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Judges 6

When the people of Israel again did what the Eternal One considered evil, He made them serve the Midianites for seven years. The power of Midian prevailed over Israel so that the Israelites built for themselves hiding places in the mountains, in caves, and in safe strongholds. Whenever the Israelites planted seed, the soldiers of Midian, Amalek, and others from the east would rise up against them and destroy their farms and fields as far as Gaza in the west, leaving them nothing to eat and no livestock. They would come up with their tents and their livestock, as thick as a cloud of locusts. They and their camels were so numerous they could not be counted, and they left the land desolate behind them.

So the people of Israel were impoverished because of the Midianites, and they cried out to the Eternal One for help. When the people of Israel cried to the Eternal for relief from the Midianites, He sent a prophet to them.

Prophet: Here are the words of the Eternal God of Israel: “I brought you out from slavery in Egypt. I delivered you from the Egyptians, from all who would have oppressed you. I drove the Canaanites out before you and delivered their land into your care. 10 But I said to you, ‘I am the Eternal One, your True God, and you must not worship the gods of the Amorites, those people in whose land you settle.’ And you have not listened to Me.”

This unnamed messenger brings a familiar message, one we find coming from both well-known and unknown prophets in the Scriptures: “I am the Eternal God, and I have done many things for you. You swore to be My people, but you have turned away from Me and turned toward other gods.”

God has brought the patriarch Abraham out of the east and initiated a relationship with him. Later the people of God make a covenant with Him, a sacred contract that both sides are expected to honor. When they are faithful to God and God’s laws, the people of Israel prosper. Whenever the Israelites fall away from true belief and true practice, God withdraws His blessing from them. This messenger is simply reminding them of what they already know—as prophets sometimes must.

11 Now in Ophrah, the Eternal’s messenger sat under an oak tree that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite. Gideon, the son of Joash, was beating out wheat in the winepress so that the Midianites could not see what he was doing. 12 The Eternal’s messenger appeared to Gideon.

Times are so bad that even when processing the wheat, one has to be quiet about it so that the Midianites do not notice and seize the food.

Messenger of the Eternal One: The Eternal One is with you, mighty warrior.

Gideon: 13 Sir, if He is with us, then why has all this misfortune come on us? Where are all the miracles that our ancestors told us about? They said, “Didn’t the Eternal deliver us out of Egypt?” But now He has left us. He has made us servants of the Midianites.

14 The Eternal turned to Gideon and addressed him.

Eternal One (speaking through His messenger): Go out with your strength and rescue Israel from the oppression of Midian. Do you understand that I am the one sending you?

Gideon: 15 But, Lord, how am I supposed to deliver Israel? My family is the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least of my family.

Eternal One: 16 Go. I will be with you, and you will totally destroy the forces of Midian as one man.

Gideon: 17 If You do look on me with favor, then give me a sign that I’m really hearing from You. 18 Wait here until I return and bring out my offering and place it in front of You.

Eternal One: I will stay here until you return.

19 So Gideon went into his house, cooked a young goat, and made cakes of unleavened bread from half a bushel of flour. He then put the meat into a basket, poured the broth into a pot, and brought the food out to present it to Him under the oak.

Eternal One: 20 Put the meat and the unleavened bread on this rock, and pour out the broth.

Gideon did as he was told. 21 Then the Eternal’s messenger touched the meat and bread with the tip of the staff he carried. Fire raged out of the rock and consumed the food, and the Eternal’s messenger vanished from sight.

22 Then Gideon realized that he had been speaking to the Eternal’s messenger.

Gideon: Have mercy on me, my Lord, the Eternal, since I have seen Your messenger face-to-face!

Eternal One (speaking after the messenger had departed): 23 Don’t be afraid, Gideon. Be at peace. You will not die.

Gideon expects sure death after conversing and looking on a divine manifestation of the Lord.

24 Afterward Gideon built an altar to the Eternal there and called it “The Eternal One is Peace.” It still stands at Ophrah in the land of the Abiezrites.

25 That night, the Eternal spoke to Gideon.

Eternal One: Take your father’s bull, the second bull, seven years old, and pull down your father’s altar that has been consecrated to Baal. Then cut down the image of Asherah made of wood that is beside the altar. 26 Then build correctly an altar to the Eternal One, your True God, on the top of this stronghold. Build a fire using the wood from the image; then take your father’s bull and offer a burnt offering to Me.

27 So Gideon took 10 of his servants and did as the Eternal had told him; but since he was worried about what his family and the people of the town might think, he did it at night while they all slept. 28 Early the next morning, when the townspeople left their homes and saw the altar of Baal destroyed, the wooden image cut down, and the second bull offered on the new altar, 29 they asked each other, “Who did this?”

After the investigation, it became clear that it was Gideon, the son of Joash, 30 so they went to Joash’s home and called for him.

People: Send out your son Gideon. He has torn down the holy altar of Baal and the Asherah image beside it, and he must die!

31 Joash stood up as the angry crowd lined up against him.

Joash (to the crowd): Will you fight in place of Baal himself? Can you save him? Anyone daring to say such a thing will be put to death by morning! If Baal is indeed a god, then let him stand up for himself, because his is the altar that has been torn down.

32 From that time on, Gideon was also called “Jerubbaal” (“Let Baal fight against him”), because he pulled down Baal’s altar.

33 At that time, the Midianites, Amalekites, and other people of the east had come together, crossed the Jordan, and camped in the valley of Jezreel.

34 Then the Spirit of the Eternal touched Gideon; he sounded his trumpet, and the Abiezrites all gathered behind him. 35 Gideon sent messengers to the members of the tribe of Manasseh and called them also to follow him. He also sent messengers to the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, and they, too, gathered at his call.

36 Then Gideon spoke to the True God.

Gideon: So that I can know if it’s true that You plan to use me to rescue Israel, 37 I am going to lay out a wool fleece on the threshing floor. Tomorrow morning, if it is wet with dew while the floor around it is dry, then I will know You are going to use me to deliver Israel, as You have told me.

38 So the next morning, that was what he found. In fact, Gideon wrung enough water out of the fleece to fill a bowl, while the floor around it remained dry. But Gideon still was not satisfied.

Gideon (to the True God): 39 Please don’t be angry with me, and I will ask this one thing more. Please let me use the fleece again to prove that You are with me. But this time, let me lay out the fleece, and let it remain dry while all the floor around it is wet with dew.

40 God did as he asked that night. The next morning, the fleece was completely dry, while all the floor around it was wet with dew. Gideon knew that God was calling him to deliver Israel.

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Luke 22:54-23:12

54 They grabbed Him at this point and took Him away to the high priest’s home. Peter followed—at a distance. 55 He watched from the shadows as those who had seized Jesus made a fire in the center of the courtyard and sat down around it. Then Peter slipped in quietly and sat with them. 56 But a young servant girl saw his face in the firelight. She stared for a while and then spoke.

Servant Girl: This fellow here was with Jesus. I recognize him.

Peter (denying it): 57 Woman, I don’t even know the man.

58 A little later, a man also recognized him.

Man: I recognize you. You’re one of Jesus’ followers.

Peter: Man, you’re wrong. I’m not.

59 An hour or so passed, and then another person pointed to Peter.

Another Person: This fellow is obviously Galilean. He must be a member of Jesus’ group.

Peter: 60 Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

And he hadn’t even finished the sentence when a nearby rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned toward Peter, and their eyes met. Peter remembered Jesus’ words about his triple denial before the rooster would crow, 62 so he left the courtyard and wept bitter tears.

63 At this point, the men who were holding Jesus began to mock Him and beat Him. 64 They put a blindfold on Him.

Men Holding Jesus: Hey, Prophet! Use Your prophetic powers to tell us who just whacked You!

65 They kept on with this sort of insulting, degrading treatment for quite some time. 66 When dawn had given way to full day, the Sanhedrin council assembled, consisting of religious leaders of the Sadducean party, along with the chief priests and religious scholars. They took Him to their headquarters for interrogation.

Sanhedrin: 67 If you are the Anointed One whom God promised us, tell us plainly.

Jesus: If I give you an answer, you won’t believe it. 68 And if I ask you a question, you won’t answer it. 69 But this I will say to you: from now on, the Son of Man will take His seat at the right hand of the power of God.

Sanhedrin: 70 So You are the Son of God, then?

Jesus: It’s as you say.

Sanhedrin: 71 What more evidence do we need? We’ve heard it with our own ears from His own lips.

23 So the whole council got up and took Jesus to Pilate. They brought accusations against Him.

Sanhedrin: We have observed this man leading our nation astray. He even forbade us to pay our taxes to Caesar. He claims to be the Anointed One and a King Himself.

Pilate: Are You the King of the Jews?

Jesus: It’s as you say.

Pilate (to the chief priest and crowd): I find this man guilty of no crime.

Sanhedrin (growing more intense): He has been stirring up discontent among the people all over Judea. He started up in Galilee, and now He’s brought His brand of trouble all the way to Jerusalem!

Pilate: Just a minute. Is this man a Galilean?

When Pilate learned that Jesus was indeed Galilean—which meant He was officially under Herod’s jurisdiction—Pilate sent Him over to Herod, who was currently in Jerusalem. Herod was fascinated to meet Jesus for he had heard about Him for a long time. He was hoping he might be treated to a miracle or two. He interrogated Jesus for quite a while, but Jesus remained silent, refusing to answer his questions. 10 Meanwhile the chief priests and religious scholars had plenty to say—angrily hurling accusations at Jesus.

11 Eventually Herod and his soldiers began to insult Jesus, mocking and degrading Him. They put expensive clothing on Him and sent Him back to Pilate. 12 This ended a long-standing rift between Herod and Pilate; they became friends from that day forward.

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Psalm 95-96

Psalm 95

Come, let us worship in song, a joyful offering to the Eternal.
    Shout! Shout with joy to the rock of our liberation.
Come face-to-face with God, and give thanks;
    with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs.
For the Eternal is a great God,
    and a great King, supreme over all gods.
Within His control are the very depths of the earth;
    the mountaintops too—they all belong to Him.
The sea belongs to Him, for He created it—scooped and filled it—
    with His hands He made the dry land—every valley and mountain.

Come, let us worship Him. Everyone bow down;
    kneel before the Eternal who made us.
For He is our God
    and we are His people, the flock of His pasture,
    His sheep protected and nurtured by His hand.

Today, if He speaks, hear His voice.
    “Don’t harden your hearts the way they did in the bitter uprising at Meribah
    or like that day they complained in the wilderness of Massah.
Your ancestors tested Me,
    wanted Me to prove Myself though they had seen that nothing was too great for Me.
10 For 40 years I despised that grumbling generation
    and said, ‘Their hearts are unfaithful;
    they no longer walk in My ways; though I call, they do not listen to My voice.’
11 That is why in My anger I swore,
    ‘They will never enter into My rest.’”

Psalm 96

Sing a new song to the Eternal;
    sing in one voice to the Eternal, all the earth.
Sing to the Eternal of all the good things He’s done.
    Bless His name;
    broadcast the good news of His salvation each and every day.
Enlighten the nations to His splendor;
    describe His wondrous acts to all people.
For the Eternal is great indeed and praiseworthy;
    feared and reverenced above all gods, the True God shall be.
For all human-made, lifeless gods are worthless idols,
    but the Eternal plotted the vast heavens, shaped every last detail.
Honor and majesty precede Him;
    strength and beauty infuse His holy sanctuary.

One of the great themes of Scripture and Psalms is the kingship of God. While lesser kings come and go, God is the One who ultimately rules and reigns over His people, and by extension over the rest of creation. Psalm 96 and others in the collection are often referred to as “enthronement” psalms because they declare boldly and unequivocally that the Eternal is King. There is evidence to suggest that an annual festival at the beginning of the year provided an opportunity to reaffirm the people’s loyalty to the one True God. Psalm 96 calls for new songs to be composed and sung to God and about God as a witness. The enthronement psalms call the world and all its inhabitants to come and recognize His beauty and majesty.

Give all credit to the Eternal, families of the world!
    Credit Him with glory, honor, and strength!
Credit Him with the glory worthy of His magnificent name;
    gather your sacrifice, and present it at His temple.
Bow down to the Eternal, adorned in holiness;
    lay awestruck before Him, trembling, all people of the earth.

10 Shout out to the nations, “The Eternal reigns!
    Yes, indeed, the world is anchored and will not shake loose.
    He governs all people with a fair hand.”
11 And so, let the heavens resound in gladness!
    Let joy be the earth’s rhythm as the sea and all its creatures roar.
12 Let the fields grow in triumph, a grand jubilee for all that live there.
Let all the trees of the forest dig in and reach high with songs of joy before the Eternal,
13 For the Eternal is on His way:
    yes, He is coming to judge the earth.
He will set the world right by His standards,
    and by His faithfulness, He will examine the people.

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Proverbs 14:5-6

An honest witness can always be trusted,
    but a false witness breathes out nothing but lies.
Wisdom eludes mockers, though they seek it,
    but insight comes quickly to those with understanding.

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The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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