In Leviticus 26, God called His people to faithfulness. He said that if they were faithful He would bless them, but if they were unfaithful He would judge them. Over and over again they were unfaithful, so God judged them with increasing severity until finally He threw them out of the promised land and scattered them among the nations. At that point, it appears that the people of Israel have reached their end.
However, just when it seems that Israel is shut out, God opens a door. Just when we expect the curtain to fall, God says His mercy is not finished. In verse 40, He says, “But if they will confess their sin”; verses 41-42, “if their uncircumcised hearts will be humbled, and if they will pay the penalty for their sin, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob”; and verse 44, “I will not reject or abhor them so as to destroy them and break My covenant with them, since I am Yahweh their God.”
Amazingly, after all the ways Israel had broken God’s covenant and rebelled against Him, God still offered His people another opportunity to come to Him. He said He would receive them, not reject them, even after they had abandoned His plan repeatedly and even after they were scattered among the nations. God continued to invite His people to Himself because of His grace, and God’s grace reached further than Israel.
God’s judgment of sin is not a popular subject today, but if we reject the idea of God’s judgment we have to reject the whole Bible because God’s judgment is on virtually every page. Jesus talked about “eternal punishment” (Matt 25:46), and the book of Revelation describes that punishment in vivid detail. When God promised His people that He would judge their sin, and when He kept His promise and judged them, He was acting in accord with His character. He is a just God, and only someone who is unjust would allow people to commit crimes and acquit them indefinitely. God’s wrath against sin arises from His goodness and holiness.
When followers of Jesus encounter people who have turned their backs on God, we should talk to them about His judgment of sin. God’s plan has always been to bless the nations through the descendants of Abraham. God’s plan was for Israel to relate to God in such a way that all the nations could see what it means to walk with God. Then the nations would be attracted to worship God too.
When God first called Abraham, God promised him, “All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:3). Blessing “all the peoples on earth” has always been God’s plan. Later in Israel’s history, God said to Israel, “I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth” (Isa 49:6). God’s plan was to use Israel to reach the world—to show the world who He is and what a relationship with Him is like. God continues to invite people around the world to a relationship with Himself because of His grace.