The Blessings and Curses of Leviticus 26, by Charles Lawson


A Look at the Blessings and Curses

In light of Leviticus 26 and the supposed 2520 time prophecy

By Charles Lawson

Blessings and Curses: A principle that went into effect as soon as there was sin.

We are told to take the Bible as it reads, unless there is contextual evidence that suggests that something else may be implied. To anyone who is remotely familiar with the Biblical account of God's dealings with His people, from the time of Joshua all the way down to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, it is clear that the curses and punishments promised in Deuteronomy and Leviticus were applicable the day the words were spoken. The first real account of the punishments inflicted upon God's people, after Moses warned the Israelites that they would be punished for turning away from the Lord in Leviticus 26,  is found in Judges chapter 2, just one short generation after Joshua and the elders passed off the scene. 

In order for the supposed time prophecy of 2,520 years to be true, the promised "seven times" punishments would not have started until 677, or 723 (the fall of the Southern and Northern kingdoms). Is this what the Biblical record shows? The obvious intent of Moses (speaking for God) was to let the people know that there are blessings and punishments associated with their faithfulness and love to God. Moses uses the "if/then" expression numerous times to indicate if this, then this. If you love and serve God, then these are the blessings. If you don't love and serve God, then these are the punishments He will inflict on you.

What good would it have done to tell those people standing there, "this is how it will work" only to not have it "work" that way until the nation had strayed so far into rebellion that their nation is destroyed, and they are taken in to captivity into Babylon, then the blessings and punishment starts for 2,520 years!!! The purpose of His punishments were always to bring His people back to Him. To say God waited over 500 years to begin disciplining His children, to correct their evil ways, would be like us finally punishing our adult child a few months before he gets sent off to prison! Besides all this, He didn't wait over 500 years.

Blessing and Curse always in effect

From the account in Genesis, we see that the principle of a blessings and curses has always been in effect.

Serpent is cursed

Genesis 3:14: So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.

Curse of the Woman

Genesis 3:16: To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

Curse of the Man

Genesis 3:17-19: Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

Curse of Cain

Genesis 4:11 “And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.”

Curse on Jacob

Genesis 27:12,13: “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” But his mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, get them for me.”

Blessing and a Curse pronounced to the Israelites

Deuteronomy 11:26,27: 26 “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.

Achan’s curse (even before they went into the land of Canaan…)

Joshua 7:10-13: “There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.”

Leviticus 26:37 ​​“and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.”

This was promised to Israel at the borders of Canaan. But note in the case of Achan, it was in effect before it was stated by Moses in Leviticus 2

Ellen White comments on he curse:

For a Babylonish robe and a paltry treasure of gold and silver Achan consented to sell himself to evil, to bring upon his soul the curse of God, to forfeit his title to a rich possession in Canaan, and lose all prospect of the future, immortal inheritance in the earth mad new. Signs of the Times, May 5, 1881

Moses, under the inspiration of the Lord says:

Deuteronomy 28:15: “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:”

Prediction of what would happen in the future:

Deuteronomy 29:24-29 “All nations would say, ‘Why has the LORD done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?’ Then people would say: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt; for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book.

Attempt by Balaam to curse God’s people

Numbers 22:12: God said to Balaam, "You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed."

Solomon said:

Proverbs 26:2: Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest. NIV

Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so, a curse without cause shall not alight. NKJV

The following outline was taken directly from Leviticus 26. Notice the sequence of the passage. If you study the book of Judges through the end of the OT, you see that these blessings and curses went into effect immediately for the children of Israel, and historically it is demonstrated this principle has always been in effect, even prior to the pronouncement, just as the ten commandments were there before Moses articulated them to the people at Mt. Sinai.

Promised blessings for obedience:

  1. Give you rain in due season
  2. Land will yield her increase
  3. The trees will yield their increase
  4. The harvest time will reach until the vintage time
  5. The vintage time will reach unto the harvest time
  6. You will eat your bread to the full
  7. Dwell in your land safely
  8. I will give you peace in the land.
  9. No one will make you afraid
  10.  I will rid evil beasts out of the land.
  11.  There won’t be the sword in the land (war)
  12. You shall chase your enemies and they will fall by the sword.
  13.  Five of you shall chase 100 and 100 shall put 10,000 to flight.
  14.  I will have respect for you
  15.  I will make you fruitful and multiply your population
  16.  I will establish my covenant with you.
  17.  You will have an abundance of harvest
  18.  I will set my tabernacle among you
  19.  My soul will not abhor you
  20.  I will walk among you
  21.  You will be my people.

Conditions and results of disobedience (the curses) 26:14-18

  1. I will appoint terror over you
  2. Sickness
  3. Fever that consumes the eyes
  4. Sorrow of heart
  5. Sow your seed in vain (for your enemies shall eat it)
  6. They will hate you and reign over you.
  7. You will flee when no one pursues you
  8. I will set my face against you
  9. You will be slain by your enemies

​A. And if you will not listen to me after all of this, Then, I will punish you seven-fold more for your sins. VRS 19,20

After all this…refers to the punishments 1-9 VRS 14-18. Clearly the after all this refers to a sequence of events leading up to this point in time. God in love was warning them in advance what would happen so they could avoid the curses.

10. I will break the pride of your power

11) I will make your heaven as iron, and the earth as brass

12) You strength shall be spent in vain (land will not yield her increase)

13) Trees will not yield her fruit.

B. And if you walk contrary to me, and will note listen to me; I will bring seven-fold more plagues upon you according to your sins.  VRS 22,23

14) I will send beasts among you that shall kill your children

15) Beasts will destroy your cattle

16) Beasts will make you few in number

17) Your highways will become desolate.

C. If you will not be reformed by me because of these things but walk contrary to me, THEN I will punish you yet seven-fold more for your sins.

VRS 25,26

(The word “Then" shows a sequence to the previous promised curses)

The same idea is conveyed here, if after the above mentioned punishments fall upon you (curses 14-17) Then I will punish you seven-fold more for your sings, and then the list of what that means follows below. Clearly showing a progression in intensity of punishment

18) I will bring the sword upon you that will avenge the quarrel of my covenant

19) When you are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you.

20) You shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

21) I will break the staff of your bread.

22) Ten women will bake bread in one oven and deliver your bread by weight and you will eat and not be satisfied.

D. And if you will not for all this, listen to me, but walk contrary to me, then I will walk contrary to you also in Fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven-fold more for your sins. VRS. 29-39

Could verses 29-39 be the prediction after they rejected Jesus as the Messiah? Look at the list of what would happen and it seems to fit…

23) You shall eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters (fall of Jerusalem)

24) I will destroy your high places of worship

25) Cut down your images

26) Cast your carcasses upon the carcasses of your idols

27) My soul will abhor you

28) I will make your cities waste

29) Bring your sanctuaries to desolation

30) I will not accept your praise

31) I will bring your land into desolation

32) You enemies who dwell in the area will be astonished by it.

33) I will scatter you among the heathen (after destruction of Jerusalem)

34) I will draw the sword after you

35) You land shall be desolate and your cities waste. Then your land will enjoy her Sabbaths as long as it lay desolate and you are in your enemies land. The land did not rest when you lived there.

36) I will send a faintness of heart to those who are left alive of you.

37) The sound of a shaken leaf shall chase you and shall flee when none pursues

38) You shall fall upon one another as before a sword when none pursues.

39) You shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

40) You shall perish among the heathen.

41) The land of your enemies shall eat you up.

42) Those who are left will pine away in their iniquity in enemy lands.

Where is the first recorded account of the curses given in Leviticus 26 occur? Was it in 677 and 722 respectively at the fall of the northern and southern kingdoms?

The Bible tells us when the curses first started…

Judges 2:7 And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works for the Lord.

First account of the punishment given in Leviticus 26 nearly 500 years before King David!:

Judges 2:11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim, and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers…

Judges 2:14:The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could no any longer stand before their enemies.

Leviticus 26 Curse:

1)    #34 I will draw the sword after you: He delivered them into the hands of the enemies

2)    #39 You will have not power to stand before your enemies: They could not stand before their enemies

Judges 2:15: Where ever they went out, the Lord worked against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.

When and where did the Lord promise to work against them for evil, and when did He swear he would bring punishments upon them? In Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Here by God’s own testimony, He is saying, OK, I told you I would punish you if you sinned and so I did as I swore I would do.

Notice the parallel to the curse being executed by God above and the promise to forgive:

Leviticus 26:40 “If they confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they have trespassed against me…if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of their punishment of their iniquity: 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.

Judges 2:2  “For it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and troubled them.

Judges 3:13: Ammon and Amalek possessed the city of palm trees. The children of Israel served Eglon, king of Moag 18 years.

Leviticus Curse:

1)   #28 Cities laid waste: Moab took their city

2)   #6 They will hate you and reign over you: Served king of Moab 18 years.

Judges 5, Israel Sins

Vrs 1: The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Midian “seven” years.

Leviticus 26 curse:

1)   Midian destroyed the increase of the earth and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.

2)   The entered into the land to destroy it.

3)   Israel was greatly impoverished.

Judges 5:10 Gideon says, “Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? (because of the curse and turning away from the Lord)

The story repeats itself hundreds of times in the history of Israel. They sin, God allows the curses to fall, they repent, He comes to their aid, they forget him and serve other gods and the punishments of God follow.

Thus, the curses and blessings are clearly demonstrated almost from the outset of Moses pronouncement of them. By the time Joshua and the elders that served him are dead, Israel goes into rebellion and continues the cycle until God finally allows them to go into total captivity under king Nebuchadnezzar and ultimately they are rejected completely by God and Jerusalem is destroyed in AD 70.

It is simply not the case that God waited until 677 or 722 BC to begin the punishment upon His people for their rebellion. The Bible record does not support this idea in the least. One cannot say that the promised punishment in Leviticus began so late in Israel’s history.

Seven Times?

What about the idea that the words seven times implies a day for a year prophecy?

The Biblical evidence shows that there is no justification for applying prophetic time to this passage.

Why? The word shib`ah (Aramaic) KJV Strong's H7651 matches the Hebrew שבע (sheba`). "seven" AND "times*" AND "H7651"occurs in 25 verses in the KJV is an adverb meaning,  seven-fold or seven. Couple with Pa’am it shows times as in repetition.

Example texts:

1). Genesis 33:3 and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

2) Leviticus 14:27 And the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger [some] of the oil that [is] in his left hand seven times before the LORD:

Joshua 6:15 The compassed the city after the same manner seven times, and on that day they compassed the city seven “times.” Paam (stroke beat, foot step occurrence)

But in Leviticus 26:18, 21,24,28 the word is alone as an adverb: And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times 7651 more for your sins.

In all cases where prophetic time is used in the OT, it is accompanied by a noun and its adjective, such as in Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32: “Let Seven Times pass over him. Here we have the noun, Times and the adjective, Seven, thus, shibah iddan. [`iddan (Aramaic) 1) time

a) time (of duration)

b) year

But in Leviticus 26 the word in the Hebrew is simply the adverb, Sheba which means sevenfold. A parallel text is found in:

Daniel 3:19:

Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times (shib`ah) more than it was usually heated.

As a side note, if the word in Leviticus Shib`ah means a time prophecy, so would the text in Daniel 3:19 He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.” He heated it for 2520 years?

Further, Leviticus says that after each successive failure of the people to obey, then he would punish them 2520 years more, or 4 times 2520 or 10,80 years.

If the text were intended by God to be a time prophecy it would have said, Seven Times (Adjective noun) will pass over you or be determined upon this nation. And then the curses would have been given. 

But we are in good company as two of the illustrious pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist church agree with this conclusion. Both Uriah Smith and James White published studies on Leviticus 26 and both shared the Bible evidence there is no ground for interpreting this as a time prophecy.

He wrote in the Adventist Review and Sabbath Herald regarding the expression seven times in Leviticus, “Now, what is meant by this repeated expression of seven time? We reply, It denotes, not the duration of the punishment, but its intensity and severity.”

Right at the beginning of the article in the Review, (see article by James White on this site) James says, “The prophetic period of Lev. xxvi, or what has been supposed to be such, has been no small object of study among prophetical expositors.”

 That would include William Miller. Some claim the Adventist church has rejected this time prophecy, and they are right, but it was the founding pioneers who rejected it, not the later church leaders.

James White’s article came out in the Review and Advent Herald January 26, 1864. This paper was the official paper of the Adventist Church, and as such reflected the position of the founding leaders, including Ellen White. In the article he says, “We” not “I” showing a consensus of belief of the leadership of the church at that time.

The Seventh-day Adventist church was formed May 21, 1863. That means that James White published this article just 6 months after forming the SDA church.

Question: Was James White acting alone in publishing his study on Leviticus 26? Definitely not. It was the official voice of the Seventh-day Adventist church, including the Adventist pioneers who formed it, and that included Ellen White.

Question: Do you think that Ellen White knew about his study and conclusions, and the article that came out in the Review 6 months after the official Church was formed? It is quite absurd to think that with such a small denomination, with James married to the messenger of the Lord that she was not aware of this article and would have protested it’s publication in the official church paper.

Question: If Ellen White had disagreed with his conclusions, do you think she would have voiced it in her writings? Would that disagreement come out on such an important topic of the 2520 prophecy that was on the Miller chart? Yes.

James White did not act alone in publishing the Review. Note this inspired statement by Ellen White herself regarding who was overseeing the publication:

"Then I saw that the paper [Review and Herald] would go and that it would be the means of bringing souls to a knowledge of the truth. I saw that James had not borne the burden alone but that the angels of God had assisted and had oversight of the paper."  {13MR 299.1}  (Written December 25, 1850, at Paris, Maine.)

So, to question the position of James White’s article in the Review, the year our church was formed, is to question the Angels’ judgment, who had oversight of the paper and what was published in it!

In conclusion we see the evidence shows that the curses and punishments promised in Leviticus 26 went into effect immediately and that there is no justification to claim it started at the fall of the Northern and Southern kingdoms. This proves that the word seven-fold or times in Leviticus 26 cannot be indicating a time prophecy that began hundreds of years later. Our church eventually rejected the 2520 time prophecy that William Miller had studied and concluded and included on the 1843 and 1850 charts because it is not Biblically supported based on the evidence and the text itself.

October 21 2011 08:55 pm | The 2520 Time Prophecy

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