September 28 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The Lord will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob.” ~Isaiah 14:1

OLD TESTAMENT

The enemies of God’s people are coming, and the Israelites know it. The great Assyrian Empire in the north with its capital at Babylon (thus their sometimes moniker, “the Babylonians”) will eventually wreak havoc on God’s people. The Edomites to the south will swoop in and pick through the leftovers. The Philistines to the west will gloat and take advantage of the weak position of God’s people.

Believe it or not, this series of sermons was intended to be an encouragement to God’s people: yes, the enemy is coming for you, but he will get what’s coming to him. Imagine that a co-worker spreads gossip about you. The boss calls you both into his office and lets your co-worker have it, ultimately threatening to fire the gossiper if one more word comes out! That’s more or less what’s happening here. Isaiah is addressing God’s people when he suddenly turns and informs their enemies of God’s plans to bring them down. God appointed them to the task of disciplining His people, but they have taken things too far. They have tried to make themselves like the Most High God Himself. They have become proud. (Isaiah 14:12-17 refers to the national pride of Babylon; it is not a poem about Satan, although Babylon’s pride is indeed satanic.)

God will deal with those who wrong His people. This is an important Christian doctrine, and the failure to grasp it is one of the reasons many people wrongly take revenge into their own hands. The Scriptures do not simply tell us that we need to forgive the sins committed against us, they also tell us that God will not forget the pain we have experienced at the hands of others (see Romans 12:17-21 and 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7). Knowing that God will get justice allows me to get on with life.  I don’t need to worry about revenge or retribution. I need to trust that in His time and in His way, He will bring down those who have exalted themselves. Hear the Word, and let it encourage you! Be free to go about your life empty of anger and full of gratitude and gusto.

NEW TESTAMENT

Those who are stuck in their sin are not to be cast out; they are to be helped out! We are sinners living in a sinful world and that means that sometimes we get drawn into sinful patterns and habits (anger, lust, drunkenness, et al). When that happens, we may need help getting loose. The believers Paul calls on to offer that help are those who, with the help of God’s spirit, produce fruit in their life like love, joy, gentleness, kindness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). In the same way that seeing a friend stuck on the side of a muddy road engenders sympathy and a desire to help, we should feel sorry for and reach out to people who are trapped in sin. However, we do need to be careful that we don’t get stuck ourselves. (Sin has a way of pulling us all in.)

We must be a church that restores people who are struggling! When people are stuck, we don’t shake our heads and wag our tongues as we drive by. Instead, we stop and humbly help them. And when they say, “I’m so embarrassed. I’m so sorry,” we respond, “That’s okay, I’ve been stuck too. I’m here to help you get out.” That’s how it should be in the church!


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.