March 11 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“…for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” ~Deuteronomy 14:2

The book of Deuteronomy lives up to its name as Moses continues to “repeat the Law.” The people are to follow food laws that remind them of God’s purity and their own distinctiveness among nations. They are to tithe from their income and to use a portion of the tithe for an annual festival in celebration of God’s provision. They are to practice generosity with their resources and to help those in the community who are in need. Measures are in place to aid those who endure serious financial setbacks, whether due to adverse circumstances or their own poor choices. (There is both justice and mercy in the Law of Moses.) Also household employees, servants, are to be treated kindly and generously. And as we have already seen, the people are to stop weekly for rest and worship and to observe times of feasting and fasting throughout the year.

While much has changed since the first worshipping community was saved out of Egypt, many of our modern church practices are informed by their customs. If we are doing what God calls us to do as members of a community, then we give a portion of our income to God, we show generosity to the poor, we treat staff with fairness, we help people get back on their feet after a financial difficulty, and we make time for celebration and worship. The food laws no longer apply, but there is good reason for that. The early church lifted the dietary restrictions because they were only temporary testaments to the distinctiveness of Israel (1 Cor. 10:27). In removing the restrictions, God declared that the gospel was for every culture (see especially Acts 10).

The other laws repeated by Moses foreshadow practices that are still very much in use in the Christian community. These ancient customs remain important for the modern worshipper because they are rooted in the most important law of all: Love the Lord your God with your entire being (Deut. 6:4-5). And yes, we need to be reminded of how important these habits are because, just like Israel, we tend to forget. And when we abandon His prescribed practices, we may very soon abandon the God we love.

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.