Our reading from Leviticus this morning is certainly a warning. It’s God warning His people against sin, telling them that they should expect Him to pour out the fullness of His wrath against them if they break their covenant with Him and embrace idolatry. But even more than a warning, these words are a prophecy, something that becomes a bit clearer when you look at the entirety of chapter 26 where God warns them about famines that will be so severe that they will end up consuming the flesh of their dead children, which would happen in the days of Elisha, and that wild beasts will devour them, which would happen with lions in 2 Kings 17.
So in all of this, it’s not merely that God is saying “this is what I will do if,” but “this is what I’m going to do. This is how things are going to go. This will be our history together.” And by doing this, God accomplishes two things: He speaks a stern word of warning to keep His people far from idolatry, but He also speaks a word of profound comfort for their offspring who will one day find themselves surrounded by the profound sufferings they brought upon themselves. To them, God is saying, “Remember, I told you this would happen. And so, don’t despair. Don’t think I’ve changed my mind about you. Don’t think I ran out of love for you a few generations ago. Long before you broke yourselves to pieces, I was planning to bind you up with my mercy.”
So when you find yourself surrounded by unimaginable sorrow, remember that there is no sorrow unimaginable to God. He knew every affliction we would face long before we faced it. And when He disciplines us with suffering born from our sin, He does so not like a raging king seeking the slaughter of His enemies, but as a loving Father teaching His children not to run away from Him. Before the universe was created, your Father in heaven planned to redeem you through the blood of His Son. Long before you began your sinful existence, God was planning to lift you up into eternal bliss. God hasn’t changed His mind. He hasn’t grown tired of you. He doesn’t love you less than He loved the generations before you. He let you feel the weight of suffering so you would cry out for Him to do what He was always going to do. And He’s done it. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, through your baptism into His name, He has given you eternal life and eternal victory over the sorrows of this world.