Daily reading for Sunday, December 8, 2013

Reading Plan:
Version:
 

Hosea 10:1-14:9; Jude 1:1-25; Psalms 127:1-5; Proverbs 29:15-17 (Contemporary English Version)

Hosea 10-14

10 You were a healthy vine
    covered with grapes.
But the more grapes you grew,
    the more altars you built;
the better off you became,
the better shrines you set up
    for pagan gods.
You are deceitful and disloyal.
So you will pay
    for your sins,
because the Lord will destroy
    your altars and images.

“We don’t have a king,”
    you will say.
“We don’t fear the Lord.
    And what good are kings?”
Israel, you break treaties
    and don’t keep promises;
you turn justice
    into poisonous weeds
where healthy plants should grow.[a]

All who live in Samaria tremble
with concern
for the idols[b]
    at sinful Bethel.[c]
The idol there was the pride
    of the priests,
but it has been put to shame;
    now everyone will cry.
It will be taken to Assyria
    and given to the great king.
Then Israel will be disgraced
    for worshiping that idol.

Like a twig in a stream,
the king of Samaria
    will be swept away.
The altars at sinful Bethel
will be destroyed
    for causing Israel to sin;
they will be grown over
    with thorns and thistles.
Then everyone will beg
the mountains and hills
    to cover and protect them.

The Lord Promises To Punish Israel

Israel, you have never
stopped sinning[d]
    since that time at Gibeah.[e]
That’s why you
    will be attacked at Gibeah.[f]
10 Your sins have doubled,
    and you are rebellious.
Now I have decided
to send nations to attack
    and put you in chains.

11 Once you were obedient
like a calf
    that loved to thresh grain.
But I will put a harness
    on your powerful neck;
you and Judah must plow
    and cultivate the ground.
12 Plow your fields,
scatter seeds of justice,
    and harvest faithfulness.
Worship me, the Lord,
and I will send my saving power
    down like rain.
13 You have planted evil,
harvested injustice,
and eaten
    the fruit of your lies.
You trusted your own strength
    and your powerful forces.
14 So war will break out,
and your fortresses
    will be destroyed.
Your enemies will do to you
what Shalman[g] did
to the people
    of Beth-Arbel—
mothers and their children
will be beaten to death
    against rocks.
15 Bethel, this will be your fate
    because of your evil.
Israel, at dawn your king
    will be killed.

God’s Love for His People

11 When Israel was a child,
I loved him,
and I called
    my son out of Egypt.
But as the saying goes,
“The more they were called,
    the more they rebelled.”[h]
They never stopped offering
incense and sacrifices
    to the idols of Baal.

I took Israel by the arm
    and taught them to walk.
But they would not admit
that I was the one
    who had healed them.
I led them with kindness
and with love,
    not with ropes.
I held them close to me;[i]
    I bent down to feed them.

But they trusted Egypt
instead of returning to me;
    now Assyria will rule them.
War will visit their cities,
    and their plans will fail.[j]
My people are determined
    to reject me for a god
they think is stronger,
    but he can’t help.[k]

Israel, I can’t let you go.
    I can’t give you up.
How could I possibly destroy you
as I did the towns of Admah
    and Zeboiim?[l]
I just can’t do it.
My feelings for you
    are much too strong.
Israel, I won’t lose my temper
    and destroy you again.
I am the Holy God—
not merely some human,
    and I won’t stay angry.

10 I, the Lord, will roar like a lion,
and my children will return,
    trembling
from the west.
11 They will come back,
fluttering like birds from Egypt
    or like doves from Assyria.
Then I will bring them
back to their homes.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

Israel and Judah Compared

12 Israel is deceitful to me,
    their loyal and holy God;
they surround me with lies,
and Judah worships
    other gods.[m]
12 All day long Israel chases
    wind from the desert;
deceit and violence
    are found everywhere.
Treaties are made with Assyria;
    olive oil is taken to Egypt.

Israel and Judah Condemned

The Lord also brings charges
against the people of Judah,
    the descendants of Jacob.
He will punish them
    for what they have done.
Even before Jacob was born,
    he cheated his brother,[n]
and when he grew up,
    he fought against God.[o]

At Bethel, Jacob wrestled
    with an angel and won;
then with tears in his eyes,
he asked for a blessing,
    and God spoke to us[p] there.
God’s name is the Lord,
    the Lord God All-Powerful.
So return to your God.
Patiently trust him,
    and show love and justice.

Israel, you enjoy cheating
and taking advantage
    of others.
You say to yourself, “I’m rich!
I earned it all on my own,
    without committing a sin.”[q]

The Lord Is Still the God of Israel

Israel, I, the Lord,
am still your God,
    just as I have been
since the time
    you were in Egypt.
Now I will force you
to live in tents once again,
    as you did in the desert.[r]
10 I spoke to the prophets—
    often I spoke in visions.
And so, I will send my prophets
    with messages of doom.
11 Gilead is terribly sinful
    and will end up ruined.
Bulls are sacrificed in Gilgal
    on altars made of stones,
but those stones will be scattered
    in every field.
12 Jacob[s] escaped to Syria[t]
where he tended sheep
    to earn himself a wife.
13 I sent the prophet Moses
to lead Israel from Egypt
    and to keep them safe.
14 Israel, I will make you pay
for your terrible sins
    and for insulting me.

Israel Is Doomed

The Lord said:

13 When your leaders[u] spoke,
everyone in Israel trembled
    and showed great respect.
But you sinned by worshiping Baal,
    and you were destroyed.
Now you continue to sin
    by designing and making
idols of silver
    in the shape of calves.
You are told to sacrifice
to these idols[v]
    yes, even to kiss them.
And so, all of you will vanish
like the mist
or the dew
    of early morning,
or husks of grain in the wind
    or smoke from a chimney.

I, the Lord, have been your God
since the time
    you were in Egypt.
I am the only God you know,
    the only one who can save.
I took care of you
    in a thirsty desert.[w]
I fed you till you were satisfied,
then you became proud
    and forgot about me.
Now I will attack like a lion,
    ambush you like a leopard,
and rip you apart like a bear
    robbed of her cubs.
I will gnaw on your bones,
as though I were a lion
    or some other wild animal.
Israel, you are done for.
    Don’t expect help from me.[x]
10 You wanted a king and rulers.
Where is your king now?
    What cities have rulers?
11 In my anger, I gave you a king;
    in my fury, I took him away.

Israel’s Terrible Fate

The Lord said:

12 Israel, your terrible sins
are written down
    and stored away.
13 You are like a senseless child
who refuses to be born
    at the proper time.
14 Should I, the Lord, rescue you
    from death and the grave?
No! I call death and the grave
to strike you like a plague.
    I refuse to show mercy.

15 No matter how much you prosper
    more than the other tribes,[y]
I, the Lord, will wipe you out,
just as a scorching desert wind
    dries up streams of water.
I will take away
    your precious treasures.
16 Samaria[z] will be punished
    for turning against me.
It will be destroyed in war—
children will be beaten
    against rocks,
and pregnant women
    will be ripped open.

Turn Back to the Lord

14 Israel, return! Come back
to the Lord, your God.
    Sin has made you fall.
Return to the Lord and say,
    “Please forgive our sins.
Accept our good sacrifices
    of praise instead of bulls.[aa]
Assyria can’t save us,
    and chariots can’t help.
So we will no longer worship
    the idols we have made.
Our Lord, you show mercy
    to orphans.”

The Lord Promises To Forgive

Israel, you have rejected me,
    but my anger is gone;
I will heal you and love you
    without limit.
I will be like the dew—
then you will blossom like lilies
    and have roots like a tree.[ab]
Your branches will spread
with the beauty
    of an olive tree
and with the aroma
    of Lebanon Forest.
You will rest in my shade,
    and your grain will grow.
You will blossom
    like a vineyard
and be famous as the wine
    from Lebanon.

Israel, give up your idols!
I will answer your prayers
    and take care of you.[ac]
I am that glorious tree,
    the source of your fruit.[ad]

If you are wise, you will know
    and understand what I mean.
I am the Lord, and I lead you
    along the right path.
If you obey me,
    we will walk together,
but if you are wicked,
    you will stumble.

Footnotes:

  1. 10.4 you turn. . . grow: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 10.5 idols: The Hebrew text has “calves,” referring to the idols made in the shape of calves.
  3. 10.5 sinful Bethel: See the note at 4.15.
  4. 10.9 never stopped sinning: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 10.9 Gibeah: See the note at 9.9.
  6. 10.9 That’s why. . . Gibeah: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  7. 10.14 Shalman: Perhaps a Moabite king, also known as Salamanu.
  8. 11.2 But. . . rebelled: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  9. 11.4 I held. . . to me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  10. 11.6 fail: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 6.
  11. 11.7 help: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 7.
  12. 11.8 Admah and Zeboiim: When the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he also destroyed these two towns (see Deuteronomy 29.23).
  13. 11.12 and Judah worships other gods: Or “but Judah remains faithful.”
  14. 12.3 Jacob. . . cheated. . . brother: In Hebrew “Jacob” sounds like “cheat” and also like “heel.” Jacob grabbed his twin brother Esau by the heel at the time of their birth (see Genesis 25.26). Later he cheated him out of his rights and blessings as the first-born son (see Genesis 25.29-34; 27.1-40).
  15. 12.3 fought against God: See Genesis 32.22-32.
  16. 12.4 us: Hebrew; two ancient translations “him.”
  17. 12.8 without. . . sin: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  18. 12.9 as. . . desert: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text. This probably refers to the forty years of wandering through the desert after leaving Egypt, though it could refer to the “tents” (or “shelters”) in which the Israelites lived during the Festival of Shelters (see 9.5,6).
  19. 12.12 Jacob: His name was later changed to Israel (see Genesis 32.28), and he became the ancestor of the nation by that name.
  20. 12.12 Syria: The Hebrew text has “Aram,” probably referring to northern Syria in the region of Haran.
  21. 13.1 your leaders: The Hebrew text has “Ephraim,” here meaning Mount Ephraim, where the royal palace of Samaria (capital of the northern kingdom of Israel) was located.
  22. 13.2 You are told. . . idols: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  23. 13.5 thirsty desert: The forty years that Israel wandered through the desert, after leaving Egypt.
  24. 13.9 Don’t. . . me: Or “You are against me, the one who helps you.”
  25. 13.15 more. . . tribes: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  26. 13.16 Samaria: The capital of the northern kingdom of Israel.
  27. 14.2 Accept. . . bulls: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  28. 14.5 like a tree: The Hebrew text has “like Lebanon,” probably referring to the famous cedar trees on Mount Lebanon.
  29. 14.8 Israel. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  30. 14.8 I am. . . fruit: This is the only place in the Old Testament where the Lord is compared to a tree. Hosea reminds the people that it is the Lord who is the source of life, rather than the Canaanite gods and goddesses that are worshiped under trees at the local shrines.

Jude 1

From Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.

To all who are chosen and loved by God the Father and are kept safe by Jesus Christ.

I pray that God will greatly bless you with kindness, peace, and love!

False Teachers

My dear friends, I really wanted to write you about God’s saving power at work in our lives. But instead, I must write and ask you to defend the faith that God has once for all given to his people. Some godless people have sneaked in among us and are saying, “God treats us much better than we deserve, and so it is all right to be immoral.” They even deny that we must obey Jesus Christ as our only Master and Lord. But long ago the Scriptures warned that these godless people were doomed.

Don’t forget what happened to those people that the Lord rescued from Egypt. Some of them did not have faith, and he later destroyed them. You also know about the angels[a] who didn’t do their work and left their proper places. God chained them with everlasting chains and is now keeping them in dark pits until the great day of judgment. We should also be warned by what happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah[b] and the nearby towns. Their people became immoral and did all sorts of sexual sins. Then God made an example of them and punished them with eternal fire.

The people I am talking about are behaving just like those dreamers who destroyed their own bodies. They reject all authority and insult angels. Even Michael, the chief angel, didn’t dare to insult the devil, when the two of them were arguing about the body of Moses.[c] All Michael said was, “The Lord will punish you!”

10 But these people insult powers they don’t know anything about. They are like senseless animals that end up getting destroyed, because they live only by their feelings. 11 Now they are in for real trouble. They have followed Cain’s example[d] and have made the same mistake that Balaam[e] did by caring only for money. They have also rebelled against God, just as Korah did.[f] Because of all this, they will be destroyed.

12 These people are filthy minded, and by their shameful and selfish actions they spoil the meals you eat together. They are like clouds blown along by the wind, but never bringing any rain. They are like leafless trees, uprooted and dead, and unable to produce fruit. 13 Their shameful deeds show up like foam on wild ocean waves. They are like wandering stars forever doomed to the darkest pits of hell.

14 Enoch was the seventh person after Adam, and he was talking about these people when he said:

Look! The Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of holy angels 15 to judge everyone. He will punish all those ungodly people for all the evil things they have done. The Lord will surely punish those ungodly sinners for every evil thing they have ever said about him.

16 These people grumble and complain and live by their own selfish desires. They brag about themselves and flatter others to get what they want.

More Warnings

17 My dear friends, remember the warning you were given by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They told you that near the end of time, selfish and godless people would start making fun of God. 19 And now these people are already making you turn against each other. They think only about this life, and they don’t have God’s Spirit.

20 Dear friends, keep building on the foundation of your most holy faith, as the Holy Spirit helps you to pray. 21 And keep in step with God’s love, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to show how kind he is by giving you eternal life. 22 Be helpful to[g] all who may have doubts. 23 Rescue any who need to be saved, as you would rescue someone from a fire. Then with fear in your own hearts, have mercy on everyone who needs it. But hate even the clothes of those who have been made dirty by their filthy deeds.

Final Prayer

24-25 Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. Before time began and now and forevermore, God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen.

Footnotes:

  1. 6 angels: This may refer to the angels who liked the women on earth so much that they came down and married them (see Genesis 6.2).
  2. 7 Sodom and Gomorrah: During the time of Abraham the Lord destroyed these cities because the people there were so evil.
  3. 9 Michael. . . the body of Moses: This refers to what was said in an ancient Jewish book about Moses.
  4. 11 Cain’s example: Cain murdered his brother Abel.
  5. 11 Balaam: According to the biblical account, Balaam refused to curse the people of Israel for profit (see Numbers 22.18; 24.13), though he led them to be unfaithful to the Lord (see Numbers 25.1-3; 31.16). But by New Testament times, some Jewish teachers taught that Balaam was greedy and did accept money to curse them.
  6. 11 just as Korah did: Together with Dathan and Abiram, Korah led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron (see Numbers 16.1-35; 26.9,10).
  7. 22 Be helpful to: Some manuscripts have “Correct.”

Psalm 127

(A song by Solomon for worship.)

Only the Lord Can Bless a Home

127 Without the help of the Lord
    it is useless to build a home
    or to guard a city.
It is useless to get up early
and stay up late
    in order to earn a living.
God takes care of his own,
    even while they sleep.[a]

Children are a blessing
    and a gift from the Lord.
Having a lot of children
to take care of you
    in your old age
    is like a warrior
    with a lot of arrows.
The more you have,
    the better off you will be,
because they will protect you
    when your enemies attack
    with arguments.

Footnotes:

  1. 127.2 God. . . sleep: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.

Proverbs 29:15-17

15 Correct your children,
    and they will be wise;
    children out of control
    disgrace their mothers.
16 Crime increases
    when crooks are in power,
    but law-abiding citizens
    will see them fall.
17 If you correct your children,
    they will bring you peace
    and happiness.

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