March 31 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel…” ~Judges 3:7-8

These are days of apostasy and cowardice among the people of God. The worshipping community has abandoned the Lord so He responds by subjecting them to pagan kings. Their conquerors suspend Israel’s sovereignty, require the people to pay taxes, and limit freedoms. When the people repent of their wicked ways, God raises up a hero (a judge or military leader) to come and rescue them. And then the cycle repeats: sin, subjugation (discipline), repentance, and rescue over and over throughout the book of Judges.

Heroes are hard to come by when people (a nation, a community) are in a period of moral decline. Even Barak, the military leader raised up to deliver the people in today’s reading, is reluctant to fight the battle God ordains for him (Judg. 4:8-9). He goes but only when the conditions are just so. Barak is more concerned about being on the winning side than being on the right side. And he isn’t the only one who hesitates over God’s commands. Some of the Israelite cities, Meroz, for example, decide not to join the fight at all (Judg. 5:23).

But all is not lost; heroes still stand by the grace of God. Ehud-the-Left-Handed risks his life by requesting a private audience with a powerful king and then disemboweling the royal highness as he relaxes in his summer room. Jael, the wife of an Israelite leader, proves to be the kindest woman who ever killed a man. She feigns hospitality to her enemy, tucks him in bed, and brings him warm milk. Then she drives a tent peg through his temple. These exploits are recounted with flair because they highlight the heroic feats of a few. Even in dark times, God raises up heroes, be they warriors or housewives.

We could use a few heroes in this modern day. We live in a world where people give in to the latest public opinion poll, especially when it is cited as “evidence” that something must be true. (All too often, what a poll reveals is how many people believe a falsehood.) A majority agreeing on a thing doesn’t make it right, wise, or just. Every generation needs men and women who say, “I will be a person of conviction and faith in my world.” That doesn’t mean that we become thoughtless fanatics needlessly imperiling ourselves or others. Ehud and Jael were courageous and also crafty! But we could use heroes who are willing to stand and be counted as people of God. Maybe you can be one. We need warriors and housewives, scholars and students, leaders and laymen.

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.