November 4 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Now Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had given these orders about Jeremiah through Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard: ‘Take him and look after him; don’t harm him but do for him whatever he asks.’” ~Jeremiah 39:11-12

OLD TESTAMENT

The king’s officials grow weary of Jeremiah’s preaching yet again. Rather than calling on the people to take up arms against Babylon, the prophet insists upon calling the people to turn from their sins, surrender to God, and give in to the enemy. To shut him up, the officials have Jeremiah tossed in a cistern, a deep well now full of mud. Let him die out of sight and out of mind. However, one of the king’s officials pleads with the king on Jeremiah’s behalf. Ebed-Melech was a Cushite (from Africa), no doubt a respected official who has considerable influence with the king and quite a following in court (he had 30 men with him). His wish is granted.

Not only does the king spare Jeremiah, he also sends for him in secret to get his advice. Jeremiah was respected because he spoke the truth, even when the truth was unpleasant to hear. His message for the king does not change. Jeremiah encourages him to surrender to Babylon and find the mercy of God, but the king does not listen. As the city falls, the king flees. He is overtaken and witnesses the murder of his sons before his eyes are put out and he is dragged off to Babylon in shackles. In contrast, Jeremiah’s life is spared by the Babylonians, and he is allowed to remain in Judah, a minister to the small population of people left behind to work the land.

The Lord also rewarded Ebed-Melech for his act of faith in believing Jeremiah’s message and pleading for the prophet’s life. He treated the Lord’s prophet with kindness, even taking care how he lifted him from the muddy cistern so as not to harm him. Faith is believing God’s word and acting upon it. Ebed-Melech trusted in the Lord and so he worked to save Jeremiah’s life (Jer. 39:18). True faith takes action, and faithful action is rewarded by God.

NEW TESTAMENT

The book of Hebrews (the title literally means “to the Hebrews”) is most likely a collection of sermons directed to Jewish Christians. As Christianity grew it also became more Gentile. The demographics of the early church changed rapidly in the first-century, leaving Jewish Christians in the minority (see Acts 11 and 15 for the background to this).

Many Jewish Christians faced social pressure to abandon the faith, but Hebrews is a series of sermons by an unknown author calling them to persevere. The author’s central theme is the person of Christ. Religion is not enough. Believing in God and Abraham and angels will not save. Christ alone saves. He is the God-man. He is the Creator. He is the satisfaction for man’s sins. He is greater than all the prophets and angels of the world. He is the ruler of the universe. Remain committed to Him. That is the message of Hebrews and we will listen to it over the next few days.


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.