November 7 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“‘Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant, for I am with you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’” ~Jeremiah 46:28

OLD TESTAMENT

Jeremiah is in Egypt for the final years of his ministry. We have no reliable records of the last years of his life, but presumably he dies in the land of pyramids and palm trees faithfully serving the Lord. What is evident is that he never stopped preaching.

Jeremiah’s knowledge of international affairs and world geography is impressive. He talks about the cities, towns, and rivers of Egypt, Babylon, Phoenicia, and Moab with all the familiarity of a BBC Middle Eastern correspondent. The prophet is passionate, erudite, well informed, and well respected. To understand these final chapters, keep in mind that there are two great superpowers on the world stage. Babylon to the north (modern-day Iraq and Iran) and Egypt to the south (approximating Egypt and Sudan). In between them are less-powerful nations like Israel, Moab (east of Israel across the Jordan), Philistia (west of Israel on the coast), as well as other nations we will read about in the final chapters.

These chapters have to do with God’s widespread displeasure. He is angry over the idolatry (the worship of everything but the true God) that is rampant in all the nations, and He is disappointed by the greed, violence, and immorality He sees everywhere. So God allows the nations to war against one another. Like a mighty game of chess, the superpowers go at each other, watching as smaller nations fall like pawns between two warring kings. Yet, as we discover from reading the book of Jeremiah, God is influencing the outcome of the match. In the end, everyone gets his due. The only pieces left standing are those who remain faithful to Him in all the messiness of this world, whether they are His beloved people or worshippers who have chosen Him over the gods of their homeland (Jer. 48:47).

We are right to borrow from Jeremiah and issue warnings about God’s displeasure over greed, idolatry, and violence. The Scriptures bear witness to the power of sin. It doesn’t just affect individuals; sin has the power to bring moral decay to entire societies (social sin). Make no mistake, God does intervene and bring judgment when He deems it right to do so. When a city, state, or nation (or any collective group of people) begins to experience moral decay, God takes note and judgment in some form may not be far away.

So let us pray for our own nation, our own city, and the organizations we are part of (churches, schools, et al). Let us also do all we can to preserve the land we live in by promoting justice, generosity, and integrity. God would have even spared the nations Jeremiah preaches to, He would have spared even Sodom if only a few righteous people had listened to His messengers.

NEW TESTAMENT

Isn’t it great that Jesus is our priest?! He is not only the sacrifice for our sins (the lamb slain on the altar), but He is also the intercessor for our weaknesses. He goes into God’s presence on our behalf, and He prays for us. He has been tempted in every way, just like us, so He understands our struggles. He certainly isn’t shocked by what we go through! Go ahead and pray. Be honest. Jesus wants to help.


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.