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2 “Now then, I will reveal the truth to you. Three more Persian kings will reign, to be succeeded by a fourth, far richer than the others. He will use his wealth to stir up everyone to fight against the kingdom of Greece.[a]
3 “Then a mighty king will rise to power who will rule with great authority and accomplish everything he sets out to do. 4 But at the height of his power, his kingdom will be broken apart and divided into four parts. It will not be ruled by the king’s descendants, nor will the kingdom hold the authority it once had. For his empire will be uprooted and given to others.
5 “The king of the south will increase in power, but one of his own officials will become more powerful than he and will rule his kingdom with great strength.
6 “Some years later an alliance will be formed between the king of the north and the king of the south. The daughter of the king of the south will be given in marriage to the king of the north to secure the alliance, but she will lose her influence over him, and so will her father. She will be abandoned along with her supporters. 7 But when one of her relatives[b] becomes king of the south, he will raise an army and enter the fortress of the king of the north and defeat him. 8 When he returns to Egypt, he will carry back their idols with him, along with priceless articles of gold and silver. For some years afterward he will leave the king of the north alone.
9 “Later the king of the north will invade the realm of the king of the south but will soon return to his own land. 10 However, the sons of the king of the north will assemble a mighty army that will advance like a flood and carry the battle as far as the enemy’s fortress.
11 “Then, in a rage, the king of the south will rally against the vast forces assembled by the king of the north and will defeat them. 12 After the enemy army is swept away, the king of the south will be filled with pride and will execute many thousands of his enemies. But his success will be short lived.
13 “A few years later the king of the north will return with a fully equipped army far greater than before. 14 At that time there will be a general uprising against the king of the south. Violent men among your own people will join them in fulfillment of this vision, but they will not succeed. 15 Then the king of the north will come and lay siege to a fortified city and capture it. The best troops of the south will not be able to stand in the face of the onslaught.
16 “The king of the north will march onward unopposed; none will be able to stop him. He will pause in the glorious land of Israel,[c] intent on destroying it. 17 He will make plans to come with the might of his entire kingdom and will form an alliance with the king of the south. He will give him a daughter in marriage in order to overthrow the kingdom from within, but his plan will fail.
18 “After this, he will turn his attention to the coastland and conquer many cities. But a commander from another land will put an end to his insolence and cause him to retreat in shame. 19 He will take refuge in his own fortresses but will stumble and fall and be seen no more.
20 “His successor will send out a tax collector to maintain the royal splendor. But after a very brief reign, he will die, though not from anger or in battle.
21 “The next to come to power will be a despicable man who is not in line for royal succession. He will slip in when least expected and take over the kingdom by flattery and intrigue. 22 Before him great armies will be swept away, including a covenant prince. 23 With deceitful promises, he will make various alliances. He will become strong despite having only a handful of followers. 24 Without warning he will enter the richest areas of the land. Then he will distribute among his followers the plunder and wealth of the rich—something his predecessors had never done. He will plot the overthrow of strongholds, but this will last for only a short while.
25 “Then he will stir up his courage and raise a great army against the king of the south. The king of the south will go to battle with a mighty army, but to no avail, for there will be plots against him. 26 His own household will cause his downfall. His army will be swept away, and many will be killed. 27 Seeking nothing but each other’s harm, these kings will plot against each other at the conference table, attempting to deceive each other. But it will make no difference, for the end will come at the appointed time.
28 “The king of the north will then return home with great riches. On the way he will set himself against the people of the holy covenant, doing much damage before continuing his journey.
29 “Then at the appointed time he will once again invade the south, but this time the result will be different. 30 For warships from western coastlands[d] will scare him off, and he will withdraw and return home. But he will vent his anger against the people of the holy covenant and reward those who forsake the covenant.
31 “His army will take over the Temple fortress, pollute the sanctuary, put a stop to the daily sacrifices, and set up the sacrilegious object that causes desecration.[e] 32 He will flatter and win over those who have violated the covenant. But the people who know their God will be strong and will resist him.
33 “Wise leaders will give instruction to many, but these teachers will die by fire and sword, or they will be jailed and robbed. 34 During these persecutions, little help will arrive, and many who join them will not be sincere. 35 And some of the wise will fall victim to persecution. In this way, they will be refined and cleansed and made pure until the time of the end, for the appointed time is still to come.
17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister[a] in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?
18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.
21 Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. 22 And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.
23 And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
1 I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 And now here we are,
standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is a well-built city;
its seamless walls cannot be breached.
4 All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people—
make their pilgrimage here.
They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord,
as the law requires of Israel.
5 Here stand the thrones where judgment is given,
the thrones of the dynasty of David.
6 Pray for peace in Jerusalem.
May all who love this city prosper.
7 O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls
and prosperity in your palaces.
8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,
“May you have peace.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.
29 Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism
will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.