This parashah is the final reading from the Book of Leviticus.
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Up to this point, God has given us his instructions for how to worship him, the responsibilities of the Cohen, and how to treat each other within the society. He also has included the punishments for failure to do as he instructs. Now, in this final section, God does what the Prophets have done throughout the Tanakh, which is to tell us what will happen when we obey, and what will happen when we disobey.
It is very similar to one of my favorite chapters throughout the Torah, which is Deuteronomy 28 and is called the Blessings and the Curses.
Whenever a covenant is made there is a standard formula:
(1) The one proposing the covenant states the conditions of the covenant;
(2) He states what the one(s) agreeing to the covenant must do;
(3) What will result from compliance, and (finally);
(4) What will happen as a result of noncompliance
Today, what I would like to talk about is what God says will happen if we do not follow his instructions in this book.
In Chapter 26, God says he will punish us for our sin of disobedience 7 times over (and another 7 times over if that doesn’t work, and another 7 times if we still refuse to obey, and even ANOTHER 7 times if we have still refused to do T’shuvah), but his purpose is not to be punitive, it is to be corrective.
In Ezekiel 18 God tells us that he gets no pleasure from the death of a sinner, but that he would rather the sinner turn from his sins, and live. Meaning live eternally with God. This is not possible if we choose to live a sinful life and never to T’shuvah (repent.).
You may ask, “If God wants us to stop sinning, why would he curse us with tsuris?” (Yiddish for troubles)
The answer is that the mother of all sins is pridefulness. Refusing to follow God’s instructions is evidence that we think we know better so we don’t have to trust or listen to God. It is rebellion and means we trust only in our own power. So, since we think we are so great we don’t need to listen to God, he shows us just how incompetent, weak, and powerless we really are. The way he does that is to withhold the rain so our crops fail; he will make us infertile so we can’t have successors to carry on the family heritage or maintain our property; he will allow us to get sick and lose our health; he will send our enemies to decimate our family and fields; essentially, his punishment is to remove his protection, which leaves us exposed to all the evil that exists in the world.
You see- God doesn’t really do anything bad to us, per se’, but when he removes his protection and blessings, all the bad things he says he will do to us the world will do for him.
Often we hear people say the God of the Old Covenant is cruel but the God of the New Covenant is all about love. I don’t know how anyone who actually has read or learned about the Bible can say something so ridiculous: God is the same today as he was in the beginning, and he will be the same throughout eternity. The only difference is that in the Old Covenant God was training his people to become a nation of Priests to the world and in the New Covenant he sent the Messiah to fine-tune that training. Same God, same teachings, same rules, same instructions, only with a deeper, more spiritual understanding being given.
Today’s message is very simple and short (I know- surprising that I would ever give a short message!), and this is it:
Punishment from God is not punitive, it is corrective.
The next time you feel you are being punished, review your life. Have you been disobedient? Have you been trying to live under your own power and not trusting in God’s power? Are you doing God’s work in the world (sometimes our tsuris is from the Enemy to stop us doing what God wants us to do)? Answer these questions carefully; look deeply into the mirror and decide if you have walked away from God’s Kippah (covering)? if you think that is the case, then return to him and follow the instructions he gave us all.
If you believe you are being attacked by the Enemy, then call out to God for more protection and help to get through it.
Terrible things can happen to godly people; in fact, we are told that they will happen. Do you remember you were told you have to pick up your execution stake in order to be able to walk with Yeshua? So steel yourself for the tsuris to come, and be comforted by the knowledge that there will be blessings, as well. Look for them and know that what seems to be a curse today might evolve into a blessing tomorrow.
Having reached the end of a book in the Torah, before we start the next book we say:
Chazak, chazak, v’nit’chazek!
(Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened!)
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Tonight begins the Shabbat, so I wish you all Shabat Shalom and Baruch HaShem!!