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  • Writer's picturePastor Hans Fiene

Matins Devotion: November 27, 2023

“The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib, but Israel does not know. My people do not understand.” So says Isaiah in the opening verses of his book, simple and stark words of condemnation against the people who can’t seem to remember to whom they belong. Even a thoughtless best of burden like an ox knows has no interest in the stranger but runs to the one who feeds and cares for it. Even the stubborn donkey will still recognize the master’s master, knowing this is where the one who owns him feeds him and gives him rest. Even the brainless animals can look at the world and know to whom they belong.

But we don’t. The Israelites had the covenant, the Scriptures, the words of Moses, the warnings of the prophets calling them to find peace in the arms of the God who loved them, who fed them and clothed them and cared for them. But God’s people did what simple beasts don’t dare do–they became enthralled with the gods of their neighbors, demons to which they did not belong. They ran after the idols of pleasure and lust, of violence and injustice. And the end result was that God sent those who actually belonged to those foreign gods and idols to destroy them and crush them, to drive them to repentance, to call them home.

And we repeat the idolatry of Israel. God pours out wealth upon us and we can’t figure out where it came from, so we worship the money itself. God pours out health and prosperity among us, and we can’t seem to figure out the source of our comfort, so we make idols of the comfort instead, just as we make idols of our sin. We worship our lust, our greed, our pride, our anger, and bitterness. And what is the end result? Those who don’t know Christ, those who actually do belong to these false gods take over our government, our schools, our entertainment, our culture. They take what we have and tear it down. So in this, let’s hear the call to repentance.

When you see the world falling apart around you, when you can’t even recognize your nation, your people, your own families anymore, repent. Turn your eyes to Christ, the one who has claimed you in the waters of baptism. Have the wisdom of a thoughtless beast and say, “I will return to the one who feeds and clothes me.” Turn your eyes to Him and you will see that, while you may have forgotten Him, Christ never forgot you. He never forgot how He spilled His blood outside Jerusalem to make you His own, to make you a part of what Isaiah calls the city of righteousness. Christ never forgot how you were the greatest treasure He ever bought. So come home to the one who loves you, the one who cherishes you, the one who calls you His own forever.

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