By Mary Beth Montgomery
A lengthy list of instructions about vows and giving seems like an odd way to end Leviticus. Or maybe not so much odd as opportunistic, like the law all funnels down to “so now give your money to God.” It could be read as if the culmination of the law is to give a lot; that’s what makes a true follower of God.
But if that’s how this appears, then we need to back up to chapter 26 and see what God is really calling His people to. In the first thirteen verses of chapter 26, God lays out the blessings His people will experience if they keep His covenant. They are remarkable: abundance, fruitfulness, peace, safety, and most of all, the very presence of God Himself. God promises that He will be with them and will uphold the covenant.
The second portion of chapter 26 is a more detailed list of the consequences if the people break God’s covenant. It appears that the list of consequences is longer and more dire than the blessings are good, but what God is actually doing is painting a vivid picture of the true cost. He wants His people to be faithful, so He rolls the consequences out in stages, showing that He will not abandon them for breaking the covenant. Instead, He will dole out consequences bit by bit, so they have a chance to return to Him at every step.
Between the promises of blessing and the way God warns of the consequences, it is clear that what He wants most is the heart of His people. God wants hearts fully devoted to Him, and He will pour out blessings on all who are His. This is why the psalmist says, “How can I repay the LORD for all the good he has done for me?…I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people” (Psalm 116:12,14).
The final chapter of Leviticus is not primarily about giving to God. It is mainly about responding to the blessings God has poured out. It’s what 2 Corinthians 9:7 says: we are not to give out of compulsion but as we have decided in our hearts—our hearts that are fully devoted to God. It goes on to say that “God loves a cheerful giver.” Another way to say this is that God blesses those who respond to blessings with gratitude. Committing ourselves to the Lord means we realize all we have is a blessing from Him. And when we give it with a glad heart, it is an expression of holiness—“Everything set apart is especially holy to the LORD” (Leviticus 27:28).
So Leviticus ends with a final call to be entirely set apart for God in our hearts, which will extend to our lives, including everything we own. And it is wrapped in a promise of blessing. Yes, God’s people give all for Him and to Him. And He will give Himself to and for us.
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