October 18 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” ~Isaiah 65:1

OLD TESTAMENT

God initiated the relationship with His people when He called Abraham out of Ur (Mesopotamia) and his descendants out of Egypt. He revealed Himself to those who did not ask for Him and was found by those who were not seeking Him (Is. 65:1). That is the sweet, mysterious doctrine of sovereign grace. Yet, God’s people became stubborn, refused to hear His prophets, and neglected to heed His word.

Isaiah confronts God’s people because they have embraced the religions of the surrounding cultures. What modern hearers have to understand is that there was a certain beauty in pagan cultures. We have to appreciate the seductive nature of these cultures and their attractiveness to outsiders. (There is a reason Sodom was such an appealing place to Lot’s family. It was a beautiful city.) As the people of Israel and Judah adopt the habits and practices of their neighbors, they build fine homes and ignore the plight of the poor. As the prophet describes in chapter 65, verses 3 and 4, the people sit in their beautifully landscaped gardens imbibing mixed drinks and eating roasted meats as incense rises from the brick fire pit. After dinner they entertain themselves by lighting candles and communing with the spirits of the dead. They have abandoned the place of worship and the God of all creation. Even worse, they go about their lives with a smug sense of self-worth—I’m better than you (Is. 65:5).

However, outward trappings of beauty and the allure of self-fulfillment don’t fool the prophet. He sees the insular world God’s people have created for what it is, and he uses crass language to describe their reality. They are sitting among graves and eating the flesh of pigs. God can’t stand the smell of it all, and He will judge His people (Is. 65:5). As always in Isaiah’s book, there is a note of hope and a reminder of the restoration that is to come. God will not judge all of His people. Though the vineyard is a loss, there are a few grapes worth saving (Is. 65:8). Those who trust in God and serve Him will be part of a New Jerusalem.

The restoration to which Isaiah refers began in 539 BC when God returned a remnant of His people to Jerusalem to rebuild. It began then and there, but it is still unfolding. Even now. Isaiah speaks of a time of health and prosperity, and the disciple John takes up where he leaves off. In Revelation 21, John explains that when the prophet’s vision is complete, there will be NO death. We will live forever in God’s kingdom. Imagine what our homes will be like. Imagine the view out the kitchen window overlooking the vineyard. Imagine taking a walk with friends and watching animals play in the wild, restored beauty of God’s National Park. National Geographic never explored wonders this incredible.

Even now God is sending out missionaries “to gather the nations and tongues” from all over the world to worship Him. Those who spread the “good news” (Is. 61:1) with neighbors near and far are participating in this epic unfolding, this grand drama. There is nothing more exciting in the world!

NEW TESTAMENT

We often speak of God’s love but seldom mention His justice. That’s unfortunate because the doctrine of God’s justice can be most comforting, especially if you have been wronged. We often warn people against getting even; but, as I have said and written many times, we need to tell people, “You don’t have to get even because God will.” This is Paul’s encouragement to the church at Thessalonica. “God is just: He will pay back those who trouble you” (2 Thes. 1:6). Sometimes God takes care of matters right away. Sometimes He waits a while. However, when His kingdom comes, He will right all wrongs. Let these words comfort you if you have been wronged. Life isn’t always fair but God always is! God is just!


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.