“Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.
Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 26:1-2)
In Matthew 22:36 one of the Pharisee’s lawyers asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Literally he was asking what is the most important of God’s commands. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment,” in Matthew 22:37-38. While loving other people comes in a close second, love for God is the most important thing a person can do.
In John 14:21, Jesus said obedience to his commands was evidence of our love. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…” While many of the commands deal with our relationship to other people, these are specifically about our relationship to God. Just as a man who truly loves his wife will not go out looking for somebody else, a person who loves God will not be messing around with other gods. If a person loves their spouse, they will take time to spend with them, and will show respect toward them. If a person loves God they will take time for him and show due respect toward him.
In Ephesians 5:28. Paul said, “…He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” Demonstrating love for one’s spouse pays off physically and emotionally. Demonstrating their love for God would pay off handsomely in much the same way for Israel.
“If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you. And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new. ” (Leviticus 26:3-10)
If Israel would demonstrate their love by keeping God’s commands, he would bless them physically in many ways. God would cause the weather to be consistent and cooperative, allowing them to always produce good crops. He would also make their crops productive, so that they would never run short, even during the winter months, but would always have a surplus so that they had to dispose of part of it to have room for the new crop. He would eliminate crime so they had no reason to fear, and would drive away dangerous animals so they were not a threat. When they were attacked by other groups, God would give them the victory regardless how out numbered they might be.
“And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright.” (Leviticus 26:11-13)
Not only would they experience his physical blessings, they would experience a personal relationship with God. He would live among them walking with them and guiding and assisting them in every situation. They had assurance he could keep this promise as it was only a few weeks before that God had brought them out of Egypt and destroyed the Egyptian army, feeding them with manna and providing water from the rock. Jesus made a similar promise to Christians in John 14:15-23.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14:15-23)
Just as it was with Israel, the promise depends on our loving God enough to obey him. If we will, he promises to demonstrate his love to us by living in us, guiding and assisting us in our daily lives and letting us know his presence. The next couple of chapters explain more about those benefits.
John 14:24 is very clear however, when it warns, “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.” A person who doesn’t bother to obey does not love either God or Christ.