The Fellowship | December 12, 2018
“‘I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.'” — Leviticus 26:32
One of the founding principles of The Fellowship is God’s eternal promise He made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you.” This is one of 18 devotions exploring the concept of blessing, barak, which means, “to increase,” or “bring down Divine abundance.” To learn more, download our complimentary copy of Rabbi Eckstein’s teachings on being a blessing to others.
On May 24, 1626, Peter Minuit purchased a small island off the coast of America. Local Native Americans sold it to him for a load of cloth, beads, and other goods that were worth 60 guilders. Today, it is estimated that 60 guilders is equivalent to as little as $24 or as much as $1,000. Either way, it’s a pretty small price to pay for the island now known as Manhattan. If those Native Americans would have known what Manhattan would become, surely they would have never sold it.
Our Scripture verse from Chapter 26 in the book of Leviticus deals with the unpleasant consequences that would come to the children of Israel if they failed to follow the Word of God. Among the punishments that the Israelites would have to bear would be exile from their land and the complete destruction of their homeland. God told them, “I myself will lay waste the land . . .” God would make His own land desolate as part of the punishment.
Reading the list of punishments isn’t easy – especially since history has shown that these predictions came true. It is hard to feel God’s love when reading these harsh consequences. However, when we look closer, we see His everlasting love shining through. Even when God punishes us, He is loving us. And everything that He causes to happen in our lives – even the hard stuff – is ultimately a blessing.
While God promised to utterly destroy the land of Israel and keep the land desolate while they were in exile, this curse was ultimately one of the greatest blessings that the people of Israel have ever received. As we read on in the verse, we see why this is true: ” . . . so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.”
For over 2,000 years, Israel was not a desirable land. No empire in the world was able to make the land blossom or profitable. Though many tried, Israel would not yield her fruit. And thank God for that! Because had Israel been the blooming and blossoming garden that she is today, there is no way the Jewish people would have been able to return as they have.
Starting in the early 1800s, Jews began to purchase parts of the Holy Land that didn’t cost much at the time, but were priceless to the Jews who bought them.
The lesson for us is that God is always on our side. Even when it seems like our circumstances in life are less than desirable, there is always a hidden blessing. As the psalmist put it: “your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Thank you, God, that everything You do is ultimately for our very best.
Download Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s inspirational booklet, Building Bridges of Blessings, to learn how you can be a blessing to others.