January 14 | Daily Devotion

If you plan to read every verse of Scripture this year, use the  Lectio Continua (continuous reading) passages. The Lectio Semi-continua (shorter reading) is an abbreviated selection of verses from the day’s passages. Lectio Divina (divine reading) is Pastor Lionel Young’s commentary on the daily readings. See the Resources page on the Lectio Divina website for additional study helps.

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina (meditation on the text)

“Because their sister Dinah had been defiled, Jacob’s sons replied deceitfully as they spoke to Shechem and his father Hamor.” ~Genesis 34:13

God keeps his promise to Jacob (aka Israel) and protects him from the revenge he fears from his brother Esau. God has evidently done a work in Esau’s heart, for when Jacob sees his brother, he proclaims, “To see your face is like seeing the face of God” (Gen. 33:10). The two men part in peace, and Jacob settles in the land of Shechem.

Esau’s reaction to the injustice done to him by his brother, to forgive and move toward reconciliation, stands in sharp contrast to Jacob’s own response and that of his sons when they face an unspeakable act of treachery. The son of the ruler of Shechem took Jacob’s daughter Dinah and violated her. Jacob plays it cool, evidently trying to navigate through this problem successfully. However, Jacob’s sons (Dinah’s brothers), are absolutely furious (Gen. 34:7). While Jacob ponders, the brothers plot. They feign a peaceful solution, but exact their revenge through a deceitful scheme that leaves every man in Shechem dead and the hands of Jacob’s sons stained with blood.

Injustice will come our way. How then should God’s people live out their lives in an unjust world? Jacob takes a passive approach to the whole episode. He wants to smooth things over as best he can so that life can get back to normal (Gen. 34:30). After all, he’s struggled to get to where he is; why upset the good thing he’s got going in this nice little town? However, his let’s-hope-the-problem-goes-away approach backfires because his sons are out for blood.

When we (or those we love) have been wronged, we must not ignore injustice. (Unless it’s a small infraction, in which case see Proverbs 12:16.) Neither should we exact revenge. To sin, even in anger, is still to sin (Eph. 4:26). Scripture doesn’t call us to be either blind or reactionary. In fact, the call is rather more uncomfortable than either of those responses. We are to confront injustice with the goal of reconciliation (Matt. 18:15-20), to work toward peaceful solutions (Matt. 5:9), and, after we have done all we can to be at peace, to leave the matter of final justice in God’s hands (Rom. 12:17-21). Ironically, in this sad tale, it is Haman, the city ruler and father of the perpetrator, who comes closest to finding a peaceful solution (Gen. 34:8-10).

God’s ways are not easy, but compared to doing things our own way, “[His] burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).

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.