November 9 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“…Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.” ~Jeremiah 51:5

OLD TESTAMENT

The final two chapters of Jeremiah provide additional material, very much like an appendix. This appendix includes the full text of one of Jeremiah’s sermons against Babylon and a detailed accounting of the final fall of Judah (which we have already witnessed).

Judah was in a state of political flux between the years 609 and 581 BC as first Egypt and then Babylon invade the nation. Verses 28-30 in chapter 52 lists exiles from three different rebellions (in 597, 586, and 581 successively). The people’s determined deafness to Jeremiah’s message of conciliation and repentance led to a series of uprisings against Babylon. Babylon responded by siphoning the people off the land little by little. Judah was devastated in the 586 put down of their insurrection and all but finished off in 581.

God was so patient with His people. He brought warning after warning. He brought measured discipline. But the people refused to listen. They refused to make the worship of God a priority in their lives and worshipped false gods instead. They refused to care for the widow and orphan and those in need. They refused to be generous with the blessings God had given them. They committed all kinds of immorality. And they treated the prophets of God with contempt. As a result, the people were disciplined, their treasures plundered, and their land left desolate. But there is a note of hope as the king is treated kindly in exile.

It is never too late. We must turn to the Lord now while we can. We must hear His Word and love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind. He wants to show us mercy, even if we have rebelled against Him.

NEW TESTAMENT

Hebrews 6 is one of the most disputed chapters in all of Scripture. Biblical scholars debate whether it teaches that people can lose their salvation. I find myself among those who have a hard time conceding that salvation is something that can be lost by man’s deeds. Salvation is the gift of God. I believe that He who began this good work in us will carry it to the day of completion (Phil. 1:6). However, I also believe that the evidence of a person’s salvation is that he or she continues in the faith.  If God has saved a person—if His spirit is at work—there will be perseverance (not perfection).

The passage is a warning to those who are “hearers” rather than “communicants.” I borrow this helpful distinction from Christian history, from a time when communicant referred to those who were integrated members of the church. “Hearers” come to church, are enlightened by the things of God, get a taste of heavenly things, and share in some of the blessings of the church. They even find some delight in the Word of God and the hope of the future, but they aren’t all in! They haven’t become “communicants”—repentant, converted, Christ-following participants in the life of the body. I think the preacher is telling us that when people taste God’s goodness for a while, and decide they don’t want it, they are nearly impossible to win back. It’s easier to witness to people who have never tasted.

The caution to those who are just sitting in the pew is that they need to become committed, converted, Christ-following communicants, or they may lose their taste for these things and fall away never to return.


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.