1 ¶ Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.
They were not to make an idol, something to worship. You laugh at the primitiveness of these people? Well, we make idols of things all the time whether it be sports, money, education, entertainment, or other things. Speaking of entertainment, in the early days of our country Congress even stated that the official who attended theater entertainments wasn’t fit to serve his country. Yet, many Americans enjoy several theater entertainments each night on television.
We have created monuments to stand for things other than God, as symbols of our freedom as in Lady Liberty or our power and might as in the numerous historical monuments around the country. Ultimately, as a nation we worship ourselves.
Our limited view of what worship actually is keeps us from seeing this clearly. Whether you have your child get the autograph of a ballplayer or you accept the justifications for war of your political leaders without question you have an idol other than God. If the Lord Jesus Christ is not your “commander in chief” then you are an idolater.
But, this is specifically made to the Hebrews so that God could set a people apart for Himself.
2 Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
As we have seen, there is more than one type of Sabbath so this should be a help for you in looking at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.
3 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Prophetically, there are a lot of verses I’ve missed but let me take a spiritual look at these verses.
5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6 And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
9 For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
10 And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
12 And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.
This shows that living by the letter of the Law had to do with how God would bless you while you lived as a group, a nation, on earth. The Law is a list of temporal commands for a physical nation living in its collective flesh. The Law can not save you nor did it ever promise to save you spiritually. But, these Hebrews had to live under it in order for the nation to be successful. Or, they would die. Promise.
14 ¶ But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
These are all physical calamities against a physical people who violate a physical law. The Law was what God required of the Hebrews to live as His set apart people. For all the things that would eventually happen to them He gave many warnings.
17 And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.
For any people of God many of these things hold true. We have turned our backs on His word in His Book and He is against us. Cynical politicians who have no real regard for us rule over us and we are paranoid and see an antichrist under every bush.
18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
He does accomplish this in the Babylonian captivity because they did not obey Him even in the laws concerning letting the ground rest.
19 And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
What imagery! The sky above and the earth below seem to close in on you.
20 And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.
I’ve seen this in my life. No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, because you are in opposition to God, nothing works out for you.
21 And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto me; I will bring seven times more plagues upon you according to your sins.
God promised them physical trouble seven times over. Look at this in the light of the following;
Leviticus 25: 1 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. 3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; 4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. 5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. 6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,
7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.
There is no evidence they followed these instructions;
Jeremiah 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
All I am trying to say is that God had a purpose for not only the punishment of Israel but the length of that punishment, to prove a point.
22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number; and your high ways shall be desolate.
Look at the first part of this in light of the following;
2Kings 2:24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
23 And if ye will not be reformed by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me;
24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied.
27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me;
28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
This is the third time that it is mentioned that he will punish them seven times for their sins.
29 And ye shall eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters shall ye eat.
2 Kings 6:24 ¶ And it came to pass after this, that Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his host, and went up, and besieged Samaria. 25 And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver. 26 And as the king of Israel was passing by upon the wall, there cried a woman unto him, saying, Help, my lord, O king. 27 And he said, If the LORD do not help thee, whence shall I help thee? out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? 28 And the king said unto her, What aileth thee? And she answered, This woman said unto me, Give thy son, that we may eat him to day, and we will eat my son to morrow. 29 So we boiled my son, and did eat him: and I said unto her on the next day, Give thy son, that we may eat him: and she hath hid her son. 30 And it came to pass, when the king heard the words of the woman, that he rent his clothes; and he passed by upon the wall, and the people looked, and, behold, he had sackcloth within upon his flesh.
30 And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.
31 And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation, and I will not smell the savour of your sweet odours.
32 And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it.
33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
Once again, see Jeremiah 25:11. You can see reference to God’s anger and punishment all through the prophets. The amazing thing is that He kept warning them over and over again and again.
35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.
36 And upon them that are left alive of you I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.
37 And they shall fall one upon another, as it were before a sword, when none pursueth: and ye shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
Mass paranoia and fear is the sign of a defeated nation.
38 And ye shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
39 And they that are left of you shall pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers shall they pine away with them.
40 ¶ If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;
41 And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.
43 The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes.
Accepting our punishment is essential to getting right with God. So many times I’ve c complained when God laid something hard on me. I know its my fault but I whine anyway.
44 And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the LORD their God.
Like the stray Christian, God promised not to completely abandon Israel, which is one reason I see the Jews having their part to play as a nation at the end of history.
45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.
46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.
God promises that no matter how hard He buffeted Israel and no matter how hard he chastises the individual Christian, He will not forget us.