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Amos 4-6; Revelation 2:18-3:6; Psalm 130; Proverbs 29:21-22 (Contemporary English Version)

Amos 4-6

The Women of Samaria

The Lord said:

You women of Samaria
    are fat cows![a]
You mistreat and abuse
    the poor and needy,
then you say to your husbands,
    “Bring us more drinks!”
I, the Lord God, have sworn
by my own name
    that your time is coming.
Not one of you will be left—
you will be taken away
    by sharp hooks.[b]
You will be dragged through holes
    in your city walls,
and you will be thrown
    toward Harmon.[c]
I, the Lord, have spoken!

Israel Refuses To Obey

The Lord said:

Come to Bethel and Gilgal.[d]
    Sin all you want!
Offer sacrifices the next morning
and bring a tenth of your crops
    on the third day.[e]
Bring offerings to show me
    how thankful you are.
Gladly bring more offerings
than I have demanded.
    You really love to do this.
I, the Lord God, have spoken!

How the Lord Warned Israel

I, the Lord, took away the food
from every town and village,
    but still you rejected me.
Three months before harvest,
    I kept back the rain.
Sometimes I would let it fall
    on one town or field
but not on another,
    and pastures dried up.
People from two or three towns
    would go to a town
that still had water,
    but it wasn’t enough.
Even then you rejected me.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

I dried up your grain fields;
your gardens and vineyards
    turned brown.
Locusts[f] ate your fig trees
    and olive orchards,
but even then you rejected me.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

10 I did terrible things to you,
    just as I did to Egypt—
I killed your young men in war;
    I let your horses be stolen,
and I made your camp stink
    with dead bodies.
Even then you rejected me.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

11 I destroyed many of you,
just as I did the cities
    of Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were a burning stick
    I rescued from the fire.
Even then you rejected me.
    I, the Lord, have spoken!

12 Now, Israel, I myself
will deal with you.
    Get ready to face your God!

13 I created the mountains
    and the wind.
I let humans know
    what I am thinking.[g]
I bring darkness at dawn
    and step over hills.
I am the Lord God All-Powerful!

Turn Back to the Lord

Listen, nation of Israel,
    to my mournful message:
You, dearest Israel, have fallen,
    never to rise again—
you lie deserted in your own land,
    with no one to help you up.

The Lord God has warned,
“From every ten soldiers
    only one will be left;
from a thousand troops,
    only a hundred will survive.”

The Lord keeps saying,
“Israel, turn back to me
    and you will live!
Don’t go to Gilgal or Bethel
    or even to Beersheba.[h]
Gilgal will be dragged away,
and Bethel will end up
    as nothing.”[i]

Turn back to the Lord,
you descendants of Joseph,[j]
    and you will live.
If you don’t, the Lord
    will attack like fire.
Bethel will burn to the ground,
    and no one can save it.
You people are doomed!
You twist the truth
    and stomp on justice.

But the Lord created the stars
    and put them in place.[k]
He turns darkness to dawn
    and daylight to darkness;
he scoops up the ocean
    and empties it on the earth.
God destroys mighty soldiers
    and strong fortresses.

Choose Good Instead of Evil!

The Lord said:

10 You people hate judges
    and honest witnesses;
11 you abuse the poor and demand
    heavy taxes from them.
You have built expensive homes,
    but you won’t enjoy them;
you have planted vineyards,
    but you will get no wine.
12 I am the Lord, and I know
    your terrible sins.
You cheat honest people
and take bribes;
    you rob the poor of justice.
13 Times are so evil
that anyone with good sense
    will keep quiet.

14 If you really want to live,
you must stop doing wrong
    and start doing right.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
will then be on your side,
    just as you claim I am.
15 Choose good instead of evil!
    See that justice is done.
Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful,
will be kind to what’s left
    of your people.[l]

Judgment Is Coming

16 This is what the Lord has sworn:

Noisy crying will be heard
    in every town and street.
Even farmers will be told
    to mourn for the dead,
together with those
    who are paid to mourn.[m]
17 Your vineyards will be filled
with crying and weeping,[n]
    because I will punish you.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

When the Lord Judges

18 You look forward to the day
when the Lord comes to judge.
    But you are in for trouble!
It won’t be a time of sunshine;
    all will be darkness.
19 You will run from a lion,
    only to meet a bear.
You will escape to your house,
rest your hand on the wall,
    and be bitten by a snake.
20 The day when the Lord judges
will be dark, very dark,
    without a ray of light.

What the Lord Demands

21 I, the Lord, hate and despise
your religious celebrations
    and your times of worship.
22 I won’t accept your offerings
or animal sacrifices—
    not even your very best.
23 No more of your noisy songs!
I won’t listen
    when you play your harps.
24 But let justice and fairness
flow like a river
    that never runs dry.

25 Israel, for forty years
    you wandered in the desert,
without bringing offerings
    or sacrifices to me.
26 Now you will have to carry
    the two idols you made—
Sakkuth, the one you call king,
and Kaiwan,
the one you built
    in the shape of a star.[o]
27 I will force you to march
    as captives beyond Damascus.
I, the Lord God All-Powerful,
    have spoken![p]

Israel Will Be Punished

Do you rulers in Jerusalem
and in the city of Samaria
    feel safe and at ease?
Everyone bows down to you,
and you think you are better
    than any other nation.
But you are in for trouble!
Look what happened
    to the cities of Calneh,
    powerful Hamath,
    and Gath[q] in Philistia.
Are you greater than any
    of those kingdoms?
You are cruel, and you forget
    the coming day of judgment.

You rich people lounge around
    on beds with ivory posts,
while dining on the meat
    of your lambs and calves.
You sing foolish songs
    to the music of harps,
and you make up new tunes,
    just as David used to do.
You drink all the wine you want
    and wear expensive perfume,
but you don’t care about
    the ruin of your nation.[r]
So you will be the first
to be dragged off as captives;
    your good times will end.

The Lord God All-Powerful
    has sworn by his own name:
“You descendants of Jacob
make me angry by your pride,
    and I hate your fortresses.
And so I will surrender your city
and possessions
    to your enemies.”

If only ten of you survive
by hiding in a house
    you will still die.
10 As you carry out a corpse
    to prepare it for burial,[s]
your relative in the house
will ask, “Are there others?”
    You will answer, “No!”
Then your relative will reply,
“Be quiet!
Don’t dare mention
    the name of the Lord.”[t]
11 At the Lord’s command,
houses great and small
    will be smashed to pieces.

12 Horses can’t gallop on rocks;
    oceans[u] can’t be plowed.
But you have turned justice
and fairness
    into bitter poison.
13 You celebrate the defeat
    of Lo-Debar and Karnaim,[v]
and you boast by saying,
    “We did it on our own.”

14 But the Lord God All-Powerful
will send a nation
to attack
    you people of Israel.
They will capture Lebo-Hamath
    in the north,
Arabah Creek[w] in the south,
    and everything in between.

Footnotes:

  1. 4.1 fat cows: The Hebrew text has “cows of Bashan,” a fertile plain famous for its rich pastures and well-fed cattle.
  2. 4.2 taken. . . hooks: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  3. 4.3 Harmon: Hebrew; some manuscripts of one ancient translation “Mount Hermon,” a mountain in the north of Palestine, on the way to Assyria.
  4. 4.4 Bethel and Gilgal: These were two of the most important centers of worship in northern Israel. Amos mentions these together again in 5.5.
  5. 4.4 Offer. . . day: Or “Offer sacrifices each morning and bring a tenth of your crops every three days.” In verses 4,5 God is condemning the people for meaningless acts of worship.
  6. 4.9 Locusts: A type of grasshopper that comes in swarms and causes great damage to plant life.
  7. 4.13 I let. . . thinking: Or “No one’s secret thoughts are hidden from me.”
  8. 5.5 Gilgal. . . Bethel. . . Beersheba: These were ancient places of worship, but the Lord had warned his people to stay away from them.
  9. 5.5 Gilgal. . . nothing: In Hebrew “Gilgal” and “dragged away” sound something alike. Bethel (meaning “house of God”) is sometimes called “house of nothing” or “house of sin” by the prophets (see Hosea 4.15; 5.8; 10.5-8).
  10. 5.6 descendants of Joseph: Another name for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel.
  11. 5.8 the stars. . . place: The Hebrew text mentions two groups of stars, Pleiades and Orion. Since the Lord is the Creator of the stars, he controls the seasons that are signaled by the different positions of the stars. Moreover, the stars are created objects and should not be worshiped.
  12. 5.15 your people: Hebrew “Joseph’s descendants” (see the note at verse 6).
  13. 5.16 paid to mourn: In ancient times some people were paid to mourn and make loud cries at funerals.
  14. 5.17 Your vineyards. . . weeping: Instead of happy celebrations that were often held in vineyards after the harvest.
  15. 5.26 star: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 26.
  16. 5.27 I, the Lord. . . spoken: Israel did not offer sacrifices and gifts to the Lord during the time they wandered through the desert. But now they have made idols to carry during their ceremonies. So the Lord warns that he will make them “march” away as captives beyond Damascus, where Israel had extended its borders by victories in war (see 2 Kings 14.28).
  17. 6.2 Calneh. . . Hamath. . . Gath: City-states captured by the Assyrians: Calneh in 738 B.C., Hamath in 720, and Gath in 711.
  18. 6.6 your nation: Hebrew “Joseph’s descendants” (see the note at 5.6).
  19. 6.10 prepare. . . burial: Or “burn it” or “burn incense for it.”
  20. 6.10 the name of the Lord: Two relatives seem to be carrying out corpses for burial. One of them warns the other to be careful not even to say “Thank the Lord!” for fear that the mention of his name may cause something worse to happen.
  21. 6.12 oceans: Or “rocks.”
  22. 6.13 Lo-Debar and Karnaim: Two cities east of the Jordan River that were captured by Jeroboam II (see 2 Kings 14.25). In Hebrew “Lo-Debar” can mean “nothing,” and “Karnaim” means “two horns (of a bull).” Horns were symbols of strength, and so the people are bragging about their military power (defeat of “two horns”), which Amos says is “nothing” (Lo-Debar).
  23. 6.14 Lebo-Hamath. . . Arabah Creek: The northern and southern boundaries of the northern kingdom.
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Revelation 2:18-3:6

The Letter to Thyatira

18 This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Thyatira:

I am the Son of God! My eyes are like flames of fire, and my feet are like bronze. Listen to what I say.

19 I know everything about you, including your love, your faith, your service, and how you have endured. I know that you are doing more now than you have ever done before. 20 But I still have something against you because of that woman Jezebel.[a] She calls herself a prophet, and you let her teach and mislead my servants to do immoral things and to eat food offered to idols. 21 I gave her a chance to turn from her sins, but she did not want to stop doing these immoral things.

22 I am going to strike down Jezebel. Everyone who does these immoral things with her will also be punished, if they don’t stop. 23 I will even kill her followers.[b] Then all the churches will see that I know everyone’s thoughts and feelings. I will treat each of you as you deserve.

24 Some of you in Thyatira don’t follow Jezebel’s teaching. You don’t know anything about what her followers call the “deep secrets of Satan.” So I won’t burden you down with any other commands. 25 But until I come, you must hold firmly to the teaching you have.

26 I will give power over the nations to everyone who wins the victory and keeps on obeying me until the end. 27-28 I will give each of them the same power that my Father has given me. They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash those nations to pieces like clay pots. I will also give them the morning star.[c]

29 If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

The Letter to Sardis

This is what you must write to the angel of the church in Sardis:

I have the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. Listen to what I say.

I know what you are doing. Everyone may think you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up! You have only a little strength left, and it is almost gone. So try to become stronger. I have found that you are not completely obeying God. Remember the teaching that you were given and that you heard. Hold firmly to it and turn from your sins. If you don’t wake up, I will come when you least expect it, just as a thief does.

A few of you in Sardis have not dirtied your clothes with sin. You will walk with me in white clothes, because you are worthy. Everyone who wins the victory will wear white clothes. Their names will not be erased from the book of life,[d] and I will tell my Father and his angels that they are my followers.

If you have ears, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.

Footnotes:

  1. 2.20 Jezebel: Nothing else is known about her. This may have been her real name or a name that was given to her because she was like Queen Jezebel, who opposed the Lord (see 1 Kings 19.1,2; 21.1-26).
  2. 2.23 her followers: Or “her children.”
  3. 2.27,28 the morning star: Probably thought of as the star that signals the end of night and the beginning of day. In 22.16 Christ is called the “morning star.”
  4. 3.5 book of life: The book in which the names of God’s people are written.
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Psalm 130

(A song for worship.)

Trusting the Lord in Times of Trouble

130 From a sea of troubles
    I call out to you, Lord.
    Won’t you please listen
    as I beg for mercy?

If you kept record of our sins,
    no one could last long.
    But you forgive us,
    and so we will worship you.

With all my heart,
I am waiting, Lord, for you!
    I trust your promises.
I wait for you more eagerly
    than a soldier on guard duty
    waits for the dawn.
Yes, I wait more eagerly
    than a soldier on guard duty
    waits for the dawn.

Israel, trust the Lord!
    He is always merciful,
    and he has the power
    to save you.
Israel, the Lord will save you
    from all of your sins.

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Proverbs 29:21-22

21 Slaves that you treat kindly
from their childhood
    will cause you sorrow.[a]
22 A person with a quick temper
stirs up arguments
    and commits a lot of sins.

Footnotes:

  1. 29.21 will. . . sorrow: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
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