April 13 - Acts 4.1-22, Deuteronomy 19-20 and Job 13

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Peter and John Are Brought in Front of the Council

Acts 4 The apostles were still talking to the people, when some priests, the captain of the temple guard, and some Sadducees arrived. 2These men were angry because the apostles were teaching the people that the dead would be raised from death, just as Jesus had been raised from death. 3It was already late in the afternoon, and they arrested Peter and John and put them in jail for the night. 4But a lot of people who had heard the message believed it. So by now there were about five thousand followers of the Lord.
5The next morning the leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met in Jerusalem. 6The high priest Annas was there, as well as Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the high priest's family. 7They brought in Peter and John and made them stand in the middle while they questioned them. They asked, "By what power and in whose name have you done this?"
8Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation's leaders and the elders:
9You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 11He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.

13The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles.
15The officials commanded them to leave the council room. Then the officials said to each other, 16"What can we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows about this miracle, and we cannot say it didn't happen. 17But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus." 18So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus.
19Peter and John answered, "Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? 20We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard."
21-22The officials could not find any reason to punish Peter and John. So they threatened them and let them go. The man who was healed by this miracle was more than forty years old, and everyone was praising God for what had happened.

Safe Towns
(Numbers 35.9-28; Joshua 20.1-9)

Moses said to Israel:
Deuteronomy 19 Soon you will go into the land and attack the nations. The LORD your God will destroy them and give you their lands, towns, and homes. Then after you are settled, 2-4you must choose three of your towns to be Safe Towns. Divide the land into three regions with one Safe Town near the middle of each, so that a Safe Town can be easily reached from anywhere in your land.
Then, if one of you accidentally kills someone, you can run to a Safe Town and find protection from being put to death. But you must not have been angry with the person you killed.
5For example, suppose you and a friend go into the forest to cut wood. You are chopping down a tree with an ax, when the ax head slips off the handle, hits your friend, and kills him. You can run to one of the Safe Towns and save your life. 6You don't deserve to die, since you did not mean to harm your friend. But he did get killed, and his relatives might be very angry. They might even choose one of the men from their family to track you down and kill you. If it is too far to one of the Safe Towns, the victim's relative might be able to catch you and kill you. 7That's why I said there must be three Safe Towns.
8-9Israel, the LORD your God has promised that if you obey his laws and teachings I'm giving you, and if you always love him, then he will give you the land he promised your ancestors. When that happens, you must name three more Safe Towns in the new territory. 10You will need them, so innocent people won't be killed on your land while they are trying to reach a Safe Town that is too far away. You will be guilty of murder, if innocent people lose their lives because you didn't name enough Safe Towns in the land the LORD your God will give you.
11But what if you really do commit murder? Suppose one of you hates a neighbor. So you wait in a deserted place, kill the neighbor, and run to a Safe Town. 12If that happens, the leaders of your town must send messengers to bring you back from the Safe Town. They will hand you over to one of the victim's relatives, who will put you to death.
13Israel, for the good of the whole country, you must kill anyone who murders an innocent person. Never show mercy to a murderer!

Property Lines

Moses said to Israel:
14In the land the LORD is giving you, there are already stones set up to mark the property lines between fields. So don't move those stones.

Witnesses Must Tell the Truth

Moses said to Israel:
15Before you are convicted of a crime, at least two witnesses must be able to testify that you did it.
16If you accuse someone of a crime, but seem to be lying, 17-18then both you and the accused must be taken to the court at the place where the LORD is worshiped. There the priests and judges will find out if you are lying or telling the truth.
If you are lying and the accused is innocent, 19-21then you will be punished without mercy. You will receive the same punishment the accused would have received if found guilty, whether it means losing an eye, a tooth, a hand, a foot, or even your life.
Israel, the crime of telling lies in court must be punished. And when people hear what happens to witnesses that lie, everyone else who testifies in court will tell the truth.

Laws for Going to War

Moses said to Israel:
Deuteronomy 20 If you have to go to war, you may find yourselves facing an enemy army that is bigger than yours and that has horses and chariots. But don't be afraid! The LORD your God rescued you from Egypt, and he will help you fight. 2Before you march into battle, a priest will go to the front of the army 3and say, "Soldiers of Israel, listen to me! Today when you go into battle, don't be afraid of the enemy, and when you see them, don't panic. 4The LORD your God will fight alongside you and help you win the battle."
5Then the tribal officials will say to the troops:
If any of you have built a new house, but haven't yet moved in, you may go home. It isn't right for you to die in battle and for somebody else to live in your new house.
6If any of you have planted a vineyard but haven't had your first grape harvest, you may go home. It isn't right for you to die in battle and for somebody else to enjoy your grapes.
7If any of you are engaged to be married, you may go back home and get married. It isn't right for you to die in battle and for somebody else to marry the woman you are engaged to.
8Finally, if any of you are afraid, you may go home. We don't want you to discourage the other soldiers.

9When the officials are finished giving these orders, they will appoint officers to be in command of the army.
10-15Before you attack a town that is far from your land, offer peace to the people who live there. If they surrender and open their town gates, they will become your slaves. But if they reject your offer of peace and try to fight, surround their town and attack. Then, after the LORD helps you capture it, kill all the men. Take the women and children as slaves and keep the livestock and everything else of value.
16Whenever you capture towns in the land the LORD your God is giving you, be sure to kill all the people and animals. 17He has commanded you to completely wipe out the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 18If you allow them to live, they will persuade you to worship their disgusting gods, and you will be unfaithful to the LORD.
19When you are attacking a town, don't chop down its fruit trees, not even if you have had the town surrounded for a long time. Fruit trees aren't your enemies, and they produce food that you can eat, so don't cut them down. 20You may need wood to make ladders and towers to help you get over the walls and capture the town. But use only trees that you know are not fruit trees.

Job Continues

I Know and Understand

Job 13 I know and understand every bit of this.
2None of you are smarter than I am;
there's nothing you know that I don't.
3But I prefer to argue my case with God All-Powerful--
4you are merely useless doctors, who treat me with lies.
5The wisest thing you can do is to keep quiet
6and listen to my argument.
7Are you telling lies for God
8and not telling the whole truth when you argue his case?
9If he took you to court, could you fool him,
just as you fool others?
10If you were secretly unfair, he would correct you,
11and his glorious splendor would make you terrified.
12Your wisdom and arguments are as delicate as dust.

Be Quiet While I Speak

13Be quiet while I speak, then say what you will.
14I will be responsible for what happens to me.
15God may kill me, but still I will trust him
and offer my defense.
16This may be what saves me, because no guilty person
would come to his court.
17Listen carefully to my words!
18I have prepared my case well, and I am certain to win.
19If you can prove me guilty, I will give up and die.

Job Prays

I Ask Only Two Things

20I ask only two things of you, my God,
and I will no longer hide from you--
21stop punishing and terrifying me!

22Then speak, and I will reply;
or else let me speak, and you reply.
23Please point out my sins, so I will know them.
24Why have you turned your back
and count me your enemy?
25Do you really enjoy frightening a fallen leaf?
26Why do you accuse me of horrible crimes
and make me pay for sins I did in my youth?
27You have tied my feet down and keep me surrounded;
28I am rotting away like cloth eaten by worms.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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