November 20 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth… The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.” ~Ezekiel 23:3-4

OLD TESTAMENT

When Ezekiel set out to enumerate the sins of God’s people, he had plenty to count. God’s chosen ones had indeed strayed far. However, Ezekiel gives an entire sermon, set in parable form, on the people’s sin of lusting after the power of foreign lands.

The story of Oholah (“her tent”) and Oholibah (“my tent in her”) is a parable about the unfaithfulness of both the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. The sexual overtones are meant to reveal the hearts of the people. They “lusted” after the power of Egypt and Assyria and Babylon (Chaldea). They created military and political alliances with the surrounding nations and wholeheartedly imbibed the practices of pagan culture. Indeed, they believed that these foreign alliances would bring them security.

The language of prostitution, adultery, and unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant is frequently used when the prophets want to describe the broken relationship between the Lord and His people. Among other things, it teaches us that God views His relationship with His people as a love relationship. When they fell in love with other things—like power, or money, or false gods—He was hurt, angry, and jealous. The prophet means to conjure up the image of a man who gives his wife everything only to have her leave and start working the streets.

We must remember the words of Augustine: “Great are you, O Lord, and worthy of high praise. You stir us up to take delight in your praise; for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless till it finds its rest in you” (Confessions, 1.1.1). We are created to love God and to delight in praising Him. When our hearts “lust” after other things—power, money, popularity, pleasure—we are cheating on our Lover. When we start working the streets with “foreign lovers,” we will never find satisfaction. Only a life directed toward Him can truly satisfy us.

NEW TESTAMENT

The church is supposed to be a place where everyone is accepted. The rich aren’t to be seated in a special section away from the rest of the congregation. They need the Word, the sacraments, and the discipline of the church community like everyone else. They are part of the community so they worship with everyone else, including the poor. Pastors and churches must treat everyone with love and respect as members of the body of Christ—public officials, plumbers, professors, painters, postal workers, and paramedics.

Moreover, as a community with real faith, we are to work out our faith. If our faith is real, we won’t close our eyes to the needs of the world around us or to the needs in our midst. When, for example, we see orphans and widows struggling, we will do something about it (see James 1:27). When someone is hungry or cold, we will act. That’s what people of faith do. They act.


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.