November 11 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old” ~Lamentations 5:21

OLD TESTAMENT

The poet pours out his heart to God seeking restoration. The setting of this poem is most likely sometime after 586 BC, after the final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. Some of the poorest of the people remain in the land (along with Jeremiah), but the pastors are gone, the government is shut down, and the palace is a garrison for foreign soldiers. “[T]he young men have stopped their music,” their “dancing has been turned into mourning,” and jackals roam the streets (Lam. 5:14-15). Jerusalem is a glorified ghetto, the laughingstock of her enemies. If there is any hope to be found, it isn’t in her reduced circumstances.

Yet there is reason to hope even in this dark time. Things look pretty grim, to be honest, but the poet finds hope in the Sovereign of the Circumstances. “Who can speak and make it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?” (Lam. 3:37-38). God is in control, even during this difficult time, and He is using affliction to bring the people back to Him. Just as He has brought calamity, so too can He bring good.

The poet finds his hope in God. He knows that God will show mercy in time and so He asks for it, even charging his people to examine themselves and repent to hasten that day. He clings to what he knows about God. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning” (Lam. 3:22-23). Men are not cast off forever, he writes in Lamentations 3:32. Because He loves His people so much, He tempers the grief he brings with compassion.

Do not neglect this truth when life is hard or forgot how great is His unfailing love (Lam. 3:32). There is reason to hope because of who God is. The night closes in for a while, but the sun will rise.

NEW TESTAMENT

A new day has dawned, the preacher tells Israel. The old agreement God had with His people—in which they fulfilled all the particulars of the sacrificial system—well, that agreement has been replaced with a new and better one. It’s not that people were “saved” by offering sacrifices and doing good works. They were saved by faith just as Abraham was saved by faith. The sacrifices were an expression of that faith, and the law guided them toward a right relationship with God. However, Christ replaced the old sacrifices, and the law of God is inscribed on our hearts by His Spirit. The preacher to the Hebrews is telling his hearers not to go back to a religion that binds them (even modern legalism has its ancient equivalent), but to cling to Christ, the One who frees His followers to truly live out the good life (see also Galatians 3).


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.