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Numbers 15:17-16:40; Mark 15:1-47; Psalms 54:1-7; Proverbs 11:5-6 (Contemporary English Version)

Numbers 15:17-16:40

17-19 When you eat food in the land that I am giving you, remember to set aside some of it as an offering to me. 20 From the first batch of bread dough that you make after each new grain harvest, make a loaf of bread and offer it to me, just as you offer grain. 21 All your descendants must follow this law and offer part of the first batch of bread dough.

22-23 The Lord also told Moses to tell the people what must be done if they ever disobey his laws:

24 If all of you disobey one of my laws without meaning to, you must offer a bull as a sacrifice to please me, together with a grain sacrifice, a wine offering, and a goat as a sacrifice for sin. 25 Then the priest will pray and ask me to forgive you. And since you did not mean to do wrong, and you offered sacrifices, 26 the sin of everyone—both Israelites and foreigners among you—will be forgiven.

27 But if one of you does wrong without meaning to, you must sacrifice a year-old female goat as a sacrifice for sin. 28 The priest will then ask me to forgive you, and your sin will be forgiven.

29 The law will be the same for anyone who does wrong without meaning to, whether an Israelite or a foreigner living among you.

30-31 But if one of you does wrong on purpose, whether Israelite or foreigner, you have sinned against me by disobeying my laws. You will be sent away and will no longer live among the people of Israel.

A Man Put to Death for Gathering Firewood on the Sabbath

32 Once, while the Israelites were traveling through the desert, a man was caught gathering firewood on the Sabbath.[a] 33 He was taken to Moses, Aaron, and the rest of the community. 34 But no one knew what to do with him, so he was not allowed to leave.

35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people to take that man outside the camp and stone him to death!” 36 So he was killed, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

The Tassels on the People’s Clothes

37 The Lord told Moses 38 to say to the people of Israel, “Sew tassels onto the bottom edge of your clothes and tie a purple string to each tassel. 39-40 These will remind you that you must obey my laws and teachings. And when you do, you will be dedicated to me and won’t follow your own sinful desires. 41 I am the Lord your God who led you out of Egypt.”

Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Lead a Rebellion

16 1-2 Korah son of Izhar was a Levite from the Kohathite clan. One day he called together Dathan, Abiram, and On[b] from the Reuben tribe, and the four of them decided to rebel against Moses. So they asked two hundred fifty respected Israelite leaders for their support, and together they went to Moses and Aaron and said, “Why do you think you’re so much better than anyone else? We’re part of the Lord’s holy people, and he’s with all of us. What makes you think you’re the only ones in charge?”

When Moses heard this, he knelt down to pray.[c] Then he said to Korah and his followers:

Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us the person he has chosen to be his priest, and that man will faithfully serve him.

6-7 Korah, now here is what you and your followers must do: Get some fire pans, fill them with coals and incense, and place them near the sacred tent. And the man the Lord chooses will be his priest.[d] Korah, this time you Levites have gone too far!

8-9 You know that the God of Israel has chosen you Levites from all Israel to serve him by being in charge of the sacred tent and by helping the community to worship in the proper way. What more do you want? 10 The Lord has given you a special responsibility, and now, Korah, you think you should also be his priest. 11 You and your followers have rebelled against the Lord, not against Aaron.

12 Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, but they sent back this message: “We won’t come! 13 It’s bad enough that you took us from our rich farmland in Egypt to let us die here in the desert. Now you also want to boss us around! 14 You keep promising us rich farmlands with fertile fields and vineyards—but where are they? Stop trying to trick these people. No, we won’t come to see you.”

15 Moses was very angry and said to the Lord, “Don’t listen to these men! I haven’t done anything wrong to them. I haven’t taken as much as a donkey.”

16 Then he said to Korah, “Tomorrow you and your followers must go with Aaron to the Lord’s sacred tent. 17 Each of you take along your fire pan with incense in it and offer the incense to the Lord.”

18 The next day the men placed incense and coals in their fire pans and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the sacred tent. 19 Meanwhile, Korah had convinced the rest of the Israelites to rebel against their two leaders.

When that happened, the Lord appeared in all his glory 20 and said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Get away from the rest of the Israelites so I can kill them right now!”

22 But the two men bowed down and prayed, “Our God, you gave these people life. Why would you punish everyone here when only one man has sinned?”

23 The Lord answered Moses, 24 “Tell the people to stay away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

25 Moses walked over to Dathan and Abiram, and the other leaders of Israel followed. 26 Then Moses warned the people, “Get away from the tents of these sinful men! Don’t touch anything that belongs to them or you’ll be wiped out.” 27 So everyone moved away from those tents, except Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families.

28 Moses said to the crowd, “The Lord has chosen me and told me to do these things—it wasn’t my idea. And here’s how you will know: 29 If these men die a natural death, it means the Lord hasn’t chosen me. 30 But suppose the Lord does something that has never been done before. For example, what if a huge crack appears in the ground, and these men and their families fall into it and are buried alive, together with everything they own? Then you will know they have turned their backs on the Lord!”

31 As soon as Moses said this, the ground under the men opened up 32-33 and swallowed them alive, together with their families and everything they owned. Then the ground closed back up, and they were gone.

34 The rest of the Israelites heard their screams, so they ran off, shouting, “We don’t want that to happen to us!”

35 Suddenly the Lord sent a fire that burned up the two hundred fifty men who had offered incense to him.

36 Then the Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Aaron’s son Eleazar to take the fire pans from the smoldering fire and scatter the coals. The pans are now sacred, 38 because they were used for offering incense to me. Have them hammered into a thin layer of bronze as a covering for the altar. Those men died because of their sin, and now their fire pans will become a warning for the rest of the community.”

39 Eleazar collected the pans and had them hammered into a thin layer of bronze as a covering for the altar, 40 just as the Lord had told Moses. The pans were a warning to the Israelites that only Aaron’s descendants would be allowed to offer incense to the Lord. Anyone else who tried would be punished like Korah and his followers.

Footnotes:

  1. 15.32 a man. . . Sabbath: No work was to be done on the Sabbath (see Exodus 31.12-17).
  2. 16.1,2 Dathan, Abiram, and On: Hebrew “Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth.”
  3. 16.4 he knelt down to pray: Or “he fell to his knees in sorrow.”
  4. 16.6,7 Get some fire pans. . . his priest: Only priests could offer incense at the sacred altar; anyone else who tried would be killed. In this case, the man who lived would be the one the Lord had chosen.
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Mark 15

Pilate Questions Jesus

15 Early the next morning the chief priests, the nation’s leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met together with the whole Jewish council. They tied up Jesus and led him off to Pilate.

He asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Those are your words,” Jesus answered.

The chief priests brought many charges against Jesus. Then Pilate questioned him again, “Don’t you have anything to say? Don’t you hear what crimes they say you have done?” But Jesus did not answer, and Pilate was amazed.

The Death Sentence

During Passover, Pilate always freed one prisoner chosen by the people. And at that time there was a prisoner named Barabbas. He and some others had been arrested for murder during a riot. The crowd now came and asked Pilate to set a prisoner free, just as he usually did.

Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to free the king of the Jews?” 10 Pilate knew that the chief priests had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous.

11 But the chief priests told the crowd to ask Pilate to free Barabbas.

12 Then Pilate asked the crowd, “What do you want me to do with this man you say is[a] the king of the Jews?”

13 They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”

14 Pilate asked, “But what crime has he done?”

“Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder.

15 Pilate wanted to please the crowd. So he set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.

Soldiers Make Fun of Jesus

16 The soldiers led Jesus inside the courtyard of the fortress[b] and called together the rest of the troops. 17 They put a purple robe[c] on him, and on his head they placed a crown that they had made out of thorn branches. 18 They made fun of Jesus and shouted, “Hey, you king of the Jews!” 19 Then they beat him on the head with a stick. They spit on him and knelt down and pretended to worship him.

20 When the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the purple robe. They put his own clothes back on him and led him off to be nailed to a cross. 21 Simon from Cyrene happened to be coming in from a farm, and they forced him to carry Jesus' cross. Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.

Jesus Is Nailed to a Cross

22 The soldiers took Jesus to Golgotha, which means “Place of a Skull.”[d] 23 There they gave him some wine mixed with a drug to ease the pain, but he refused to drink it.

24 They nailed Jesus to a cross and gambled to see who would get his clothes. 25 It was about nine o’clock in the morning when they nailed him to the cross. 26 On it was a sign that told why he was nailed there. It read, “This is the King of the Jews.” 27-28 The soldiers also nailed two criminals on crosses, one to the right of Jesus and the other to his left.[e]

29 People who passed by said terrible things about Jesus. They shook their heads and shouted, “Ha! So you’re the one who claimed you could tear down the temple and build it again in three days. 30 Save yourself and come down from the cross!”

31 The chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses also made fun of Jesus. They said to each other, “He saved others, but he can’t save himself. 32 If he is the Messiah, the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross! Then we will see and believe.” The two criminals also said cruel things to Jesus.

The Death of Jesus

33 About noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until around three o’clock. 34 Then about that time Jesus shouted, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”[f] which means, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”

35 Some of the people standing there heard Jesus and said, “He is calling for Elijah.”[g] 36 One of them ran and grabbed a sponge. After he had soaked it in wine, he put it on a stick and held it up to Jesus. He said, “Let’s wait and see if Elijah will come[h] and take him down!” 37 Jesus shouted and then died.

38 At once the curtain in the temple[i] tore in two from top to bottom.

39 A Roman army officer was standing in front of Jesus. When the officer saw how Jesus died, he said, “This man really was the Son of God!”

40-41 Some women were looking on from a distance. They had come with Jesus to Jerusalem. But even before this they had been his followers and had helped him while he was in Galilee. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of the younger James and of Joseph were two of these women. Salome was also one of them.

Jesus Is Buried

42 It was now the evening before the Sabbath, and the Jewish people were getting ready for that sacred day. 43 A man named Joseph from Arimathea was brave enough to ask Pilate for the body of Jesus. Joseph was a highly respected member of the Jewish council, and he was also waiting for God’s kingdom to come.

44 Pilate was surprised to hear that Jesus was already dead, and he called in the army officer to find out if Jesus had been dead very long. 45 After the officer told him, Pilate let Joseph have Jesus' body.

46 Joseph bought a linen cloth and took the body down from the cross. He had it wrapped in the cloth, and he put it in a tomb that had been cut into solid rock. Then he rolled a big stone against the entrance to the tomb.

47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph were watching and saw where the body was placed.

Footnotes:

  1. 15.12 this man you say is: These words are not in some manuscripts.
  2. 15.16 fortress: The place where the Roman governor stayed. It was probably at Herod’s palace west of Jerusalem, though it may have been Fortress Antonia, north of the temple, where the Roman troops were stationed.
  3. 15.17 purple robe: This was probably a Roman soldier’s robe.
  4. 15.22 Place of a Skull: The place was probably given this name because it was near a large rock in the shape of a human skull.
  5. 15.27-28 left: Some manuscripts add, “So the Scriptures came true which say, ‘He was accused of being a criminal.’ “
  6. 15.34 Eloi. . . sabachthani: These words are in Aramaic, a language spoken in Palestine during the time of Jesus.
  7. 15.35 Elijah: The name “Elijah” sounds something like “Eloi,” which means “my God.”
  8. 15.36 see if Elijah will come: See the note at 6.15.
  9. 15.38 curtain in the temple: There were two curtains in the temple. One was at the entrance, and the other separated the holy place from the most holy place that the Jewish people thought of as God’s home on earth. The second curtain is probably the one which is meant.
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Psalm 54

(For the music leader. Use with stringed instruments. A special psalm that David wrote when the people of Ziph went to Saul and said, “David is hiding here with us.”)

Trusting God in Times of Trouble

54 Save me, God, by your power
    and prove that I am right.
    Listen to my prayer
    and hear what I say.
Cruel strangers have attacked
    and want me dead.
    Not one of them cares
    about you.

You will help me, Lord God,
    and keep me from falling;
    you will punish my enemies
    for their evil deeds.
Be my faithful friend
    and destroy them.

I will bring a gift
and offer a sacrifice
    to you, Lord.
    I will praise your name
    because you are good.
You have rescued me
    from all of my troubles,
    and my own eyes have seen
    my enemies fall.

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Proverbs 11:5-6

If you are truly good,
    you will do right;
if you are wicked,
    you will be destroyed
    by your own sin.
Honesty can keep you safe,
    but if you can’t be trusted,
    you trap yourself.

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