October 23 | Daily Devotion

October 23 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“…Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross? The Lord said, ‘It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.’” ~Jeremiah 9:12b-13

The prophet weeps over the sin and rebellion fermenting in his homeland. He can hardly bear to see it. Jeremiah is so troubled that he wishes to leave. If only he owned a place far away, out in the wilderness, where he could get away from everything and everyone! (The Hebrew word translated desert is more akin to our English word wilderness. It means “deserted place.”)

Jeremiah is specifically troubled over the fact that while God’s people have received the “sign of circumcision,” a physical reminder that they belong to God, the physical marking penetrates no deeper than the flesh. There is no heart change in response to this symbolic mark of God’s ownership. (Scholars still debate the precise meaning of circumcision, but its significance is not in question.) In this way, God’s people are like the surrounding nations. They practiced circumcision also, and they were not devoted to the Lord either (Jer. 9:25-26).

What God really desires from His people, what He has always desired, is a change of heart. He wants to see kindness, justice, and righteousness, but He gets instead a people determined to do as little as possible to serve Him and as much as possible to serve themselves. They go to church (though not faithfully), give offerings (though not generously), and worship the Lord (though not wholeheartedly). They litter the land with beautiful idols made of silver, gold, and wood wrought by skilled artisans. Deception is commonplace. Employers deceive employees. Government officials lie to the people. Businesses cheat on their taxes. Workers defraud their employers. Children lie to their parents. Ministers fail to preach the truth.

Jeremiah’s woe isn’t recorded only as a history lesson. It’s a vital sermon we all need to hear. We can stand in judgment of these foolish people, tsk loudly, and go on about our day, or we can learn from their mistakes. God values supportive devotion between people; He delights in fairness, equality, and the people who fight for those things; and He desires that His people do the right thing! That is the kind of God He is and the life He calls us to live. We glorify Him by living out these virtues that He loves.

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.