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7 (to Aaron) Approach the altar, and present your purification offering and burnt offering. Do this first to cover the impurity of your own life so that you will be fit to cover the impurity of all the people. Then present the offering of the people so that the impurity of their lives may be covered. Do exactly as the Eternal has commanded.
8 Aaron approached the altar and slaughtered the calf as the purification offering for himself. 9 Aaron’s sons held the blood out to him, and Aaron dipped his finger in the blood and spread it on the four horns of the altar. Then he poured the remaining blood around the base of the altar. 10 After this he removed the fat, the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver of the purification offering and offered them as smoke on the altar, exactly as the Eternal had commanded Moses. 11 He took what remained of the meat and skin and burned it up in a fire outside the camp.
12 Then Aaron slaughtered the burnt offering and his sons brought him the blood, and he splattered it against the sides of the altar. 13 Then Aaron’s sons gave him all the pieces of the burnt offering, including the head, and he offered them up as smoke on the altar. 14 He washed the organs and the legs with water so nothing unacceptable would be added and offered them with the burnt offering as smoke on the altar.
15 Now with his own sins covered, Aaron was able to offer the sacrifices for the masses. So he took the goat for the purification offering, slaughtered it, and offered it as reparation for the people’s sin. He did this in the same way he presented the first offering. 16 He brought the burnt offering as well and offered it in accordance with the ordinances God handed on to Moses. 17 Then he presented the grain offering, took some of it in his hand, and offered it up as smoke on the altar in addition to the morning’s burnt offering.
18 Then he slaughtered the ox and the ram as the peace offerings for the masses. Aaron’s sons gave him the blood, and he splattered it against the sides of the altar. 19 The fat of the ox and ram—the fat tail, the fat covering the intestines, the kidneys, and the lobe of the liver— 20 they put on top of the breasts and offered them as smoke on the altar. 21 Aaron lifted the breasts and the right thigh as a wave offering before the Eternal as Moses commanded.
22 Then Aaron raised his hands in the direction of the people and blessed them.[a] After he had completed the sacrifices for the purification offering, burnt offering, and peace offerings, he descended from the altar. 23 Moses and Aaron entered the congregation tent. When they returned, they blessed the people, and the Eternal One’s glory appeared to all the people. 24 Then flames erupted from the presence of the Eternal One and devoured the burnt offering and all the fat on the altar. At the sight of this, everyone cried out and fell on their faces.
The glory of God is a hard notion for us. The word often translated “glory” means essentially heaviness or weight. The Eternal One uniquely is the most substantial and most significant being in the cosmos. Only God is eternal. Only God has true substance. Creation runs out, wears out, and peters out eventually. In the Scriptures the term “glory” is used often for those unique times and places when God manifests Himself in some visible way. It is His epiphany, or manifestation, one might say. To see God’s glory is a fearsome thing. That’s why people fall on their faces and call out for mercy. Not many people have seen God’s glory, but those who do never forget it.
10 Nadab and Abihu, two of Aaron’s sons, took censers and filled them with embers; then they put incense on top of the fire and presented it to the Eternal One. This was a strange and unauthorized fire that the Eternal did not command them. 2 Flames erupted from before the Eternal and burned up Nadab and Abihu. They both died in the presence of the Eternal One.
Moses (to Aaron): 3 This is what the Eternal One was talking about when He said,
By those authorized to come near,
I will be treated as sacred.
In the eyes of all the people,
I will be honored.
Aaron remained silent.
4 Moses summoned Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel.
Moses: Make your way forward. Gather the dead bodies of your relatives from the front of the sanctuary, and carry them outside the camp.
5 So Mishael and Elzaphan did as Moses instructed; they came forward, picked them up—while they were still wearing their priestly tunics—and carried them outside the camp. 6 Moses spoke to Aaron and his sons, Eleazar and Ithamar.
Moses: Do not let your hair go unkempt or rip your garments in customary acts of mourning, or else you will die. Follow this instruction so that the Eternal One does not grow angry toward the entire community. Everyone else—our relatives, the entire community of Israel—can lament the great fire the Eternal One has produced that killed your sons. 7 Do not go beyond the entrance of the congregation tent. If you do, you will meet a quick death, for the Eternal’s anointing oil covers you.
Aaron and his sons followed Moses’ instructions.
8 The Eternal One addressed Aaron.
Eternal One: 9 You and your sons must not drink wine or any alcoholic drink before entering the congregation tent, lest you die. This directive stands for all time throughout your generations. 10 You must know the difference between the sacred and the profane, the ritually pure and the impure, 11 and teach the people of Israel the directives, which I have revealed to them through Moses.
God demanded that the priests stay entirely sober while performing their ritual duties to ensure good judgment and orderly worship.
Moses (to Aaron and his surviving sons, Eleazar and Ithamar): 12 You may take whatever grain is left from the fire-offerings devoted to the Eternal and eat it unleavened next to the altar; this is most sacred. 13 You are to eat it in a sacred space; it is your and your sons’ portion of the Eternal One’s fire-offerings, according to the commands I have given. 14 You, your sons, and your daughters may eat the breast of the wave offering and the thigh presented to God in some ritually pure place. The breast and thigh are your portion and your children’s portion from the sacrifices of the peace offerings brought by the people of Israel. 15 Have them bring the thigh that is contributed and the breast that is waved, along with the fire-offerings of fat, to present as a wave offering before the Eternal One. This will be your and your children’s portion for all time; it is your due as the Eternal has commanded.
16 Moses began asking for the goat for the purification offering, but he discovered that it had already been burned up. He was furious with Eleazar and Ithamar (Aaron’s surviving sons).
Moses (to Aaron’s sons): 17 Why did you disobey my instructions and not eat the purification offering in the area of the sanctuary? It is most sacred. God has given it to you so that you can take on the guilt of the community and cover their wrongs before the Eternal. 18 Look, its blood was never taken inside the sanctuary; therefore the rightful place for you to eat it was in the sanctuary as I commanded.
Aaron (to Moses): 19 Look, my sons offered their purification offering and their burnt offering to the Eternal One today. But think of all that has happened to me. Given the tragedy I have seen, would the Eternal have approved if I had eaten a purification offering today?
20 After Moses listened to what Aaron had to say, he was satisfied.
26 Here is what the kingdom of God is like: a man who throws seeds onto the earth. 27 Day and night, as he works and as he sleeps, the seeds sprout and climb out into the light, even though he doesn’t understand how it works. 28 It’s as though the soil itself produced the grain somehow—from a sprouted stalk to ripened fruit. 29 But however it happens, when he sees that the grain has grown and ripened, he gets his sickle and begins to cut it because the harvest has come.
30 What else is the kingdom of God like? What earthly thing can we compare it to? 31 The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the tiniest seed you can sow. 32 But after that seed is planted, it grows into the largest plant in the garden, a plant so big that birds can build their nests in the shade of its branches.
33 Jesus spoke many parables like these to the people who followed Him. 34 This was the only way He taught them, although when He was alone with His chosen few, He interpreted all the stories so the disciples truly understood.
35 The same evening, Jesus suggested they cross over to the other side of the lake. 36 With Jesus already in the boat, they left the crowd behind and set sail along with a few other boats that followed. 37 As they sailed, a storm formed. The winds whipped up huge waves that broke over the bow, filling the boat with so much water that even the experienced sailors among them were sure they were going to sink.
38 Jesus was back in the stern of the boat, sound asleep on a cushion, when the disciples shook Him awake.
Disciples (shouting over the storm): Jesus, Master, don’t You care that we’re going to die?
39 He got up, shouted words into the wind, and commanded the waves.
Jesus: That’s enough! Be still!
And immediately the wind died down to nothing, the waves stopped.
Jesus: 40 How can you be so afraid? After all you’ve seen, where is your faith?
41 The disciples were still afraid, slowly coming to grips with what they had seen.
Disciples (to one another): Who is this Jesus? How can it be that He has power over even the wind and the waves?
For most of Jesus’ miracles, the disciples are observers: they watch Him healing the sick, raising dead bodies, and casting demons out of strangers. This time, however, it is the disciples—and even Jesus Himself—who are in danger. Maybe that’s why they are having such a hard time trusting that His power is greater than their situation.
They have seen Him cast out demons. They know He has powers that are not of natural origin. But they have never seen—or even heard of—anything like this. It’s one thing to heal human sickness or even to order demons around. But to order the waves and the wind? To command the sea and the storm? That’s a miracle of an entirely different order.
5 They traveled across the sea to the land of Gerasa[a] in Galilee. 2-3 When Jesus came ashore there, He was immediately met by a man who was tortured by an evil spirit. This man lived in the cemeteries, and no one could control him—not even those who tried to tie him up or chain him. 4 He had often been bound in chains, but his strength was so great that he could break the chains and tear the irons loose from his feet and hands. No one and nothing could subdue him. 5 Day and night, he lurked among the tombs or ran mad in the hills, and the darkness made him scream or cut himself with sharp-edged stones. 6 When this man saw Jesus coming in the distance, he ran to Him and fell to his knees in front of Him. 7-8 Jesus started commanding the unclean spirit.
Jesus: Come out of that man, you wicked spirit!
Unclean Spirit (shouting): What’s this all about, Jesus, Son of the Most High? In the name of God, I beg You—don’t torture me!
Jesus: 9 What is your name?
Unclean Spirit: They call me “Legion,” for there are thousands of us in this body.
10 And then Legion begged Jesus again to leave them alone, not to send them out of the country.
11 Since the Gerasenes were not Jews (who considered pigs to be unclean), there happened to be a large herd of swine, some 2,000 of them, feeding on the hill nearby.
Unclean Spirit (begging): 12 Send us into those pigs if You have to, so that we may enter into them.
13 Jesus granted the request. The darkness swept up out of the man and into the herd of pigs. And then they thundered down the hill into the water; and there they drowned, all 2,000 of them.
14 The swineherds ran away, telling everybody they met what had happened. Eventually a crowd of people came to see for themselves. 15 When they reached Jesus, they found the man Legion had afflicted sitting quietly, sane and fully clothed; when they saw this, they were overwhelmed with fear and wonder.
16 Those who had witnessed everything told the others what had happened: how Jesus had healed the man, how the pigs had rushed into the sea, and how they had destroyed themselves. 17 When they had heard the whole story, the Gerasenes turned to Jesus and begged Him to go away.
18 When Jesus climbed back into the boat, the cured demoniac asked if he could come and be with Him, but Jesus said no.
Jesus: 19 Stay here; I want you to go back home to your own people and let them see what the Lord has done—how He has had mercy on you.
20 So the man went away and began telling this news in the Ten Cities[b] region; wherever he went, people were amazed by what he told them.
30 Wisdom fills the mouth of the right-living;
justice and truth roll from their tongues.
31 The True God’s law is imprinted upon their hearts,
and they do not stumble.
32 The wicked stalk God’s good ones,
looking to kill them,
33 But the Eternal will never leave them to the dogs of evil,
nor will they be found guilty when the verdict is read.
34 Wait for the Eternal. Keep to His path. Mind His will.
He will come for you, exalt you; you will inherit the land.
Before your very eyes you will see the end of the wicked.
35 I passed by a wicked man with a cold-blooded nature;
I looked, and he seemed as large as a cedar of Lebanon.
36 But then again, I passed that same way and there was nothing left of him.
I went out looking for him, but he was nowhere to be found.
37 Keep your eye on the innocent. Model your life after the blameless.
Everyone who loves peace has a future.
38 But sinners will be doomed.
The forecast for the wicked: utter destruction.
There will be none left, not one child of darkness.
39 The Eternal saves His faithful;
He lends His strength in hard times;
40 The Eternal comes and frees them—
frees them from evildoers and saves them for eternity—
simply because they seek shelter in Him.
6 Blessings come to those who do what is right,
but words spoken by the wicked cover up violent schemes.
7 The memory of one who lived with integrity brings joy,
but the legacy of a wrongdoer will rot away.