Parashah Behar / Bechukotay 2020 (On the mountain/ If you walk) Leviticus 25 – 27

We come now to the last three chapters of Leviticus.  These chapters cover the Sabbatical Year, the Year of Jubilee, the regulations regarding the redemption of lands and of people in slavery, as well as the rules regarding how to treat a slave.

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God tells us how he will prosper and bless us when we obey these regulations, and he also tells us what will happen to us if we reject and disobey his regulations.

I have a short and sweet message today, which is this:

When God says something will happen, you can be as certain that it will happen as if it was already a part of history.

For example, lets’ look at Leviticus 26: 33-35 (CJB), which is what God says will happen if the people fail to observe the regulations regarding the resting of the land during the Sabbatical year:

I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.  Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.  All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

Does this warning sound familiar? The prophet Jeremiah said that after the king of Babylon defeats Jerusalem, the people will be taken to Babylon and will be there, while the land becomes a desolate wasteland for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11), and this is confirmed in 2 Chronicles 36:21. 

When Judea was sinning, just as Israel had sinned, they rejected God’s commandments and failed to give the land its rest. We can figure that for (at least) 490 years leading to the exile of the Jews to Babylon, the Sabbatical Year rest for the land was not observed. That is why the exile lasted 70 years, in accordance with God’s word given through Jeremiah, which was the fulfillment of the warning God gave to Moses nearly a millennia before it happened; the same warning we read in today’s parashah.

Every warning God gave to the Children of Israel regarding disobedience, which they tested over and over, came true.

Just as God always ended his prophecies with a statement of hope, I will end today’s message with this: because every bad thing that God said would happen if we disobeyed came true, we can be positive that every promise of blessings when we do obey will also come true.

Given the absolute certainty that we will receive blessings if we do as God says, why would anyone teach others that we don’t have to obey?

We have reached the end of a book of the Torah, so we say:

Chazak! Chazak! V’nit chazek! 

(Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened!)

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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