April 16 - Acts 5.17-42, Deuteronomy 25 -27 and Job 16

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Trouble for the Apostles

Acts 5 17The high priest and all the other Sadducees who were with him became jealous. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. 19But that night an angel from the Lord opened the doors of the jail and led the apostles out. The angel said, 20"Go to the temple and tell the people everything about this new life." 21So they went into the temple before sunrise and started teaching.
The high priest and his men called together their council, which included all of Israel's leaders. Then they ordered the apostles to be brought to them from the jail. 22The temple police who were sent to the jail did not find the apostles. They returned and said, 23"We found the jail locked tight and the guards standing at the doors. But when we opened the doors and went in, we didn't find anyone there." 24The captain of the temple police and the chief priests listened to their report, but they did not know what to think about it.
25Just then someone came in and said, "Right now those men you put in jail are in the temple, teaching the people!" 26The captain went with some of the temple police and brought the apostles back. But they did not use force. They were afraid that the people might start throwing stones at them.
27When the apostles were brought before the council, the high priest said to them, 28"We told you plainly not to teach in the name of Jesus. But look what you have done! You have been teaching all over Jerusalem, and you are trying to blame us for his death."
29Peter and the apostles replied:
We don't obey people. We obey God. 30You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God our ancestors worshiped raised him to life 31and made him our Leader and Savior. Then God gave him a place at his right side, so that the people of Israel would turn back to him and be forgiven. 32We are here to tell you about all this, and so is the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to everyone who obeys God.

33When the council members heard this, they became so angry that they wanted to kill the apostles. 34But one of the members was the Pharisee Gamaliel, a highly respected teacher. He ordered the apostles to be taken out of the room for a little while. 35Then he said to the council:
Be careful what you do with these men. 36Not long ago Theudas claimed to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed. All his followers were scattered, and that was the end of that.
37Later, when the people of our nation were being counted, Judas from Galilee showed up. A lot of people followed him, but he was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
38So I advise you to stay away from these men. Leave them alone. If what they are planning is something of their own doing, it will fail. 39But if God is behind it, you cannot stop it anyway, unless you want to fight against God.

The council members agreed with what he said, 40and they called the apostles back in. They had them beaten with a whip and warned them not to speak in the name of Jesus. Then they let them go.
41The apostles left the council and were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus. 42Every day they spent time in the temple and in one home after another. They never stopped teaching and telling the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Whipping as Punishment for a Crime

Moses said to Israel:
Deuteronomy 25 1-2Suppose you and someone else each accuse the other of doing something wrong, and you go to court, where the judges decide you are guilty. If your punishment is to be beaten with a whip, one of the judges will order you to lie down, and you will receive the number of lashes you deserve. 3Forty lashes is the most that you can be given, because more than that might make other Israelites think you are worthless.

Don't Muzzle an Ox

Moses said to Israel:
4Don't muzzle an ox while it is threshing grain.

A Son for a Dead Brother

Moses said to Israel:
5-6Suppose two brothers are living on the same property, when one of them dies without having a son to carry on his name. If this happens, his widow must not marry anyone outside the family. Instead, she must marry her late husband's brother, and their first son will be the legal son of the dead man.
7But suppose the brother refuses to marry the widow. She must go to a meeting of the town leaders at the town gate and say, "My husband died without having a son to carry on his name. And my husband's brother refuses to marry me so I can have a son."
8The leaders will call the living brother to the town gate and try to persuade him to marry the widow. But if he doesn't change his mind and marry her, 9she must go over to him while the town leaders watch. She will pull off one of his sandals and spit in his face, while saying, "That's what happens to a man who won't help provide descendants for his dead brother." 10From then on, that man's family will be known as "the family of the man whose sandal was pulled off."

When Two Men Fight

Moses said to Israel:
11If two men are fighting, and the wife of one man tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the other man's private parts, 12you must cut off her hand. Don't have any mercy.

Be Honest in Business

Moses said to Israel:
13-14Don't try to cheat people by having two sets of weights or measures, one to get more when you are buying, and the other to give less when you are selling. 15If you weigh and measure things honestly, the LORD your God will let you enjoy a long life in the land he is giving you. 16But the LORD is disgusted with anyone who cheats or is dishonest.

Wipe Out Amalek

Moses said:
17People of Israel, do you remember what the Amalekites did to you after you came out of Egypt? 18You were tired, and they followed along behind, attacking those who could not keep up with the others. This showed that the Amalekites have no respect for God.
19The LORD your God will help you capture the land, and he will give you peace. But when that day comes, you must wipe out Amalek so completely that no one will remember they ever lived.

Give the LORD the First Part of Your Harvest

Moses said to Israel:
Deuteronomy 26 The LORD is giving you the land, and soon you will conquer it, settle down, 2and plant crops. And when you begin harvesting each of your crops, the very first things you pick must be put in a basket. Take them to the place where the LORD your God chooses to be worshiped, 3and tell the priest, "Long ago the LORD our God promised our ancestors that he would give us this land. And today, I thank him for keeping his promise and giving me a share of the land."
4The priest will take the basket and set it in front of the LORD's altar. 5Then, standing there in front of the place of worship, you must pray:
My ancestor was homeless,
an Aramean who went to live in Egypt.
There were only a few in his family then,
but they became great and powerful,
a nation of many people.

6The Egyptians were cruel and had no pity on us.
They mistreated our people and forced us into slavery.
7We called out for help to you,
the LORD God of our ancestors.
You heard our cries;
you knew we were in trouble and abused.
8Then you terrified the Egyptians with your mighty miracles
and rescued us from Egypt.
9You brought us here and gave us this land
rich with milk and honey.
10Now, LORD, I bring to you the best of the crops
that you have given me.
After you say these things, place the basket in front of the LORD's altar and bow down to worship him.
11Then you and your family must celebrate by eating a meal at the place of worship to thank the LORD your God for giving you such a good harvest. And remember to invite the Levites and the foreigners who live in your town.

Ten Percent of the Harvest

Moses said to Israel:
12Every year you are to give ten percent of your harvest to the LORD. But every third year, this ten percent must be given to the poor who live in your town, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. That way, they will have enough to eat. 13Then you must pray:
Our LORD and our God, you have said that ten percent of my harvest is sacred. I have obeyed your command and given this to the poor, including the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows.
14I have not eaten any of this sacred food while I was in mourning; in fact, I never touched it when I was unclean. And none of it has been offered as a sacrifice to the spirits of the dead. I have done everything exactly as you commanded.
15Our LORD, look down from your temple in heaven and bless your people Israel. You promised our ancestors that you would give us this land rich with milk and honey, and you have kept your promise.

The LORD Is Your God, and You Are His People

Moses said to Israel:
16Today the LORD your God has commanded you to obey these laws and teachings with all your heart and soul.
17In response, you have agreed that the LORD will be your God, that you will obey all his laws and teachings, and that you will listen when he speaks to you.
18Since you have agreed to obey the LORD, he has agreed that you will be his people and that you will belong to him, just as he promised. 19The LORD created all nations, but he will make you more famous than any of them, and you will receive more praise and honor. You will belong only to the LORD your God, just as he promised.

Build an Altar on Mount Ebal

Deuteronomy 27 Moses stood together with the leaders and told the people of Israel:
Obey all the laws and teachings that I am giving you today. 2-4Soon you will enter the land that the LORD your God is giving to you. He is the God your ancestors worshiped, and he has promised that this land is rich with milk and honey.
After you cross the Jordan River, go to Mount Ebal. Set up large slabs of stone, then cover them with white plaster and write on them a copy of these laws.
5At this same place, build an altar for offering sacrifices to the LORD your God. But don't use stones that have been cut with iron tools. 6Look for stones that can be used without being cut. Then offer sacrifices to please the LORD, burning them completely on the altar. 7Next, offer sacrifices to ask the LORD's blessing, and serve the meat at a sacred meal where you will celebrate in honor of the LORD.
8Don't forget to write out a copy of these laws on the stone slabs that you are going to set up. Make sure that the writing is easy to read.

Curses on Those Who Disobey

9Moses stood together with the priests and said, "Israel, be quiet and listen to me! Today you have become the people of the LORD your God. 10So you must obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you."
11That same day, Moses gave them the following instructions:
12-13After you cross the Jordan River, you will go to Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. The tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin will go up on Mount Gerizim, where they will bless the people of Israel. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali will go up on Mount Ebal where they will agree to the curses.
14-26The people of the Levi tribe will speak each curse in a loud voice, then the rest of the people will agree to that curse by saying, "Amen!" Here are the curses:
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who makes an idol or worships idols, even secretly. The LORD is disgusted with idols.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on all who do not show respect for their father and mother.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who moves the rocks that mark property lines.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who tells blind people to go the wrong way.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who keeps the poor from getting justice, whether these poor are foreigners, widows, or orphans.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on any man who sleeps with his father's wife; that man has shown no respect for his father's marriage.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who has sex with an animal.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on any man who sleeps with his sister or his half sister or his mother-in-law.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who commits murder, even when there are no witnesses to the crime.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who accepts money to murder an innocent victim.
We ask the LORD to put a curse on anyone who refuses to obey his laws.
And so, to each of these curses, the people will answer, "Amen!"

Job's Reply to Eliphaz

I Have Often Heard This

Job 16 Job said:
2I have often heard this, and it offers no comfort.
3So why don't you keep quiet? What's bothering you?
4If I were in your place, it would be easy to criticize
or to give advice.
5But I would offer hope and comfort instead.

6If I speak, or if I don't, I hurt all the same.
My torment continues.
7God has worn me down and destroyed my family;
8my shriveled up skin proves that I am his prisoner.
9God is my hateful enemy, glaring at me
and attacking with his sharp teeth.
10Everyone is against me; they sneer and slap my face.
11And God is the one who handed me over
to this merciless mob.

Everything Was Going Well

12Everything was going well, until God grabbed my neck
and shook me to pieces.
God set me up as the target 13for his arrows,
and without showing mercy, he slashed my stomach open,
spilling out my insides.
14God never stops attacking, 15and so, in my sorrow
I dress in sackcloth and sit in the dust.
16My face is red with tears, and dark shadows circle my eyes,
17though I am not violent, and my prayers are sincere.

18If I should die, I beg the earth
not to cover my cry for justice.
19Even now, God in heaven is both my witness
and my protector.
20My friends have rejected me, but God is the one I beg
21to show that I am right, just as a friend should.
22Because in only a few years, I will be dead and gone.

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

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