Throughout the Torah, the methodology for God commanding us is that He tells us what we are to do, then He tells us what will happen if we don’t, and finally He confirms that after we have disobeyed, when we do T’shuvah (turn from sin) and return to Him with all our heart, He will remember us and His covenant with the Patriarchs, redeem us from wherever we are and bless us, again.
Leviticus is a book that is the penal code for the nation, as well as the ceremonial rites and actions we are to perform, from the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol) down to the common person. And, as outlined above, after we are told of the rites, laws, commandments, regulations and all that we are do to in order to properly worship God, and all that we are to do to properly treat each other, now comes the final warning: if you don’t do as I say, then I will do this to you.
And it ain’t pretty! What’s interesting is that it is not just a warning, it is a prophecy. The language of the warning, as it seems to me, is that God is not just saying “if you don’t”, but more like “when you don’t.” God tells us what we should do, then tells us He knows we won’t. Next, He tells us what He will do to bring us back into obedience because He will not coddle us or enable our disobedience. No- what God will do when we try to act bigger than Him is to bring us down to our knees, and if that doesn’t get us back in line, He will bring us down to our hands and knees, and if that doesn’t bring us around, He will flatten us until our faces are in the dirt, and if we are still unwilling to atone, He will shove our head into the ground and step on our necks until we finally realize how stupid we have been and cry, “UNCLE!!!” Then, finally, after we do T’shuvah and return to Him, God will return to us the blessings promised for obedience.
Obedience is the fulcrum for worship: when we sin, we tilt to the side of disobedience, which results with the weight of God’s punishment falling on us like a ton of bricks; but, when we tilt to the side of obedience, God’s blessings come down from heaven like a gentle rain. The best place of all is in total obedience, at which point we are in perfect balance with God, and that will result in living in harmony with the world and at peace with each other. I like this simile because ever since God created us, we have see-sawed from one side to the other, blessed and cursed, obedient and disobedient, almost never balanced.
And if you have ever been on a see-saw and had the other person, when you were way up high, get off the see-saw you know what it feels like to be at the wrong end of God’s wrath.
Have you ever heard that it takes more muscles to smile than it does to frown? I don’t know if that is true or not, but I think, from a spiritual viewpoint, it is true because sinning is so much easier than obeying. But that doesn’t mean obedience is impossible, it is just harder to get started doing.
It is also said that if you do something 21 times in a row it becomes a habit. So if I can chose just one commandment, just one, and do it 21 days in a row, then it shouldn’t be hard anymore because it has become a habit. Are you willing to try this? Now, now- don’t pick Do Not Kill or Do Not Steal– those are too easy. Try something harder, something worth working to do, like Do Not Covet, or Keep the Sabbath. Pick any commandment that has been difficult for you to obey, and try to obey it for 21 days in a row. Mark it on your calendar, tie a string around your finger, whatever will work to keep this one commandment in front of you (let it be a frontlet between thine eyes) and see if you can do this one thing for 21 days.
If the saying is correct, then it will no longer be hard to do because it will be a habit. Imagine- what was once hard to do will now become hard not to do!
We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less. That is a reasonable goal, and one we can reach- to sin less. Less than I used to sin as a child, less than I used to sin as an adult, less than I used to sin last year, less than I sinned yesterday. One day at a time, one step at a time, one sin at a time.
You can perform one less sin today, can’t you?