December 15 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins.” ~Amos 5:11-12

OLD TESTAMENT

The prophet continues his tirade against the lavish lifestyle of his people, and he’s getting into the kind inflammatory detail that will get a preacher into trouble! The housewives of Judah earn the moniker, “the cows of Bashan” because they waste time and money on their own pleasures and even boss their husbands around—“Brings us some drinks!” (Amos 4:1).

The people—male and female alike—have enough money and time for entertaining themselves with music and other hobbies. They love to eat and drink and party (Amos 5:5-7). However, God is upset over the condition of their hearts. So grieved in fact that even when they do gather for worship, He is not comforted. Quite the opposite. “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies” (Amos 5:21). God hates every minute of it. To Him, it is a big charade. They love their homes and food and drink and parties more than they love God.

When it comes to both things and pleasure, it is important to strike the right balance. God is not opposed to such things. He is in fact the GIVER of such things.  However, the many warnings in Scripture regarding the dangers associated with blessing are much needed in our modern culture. When we fall in love with the blessing, we rob glory from the Blesser!

How about you? Do you love the Blesser more than the blessing? If your answer is yes, upon what basis are you making your claim? How is love and devotion to God, above all things and all people, evident in your life? Your worship? Your giving? Your witnessing? Your praying? Your serving? When one is in love with another, it’s almost impossible to hide it. If you are in truly in love with God, this will be evident—both to you and to others. Think about it.

NEW TESTAMENT

While scholars debate the timing of events found in this chapter, I side with those who see Revelation 6 as an unfolding drama of human history over which Christ is sovereign. There is “conquest” as nation rises against nation; there are wars and rumors of war; there are famines and natural disasters; and there is persecution and martyrdom.

We have been living in this period for nearly 2,000 years (see Mark 13 for a near verbatim exposition of these unfolding events). The opening of the sixth seal appears to be yet to come, even from our perspective. This is the period of great tribulation.

John is giving the churches a heads up. Things will get bad, and in some places, things will be worse than others. At the very end, things will get really bad (the great tribulation), but stay faithful. Stay true. Persevere. The saints will be rewarded and reign with Christ, the sovereign One, on the new earth.


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.