Numbers 24-25New Living Translation (NLT)
24 By now Balaam realized that the Lord was determined to bless Israel, so he did not resort to divination as before. Instead, he turned and looked out toward the wilderness, 2 where he saw the people of Israel camped, tribe by tribe. Then the Spirit of God came upon him, 3 and this is the message he delivered:
“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
10 King Balak flew into a rage against Balaam. He angrily clapped his hands and shouted, “I called you to curse my enemies! Instead, you have blessed them three times. 11 Now get out of here! Go back home! I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has kept you from your reward.”
12 Balaam told Balak, “Don’t you remember what I told your messengers? I said, 13 ‘Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord.’ I told you that I could say only what the Lord says! 14 Now I am returning to my own people. But first let me tell you what the Israelites will do to your people in the future.”
Balaam’s Final Messages
15 This is the message Balaam delivered:
“This is the message of Balaam son of Beor,
20 Then Balaam looked over toward the people of Amalek and delivered this message:
“Amalek was the greatest of nations,
21 Then he looked over toward the Kenites and delivered this message:
“Your home is secure;
23 Balaam concluded his messages by saying:
“Alas, who can survive
25 Then Balaam left and returned home, and Balak also went on his way.
Moab Seduces Israel
25 While the Israelites were camped at Acacia Grove,[e] some of the men defiled themselves by having[f] sexual relations with local Moabite women. 2 These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, so the Israelites feasted with them and worshiped the gods of Moab. 3 In this way, Israel joined in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the Lord’s anger to blaze against his people.
4 The Lord issued the following command to Moses: “Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the Lord in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel.”
5 So Moses ordered Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death the men under your authority who have joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.”
6 Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into his tent, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as everyone was weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[g] 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly. He took a spear 8 and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach. So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, 9 but not before 24,000 people had died.
10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest has turned my anger away from the Israelites by being as zealous among them as I was. So I stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended to do in my zealous anger. 12 Now tell him that I am making my special covenant of peace with him. 13 In this covenant, I give him and his descendants a permanent right to the priesthood, for in his zeal for me, his God, he purified the people of Israel, making them right with me.[h]”
14 The Israelite man killed with the Midianite woman was named Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a family from the tribe of Simeon. 15 The woman’s name was Cozbi; she was the daughter of Zur, the leader of a Midianite clan.
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, 17 “Attack the Midianites and destroy them, 18 because they assaulted you with deceit and tricked you into worshiping Baal of Peor, and because of Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, who was killed at the time of the plague because of what happened at Peor.”
Luke 2:1-35New Living Translation (NLT)
The Birth of Jesus
2 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. 4 And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. 5 He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
The Shepherds and Angels
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.
Jesus Is Presented in the Temple
21 Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.
22 Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. 23 The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.”[a] 24 So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”[b]
The Prophecy of Simeon
25 At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him 26 and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,
29 “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,
33 Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. 35 As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
Psalm 59New Living Translation (NLT)
For the choir director: A psalm[a] of David, regarding the time Saul sent soldiers to watch David’s house in order to kill him. To be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy!”
1 Rescue me from my enemies, O God.
6 They come out at night,
11 Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons;
14 My enemies come out at night,
16 But as for me, I will sing about your power.
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