February 11 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” ~Jesus, Matthew 26:27-29

The priests were quite a busy bunch in the ancient worshipping community! In Leviticus 13, they take up the role of local health inspectors. Infected people, contaminated saddles, and mildewed houses were to be examined by the ministers! This is precisely why there were so many priests and why they worked in shifts. The priests were the guardians of God’s holiness, helping the community maintain a vertical focus in their daily lives.

The practices outlined in Leviticus 13 (and throughout chapters 11 through 17) were probably good sanitation measures: isolating infected persons, destroying mildewed goods, etc. However, the theological consensus on these difficult passages is that the primary intent was religious. The Israelites were set apart as worshippers of a holy God, an unblemished and perfect God. Therefore, infected people or those who were unclean in some way separated from the worshipping community until they were pronounced clean again by the priest. Contaminated items (even valuable things) were destroyed if they could not be cleaned.

The real purpose of the clean and unclean instructions was to establish daily religious habitudes that yielded a truly vertical way of thinking focused on the holy God they worshipped. God mandated an ornate tabernacle for worship, but where He most wanted His people to think of Him was in the everyday. In eating and drinking, in giving birth, in dealing with sickness, and in cleaning the house, the Israelites reflected on the holiness of God! When they threw out a favored saddle because it was mildewed, they were reminded of God’s holiness. This God was absent of defect, sickness, disease, sin, or uncleanness of any kind. He was HOLY!

Of course, all of the good acts in the world cannot make us holy (this was the theological error of the New Testament Pharisees). Only God, through Christ, can give us true holiness, which is the message of Communion (Matt. 26:26-30). Having been “cleaned by Christ,” we are called to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:16).

How then can the things we do and see every day cause us to reflect on the holiness of God? As for me, the alarm clock awakes me to another day given by a holy God in spite of my unholiness! A hot cup of coffee prompts me to remember that a holy God has created good things for me to taste. The water of a hot shower recalls the fact that God has cleansed me and called me to live pure! What daily rituals can cause you to think on God’s promises and provisions? See God in the everyday every day. And as you are reminded of His holiness, ask Him to help you live holy too. That’s vertical living, and that’s actually what these passages are all about.

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.