February 17 | Daily Devotion

February 17 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh your if we do not plant or harvest our crops?’ I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years.” ~Leviticus 25:20-21

While we live in different times socially and economically, the underpinning values of Leviticus, in particular chapter 25, are still relevant.

Work is good and so is rest. God works, and from the beginning, He gave His people work to do. But we were not created to work all the time. The Scottish pastor and poet George MacDonald once wrote, “Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness.” The worshipping community was expected to take time off once a week, plus rest on feast days and every seventh year (thus the expression “sabbatical”). Even Jesus took time off from the important tasks of preaching and healing (Mk 1:35-39). God promised that if the Israelites rested from their labor, He would provide more in exchange for less! (See Leviticus 25:21.)   Thereby, He reminded them of an important fact that theologian Marva Dawn communicates to a modern audience: “A great benefit of Sabbath keeping (time for rest and worship) is that we learn to let God take care of us, not by becoming passive and lazy, but in the freedom of giving up our feeble attempts to be God in our own lives.”

Generosity is expected. The Year of Jubilee (Hebrew meaning: “the year the trumpet blows”), observed every fiftieth year, safeguarded the poor. God blessed every family, including the priests, with territory as they entered the land of promise. However, the rights to another piece of property could be acquired for a pro-rated price (based upon the date of the next Year of Jubilee). But the acquisition was a “lease” only, not a permanent sale. The land ultimately belonged to the Lord (Lev. 25:23). Therefore, every generation, territory returned to the original family. Industrious persons could increase their wealth through this system, but wealthy landowners could not leave the poor without hearth and home as they amassed larger and larger amounts of property. (See Isaiah 5:8 for the prophets’ condemnation of this very practice.) If God’s people followed these laws, refusing to take advantage of the poor (by making money off their poverty), God’s blessing would pour out continuously.

God delights in work, rest, and generosity and these are the values that God-worshippers should be known for. We are not to worship our work (or our money) by laboring all the time! And we are to share our resources, money, time, influence, etc., in caring for the less fortunate and contributing to just laws and practices to protect them. There is much to think about in today’s readings and a lot to act on.

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.