February 18 | Daily Devotion

February 18 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.” ~Leviticus 26:3-4

God promised to bless the worshipping community for obedience, but disobedience earned them punishment. Biblical scholars debate whether ancient promises and warnings like those found in Leviticus 26 can be applied to modern-day nations, but I think not. Israel was unique in that it was both a worshipping community and a nation. There is nothing like it on earth today. Even the United States and Canada, nations founded by religious people, are secular republics protecting religious diversity. Neither America nor Canada has a covenant with the Lord, but rather each has a constitution for the people.

I think the promises and warnings must extend primarily to the people of God, the population of worshippers within the nations of the world. If we obey God’s laws, we can expect to enjoy His blessing upon our lives. Blessed obedience includes putting God first, worshipping nothing in His stead, and respecting Him in every way, even in speech, admonitions we’ve seen before in the form of commandments. However, obedience isn’t just about keeping the rules; it’s a matter of loving God and loving each other. Obeying God’s rules means honoring father and mother, respecting human life, and protecting marriage covenants because we are people who show love to others. It means not stealing from others, harming reputations, or coveting what doesn’t belong to us because we desire good for those we know. The rules, like those summarized in the Ten Commandments, are meant to guide actions born out of heartfelt devotion and worship.

So, for example, obedient followers keep the Sabbath, that is, they set aside time for worship and rest, but they do so because they desire to honor God and not because the law demands it of them. This is where the ancient religious leaders got so off-course. They often obeyed the rules but forgot the whole point behind them! The Sabbath was never intended to be a chore or a bore. It was a day to worship God and enjoy the blessing of food, family, and friends, but the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were too busy “keeping” the Sabbath to enjoy it (Mk. 2:23-27)!

Perfection in obedience is not required (a good thing, too). There is grace for people who mess up. Repentance and a return to doing right in the Lord’s sight also yields blessing (Lev. 26:40-41).[1] The general application is this: when God-worshippers follow God’s ways they experience His blessing.

A Note on Leviticus 27: This chapter covers basic laws on redeeming vows and giving tithes to the Lord. While the tithe was required, vows were voluntary offerings promised to God (thus the term vow), perhaps because of His blessing in a time of need. If a vow was made to give a son to the Lord’s work or to give land to the place of worship, one could give the value of the person or property instead. That is, the person or property could be redeemed. The take-away for modern audiences is this: worship is not a private matter of the heart; it is expressed in everyday life.

[1] Conversely, stubbornly persisting in sin after experiencing God discipline meant being subjected to further discipline.

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.