Editor’s Note: AMI devotionals from Sept. 28-Oct.2 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
2 King 24:1a, 10-13: In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up,. . . 10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, and the city was besieged. 11 And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to the city while his servants were besieging it, 12 and Jehoiachin the king of Judah gave himself up to the king of Babylon, himself and his mother and his servants and his officials and his palace officials. The king of Babylon took him prisoner in the eighth year of his reign 13 and carried off all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold in the temple of the Lord, which Solomon king of Israel had made, as the Lord had foretold.
When “John,” who was in my youth group many years ago, wanted to speak to me in private, I just assumed that he was having problems with his parents; but I was wrong—he was having problems with me! Dumbfounded by a litany of his accusations, I surprised even myself by refraining from responding to him in anger. Was it because all his charges were groundless? Most of them were—but not everything. What galled me the most was the fact that he wasn’t exactly a model citizen—he frequently ditched school and was into pornography.
The truth is, that while we don’t necessarily mind being corrected by someone deemed wiser and holier, we recoil at the idea of being reprimanded by someone less wise and righteous than us. And that’s what troubled the Israelites upon being told that God had chosen the “ruthless and impetuous” Babylonians (Hab. 1:6), led by its cruel King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BC), to invade and then conquer them as a divine punishment for their idolatry and rebellion. Capturing the sentiment of the bewildered Jews, Prophet Habakkuk cried out to God, saying, “Why are you silent while the wicked (i.e., the Babylonians) swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (v.13).
It is a hard truth to swallow, but God sometimes uses people less righteous than us to correct and rebuke us. How galling it must have been when God, through Prophet Jeremiah, declared, “I will summon . . . my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon . . . and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants” (Jer. 25:9). Of course we need to discern as to what to heed and what to disregard, since what they say is a mixed bag of some truths as well as baseless accusations. But without humility we are liable to throw everything out the window and miss out on an opportunity to grow.
Out of all that John said, one thing that I still remember was that I liked to hear myself talk; I kept it in my heart as a reminder that I ought to speak God’s word instead of mine. Keep your ears open today and perhaps you may hear something useful (as well as painful) to the well-being of your soul.
Father, I magnify your glorious Name. I thank You that You love me enough to use anyone to correct me, so that I do not veer off to do my own thing. Lord, increase my capacity to be humble so that I’ll readily listen to the words of those sent by You to make me more Christ-like.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Thessalonians 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Num. 22:26-32 (ESV): Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.” 30 And the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, “No.” 31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.”
Lk. 19:40: He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Question to Consider
- What must you assume about God making a donkey to speak to an errant prophet?
- It is “understandable” why the prophet wouldn’t listen to a dumb animal. In what sense is that also true for us when someone tries to speak into our lives that isn’t so easy to accept?
- What do you suppose God is saying to you these days, and who is He using to speak to you? Does the fact that God is using this particular person to speak to you make it harder to hear?
- That all other previous, more conventional means to correct him went unheeded; that is, we better listen to God’s correction before God summons a Babylonian-like person (i.e., scary people) or a donkey-like individual (i.e., those who seemingly are below us).
- It is always easier to dismiss people who do not look very impressive on the outside. But one undeniable fact is that throughout church history, God has used people from the margins of the society to challenge those who occupied the center of power (e.g., Luther, Wycliffe, Savonarola, Huss, etc.).
- Personal response.
Think about all the things that you heard today that were directed to you. Then pick out things that didn’t make you feel too good. Take a moment to reflect on why it bothered you: Was it the messenger or the message? What is the Lord saying to you at this moment?