebellion against YHWH.
Now here’s the thing.
At the appointed time, when the Lord had prepared the Holy Lands for their return, the vast majority of the dispersed Jewish population did NOT want to go home.
They were comfortable with the life and careers they had built up in whatever gentile nation they were living in.
Yet one of the promises that God made to His people is that while living among the nations, they would be subjected to severe persecution for just being Jews.
And we know this to be true.
In Germany, over 6 million Jews were murdered under the Nazi regime (Oh Lord, may this NEVER happen again!).
However, as horrible as the holocaust was, what was the ultimate result?
The result was that the nation of Israel was reborn in 1948.
A curse of the covenant came about because of disobedience to the covenant, but the result was the most positive thing ever: the resurrection of the nation of Israel.
This is the meaning of Leviticus 26:25.