October 5 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.” ~Isaiah 31:1

OLD TESTAMENT

In today’s Old Testament reading, the prophet focuses on the near future, specifically the ruin of Judah (the southern kingdom). Some portions of the kingdom will be passed over so the destruction will not be complete (Is. 31:5). However, the people’s way of life is about to change. The complacent women of the city, who waste their lives drinking, gossiping, and shopping, will see their worlds rocked! The houses of merriment (drinking establishments) will empty, the royal family will flee, and the town square will be a ghost town. God is about to judge the land.

Their sin isn’t exactly a secret. Isaiah has decried their ways at the top of his lungs more than once, and he does so again. Their religion is faithless and their hearts loveless. Their willful disobedience is ceaseless. Sure, they’ve heard the prophecies of their demise, but they put little stock in them. They’ve cut a deal with Egypt for horses and chariots (Is. 31:1-2). That’s all the help they need to defeat oncoming enemies.

Do not mistake the prophet’s warning. He is not condemning the use of horses and chariots or questioning the advisability of relying on allies in time of need. (I have heard this misinterpretation trotted out on more than one occasion.) Preparing for the day of battle makes good sense. However, the wise know and acknowledge the source of protection and safety— the Lord (Prov. 21:31). He is the most important ally.

Is God working in some area of your life? Is it greed or materialism or sexual idolatry or drunkenness? Hear His prophet and turn to Him. You will find protection with the God who loves you.

NEW TESTAMENT

Paul is in jail for preaching the gospel. You would think that every other minister of the gospel would be up in arms. What an outrage! But, no. Some preachers seize an opportunity to bash Paul and thereby gain a following. Paul’s a good guy, but he doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. The guy is always in trouble. Every time you turn around, there he is in jail again. That’s no way to do ministry. These preachers are just plain jealous! Paul has quite a following, and these guys would like some of that popularity for themselves.

Paul’s response to their posturing tells us a lot about his heart. He didn’t care. The gospel isn’t about him; it is about Jesus. If some preacher has it in for Paul, but he’s preaching the gospel, then Paul figures at least the gospel of salvation is being preached! Not that the backbiting didn’t hurt. Sure, it did. It’s not as though he wanted to stay in jail either. (He makes it clear he wants out!) But he rejoices that the gospel continues to spread.

I have a simple rule of thumb for how I treat other ministers. If they are preaching the gospel, I want to rejoice. I may not agree with everything they do or say, I may not even like their motives, but I will celebrate (to the best of my ability) that the good news of Jesus is going out. So if the church across town is bringing people into the kingdom, rejoice! Even if they say bad things about your church! In fact, find a way to encourage them in their efforts. What matters is that the gospel is being preached. In time, God will reward all of us for our faithfulness to Him.


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.