Leviticus 26:1-20 and Luke 13:18-35

Leviticus 26:3-4a; 14-16 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then… But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant, then I will do this to you: I will visit you with panic, with wasting disease and fever that consume the eyes and make the heart ache.

 

“If – Then”

If. It is such a small word with such huge implications. My father used to always remind me that if the dog hadn’t stopped it would have caught the car. Then I  wondered in reply, what would it have done with it?

If you obey Me. But if you don’t…. Do we want to finish that sentence? Especially when it is God speaking?

But, we have all these laws, all these rules. How can we remember them? How can we keep them? We are doomed to fail! Or are we?

It seems that one line of thinking was to simplify everything by breaking down the rules—and making more of them. There were over 600 rules that would help simplify what God said? I don’t think so.

Jesus took another approach. “How does the Law read?”, He asked. “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” Simple, right?

There has to be more to it than that, we often think. But Jesus reminds us, His face set to Jerusalem, that there is not more. When we love God above all else, and when we love our neighbor as ourselves, we have our eyes focused on God’s providing. We are willing to reach out and share His blessings with others.

Those blessings include the material things we have. They also include the spiritual, such as the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heaven.

We often hear people ask if God has allowed the Pandemic as a punishment for our rebellion. In Old Testament times we may have been quick to agree. Could God have allowed this? Yes. But does He normally operate that way today? No.

Yet, at the same time, it can be a cry for us who remember His blessings to turn back to Him once again. In what ways have we failed God? Repent and receive His forgiveness. Have we failed to love Him above all things? Repent and receive His forgiveness. Have we failed to love our neighbor as ourselves? Repent and receive His forgiveness.

Repentance means more than just saying we are sorry and then on with life as normal. Repent comes from an old English word that means to go in the other direction. When we repent, we leave that action behind and walk the other way.

In 2 Chronicles 7:13-144 we are reminded: When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Let us pray:  

Father, we know that, too often, we turn our face from You. We don’t love You above all things. We don’t love our neighbor as ourselves. Forgive us, we pray. Turn our eyes toward You and Your Son. Let us see the cross that cost Him His life. Let us see the empty tomb that restores to us that promise of everlasting life. Turn our eyes to see Your face and the love You hold for us, Your people. Let us remove the “ifs” from our vocabulary and remember the certainty You bring to us. Father, heal our land for Your sake, that many would be drawn to You. Amen.