January 31 | Daily Devotion

January 31 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua:   a complete reading of the passage  

Lectio Semi-continua:   a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

Today’s Old Testament reading can feel dull.  It’s kind of like reading blueprints, and who enjoys doing that?   (Other than architects.)   But there is artistry and splendor to be found in this particular blueprint.   Imagine that you are taking a tour of a beautiful place of worship.   Worship is so important to God’s people that they aren’t waiting until they get to the land of promise to erect a dedicated space for it.   They are going through all the trouble of building a beautiful place they can move with them!  I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of the most impressive sacred buildings in the world: Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Westminster in London, the Vatican in Rome, and St. Mark’s in Venice.   There is just something about beauty that makes us want to ponder God, whether it’s an outdoor sunset or an indoor sanctuary.

If you understand this, then you will appreciate why God wanted His worshippers to create a beautiful place for gathering.   It was skillfully designed, aesthetically pleasing, exquisitely furnished, and it even engaged the senses (scented perfume, finally crafted oil lamps, nicely dressed priests).   Some have argued (wrongly, I think) that since we are no longer “Old Testament people” we should ignore Old Testament passages like these.   While I agree that much changed with the coming of Jesus (we no longer need to offer sacrifices, for example), even our Lord never intended for us to throw out the Book He loved.   In fact, today’s New Testament reading shows Jesus coming to the temple to pray!   And He’s mad because they have turned the place of worship into a flea market for shysters (Matt. 21:12-17)!

I think that one lesson that can be drawn from today’s reading is this: God loves beauty because it says something about Him.   He wants His people to enjoy beauty, and when they do, He wants them to think about Him and worship.   I believe God is delighted when we take beauty seriously.   In our lives.   In our communities.   And, yes, even in our churches.   (It is interesting that even churches in developing-world countries find some way to create beauty in their places of worship.)   And just like Jesus, it should anger us when people mar God’s beauty and pervert His purposes.   Look around you, take in the beauty, and worship the One who created everything!   Oh, what a God we worship!

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the Senior Pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.