March 2 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

On [the day set aside by God] hold a sacred assembly and do no work.
~Numbers 28:18, 26; 29:1, 7, 12

Today’s reading repeats much of what the Israelites had already heard about their worship calendar, a fact that should make modern readers pay more attention to the passage rather than less. “We need to be reminded more than we need to be instructed,” C.S. Lewis noted many millennia later. Even the events of Mark 9 demonstrate how much the disciples struggled to grasp Jesus’ faith lessons on the first go (or the second or third or fourth, etc.). Sometimes we can be so obtuse!

God repeats Himself to the Israelites so that His people will not forget, and the review is intentionally timed. A new generation of worshippers is standing on the border of the land of promise, and their God wants to ensure that they make Him a priority throughout the year. The Israelite’s God-centered calendar gives their lives balance. Each week has a rhythm of work, rest, and worship. And herein lies the lesson for modern peoples.

From the beginning, when God took up the work of creating and made man in His image, labor has been part of His plan (Gen. 1:26-28). Work was (and is) the way people care for creation, serve their fellow human beings, and glorify God by making the world a better place. (Theologians have given this concept a title, the Creation Mandate).  But God also set aside time to rest (Gen. 2:2-3), and in Israel, God codifies rest as a requirement. The special days and weeks built into the Israelite calendar gave the community pause to celebrate God’s current provision or to remember His past faithfulness.

The ancient worshipping community took a revolutionary approach to scheduling; everything was arranged around God. I sometimes think that, in many parts of the world today (especially the West), God is squeezed rather awkwardly into already busy lives. We schedule everything else and then try to find a little time for God.  I don’t want to be legalistic in the application of this passage, but neither do I want to ignore the possible implications.  We must make time for God in our lives.
Is your life characterized by balance?
Is working and worshipping, feasting and fasting woven into the rhythm of your year?
Do you work hard as unto the Lord in your current vocation thereby making the world a better place?
Do you stop at least weekly to rest, worship, and seek renewal, to “cease being God” as theologian Marva Dawn puts it?
Do you set aside time during the year to contemplate, perhaps even to fast and reevaluate or to feast and celebrate?
Perhaps you need to take some time to rethink both your schedule and the true purpose of your life so that “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” is reflected in your calendar.

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.