December 11 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” ~Hosea 10:12

OLD TESTAMENT

Hosea is preaching against the sins of the northern kingdom in a poetic style common to his time. Both the content and the delivery method were important. He uses the word “Ephraim” as a metonymy, a kind of word association wherein a part is used to identify a whole in the same way that we use Hollywood to refer to the U.S. film industry or D. C. to the U. S. government. Ephraim is most likely where the capital city of the northern kingdom was located. As such, it was the cultural and political center of the kingdom.

The northern kingdom’s sin is described as “prostitution,” again a poetic reference to unfaithfulness. We are given insight into the cause of their sin in Hosea 10:1: “As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones.” God has blessed the people with a beautiful land as He had promised, but rather than worshipping the Blesser, their hearts fall in love with the blessing! They are committing “adultery.” God brought them to the dance, but they choose to dance with the devil.

There is nothing wrong with the people enjoying grain, new wine, oil, silver, and gold (Hos. 2:8). After all, God Himself gave them the land that flows with all these things. However, their failure to acknowledge God as the source of all these things means that they also fail to worship Him from the heart; they fail to love Him supremely; and they fail to love their neighbor. Let us recall once again the words of Augustine: “For there is indeed beauty in physical objects; in gold, in silver, in all things. Even the life we live here has its own charm. . . Human friendship too is sweet. . . . But all such things may be occasions for sin, when we incline towards them more than we ought. It is true that these lesser things have their delight. But in striving after these things, we must not depart from you, nor stray from the path of your law” (Augustine, Confessions, Book II, emphasis mine).

If we have strayed, let us seek His forgiveness. Let us break up the fallow ground of our hearts and seek the Lord’s blessing once again. Let us sow righteousness and reap a harvest of unfailing love (Hosea 10:12). It’s not too late.

NEW TESTAMENT

Revelation was penned on the island of Patmos, a small island in the Aegean just off the coast of Turkey. John writes to the nearby churches of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), perhaps because these particular seven churches are in a region where he has the greatest influence.

A most interesting feature in Revelation 2 and 3 is how each church has its own strengths and weaknesses. However, some churches are more faithful, more fruitful, and more fervent than others. Herein lies the most important interpretive key to understanding the esoteric message of Revelation. It is to these churches that John writes. He calls them to remain true to their first love, to hold on to true doctrine, and to persevere in difficult times. The chapters that follow are a sobering foretelling of the future. There will be times of difficulty, but in the end there will be a new heaven and a new earth. The end is intended to motivate the churches to remain true.


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.