Indeed, God brought upon His people the worst punishment ever—exile from their own Land.
Although a remnant remained in the Land, the Jewish People were scattered to the four corners of the earth where they have been persecuted in the nations.
“I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out My sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.” (Leviticus 26:33)
While the Jewish People remained in exile, the Land itself was given the rest that people denied it when they inhabited it.
Despite the excruciating description of severe punishments and terrible calamities that would come on Israel for her disobedience, God ends with a word of comfort and consolation:
“Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.
“But I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 26:44–45)
God’s love for His people is not based on the fickleness of human emotion; it is based on the bedrock of covenant.
Although the covenant blessings promised to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt came with specific if / then conditions, the Abrahamic Covenant upon which came without conditions.
For evidence of the reliability of the Bible and the faithfulness of God, we need look no further than the establishment of the modern-day state of Israel, the restoration of the land to amazing fruitfulness, and the drawing of His people home to the Promised Land from the four corners of the globe.
Trusting in God
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5)
The prophetic portion of Bechukotai follows the theme of the blessings associated with walking with God in a covenantal relationship and the curses associated with walking away from Him.
In this portion, the prophet Jeremiah rebukes the people of Israel for idolatry and faithlessness, telling them that they will go into exile.
But the Haftarah section ends with a note of anticipation when Jeremiah shows his trust in the Hope of Israel by praying, “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.” (Jeremiah 17:14)
Elsewhere in Jeremiah, God promises through this prophet a New Covenant (Brit Chadashah), in which the law of God would be written on the heart.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant (Brit Chadashah) with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke My covenant, though I was a husband to them.” (Jeremiah 31:31–32)
This New Covenant was sealed in the blood of Yeshua the Messiah when he died on the Roman execution stake.
On the Passover, less than a day before His death, Yeshua held up the Cup of Redemption and said, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20)
Under the strength of this covenant, our sins are forgiven and remembered no more. (Isaiah 43:25)
But does this new-found freedom in Messiah give us a license to sin, forsaking the standards set forth in God’s law? The Jewish Rabbi Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) answers this question with a resounding chas v’chalilah! (God forbid!)
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1–2)
While Yeshua has paid the price for our sins and the resulting curse of the law, and we can abide in God’s love through faith, the New Covenant in no way nullifies our call to walk in holiness.
He has set us free from slavery to sin and we need no longer serve that evil master, suffering the curses of the law.
Neither do we need to serve God out of fear of punishment; rather, we are now free to enjoy the relationship promised in this Torah portion. He walks among us, and we are His people who serve Him out of love, devotion, and gratitude for all He has done for us.
The apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans that there is nothing—absolutely nothing—which can separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua.
Now that is truly the good news!
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Messiah Yeshua Adoneinu (our Lord).” (Romans 8:38–39)