Leviticus 26:1-3 briefly summarizes all of the obligations of the covenant. It does not mean that the prohibition of idolatry, keeping the Sabbath and reverence toward the sanctuary are the only laws that matter; they simply are a concise way of referring to all of the covenant, underlining the obligations most closely related to Yahweh Himself. The blessings of Leviticus 26:4-13 deal with prosperity and security, all in fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham. The apex of blessing echoes Genesis 17:7: “[I] will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:12).
The curses of Leviticus 26:14-39 are shocking, but only because the sins of the Israelites will have been shocking. It will be a complete rejection of Yahweh Himself. Listen how He is identified personally with everything He says in His covenant: “But if you will not listen to me and will not do all these commandments, if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my rules, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant…” (Leviticus 26:14-15) “If you walk contrary to me…” (Leviticus 26:21, 23, 27) Therefore the punishment will be a personal reaction to Yahweh: “Then I will do this to you… I will set my face against you… I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will strike you… I will walk contrary to you in fury…” (Leviticus 26:16, 17, 24, 28) The Being who redeemed them with so much strength in Egypt will divert His power to punish His people justly, not only for having disobeyed but for having rejected Yahweh Himself.
In Leviticus 27, we see an important connection with chapter 26. Yahweh will be faithful to His word on promised blessings and punishments in chapter 26; the Israelites must be faithful to their word, too. They must fulfill their vows. But if they have declared a vow lightly and later repent for having said it, in some cases Yahweh in His mercy allows them to redeem the person, animal, house or land that they have dedicated.
As we reflect on both chapters, we can give thanks to Yahweh for His faithfulness. He fulfills His word. He concedes Leviticus 27 to the Israelites in His mercy because He recognizes their weaknesses, our common inclination toward pride in promising much and declaring great things that afterwards we cannot fulfill. But notice that there is no chapter here on the conditions in which Yahweh can get out of fulfilling His word! He always is faithful to fulfill His “vows”. He joyfully fulfills His abundant promises for blessing, and with great pleasure He walks in a close relationship with His people: “I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:11-12). He also fulfills His promises to punish and discipline. And He always will listen when His people repent: “If then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land… When they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, 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 26:41-42, 44-45).