THE GOSPEL IN LEVITICUS: The Blessing and the Curse
THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE"If you walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them—But if you will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments." Leviticus. 26:3-14.
Throughout Leviticus the voice of mercy sounds. For what is mercy, but a remedy for woe? At Sinai's base grace sweetly smiles. For what is grace, but safety for the lost? Before this mount the Gospel clearly speaks. For what is the Gospel, but God's scheme to save, while justice remains just, and truth continues true, and holiness appears more pure, and honor bends not from its highest throne? These truths here gleam in a long train of types. He, who would probe redemption's depths, will often seek this hallowed ground. He, who would drink true wisdom's cup, will often search this book with prayer.
But before the tribes advance, God labors to impress a lesson upon them. Truly, when sinners rush to hell, they strive against a warning God—they stop the ear—they set the face like flint—they harden the proud neck. They choose perdition, and so perish.
Reader, these final pages thus instruct. Heed the awakening message. There is a sacredness in parting words. Last admonitions usually sink deep. May the Lord's pen now touch the tablets of each heart!
Here God adjoins paternal counsels to a sovereign's command. He shows what blessings crown obedient paths—what miseries beset the rebel-way. Emphatic images come in to win and to deter. Two passages, as sign-posts, are upreared. The one invites to the abode of peace. The other cries, 'Flee, for all wretchedness is here'. Alluring promises first court the listening tribes. Read Lev. 26:3-13. Clusters of temporal good hang thick. Survey the dazzling catalogue—unfold the roll. It is a picture, in which plenteousness abounds. The earth in season yields luxuriant crops. Scarceness and need are buried in deep graves. Peace waves her gentle scepter. Invading hosts scare not the quiet valleys. No ravening beasts watch for their prey. And if assailing armies make attack, they move to sure defeat. A little band puts multitudes to flight. A happy progeny rejoices in each house. These are external gifts—but spiritual delights are scattered with copious hand. God's presence is assured. His near abode is with His sons. He claims them as His own. He gives Himself to them. "I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be My people." Lev. 26:12. Such are the blessings pledged, if statutes are observed. Can any read this list, and hesitate? Can any hear, and choose rebellion's lot?
Tremendous threats forbid. Read Lev. 26:14-39. The scene now changes. Peal follows peal of terrifying awe. The disobedient must wring out appalling dregs. Health shall hang down its withered head. Each pining malady—each sore disease—each racking pain—shall prey upon the tortured frame. Famine shall raise its ghastly form. Poverty shall sit at every hearth. Seed shall be sown, but no crops spring. The trees shall mock with fruitless boughs. The forest shall send forth its ravenous hordes. The children and the cattle shall be mangled in the roads; and thus the homes shall be a solitary waste. The sound of constant war shall roar. The hostile banner shall deride the fallen city. The holy sanctuary shall be no refuge. If offerings be brought, God will refuse. Such is the heritage, if the covenant be not kept. Can any read this, and tremble not?
God's word is as fixed, as heaven's high throne. He speaks. Performance is at hand. The sons of Israel madly scorned His rule. They rashly followed their own heart's desire. And the foreshadowed doom arrived. Witness the desolation of their beauteous land, and their tribes scattered through the world's wide breadth. The sterile plains at home—the outcast wanderers abroad—bear witness, that the threatened vengeance fell.
But there are nearer lessons from these blessings and this curse. The voice is spiritual. It pictures the fair land of grace. It shows the mercies, which gird, as a belt, the true family of faith. It opens, also, the blighted waste, in which proud unsubmission dwells. The Gospel prized is all this joy. The Gospel scorned is all this woe.
Reader, words are an empty shadow, when Gospel blessedness is the theme. He, who would know, must taste, and then the half cannot be told. In Christ God gives Himself. Who can scan God? But until our God is scanned, the treasure is not fully weighed. But come and catch some glimpse.
Believe in Christ, and you are welcomed as God's child—God's heir. Your seat is at His table. Hear His assuring voice, "All things are yours—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." 1 Cor. 3:21-23. At every moment you may draw near. You may tell out your every sorrow, and your every need. The ears of love receive. The hand of power relieves. Supplies of grace are largely given. The heavens come down in showers of goodness.
The gift of Jesus leaves no gift withheld. "He who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things."
Faith finds abundance in the land of grace. For every sin there is a fountain close. For all unrighteousness there is a glorious robe. "In the Lord have I righteousness and strength." For every burden a support is at hand. "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." Light, guidance, peace sparkle throughout the Gospel-page. When Satan terrifies, the cross is seen. When conscience trembles, the dying Jesus shows His hands and side. When the law thunders, Calvary spreads its sheltering wings. When heart-corruptions vex, the Spirit comes with renovating grace. Surely that life is blessed, in which the citizenship is above, and all the hours rejoice at heaven's gate. The past is one wide flood of mercy—the present is a stream of joy—the future is all glory's ocean.
But when the end is come, and the freed spirit wings its upward flight, who can conceive the rapture? Then Jesus is revealed. No distance intervenes. No separation can again occur. If faith finds Him so dear, what, what will be the realizing sight!
And when the grave restores its prey—when this poor body puts on immortality's attire, and shines more brightly than a thousand suns—like Christ—like Christ—forever. What then? God then is fully known, and fully loved, and fully praised—while endless ages build the glory higher. Eternal love plans all this blessedness—the blood of Jesus purchases—His promise seals—His Spirit fits—His power will soon confer the crown.
It is sweet joy to linger on this scene. But God in faithfulness presents a contrast. Crowds upon crowds reject this Gospel-call. The Savior's charms, charm not. His messages are scattered to the wind. Unhappy dupes of unbelieving pride! There is no misery like yours. God's curse embitters your whole cup. The past is dark. The present gives no light. The future is an endless night. Each day, each hour, is sin. But your feet seek no cleansing fount. Therefore your sins remain. Your inner man is filth's vile mass; no Savior spreads His merits, as your cloak. Troubles abound; there is no refuge to protect. Satan compels you to his miserable work; no mighty deliverer breaks the chain. The world enslaves and cheats; no better portion calls you from its snares. If you look upwards the heavens are barred—God frowns—each attribute condemns. Friends bring no peace. Foes wound, and no balm heals. Prosperity is no bright day. Adversity is a dark gloom. Wealth cannot help. Poverty is a hard load. Thus life is misery. Death plunges into deeper woe. Eternity is hell. Such is brief outline of the accursed doom.
God's grace is scorned. His precious Son is crucified afresh. Mercy can show no mercy. Pardon cannot release. God is an adversary. All that God is must strive to heat the furnace of His wrath. Ah! unbelief! Your heritage is one unmitigable curse. Ah! rebel souls! How will you grapple with almightiness of wrath?
Do any such peruse these humble lines? Ah! Sirs, you see your case! Will you remain on this accursed ground? Will you still live a blighted tree—fit only for the burning? Will you thus hug the chain, which drags you to perdition? Oh! stay. You live, and Jesus lives. Who then can say, that you may not be saved? I sincerely would reason with you; turn not away. The Spirit's power may reach your heart.
Perhaps you abound in earthly wealth. You never knew a scanty table. But say, can gold procure God's smile—or hide your sins—or blunt the sting of death—or give a plea before the judgment-seat? You know its utter emptiness. Then cast your cheating idol to the winds. Seek Christ. He is a treasure, which can never fail. He can grant pardons. He can give title to the endless life. Be rich in Him, and then your riches reach to heaven. Escape the curse. Receive the blessing.
But perhaps the humble cottage is your home, and daily toil scarce earns the daily fare. The poor man without God is poor indeed. It is not poverty, but grace, which saves. But Jesus never scorns the lowly hut. Many a Lazarus rests on Abraham's breast. Admit Him to your heart. His presence brings contentment, which gilded palaces can never buy. His favor sets above the monarchs of this earth.
Is learning yours? The cultivated mind may roam through every field of science—and ransack all the stores of thought. But no philosophy gains heaven's key. This can be found in Christ alone. He, who knows all which mind can grasp, and knows not Christ, is but a splendid driveler. A Christless life goes down to a fool's grave.
Perhaps days are in the wane, and you look back on a long track of years. Bless God, that yet forbearing pity spares the worn-out thread. But the review is sad. What opportunities of seeking Christ have perished profitless! But is "too late" your doom? Is the door barred? Arise and knock. It has often opened to an aged hand. May it be so to you! Oh! what a change, if like the aged Simeon you depart in peace, clasping the Savior in rejoicing arms!
It may be so, that youth is in its bud. Who can regard you, without anxious thought? The world is watching to ensnare. Satan prepares his most beguiling baits. But grace can win you to the cross. Would you be wise? True wisdom is in Christ. Would you be great? He raises to a Godlike path. Would you be happy? He fills the cup with never-failing joys. Would you win others to a blessed life? He, who lives Christ, strews blessings all around. But linger not. Youth must soon fly. It often sinks into an early grave.
Are children yours? How much may turn upon the early bias, which you give. Tell them of Christ. They who have intellect to grasp one thought, may learn the truth of a redeeming cross, and of pure joys beyond the grave. When hearts can feel, they may love Christ. Remember, apart from Christ, all here, and ever, is a dark curse. Christ, and Christ only, is eternal life. Blessed are they, and only they, who know, and love, and serve Him.
You ministers of Christ, behold your theme. So dreadfully denounce the curse, that you and yours may flee it. So sweetly paint the blessing, that you and yours may grasp it. So fully preach the Savior, that you and yours may be forever saved. Blessed are they, who, living, preaching, dying, make Christ their All.
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