November 10 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger! He has hurled down the splendor of Israel from heaven to earth; he has not remembered his footstool in the day of his anger.” ~Lamentations 2:1

OLD TESTAMENT

We do not know who wrote the book of Lamentations, although traditionally it has been ascribed to Jeremiah. The book, as its name implies, is a series of laments over the fall of the city of Jerusalem, once so beautiful and full of joy. “Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?” (Lam. 2:15). Indeed Jerusalem was a beautiful place. A Babylonian inscription reads: “He who has not seen Jerusalem in her splendor has never seen a desirable city in his life. He who has not seen the Temple in its full construction has never seen a glorious building in his life” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate of the Tabernacle[1]). However, the city of Jerusalem has been repeatedly sacked by enemies and the beauty destroyed. The gates sag. The bustling marketplace is eerily empty but for a few stragglers who rummage for anything useful. The city walls are heaps of rubble.

In Lamentations, several voices share the discourse—the prophet speaks for himself, and sometimes shares God’s words, and also the city speaks. The city weeps and the prophet often has a good cry too (Lam. 1:12ff, 2:11 ff.). Their shared mourning is over the fact that the people were led astray and willingly followed:  “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity” (Lam. 2:14).

While it is certainly wrong to say that all sorrow is caused by sin, it is equally wrong to say that sin is NEVER the cause of sorrow. Sorrow is caused by many things (see the book of Job), and sin is one of those things, which is why we must always be open to God’s Word. We must ask our pastors (prophets) to tell us the truth. We must humble ourselves to accept the discipline of the Lord. God is a merciful and forgiving God, but He does not show mercy and forgiveness to those who don’t see the error of their ways and turn to Him. (More on this in tomorrow’s devotion.)

[1] Cited in Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jerusalem (New York:  Random House, 2011), 15.

NEW TESTAMENT

The arguments of Hebrews 7 can be a bit complicated for non-Jewish readers. Keep in mind that Hebrews is written “to the Hebrews” (Jewish Christians). Some of them were objecting to the idea of Jesus as their priest because Jesus descended from the tribe of Judah rather than the tribe of Levi. The writer creatively argues that there is a scriptural precedent for a non-Levite priest. Melchizadek was a priest-king before the nation of Israel was born. God-worshippers existed even before the arrival of God’s chosen people in the Land of Promise, and they brought their offerings (tithes) to priests who were not from Levi. Even Abraham, the father of the nation, had to offer sacrifices without a Levite.

Jesus is kind of like this Melchizadek in that He is a King-Priest. Only He is even greater than all the priests who came before because He sacrificed Himself for all of our sins and through Him all other sacrifices have ended. In the words of the old hymn, “Jesus paid it all!” He is our sacrifice. He is our priest. He is our king.


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.