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8 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give Aaron the following instructions: When you set up the seven lamps in the lampstand, place them so their light shines forward in front of the lampstand.” 3 So Aaron did this. He set up the seven lamps so they reflected their light forward, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 4 The entire lampstand, from its base to its decorative blossoms, was made of beaten gold. It was built according to the exact design the Lord had shown Moses.
5 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6 “Now set the Levites apart from the rest of the people of Israel and make them ceremonially clean. 7 Do this by sprinkling them with the water of purification, and have them shave their entire body and wash their clothing. Then they will be ceremonially clean. 8 Have them bring a young bull and a grain offering of choice flour moistened with olive oil, along with a second young bull for a sin offering. 9 Then assemble the whole community of Israel, and present the Levites at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[a] 10 When you present the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel must lay their hands on them. 11 Raising his hands, Aaron must then present the Levites to the Lord as a special offering from the people of Israel, thus dedicating them to the Lord’s service.
12 “Next the Levites will lay their hands on the heads of the young bulls. Present one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering to the Lord, to purify the Levites and make them right with the Lord.[b] 13 Then have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons, and raise your hands and present them as a special offering to the Lord. 14 In this way, you will set the Levites apart from the rest of the people of Israel, and the Levites will belong to me. 15 After this, they may go into the Tabernacle to do their work, because you have purified them and presented them as a special offering.
16 “Of all the people of Israel, the Levites are reserved for me. I have claimed them for myself in place of all the firstborn sons of the Israelites; I have taken the Levites as their substitutes. 17 For all the firstborn males among the people of Israel are mine, both of people and of animals. I set them apart for myself on the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. 18 Yes, I have claimed the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. 19 And of all the Israelites, I have assigned the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make sacrifices to purify[c] the people so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary.”
20 So Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel dedicated the Levites, carefully following all the Lord’s instructions to Moses. 21 The Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron lifted them up and presented them to the Lord as a special offering. He then offered a sacrifice to purify them and make them right with the Lord.[d] 22 After that the Levites went into the Tabernacle to perform their duties, assisting Aaron and his sons. So they carried out all the commands that the Lord gave Moses concerning the Levites.
23 The Lord also instructed Moses, 24 “This is the rule the Levites must follow: They must begin serving in the Tabernacle at the age of twenty-five, 25 and they must retire at the age of fifty. 26 After retirement they may assist their fellow Levites by serving as guards at the Tabernacle, but they may not officiate in the service. This is how you must assign duties to the Levites.”
9 A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. In the first month[e] of that year he said, 2 “Tell the Israelites to celebrate the Passover at the prescribed time, 3 at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.[f] Be sure to follow all my decrees and regulations concerning this celebration.”
4 So Moses told the people to celebrate the Passover 5 in the wilderness of Sinai as twilight fell on the fourteenth day of the month. And they celebrated the festival there, just as the Lord had commanded Moses. 6 But some of the men had been ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body, so they could not celebrate the Passover that day. They came to Moses and Aaron that day 7 and said, “We have become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead body. But why should we be prevented from presenting the Lord’s offering at the proper time with the rest of the Israelites?”
8 Moses answered, “Wait here until I have received instructions for you from the Lord.”
9 This was the Lord’s reply to Moses. 10 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people now or in future generations are ceremonially unclean at Passover time because of touching a dead body, or if they are on a journey and cannot be present at the ceremony, they may still celebrate the Lord’s Passover. 11 They must offer the Passover sacrifice one month later, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the second month.[g] They must eat the Passover lamb at that time with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. 12 They must not leave any of the lamb until the next morning, and they must not break any of its bones. They must follow all the normal regulations concerning the Passover.
13 “But those who neglect to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, even though they are ceremonially clean and not away on a trip, will be cut off from the community of Israel. If they fail to present the Lord’s offering at the proper time, they will suffer the consequences of their guilt. 14 And if foreigners living among you want to celebrate the Passover to the Lord, they must follow these same decrees and regulations. The same laws apply both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.”
15 On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it.[h] But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire. 16 This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp. 18 In this way, they traveled and camped at the Lord’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. 19 If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the Lord. 20 Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the Lord commanded. Then at the Lord’s command they would break camp and move on. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on. 22 Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. 23 So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.
14 “The day is coming when you will see the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[a] standing where he[b] should not be.” (Reader, pay attention!) “Then those in Judea must flee to the hills. 15 A person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. 16 A person out in the field must not return even to get a coat. 17 How terrible it will be for pregnant women and for nursing mothers in those days. 18 And pray that your flight will not be in winter. 19 For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again. 20 In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days.
21 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 23 Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!
24 “At that time, after the anguish of those days,
the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[c]
26 Then everyone will see the Son of Man[d] coming on the clouds with great power and glory.[e] 27 And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world[f]—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.
28 “Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see all these things taking place, you can know that his return is very near, right at the door. 30 I tell you the truth, this generation[g] will not pass from the scene before all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.
32 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 33 And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert[h]!
34 “The coming of the Son of Man can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. When he left home, he gave each of his slaves instructions about the work they were to do, and he told the gatekeeper to watch for his return. 35 You, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. 36 Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. 37 I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him!”
1 The Lord, the Mighty One, is God,
and he has spoken;
he has summoned all humanity
from where the sun rises to where it sets.
2 From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines in glorious radiance.
3 Our God approaches,
and he is not silent.
Fire devours everything in his way,
and a great storm rages around him.
4 He calls on the heavens above and earth below
to witness the judgment of his people.
5 “Bring my faithful people to me—
those who made a covenant with me by giving sacrifices.”
6 Then let the heavens proclaim his justice,
for God himself will be the judge. Interlude
7 “O my people, listen as I speak.
Here are my charges against you, O Israel:
I am God, your God!
8 I have no complaint about your sacrifices
or the burnt offerings you constantly offer.
9 But I do not need the bulls from your barns
or the goats from your pens.
10 For all the animals of the forest are mine,
and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird on the mountains,
and all the animals of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for all the world is mine and everything in it.
13 Do I eat the meat of bulls?
Do I drink the blood of goats?
14 Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God,
and keep the vows you made to the Most High.
15 Then call on me when you are in trouble,
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory.”
16 But God says to the wicked:
“Why bother reciting my decrees
and pretending to obey my covenant?
17 For you refuse my discipline
and treat my words like trash.
18 When you see thieves, you approve of them,
and you spend your time with adulterers.
19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness,
and your tongue is full of lies.
20 You sit around and slander your brother—
your own mother’s son.
21 While you did all this, I remained silent,
and you thought I didn’t care.
But now I will rebuke you,
listing all my charges against you.
22 Repent, all of you who forget me,
or I will tear you apart,
and no one will help you.
23 But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.
If you keep to my path,
I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”
29 The way of the Lord is a stronghold to those with integrity,
but it destroys the wicked.
30 The godly will never be disturbed,
but the wicked will be removed from the land.