What does Leviticus 26 teach us about God's patience in bringing divine judgment?

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Leviticus 26 has a lot to teach us about the nature of divine judgment. You see that God anticipates potential future disobedience by Israel, and that when that obedience comes, he’s going to call his people back to repentance so that they can avoid the curses of the covenant. But you see this almost like a cascade in Leviticus 26. The warnings are going to be repeated, and they’re going to be extended. It’s not as if God is a referee that as soon as the foot touches the out of bounds mark, you know, he throws the penalty flag. And really, you see this reflected largely in the book of Deuteronomy where God rehearses Israel’s stiff-necked rebellion over time and his patience with them; it’s where we see God's faithfulness manifested in his longsuffering. And so, God is a patient God. He’s not willing that any should perish, the New Testament says, and it takes a lot to try God's patience. And even in a book like the book of Judges you see repeated cycles of rebellion, disobedience, covenant curses, and then God's people cry out to God. And in fact, there’s a beautiful verse in the book of Hosea that I think captures all of this. When God says exile is inevitable for the northern kingdom, he also says, “I will take you into the wilderness and there I will speak kindly to you,” so that, even when his hand of chastening comes down, it’s for the purpose of turning his people back to him. And so, we have to not only appreciate, but we have to see it fully in the Old Testament as well as the New, that God is longsuffering, and he proves himself not just in spite of, but even through the times of rebellion of his people.

Answer by Rev. Michael J. Glodo

Rev. Michael J. Glodo is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.