February 3 | Daily Devotion

February 3 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self:
“I will make your descendant as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’
Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” ~Exodus 32:13-14

Moses has been busy on the mountain taking notes on all that God wants His people to do. He comes down to find that the Israelites have gone back to their old ways! Their sin is not in singing or dancing; it is in stubbornly rejecting the one true God. God saves them, God provides for them, God protects them, God promises to bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey, but they ignore all that in favor of a gold statue and a fairytale (Ex. 32:1-4). The people are just plain stubborn. They won’t listen, they are never satisfied, and they constantly put God to the test.

God is so mad, so fed up with their constant straining against Him, that He determines to kill everyone and start over with Moses’ family line. But Moses intervenes. How does he do it? He prays! Theologians call prayers on behalf of another person or persons intercession. Moses asks God to show mercy, “[a]nd the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people” (Ex. 32:14, ESV). I love that! Moses literally talked God out of pouring His wrath on the people He loved. Intercession works. It’s powerful. God is moved by the prayers of a man.

Speaking of intercession, I can’t resist noting how the priestly class is born in this pivotal moment in Israel’s history. The men of the Levite tribe volunteer to help bring order when some of the recalcitrant Israelites refuse to settle down (Ex. 32:25-29). The first ministers were men who were willing to stand up and defend God’s honor. Wow!

The greatest commandment is to love the one and only God in this universe with all your heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37). Nothing else, neither work, nor recreation, nor family, should be given the devotion that God alone deserves. When you know someone has strayed from God and is obstinately following his or her own way, take encouragement from this passage. Pray for your friend or loved one. Your prayers may well protect that person from great harm. You may even save a life! Prayer is indeed powerful.

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.