October 17 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” ~Isaiah 64:4

OLD TESTAMENT

God fought His people’s apathy, faithlessness, and hardness of heart for a long time, but then He released them to do their own thing. He stopped working in their hearts, and like a parent addressing a willfully errant child, he said (in effect), “If that’s what you want to do, then I won’t get in your way.” Thus Isaiah mourns, “Why, O Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?” (Is. 63:17). Things have gone from bad to worse as the people cast off restraint and God’s Spirit no longer works in their midst. What a sad state of affairs.

The prophet knows that a day is coming when this despised and abandoned people will live in a land called Hephzibah, the land of God’s delight, and Beulah, the married land (Is. 62:4). How he longs for that day to come! He can hardly stand this sad state of affairs. Emotion pulses in his words as he cries out to God to act now: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you” (Is. 64:1). I love his prayer for mercy. “Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord; do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are your people” (Is. 64:9).

Isaiah’s impassioned plea on behalf his people should resonate with us. For all of our talk about “private religion” and “personal faith,” we are a people called to live in community and to affect culture. Yet sin can infect an entire population—a church, an organization, a city, or even a nation—just as it did in Isaiah’s time. Have you noticed that certain communities have a culture all their own? (Paul’s letters to first-century churches serve as ample evidence.) Sin can embed in the cultural fabric of any group of people. The only way to halt its progress is for individuals, like Isaiah and like you and me, to be different and to do what is right. Go to worship when others do not. Care for orphans when others neglect them. Give generously in a greedy world. Follow God’s Word when others do their own thing. Be just people and speak up about injustice. Worship the One True God, and pray for God to show mercy to us all! People who live like that can change a church, change an organization, change a city, and even change a nation. Let’s do it!

NEW TESTAMENT

The Lord is coming! In fact, He will “rend the heavens and come down,” and that’s great news for those who are worshipping Him and are expecting Him (Is. 64:1).    For those who live in darkness, it’s bad news. Jesus will come like a thief in the night, and they will awaken and say, “What just happened?!”

Christ-followers are called to be ready. We should pray each morning for His kingdom to come and live each day with self-control and love and faith. We’ll need help to do that so we should ask for it. Come, Lord Jesus, rend the heavens and set up Your kingdom, but help us to be faithful to You until then!


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.