For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

26:1.  “Ye shall make no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the Lord your God.”


The word “idol” means good for nothing; vain, thing of vanity; worthless thing.  A graven image was usually of carved wood,

stone, or metal; a standing image was generally in the form of a pillar of stone, though it could also be of wood.  Israel was not to worship anything or anyone except Jehovah, the Lord their God.


As citizens of the modern western world we look with supercilious disdain on those “primitive” people who still worship idols, blind to the fact that we too are idolaters, the only difference being that our gods are money, pleasure, education, etc.


26:2.  “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.”


Since the sabbaths have already been discussed in previous chapters it is unnecessary to elaborate further here. 


The sanctuary was the Tabernacle or tent of meeting from which God spoke to Moses, see 1:1, and which was superseded by the Temple.  Reverence is defined as a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe.  This attitude was to mark them relative to the Tabernacle because it was synonymous with the presence of God.  That same attitude should govern our thoughts and conduct in every meeting of the local church, it being emphasized that in this context “the church” is not a building, but rather the aggregate of those believers in any locality who regularly meet together to worship, pray, study the Scriptures, etc.  All our meetings should be marked by a reverential attitude.


26:3.  “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;”


26:4.  “Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”


A statute is an enactment or ordinance, and here it refers to the laws God had ordained to govern the conduct of His people Israel.

In response to their obedience He would give the necessary rain, and cause their land and fruit trees to produce abundantly.  Since the Israelites were God’s earthly people, His reward of their obedience was also in earthly things.  Those who comprise the Church however, are a heavenly people, whose obedience is  accordingly recompensed with heavenly blessings, as it is written, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (more correctly things) in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3.  Believers of this present dispensation should not be looking for temporal blessings as evidence of God’s favor.


26:5.  “And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.”


The Bible in Basic English renders this “And the crushing of the grain will overtake the cutting of the grapes, and the cutting of the grapes will overtake the planting of the seed, and there will be bread in full measure.”  The fertility of the earth would be such that the grinding of the grain wouldn’t have been completed until it would be time to gather in the grape harvest, nor would that be completed until it would be time to begin sowing again.  There would be superabundance of everything to be relished in the enjoyment of peace.


It is to be noted that this promised blessing was contingent on obedience, see verse 3.  And so is it always: God will not bless disobedience.


26:6.  “And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.”


Peace is a blessing not fully appreciated until lost, its value being indicated in what is written concerning it in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”


“... evil beasts” are those that are vicious, ravenous.  God would remove all such from the land.  The fuller measure of this blessing will be experienced in the Millennium, as described in Isaiah 11:6-8, “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the lepoard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them....”


“... the sword” is used here as a synonym for war.  Obedience would guarantee deliverance from its misery and terrors; and again, complete fulfillment awaits the Millennium, as described in Isaiah 2:4, “... and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”


26:7.  “And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.”


26:8.  “And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.”


This very clearly pictures Israel’s supremacy in the Millennium.


26:9.  “For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.”


“... have respect unto you,” is also translated, “I will look on you with favor; I will look after you; I will turn towards you.”

“...and make you fruitful,” isn’t necessarily limited to physical multiplication: it may refer also to spiritual growth, but “multiply you” does refer to numerical increase.  In Israel a large family was viewed as evidence of God’s blessing, a fact which is meant to teach us that it has also a spiritual application for today: it ought to be our aim to have many children spiritually, i.e., many whom we have led to the Lord.


Relative to God’s covenant with Israel: it was basically that obedience would secure His blessing; and the same principle applies to believers of this present age of grace.


26:10.  “And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.”


This is also rendered, “You shall have so much of old stores to eat, that you shall cast out the old to make way for the new,” The Bible: An American Translation; “And you shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new,” The Revised Standard Version.  God’s provision would be so abundant that they wouldn’t be able to eat it all.


The same principle applies to us, for He is able to do for us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Ephesians 3:20. And as for the future, we have His assurance that, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9.


26:11.  “And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.”


Since it was synonymous with His very presence, God’s having the Tabernacle set up in the midst of the camp of Israel, was their assurance of His presence abiding with them: and since “abhor” means to reject, spurn, despise, the further assurance was given that while He might have to administer chastisement, He would never cast them away permanently.


The tangible evidence of His presence in their midst was the shekinah cloud which overshadowed the mercy seat, and that was seen only by the High Priest on those rare occasions when he was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies, so that His presence was virtually invisible.  The counterpart of His dwelling in their midst is the invisible, but none the less real indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer today.


Israel’s continued sinning however, brought that sad day recorded in Ezekiel 10:18-19; 11:23, when God’s presence departed from them - a tragic experience that the believer of this present age will never undergo, for while we may quench and grieve the Holy Spirit Who indwells and seals us as God’s children, He will never leave us.  (We quench the Holy Spirit when we do what He forbids, and we grieve Him when we refuse to do what he desires).


26:12.  “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”


This is the continued assurance of God’s presence with them, and also of their unique and highly privileged position: they were His people, of whom it is written, “...happy is that people, whose God is the Lord,” Psalm 144:15.


26:13.  “I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you to go upright.”


This was the reminder of what they had been, and of what God had done for them.  They had been the bondslaves of the Egyptians, bowed down under cruelly heavy burdens, but the Lord had broken their bands and set them free, causing them to “go upright,” i.e., no longer bowed down under the weight of the grievous loads their taskmasters had compelled them to bear.


This is a typological picture of the experience every believer has undergone prior to conversion.  Egypt is a type of the world of business and pleasure living in defiant independence of God, and during our unconverted days we were the bondslaves of Satan in that world, having become so used to our bondage that we were unaware of it.


26:14.  “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; “


26:15.  “And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:”


Having declared the blessings that would attend obedience, God then declared the consequences of disobedience.  “... my statutes” were His judgments or customs.  His covenant was that which He had made with Israel, guaranteeing them blessing for obedience, and chastisement for disobedience.  Foolish Israel however, had failed to obey, and by her disobedience had broken the covenant, thereby forfeiting blessing, and making herself the object of His wrath.  And how eagerly the Church has followed in her disobedient footsteps - with the same result!


26:16.  “I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.”


God would recompense them according to their deeds.  Peace would be exchanged for apprehension.  They would exist in the constant dread of expected trouble and misery.  Consumption here means emaciation: they would be worn away with worry and hunger, and be wracked with “burning ague,” i.e., with recurring bouts of fever that would affect their eyes, impairing their vision.  Their hearts would be continually weighed down with sorrow; and their agricultural labors would be wasted, for their enemies would eat the produce of their fields, and olive trees and vines.


26:17.  “And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.”


How dreadful is the state of the man who exhausts God’s patience, thus making himself the object of divine wrath and judgment!  Relative to that invisible line which separates God’s mercy from His wrath, another has written, “There is a line by man unseen, which crosses every path: it is the line which separates God’s mercy from His wrath.”  He who is guilty of such utter folly as to cross that invisible line dooms himself to the eternal torment of the awful lake of fire.  And how is that line crossed?  By resisting the strivings of the Holy Spirit which are designed to produce conviction of sin, and lead to repentant faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.  Once the Holy Spirit ceases to strive with an individual, that man or woman is as sure of existing in the eternal torment of the lake of fire as if he or she were there already.


The misery of disobedient Israel’s earthly state, as described here, is but a faint foreshadowing of the eternal wretchedness awaiting the sinner who dies unrepentant.


Foolish Israel, by continued rebellion, had crossed that fatal line.  They to whom God would have given dominion over the nations, were now doomed to flee before them and be slain, they who escaped death becoming the bondslaves of those who hated them.  “... ye shall flee when none pursueth you.”  Even when there was no pursuer, their terrified imaginations would invent one, with the result that they would never know a moment’s peace.


How different is the lot of those who obey the Lord, as it is written, “Great peace have they which love thy law,” Psalm 119:165.


26:18.  “And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.”


Continued rebellion would bring more severe chastisement; and since seven is the number of perfection or completeness the “seven times” here indicates a full measure of punishment which would produce repentant confession of sinfulness resulting in salvation, or certainty of eternal damnation for those who died unrepentant, an example of the latter being those described in Revelation 16:10-11, “And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat (throne) of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”


The punishment which doesn’t produce repentance here on earth, will continue eternally in the lake of fire, and in greater measure than the mind of man can comprehend.


26:19.  “And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:”


Israel’s imagined power would be shown to be as thistledown compared with the divine omnipotence.  The heavens from which fell His fertilizing rain, God would make like a sheet of iron; and the earth in which He caused their food to grow He would by drought make as barren as brass.


26:20.  “And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”


All their strength exerted in the cultivation of the earth would be wasted, for God would refuse to make the soil fertile, so that there would be neither crops in the fields, nor fruit on the trees.  The men of that distant day refused to acknowledge Him as the Giver of everything, nor has it ever been different.  Today the rebel creature even refuses to pronounce His name, referring to all His activity as being the work of “mother nature.”


26:21.  “And if ye walk contrary to me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.”


Continued rebellion would bring increased chastisement, the rebel creature failing to realize what a puny thing he is compared to his Creator.


26:22.  “I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.”


The wild beasts were another instrument which God would use to bring rebel Israel to repentant obedience.  The Creator has no lack of implements with which to accomplish His purposes, and he is a wise man whose recognition of that fact leads him to the repentant submission which brings peace and blessing.


26:23.  “And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;”


26:24.  “Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.”


With repetitive force God continues to hammer home the assurance that continued rebellion brings continued punishment, but the defiant heart of unconverted man will heed no warning.  Unless arrested and convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, he will continue on his mad course, finally learning too late, the deadly folly of his conduct, first in the torment of hell, and then eternally in the dreadful lake of fire.


26:25.  “And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.”


“... the quarrel of my covenant” means “the breaking of my covenant.”  Obedience would have brought them the blessing of peace, but their wilful choice to disobey God guaranteed instead their being ravished by war.  And when they would flee into the walled cities hoping to escape the sword of the invader, God would there send the plague, of which many would die, leaving too few survivors to defend the walls, and thus enabling the enemy to enter and slay them.


There is only one place of refuge from God’s wrath: in the Lord Jesus Christ trusted as Savior.


26:26.  “And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.”


Famine, the frequent concomitant of war, was another judgment with which God would afflict them.  What would normally have been baked in ten ovens would be so reduced that it would require only one oven, and would have to be rationed so as to provide the minimum amount of bread needed to preserve life.


26:27.  “And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;”


26:28.  “Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.”


Their continued rebellion would provoke the Lord to still greater fury, a word which is also translated heat, anger, poison, fever, hot or furious displeasure.  The “seven times” is a symbolic way of saying that the chastisement would be complete: it would either bring complete repentance or utter destruction.  There are no half measures with God.  Faith in Christ as Savior assures the believer of eternal bliss in heaven: lack of faith assures the unbeliever of eternal torment in the lake of fire.


26:29.  “And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.”


This dire prediction was shockingly fulfilled as recorded in 2 Kings 6:25-29; but like many of the OT historical details, this one is also the typological foreshadowing of what will be in the coming Great Tribulation, see Revelation 6:5-6 where famine is depicted under the figure of a black horse whose rider held “a pair of balances in his hand.”


26:30.  “And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.”


The “high places” were literally the hilltop shrines, and the images were the figures of their imaginary gods.  Jehovah would destroy both the people and their gods, “abhor” in the present context meaning to “cast off.”


26:31.  “And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savor of your sweet odors.”


By means of war and plague God would make their cities deserted wastes, and their places of idolatry devastated ruins; nor would He accept even the incense offerings presented to Him, for it is to be remembered that they had continued to go through the charade of worshiping Him even while they also worshiped idols, thus reducing Him to the level of being just one of a host of other gods.


26:32.  “And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.”


The New American Bible renders this verse, “So devastated will I leave the land that your very enemies who come to live there will stand aghast at the sight of it.”  This will be fulfilled in even greater measure in the coming Great Tribulation.”


26:33.  “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.”


This has been partially fulfilled in the Babylonian captivity, and in the Diaspora that has left the Jews scattered amongst the nations since AD 70, those who have begun to return since 1948 being the proof that the end of the age is upon us, the clearly imminent rapture of the Church, and the ensuing Great Tribulation being further confirmatory evidence.


26:34.  “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.”


26:35.  “As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.”


From the reign of Saul till the Babylonian captivity was 490 years, 70 of those being sabbatic years during which the land was to have been allowed to life fallow, but greedy Israel worked it, with the result that the sabbath rest denied the land by her rebellious cupidity was enjoyed while the rebels languished as captives in Babylon, and again during the past two millennia when they have been scattered amongst the nations since AD 70.


26:36.  “And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.”


26:37.  “And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have to power to stand before your enemies.”


The survivors living in the lands of their enemies would exist in perpetual fear, abounding idle rumors creating needless panic, so that some would die in the course of flight from nonexistent enemies, while others would be slain by their fellows who would mistake them for foes.  They would be powerless against their enemies.


26:38.  “And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.”


26:39.  “And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.”


Knox has translated this, “You will be lost among the Gentiles, swallowed up by a hostile country.”  This has been their experience, not only in Babylon, but also for the past two thousand years during which time they have died far from their own land, amongst the hated Gentiles.


As in the past, the children walking in the evil footsteps of their fathers, had suffered the righteous chastisement of God, and so is it still.  Succeeding generations, right down to the present, have reaped the terrible consequences of their foolish and venomous response to Pilate’s question, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?  They all say unto him, Let him be crucified ... His blood be on us, and on our children,” Matthew 27:22.  For the past two thousand years Jewish blood has been spilled like water on virtually every country on earth; and the coming Great Tribulation will see them slaughtered in still greater numbers.


26:40.  “And if they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;”


26:41.  “And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity;”


26:42.  “Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.”


Confession of guilt is always the first step that must be taken by the man who would be reconciled to God, the confession of the iniquity of their fathers being the equivalent of the fact declared explicitly in Romans 3:10-12, “There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”


The uncircumcised heart is that which is stubborn, unbroken, unrepentant.  It is used here as the metaphoric description of the man who refuses to admit that he is a sinner.  The antithesis of this is the man who honestly confesses that he is without one shred of righteousness.


The reference to the covenants which God had made with Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham, is the reminder of the blessings to be inherited by every man who will confess himself a sinner, and cast himself on God’s mercy by accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.


26:43.  “The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.”


“The land shall be left of them” is an archaic way of saying that the people would be removed from the land because of their failure to observe the sabbaths, and because they abhorred, i.e., were disdainfully contemptuous of God’s ordinances.  A judgment means a verdict, sentence, or charge; and a statute is an enactment or ordinance.  The people absolutely rejected God’s right to rule over them, forgetting that as obedience guaranteed blessing so would disobedience just as surely bring chastisement.


26:44.  “And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God.”


In spite of all their waywardness God still loved them, and instead of destroying them, would bring them by chastisement to repentant obedience, in order to bless them.


26:45.  “But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.”


The covenant of their ancestors was the one He had made with them when He brought them out of Egyptian bondage on the night of the Passover.  That covenant included the assurance of His protecting care and provision through their forty years in the wilderness, and His bringing them into the land of Canaan which He gave them for a permanent possession, their own disobedience being that which had broken the covenant, and which had caused blessing to be exchanged for chastisement.


26:46.  “These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.”


As noted above, a judgment means a verdict, sentence, or charge; and a statute is an enactment or ordinance.  The God of order will not permit His perfectly ordered creation to be marred by disorder, hence the imperative of obedience on the part of those who would enjoy His blessing.

[Leviticus 27]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough