Numbers 8:1-9:23; Mark 13:14-37; Psalms 50:1-23; Proverbs 10:29-30 (Contemporary English Version)
Aaron Puts the Gold Lamps in Place
8 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell Aaron to put the seven lamps on the lampstand so they shine toward the front.”
3 Aaron obeyed and placed the lamps as he was told. 4 The lampstand was made of hammered gold from its base to the decorative flowers on top, exactly like the pattern the Lord had described to Moses.
Instructions for Ordaining the Levites
5 The Lord said to Moses:
6 The Levites must be acceptable to me before they begin working at the sacred tent. So separate them from the rest of the Israelites 7 and sprinkle them with the water that washes away their sins. Then have them shave their entire bodies and wash their clothes.
8 They are to bring a bull and its proper grain sacrifice of flour mixed with olive oil. And they must bring a second bull as a sacrifice for sin.
9 Then you, Moses, will call together all the people of Israel and have the Levites go to my sacred tent, 10 where the people will place their hands on them. 11 Aaron will present the Levites to me as a gift from the people, so that the Levites will do my work.
12 After this, the Levites are to place their hands on the heads of the bulls. Then one of the bulls will be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sin, and the other to make sure that I am pleased. 13 The Levites will stand at my altar in front of Aaron and his sons, who will then dedicate the Levites to me.
14 This ceremony will show that the Levites are different from the other Israelites and belong to me in a special way. 15 After they have been made acceptable and have been dedicated, they will be allowed to work at my sacred tent. 16 They are mine and will take the place of the first-born Israelite sons. 17 When I killed the oldest sons of the Egyptians, I decided that the first-born sons in each Israelite family would be mine, as well as every first-born male from their flocks and herds. 18 But now I have chosen these Levites as substitutes for the first-born sons, 19 and I have given them as gifts to Aaron and his sons to serve at the sacred tent. I will hold them responsible for what happens to anyone who gets too close to the sacred tent.[a]
The Levites Are Dedicated to the Lord
20 Moses, Aaron, and the other Israelites made sure that the Levites did everything the Lord had commanded. 21 The Levites sprinkled themselves with the water of forgiveness and washed their clothes. Then Aaron brought them to the altar and offered sacrifices to forgive their sins and make them acceptable to the Lord. 22 After this, the Levites worked at the sacred tent as assistants to Aaron and his sons, just as the Lord had commanded.
23 The Lord also told Moses, 24-25 “Levites who are between the ages of twenty-five and fifty can work at my sacred tent. But once they turn fifty, they must retire. 26 They may help the other Levites in their duties, but they must no longer be responsible for any work themselves. Remember this when you assign their duties.”
Regulations for Celebrating Passover
9 During the first month of Israel’s second year in the Sinai Desert,[b] the Lord had told Moses 2 to say to the people, “Celebrate Passover 3 in the evening of the fourteenth day of this month[c] and do it by following all the regulations.” 4-5 Moses told the people what the Lord had said, and they celebrated Passover there in the desert in the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month.
6 Some people in Israel’s camp had touched a dead body and had become unfit to worship the Lord, and they could not celebrate Passover. But they asked Moses and Aaron, 7 “Even though we have touched a dead body, why can’t we celebrate Passover and offer sacrifices to the Lord at the same time as everyone else?”
8 Moses said, “Wait here while I go into the sacred tent and find out what the Lord says about this.”
9 The Lord then told Moses 10 to say to the community of Israel:
If any of you or your descendants touch a dead body and become unfit to worship me, or if you are away on a long journey, you may still celebrate Passover. 11 But it must be done in the second month,[d] in the evening of the fourteenth day. Eat the Passover lamb with thin bread and bitter herbs, 12 and don’t leave any of it until morning or break any of the animal’s bones. Be sure to follow these regulations.
13 But if any of you refuse to celebrate Passover when you are not away on a journey, you will no longer belong to my people. You will be punished because you did not offer sacrifices to me at the proper time.
14 Anyone, including foreigners who live among you, can celebrate Passover, if they follow all the regulations.
The Cloud over the Sacred Tent
15-16 As soon as the sacred tent was set up,[e] a thick cloud appeared and covered it. The cloud was there each day, and during the night, a fire could be seen in it. 17-19 The Lord used this cloud to tell the Israelites when to move their camp and where to set it up again. As long as the cloud covered the tent, the Israelites did not break camp. But when the cloud moved, they followed it, and wherever it stopped, they camped and stayed there, 20-22 whether it was only one night, a few days, a month, or even a year. As long as the cloud remained over the tent, the Israelites stayed where they were. But when the cloud moved, so did the Israelites. 23 They obeyed the Lord’s commands and went wherever he directed Moses.
- 8.19 I will hold. . . sacred tent: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 9.1 first month. . . Sinai Desert: The book of Numbers begins in the second month of the second year (see 1.1), so 9.1-5 refers to a Passover celebration that had already taken place.
- 9.3 this month: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
- 9.11 second month: See the note at 1.1.
- 9.15,16 As soon as the sacred tent was set up: According to Exodus 40.17, this took place “on the first day of the first month of the second year” of the Israelites' stay in the desert.
The Horrible Thing
14 Someday you will see that “Horrible Thing” where it should not be.[a] Everyone who reads this must try to understand! If you are living in Judea at that time, run to the mountains. 15 If you are on the roof[b] of your house, don’t go inside to get anything. 16 If you are out in the field, don’t go back for your coat. 17 It will be an awful time for women who are expecting babies or nursing young children. 18 Pray that it won’t happen in winter.[c] 19 This will be the worst time of suffering since God created the world, and nothing this terrible will ever happen again. 20 If the Lord doesn’t make the time shorter, no one will be left alive. But because of his chosen and special ones, he will make the time shorter.
21 If someone should say, “Here is the Messiah!” or “There he is!” don’t believe it. 22 False messiahs and false prophets will come and work miracles and signs. They will even try to fool God’s chosen ones. 23 But be on your guard! That’s why I am telling you these things now.
When the Son of Man Appears
24 In those days, right after that time of suffering,
“The sun will become dark,
and the moon
will no longer shine.
25 The stars will fall,
and the powers in the sky[d]
will be shaken.”
26 Then the Son of Man will be seen coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 He will send his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the earth.
A Lesson from a Fig Tree
28 Learn a lesson from a fig tree. When its branches sprout and start putting out leaves, you know summer is near. 29 So when you see all these things happening, you will know that the time has almost come.[e] 30 You can be sure that some of the people of this generation will still be alive when all this happens. 31 The sky and the earth will not last forever, but my words will.
No One Knows the Day or Time
32 No one knows the day or the time. The angels in heaven don’t know, and the Son himself doesn’t know. Only the Father knows. 33 So watch out and be ready! You don’t know when the time will come. 34 It is like what happens when a man goes away for a while and places his servants in charge of everything. He tells each of them what to do, and he orders the guard to keep alert. 35 So be alert! You don’t know when the master of the house will come back. It could be in the evening or at midnight or before dawn or in the morning. 36 But if he comes suddenly, don’t let him find you asleep. 37 I tell everyone just what I have told you. Be alert!
- 13.14 where it should not be: Probably the holy place in the temple.
- 13.15 roof: See the note at 2.4.
- 13.18 in winter: In Palestine the winters are cold and rainy and make travel difficult.
- 13.25 the powers in the sky: In ancient times people thought that the stars were spiritual powers.
- 13.29 the time has almost come: Or “he (that is, the Son of Man) will soon be here.”
(A psalm by Asaph.)
What Pleases God
50 From east to west,
the powerful Lord God
has been calling together
everyone on earth.
2 God shines brightly from Zion,
the most beautiful city.
3 Our God approaches,
but not silently;
a flaming fire comes first,
and a storm surrounds him.
4 God comes to judge his people.
He shouts to the heavens
and to the earth,
5 “Call my followers together!
They offered me a sacrifice,
and we made an agreement.”
6 The heavens announce,
“God is the judge,
and he is always honest.”
7 My people, I am God!
Israel, I am your God.
Listen to my charges
8 Although you offer sacrifices
and always bring gifts,
9 I won’t accept your offerings
of bulls and goats.
10 Every animal in the forest
belongs to me,
and so do the cattle
on a thousand hills.
11 I know all the birds
in the mountains,
and every wild creature
is in my care.
12 If I were hungry,
I wouldn’t tell you,
because I own the world
and everything in it.
13 I don’t eat the meat of bulls
or drink the blood of goats.
14 I am God Most High!
The only sacrifice I want
is for you to be thankful
and to keep your word.
15 Pray to me in time of trouble.
I will rescue you,
and you will honor me.
16 But to the wicked I say:
“You don’t have the right
to mention my laws
to keep our agreement!
17 You refused correction
and rejected my commands.
18 You made friends
with every crook you met,
and you liked people who break
their wedding vows.
19 You talked only about violence
and told nothing but lies;
20 you sat around gossiping,
ruining the reputation
of your own relatives.”
21 When you did all of this,
I didn’t say a word,
and you thought,
“God is just like us!”
But now I will accuse you.
22 You have ignored me!
So pay close attention
or I will tear you apart,
and no one can help you.
23 The sacrifice that honors me
is a thankful heart.
and I, your God,
will show my power to save.
- 50.23 Obey me: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
29 The Lord protects everyone
who lives right,
but he destroys anyone
who does wrong.
30 Good people will stand firm,
but the wicked
will lose their land.