Leviticus 26: (God said to the Israelites via Moses) 40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their ancestors, in that they committed treachery against me and, moreover, that they continued hostile to me— 41 so that I, in turn, continued hostile to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, 42 then will I remember my covenant with Jacob; I will remember also my covenant with Isaac and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land shall be deserted by them, and enjoy its sabbath years by lying desolate without them, while they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they dared to spurn my ordinances, and they abhorred my statutes. 44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, or abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God; 45 but I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, to be their God: I am the Lord.
In this chapter God is telling Israel both the blessings of obedience to the will and ways of God – and the penalties if they fail to do so. If you go back and read from the beginning of chapter 26 you’ll see that the section explaining the blessings is way shorter than the lengthy section describing, in gory detail, the punishments that await disobedience. If you know the rest of the story of the Old Testament you know why this was so. The people of Israel were continually rebelling against God. And paying the price.
However in our passage God makes a graceful turn.
“But if they confess their iniquity… I will remember in their favor the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of the land of Egypt…”
Sin on the part of Israel tested their relationship to God over and over, yet that relationship was never severed. They may have been in the dog house, but they ALWAYS belonged to God who loved them and would never forsake them. Two things come to mind for me here:
- Note that our passage begins with “if they confess their iniquity”. Confession is a powerful thing. It requires us to be honest about our sin and take responsibility. As such it’s not always easy to do. Sometimes I want to blame someone else for my shortcomings. Or rationalize rebellion against God, telling myself a sin is not really a sin. When I do this I carry the heaviness of guilt around like a ball and chain. Confession is God’s way for us to put the burden down and give it to God, knowing that Jesus has already taken on the punishment for our sins and that forgiveness is ours for the asking.
- God goes out of his way to affirm the inviability of his relationship to the people. They fall short of God’s hopes and expectations all the time, yet God’s love never leaves them. They may be a train wreck, but they are God’s train wreck!
So today I’m spending some time in confession, asking the Lord for grace to be honest with myself and with God about this. I’m also listening for the voice of God calling me “beloved” once again, as the Lord continues to love me despite all my flaws. Thank you Lord for your grace and goodness. Amen.