This year I am using some devotional materials based around the Prophets. It includes the major prophets, such as Isaiah and Ezekiel, as well as the minor prophets, such as Nahum and Zephaniah. As the year unfolds I expect to read some things that are very familiar to me (such as Ezekiel’s ‘Dry Bones’ story) as well as things are much less familiar, such as Zephaniah. Whatever the reading is I expect that the accompanying written thoughts will give me fresh ways to consider the text and its place in God’s overall story of redemption.
But before digging directly into the Prophets the first few weeks provide an overview of basic information to help understand, in general terms, what messages the Prophets were bringing to God’s people and why. So this morning I read Leviticus 26:1-13.
In this passage in Leviticus the Hebrews, and those of us reading today, are told in broad terms of the benefits that await us when we uphold the covenant we have with God. Basically, if we uphold the covenant, doing the things God has told us to do, we will receive God’s blessings. And in the text they are pretty good blessings!
I don’t know if the Hebrews who first heard this thought that they could uphold their end of God’s covenant, but I do know that there is no way that I can do it. There will be times when I fall short. Sometimes I’ll be just a little bit short and sometimes I’ll be so short it will be as if I am in the next county.
But God knows this and as I read Leviticus today I know that I while I may receive some of the covenant blessings now I know that these are most fully future promises, to be filled in eternity. They are blessings which I will receive through my faith in Christ, the only one who could perfectly keep God’s covenant promises.
But I digress. The thing that really grabbed me about this text as I read it this morning was the very last phrase of verse 13:
“And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.”
The Hebrews had been slaves in Egypt. They were a people who were welcomed when they first arrived there but over time they had become despised and enslaved, brutally so. God had acted decisively and ended their slavery, sending Moses to lead them from slavery in Egypt to their place of rest in Canaan. God had set them free from the yoke of slavery so that they could walk erect and in freedom as His chosen people.
And that is what God has done in Christ Jesus for all who have faith in Him. The yoke of slavery to sin has been broken and believers can walk in the freedom of faith. Sin still exists and dealing with it in our lives is something that must be dealt with daily. Minute-by-minute on some days.
But sin can no longer enslave us. For we have true freedom. Freedom in God that doesn’t come through our own efforts but through the work of Christ, the only one who can, and does, keep the covenant and give us wholeness with God.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.