Daily reading for Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reading Plan:
Version:
 

Amos 1:1-3:15; Revelation 2:1-17; Psalms 129:1-8; Proverbs 29:19-20 (Contemporary English Version)

Amos 1-3

I am Amos. And I raised sheep near the town of Tekoa[a] when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam[b] son of Jehoash[c] was king of Israel.

Two years before the earthquake,[d] the Lord gave me several messages[e] about Israel, and I said:

When the Lord roars
    from Jerusalem,
pasturelands and Mount Carmel
    dry up and turn brown.

Judgment on Syria

The Lord said:

I will punish Syria[f]
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
They dragged logs with spikes[g]
    over the people of Gilead.
Now I will burn down the palaces
and fortresses
of King Hazael
    and of King Benhadad.[h]
I will break through
    the gates of Damascus.
I will destroy the people[i]
of Wicked Valley[j]
    and the ruler of Beth-Eden.[k]
Then the Syrians will be dragged
    as prisoners to Kir.[l]
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Judgment on Philistia

The Lord said:

I will punish Philistia[m]
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
They dragged off my people[n]
    from town after town
to sell them as slaves
    to the Edomites.

That’s why I will burn down
the walls and fortresses
    of the city of Gaza.
I will destroy the king[o] of Ashdod
    and the ruler of Ashkelon.
I will strike down Ekron,[p]
and that will be the end
    of the Philistines.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Judgment on Phoenicia

The Lord said:

I will punish Phoenicia[q]
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
They broke their treaty
and dragged off my people[r]
    from town after town
to sell them as slaves
    to the Edomites.
10 That’s why I will send flames
to burn down the city of Tyre
    along with its fortresses.

Judgment on Edom

11 The Lord said:

I will punish Edom
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
They killed their own relatives[s]
and were so terribly furious
    that they showed no mercy.
12 Now I will send fire to wipe out
the fortresses
of Teman
    and Bozrah.[t]

Judgment on Ammon

13 The Lord said:

I will punish Ammon
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
In Gilead they ripped open
pregnant women,
    just to take the land.

14 Now I will send fire to destroy
the walls and fortresses
    of Rabbah.[u]
Enemies will shout and attack
    like a whirlwind.
15 Ammon’s king and leaders
    will be dragged away.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Judgment on Moab

The Lord said:

I will punish Moab
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
They made lime from the bones[v]
    of the king of Edom.
Now I will send fire to destroy
    the fortresses of Kerioth.[w]
Battle shouts and trumpet blasts
will be heard
as I destroy Moab
    with its king and leaders.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Judgment on Judah

The Lord said:

I will punish Judah
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
They have rejected my teachings
    and refused to obey me.
They were led astray
by the same false gods
    their ancestors worshiped.
Now I will send fire on Judah
and destroy the fortresses
    of Jerusalem.

Judgment on Israel

The Lord said:

I will punish Israel
for countless crimes,
    and I won’t change my mind.
They sell honest people for money,
and the needy are sold
    for the price of sandals.
They smear the poor in the dirt
and push aside
    those who are helpless.

My holy name is dishonored,
because fathers and sons
sleep
    with the same young women.
They lie down beside altars
on clothes taken
    as security for loans.
And they drink wine in my temple,
wine bought with the money
    they received from fines.

Israel, the Amorites[x] were there
    when you entered Canaan.
They were tall as cedars
    and strong as oaks.
But I wiped them out—
I destroyed their branches
    and their roots.
10 I had rescued you from Egypt,
and for forty years I had led you
    through the desert.
Then I gave you the land
    of the Amorites.

11 I chose some of you
to be prophets
    and others to be Nazirites.[y]
People of Israel,
you know this is true.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!
12 But you commanded the prophets
    not to speak their message,
and you pressured the Nazirites
    into drinking wine.

13 And so I will crush you,
just as a wagon full of grain
    crushes the ground.[z]
14 No matter how fast you run,
    you won’t escape.
No matter how strong you are,
you will lose your strength
    and your life.
15 Even if you are an expert
with a bow and arrow,
    you will retreat.
And you won’t get away alive,
not even if you run fast
    or ride a horse.
16 You may be brave and strong,
but you will run away,
    stripped naked.
I, the Lord, have spoken!
People of Israel,
    I rescued you from Egypt.
Now listen to my judgment
    against you.
Of all nations on earth,
you are the only one
    I have chosen.
That’s why I will punish you
    because of your sins.

The Work of a Prophet

Can two people walk together
    without agreeing to meet?
Does a lion roar in the forest
unless it has caught
    a victim?
Does it growl in its den
    unless it is eating?
How can anyone catch a bird
    without using a net?
Does a trap spring shut
    unless something is caught?

Isn’t the whole city frightened
when the trumpet
    signals an attack?
Isn’t it the Lord who brings
    disaster on a city?
Whatever the Lord God
    plans to do,
he tells his servants,
    the prophets.
Everyone is terrified
    when a lion roars—
and ordinary people
become prophets
    when the Lord God speaks.

Samaria Is Doomed

Here is a message
for the leaders
    of Philistia[aa] and Egypt—
tell everyone to come together
    on the hills of Samaria.
Let them see the injustice
and the lawlessness
    in that city.
10 The Lord has said
that they don’t even know how
    to do right.
They have become rich
    from violence and robbery.
11 And so the Lord God has sworn
    that they will be surrounded.
Enemies will break through
their defenses
    and steal their treasures.

12 The Lord has promised
that only a few from Samaria
    will escape with their lives
and with some broken pieces
    of their beds and couches.[ab]
It will be like when a shepherd
    rescues two leg bones
and part of a sheep’s ear
    from the jaws of a lion.[ac]

The Altars at Bethel

13 The Lord God All-Powerful
told me to speak this message
    against Jacob’s descendants:
14 When I, the Lord, punish Israel
    for their sins,
I will destroy the altars
    at Bethel.
Even the corners of the altar[ad]
    will be left in the dirt.
15 I will tear down winter homes
    and summer homes.
Houses decorated with ivory
and all other mansions
    will be gone forever.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Footnotes:

  1. 1.1 Tekoa: In the hill country of Judah about five miles south of Bethlehem.
  2. 1.1 Uzziah. . . Jeroboam: Uzziah was king of Judah 781-740 B.C., and Jeroboam II was king of Israel 783-743 B.C.
  3. 1.1 Jehoash: The Hebrew text has “Joash,” another spelling of the name.
  4. 1.1 Two years. . . earthquake: Possibly the earthquake of 760 B.C., which seems to have been especially violent.
  5. 1.1 messages: Or “visions.”
  6. 1.3 Syria: The Hebrew text has “Damascus,” the leading city of Syria.
  7. 1.3 logs with spikes: These were dragged over grain to thresh it.
  8. 1.4 Hazael. . . Benhadad: Two Syrian kings.
  9. 1.5 people: Or “king.”
  10. 1.5 Wicked Valley: The Hebrew text has “Aven Valley,” probably the fertile valley between the Lebanon and the anti-Lebanon mountains.
  11. 1.5 I will. . . Beth-Eden: Or “I will destroy the people of Wicked Valley and the king who rules from Beth-Eden.” Beth-Eden was a city-state on the banks of the Euphrates River.
  12. 1.5 Kir: The exact location of this country is not known; in 9.7 Amos refers to Kir as the original home of the Syrians, and so the verse probably means that the Syrians will lose everything they have gained as a people.
  13. 1.6 Philistia: The Hebrew text has “Gaza,” one of the main Philistine cities.
  14. 1.6 my people: The people of Israel.
  15. 1.8 king: Or “people.”
  16. 1.8 Ashdod. . . Ashkelon. . . Ekron: Philistine cities.
  17. 1.9 Phoenicia: The Hebrew text has “Tyre,” which was one of the two Phoenician cities; the other was Sidon, which is not mentioned by Amos.
  18. 1.9 my people: See the note at 1.6.
  19. 1.11 their own relatives: The Edomites were descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob, the ancestor of the Israelites.
  20. 1.12 Teman and Bozrah: These stand for all of Edom; Teman may have been a city or a district. Bozrah, the chief city of northern Edom, was thirty miles southeast of the Dead Sea.
  21. 1.14 Rabbah: The capital city of Ammon.
  22. 2.1 They. . . bones: They dug up the bodies of kings and made lime out of them to use as whitewash on their houses and walls.
  23. 2.2 Kerioth: A leading city of Moab and a center for the worship of Chemosh, the chief god of Moab.
  24. 2.9 Amorites: This word is used for all the people who lived in Canaan at the time Israel took over the land.
  25. 2.11 Nazirites: People who promised the Lord that they would never drink wine or cut their hair or come in contact with a dead body.
  26. 2.13 ground: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 13.
  27. 3.9 Philistia: The Hebrew text has “Ashdod,” one of the leading cities of Philistia.
  28. 3.12 some. . . couches: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  29. 3.12 lion: When a wild animal attacked and killed a sheep, the shepherd had to rescue part of the sheep and take it to the owner as proof that it had been killed by an animal. Otherwise, the shepherd had to pay the owner the cost of the sheep.
  30. 3.14 altar: Altars were places of worship but also places of protection. People whose lives were in danger could grab hold of the corners of an altar, and no one was allowed to kill them.

Revelation 2:1-17

The Letter to Ephesus

This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Ephesus:

I am the one who holds the seven stars in my right hand, and I walk among the seven gold lampstands. Listen to what I say.

I know everything you have done, including your hard work and how you have endured. I know you won’t put up with anyone who is evil. When some people pretended to be apostles, you tested them and found out that they were liars. You have endured and gone through hard times because of me, and you have not given up.

But I do have something against you! And it is this: You don’t have as much love as you used to. Think about where you have fallen from, and then turn back and do as you did at first. If you don’t turn back, I will come and take away your lampstand. But there is one thing you are doing right. You hate what the Nicolaitans[a] are doing, and so do I.

If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will let everyone who wins the victory eat from the life-giving tree in God’s wonderful garden.

The Letter to Smyrna

This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Smyrna:

I am the first and the last. I died, but now I am alive! Listen to what I say.

I know how much you suffer and how poor you are, but you are rich. I also know the cruel things being said about you by people who claim to be Jews. But they are not really Jews. They are a group that belongs to Satan.

10 Don’t worry about what you will suffer. The devil will throw some of you into jail, and you will be tested and made to suffer for ten days. But if you are faithful until you die, I will reward you with a glorious life.[b]

11 If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. Whoever wins the victory will not be hurt by the second death.[c]

The Letter to Pergamum

12 This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Pergamum:

I am the one who has the sharp double-edged sword! Listen to what I say.

13 I know that you live where Satan has his throne.[d] But you have kept true to my name. Right there where Satan lives, my faithful witness Antipas[e] was taken from you and put to death. Even then you did not give up your faith in me.

14 I do have a few things against you. Some of you are following the teaching of Balaam.[f] Long ago he told Balak to teach the people of Israel to eat food that had been offered to idols and to be immoral. 15 Now some of you are following the teaching of the Nicolaitans.[g] 16 Turn back! If you don’t, I will come quickly and fight against these people. And my words will cut like a sword.

17 If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To everyone who wins the victory, I will give some of the hidden food.[h] I will also give each one a white stone[i] with a new name[j] written on it. No one will know that name except the one who is given the stone.

Footnotes:

  1. 2.6 Nicolaitans: Nothing else is known about these people, though it is possible that they claimed to be followers of Nicolaus from Antioch (see Acts 6.5).
  2. 2.10 a glorious life: The Greek text has “a crown of life.” In ancient times an athlete who had won a contest was rewarded with a crown of flowers as a sign of victory.
  3. 2.11 second death: The first death is physical death, and the “second death” is eternal death.
  4. 2.13 where Satan has his throne: The meaning is uncertain, but it may refer to the city as a center of pagan worship or of Emperor worship.
  5. 2.13 Antipas: Nothing else is known about this man, who is mentioned only here in the New Testament.
  6. 2.14 Balaam: According to Numbers 22-24, Balaam refused to disobey the Lord. But in other books of the Old Testament, he is spoken of as evil (see Deuteronomy 23.4,5; Joshua 13.22; 24.9,10; Nehemiah 13.2).
  7. 2.15 Nicolaitans: See the note at 2.6.
  8. 2.17 hidden food: When the people of Israel were going through the desert, the Lord provided a special food for them. Some of this was placed in a jar and stored in the sacred chest (see Exodus 16). According to later Jewish teaching, the prophet Jeremiah rescued the sacred chest when the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. He hid the chest in a cave, where it would stay until God came to save his people.
  9. 2.17 white stone: The meaning of this is uncertain, though it may be the same as a ticket that lets a person into God’s banquet where the “hidden food” is eaten. Or it may be a symbol of victory.
  10. 2.17 a new name: Either the name of Christ or God or the name of the follower who is given the stone.

Psalm 129

(A song for worship.)

A Prayer for Protection

129 Since the time I was young,
    enemies have often attacked!
Let everyone in Israel say:
“Since the time I was young,
    enemies have often attacked!
But they have not defeated me,
though my back is like a field
    that has just been plowed.”

The Lord always does right,
    and he has set me free
    from the ropes
    of those cruel people.
I pray that all who hate
    the city of Zion
    will be made ashamed
    and forced to turn and run.
May they be like grass
    on the flat roof of a house,
    grass that dries up
    as soon as it sprouts.
Don’t let them be like wheat
    gathered in bundles.
    And don’t let anyone
who passes by say to them,
    “The Lord bless you!
    I give you my blessing
    in the name of the Lord.”

Proverbs 29:19-20

19 Even when servants are smart,
    it takes more than words
    to make them obey.
20 There is more hope for a fool
    than for someone who speaks
    without thinking.

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