October 19 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” ~Jeremiah 1:10

OLD TESTAMENT

Isaiah and Jeremiah were not contemporaries. Isaiah’s ministry began around 740 BC (before the fall of the northern kingdom) while Jeremiah went to work after Isaiah’s death and preached during the decades leading up to the fall of the southern kingdom in 586 BC to Babylon. Though the two prophets did not live at the same time, they often preached on the same themes and for good reason. God’s people continued to turn from the Lord in spite of His ongoing discipline.

Jeremiah is perhaps the most animated of the prophets and has since earned the moniker, “the weeping prophet.” His emotional tirades against the sins of the people made him unpopular (and earned him jail time). The prophet didn’t preach all doom and gloom, but he did hove in that direction. In fact, the English word jeremiad, referring to a book, poem, or speech that laments the evils of society, is derived from his name because of his habits as an orator.

Jeremiah has an unflattering and difficult job. God tells him that his ministry will be negative and that no one will listen to his preaching. He has a truly Sisyphean task! Jeremiah’s ministry is to “tear down, destroy and overthrow,” as well as “build” and “plant” (Jer. 1:10). Let’s face it though, the emphasis tends to be on destruction. Not only have God’s people turned away from Him to serve other gods, they don’t even see what they’re doing as sin. “Yet in spite of this you say, ‘I am innocent; he is not angry with me’” (Jer. 2:34-35). So, Jeremiah is constantly standing up, preaching the Word with colorful passion and creative energy, but no one listens! Yet he must continue because this is his calling. During his ministry, he will see some good things happen, but for the most part, he stands witness to the nation spiraling into decline. He is in jail when Judah finally falls.

While our devotional journey through this book will focus mainly on Jeremiah’s message, we must pause here and let ourselves be inspired by one of God’s faithful men. Are we willing to do what God calls us to do even when we are not seeing the result that we want? Sure, we all want to succeed, but in the end, true success is doing what God requires. Jeremiah was good at what he did. His sermons were marked by emotion and creativity, as we will see. He preached the truth. However, the results were less than satisfying. Even so, God was pleased with him.

I leave you with a reflection from C. S. Lewis that I hope will bless you as much as it has blessed me. “It is not your business to succeed (no one can be sure of that) but to do right: when you have done so, the rest lies with God” (Letters of C. S. Lewis).

NEW TESTAMENT

Paul assures the Christians of Thessalonica that they have not missed the coming of Christ. Apparently, there is a rumor spreading that Jesus had already returned and the church had missed Him! It is a false report, perhaps spread by those who are trying to discourage the church.

Paul explains that before Jesus comes there will be a great apostasy (a mass falling away from the faith). This decline will be led by a grandiose leader, who is referred to here as “the man of sin” but is known in other portions of Scripture as the Antichrist. Paul’s description of this event suggests that it will be so wide-ranging that we won’t be able to miss it. (Which means that there is no point in trying to pinpoint the Antichrist’s identity with silly modern-day references.)

The point here isn’t so much in the details of the times leading up to Christ’s return, but that He is yet to return. Our hope is still to come, and we have much to rejoice in even now. So we must stay faithful to what God has called us to do right now (this is true success) while we wait for the return of Christ (2 Thes. 2:15).


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.