February 26 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.” ~Numbers 16:47-48

Will God’s people ever learn? Their stubbornness continues to amaze. In today’s reading, a group of Levites, those ministers who had been chosen to assist the priests in their work, decide that Moses and Aaron have too much authority! They gather a rabble and rebel. In spite of Moses pleas, the men persist in mutiny so God strikes them dead. The people react by accusing Moses of killing God’s servants, and still the leader continues to intercede for them. His love is remarkable.

God pours out His anger, threatening to wipe out the whole lot, but Moses pleads for mercy and sends Aaron into the assembly to make atonement for their sins. Moses stands, figuratively, “between the living and the dead” while Aaron takes up that position literally (Num 16:48). The Lord stays His hand.

There are few sins more harmful to the people of God than stubbornness. The insubordinate Levites not only bring harm to themselves, they also bring judgment on their families. There’s no getting around it. And I’m sure you’ve seen similar situations played out in modern life. When a man is a pompous jerk who can’t get along with anyone, his wife and children often suffer as well. I don’t want to be that person, and I doubt that you do either. Yet stubbornness runs in our spiritual family. The first Israelite worshipping community was a stubborn lot, but so too were the first followers of Jesus. His disciples were often hard hearted, unable to let the miracles and message of Jesus sink in (Mk. 6:52).

There is no such thing as a fault-free authority figure. (And even the One who was perfect faced opposition!) In fact, some of them are downright difficult to get along with. However, let’s decide to choose differently than the Levites. Let’s be wise, humble, thankful, and submissive. Let’s do what God has called us to do rather than disturbing the peace and order of the community with insolent insubordination. Let’s recognize the potential harm that such a quest for control can bring on us and those we love. If we are humble and submissive like Jesus, we can trust God to lift us up (see Philippians 2:1-12.) You’re going to need God’s help to do it. Why don’t you pause and ask for that now.

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.