I heard a story about this guy re-modelling his four-year-old son’s bedroom. And he was building a little room inside the room that would have its own window and desk, and it would become a little private work space. Of course at that point, it was just a frame with no walls. So Dad took the lad in there one day to see the work that they’d been doing. But the little guy looked at the frame and grew sad. The father couldn’t understand the repsonse and asked:”What’s up?” The lad replied: “Daddy, is this the cage I go to for my timeouts when I’m bad?”
What a serious misreading of the situation! He thought it was to punish him, but it was intended to bless him. You may smile at the four-year-old’s misunderstanding of what his father was doing for him, but all too often we make that same mistake with our Heavenly Father!
Maybe you have a tendency to think that God is mad at you – punishing you. But our feelings about God become confused, perhaps with our experiences with our own parents, or with people who’ve hurt us, or with our immediate circumstances. So we end up missing the love that our God is trying to show us. We see the cage and miss the blessing.
Quite often, people look at the laws of the Old Testament, and the summons to obedience that comes in Covenant passages like this one in Leviticus 26,and think that it’s all a series of joyless, restrictive rules and regulations. Do this, do that. As if God is a headmaster and you’re a naughty child.
But God has a harvest for you. That’s what this scripture reveals. And the plan God is unfolding in your life right now is designed ultimately to release you, not to restrict you.
So as we read Leviticus 26, instead of turning it into Rulebook, listen to the promises of God. I will…I will…
And maybe we will understand the harvest that God desires for us.
First, the rules:
‘“Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the Lord your God.
‘“Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.
The point is that these things that follow only relate to people who have put God first in their lives. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” Is God first in your heart, first in your day, first in your week?
‘“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. 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.”
This sounds a little like a normal Harvest sermon “rain…crops… fruit,” but it’s much more – it’s a promise of consistent provision and protection. The harvest will not stop! All I have needed, His hand has proivided, Great is thy faithfulness…”
And now comes the great list of “I wills” – these are the promises of God; these are His side of the bargain that He struck with you when you yielded your life to Him. And it’sall by grace… you didn’t earn a thing!
“I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country. You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
“I will look on you with favour and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling-place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. 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.”
Peace, to lay down in safety. Power, in getting rid of all that stuff that comes against you. Favour, fruitfulness (Love, joy, peace…) The promise of consistency and constancy – God is not fickle.He’s not going to change His mind! “I will keep my covenant with you.” He promises His presence. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
And all this has an effct on you. You are no longer the person you were. You change because God is with you.You laugh more, you relax more, you bear grudges less, you let things go. You walk with a little more spring in your step and confidence in your heart. He turns your water into wine.
“I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”
This is the harvest he desires for you. “I am come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.”