June 20 - Mark 5.1-20, 2 Samuel 13 and Daniel 7

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A Man with Evil Spirits
(Matthew 8.28-34; Luke 8.26-39)

Mark 5 Jesus and his disciples crossed Lake Galilee and came to shore near the town of Gerasa. 2When he was getting out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit quickly ran to him 3from the graveyard where he had been living. No one was able to tie the man up anymore, not even with a chain. 4He had often been put in chains and leg irons, but he broke the chains and smashed the leg irons. No one could control him. 5Night and day he was in the graveyard or on the hills, yelling and cutting himself with stones.
6When the man saw Jesus in the distance, he ran up to him and knelt down. 7He shouted, "Jesus, Son of God in heaven, what do you want with me? Promise me in God's name that you won't torture me!" 8The man said this because Jesus had already told the evil spirit to come out of him.
9Jesus asked, "What is your name?"
The man answered, "My name is Lots, because I have 'lots' of evil spirits." 10He then begged Jesus not to send them away.
11Over on the hillside a large herd of pigs was feeding. 12So the evil spirits begged Jesus, "Send us into those pigs! Let us go into them." 13Jesus let them go, and they went out of the man and into the pigs. The whole herd of about two thousand pigs rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned.
14The men taking care of the pigs ran to the town and the farms to spread the news. Then the people came out to see what had happened. 15When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had once been full of demons. He was sitting there with his clothes on and in his right mind, and they were terrified.
16Everyone who had seen what had happened told about the man and the pigs. 17Then the people started begging Jesus to leave their part of the country.
18When Jesus was getting into the boat, the man begged to go with him. 19But Jesus would not let him. Instead, he said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how good he has been to you."
20The man went away into the region near the ten cities known as Decapolis and began telling everyone how much Jesus had done for him. Everyone who heard what had happened was amazed.

Amnon Disgraces Tamar

2 Samuel 13 David had a beautiful daughter named Tamar, who was the sister of Absalom. She was also the half sister of Amnon, who fell in love with her. 2But Tamar was a virgin, and Amnon could not think of a way to be alone with her. He was so upset about it that he made himself sick.
3Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, who was the son of David's brother Shimeah. Jonadab always knew how to get what he wanted, 4and he said to Amnon, "What's the matter? You're the king's son! You shouldn't have to go around feeling sorry for yourself every morning."
Amnon said, "I'm in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister."
5Jonadab told him, "Lie down on your bed and pretend to be sick. When your father comes to see you, ask him to send Tamar, so you can watch her cook something for you. Then she can serve you the food."
6So Amnon went to bed and pretended to be sick. When the king came to see him, Amnon said, "Please, ask Tamar to come over. She can make some special bread while I watch, and then she can serve me the bread."
7David told Tamar, "Go over to Amnon's house and fix him some food." 8When she got there, he was lying in bed. She mixed the dough, made the loaves, and baked them while he watched. 9Then she took the bread out of the pan and put it on his plate, but he refused to eat it.
Amnon said, "Send the servants out of the house." After they had gone, 10he said to Tamar, "Serve the food in my bedroom."
Tamar picked up the bread that she had made and brought it into Amnon's bedroom. 11But as she was taking it over to him, he grabbed her and said, "Come to bed with me!"
12She answered, "No! Please don't force me! This sort of thing isn't done in Israel. It's too disgusting! 13Think of me. I'll be disgraced forever! And think of yourself. Everyone in Israel will say you're nothing but trash! Just ask the king, and he will let you marry me."
14But Amnon would not listen to what she said. He was stronger than she was, so he overpowered her and raped her. 15Then Amnon hated her even more than he had loved her before. So he told her, "Get up and get out!"
16She said, "Don't send me away! That would be worse than what you have already done."
But Amnon would not listen. 17He called in his servant and said, "Throw this woman out and lock the door!"
18The servant made her leave, and he locked the door behind her.
The king's unmarried daughters used to wear long robes with sleeves. 19Tamar tore the robe she was wearing and put ashes on her head. Then she covered her face with her hands and cried loudly as she walked away.

Absalom Kills Amnon

20Tamar's brother Absalom said to her, "How could Amnon have done such a terrible thing to you! But since he's your brother, don't tell anyone what happened. Just try not to think about it."
Tamar soon moved into Absalom's house, but she was always sad and lonely. 21When David heard what had happened to Tamar, he was very angry. But Amnon was his oldest son and also his favorite, and David would not do anything to make Amnon unhappy.
22Absalom treated Amnon as though nothing had happened, but he hated Amnon for what he had done to his sister Tamar.
23Two years later, Absalom's servants were cutting wool from his sheep in Baal-Hazor near the town of Ephraim, and Absalom invited all of the king's sons to be there. 24Then he went to David and said, "My servants are cutting the wool from my sheep. Please come and join us!"
25David answered, "No, my son, we won't go. It would be too expensive for you." Absalom tried to get him to change his mind, but David did not want to go. He only said that he hoped they would have a good time.
26Absalom said, "If you won't go, at least let my brother Amnon come with us."
David asked, "Why should he go with you?" 27But Absalom kept on insisting, and finally David let Amnon and all his other sons go with Absalom.
Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king. 28But he told his servants, "Keep an eye on Amnon. When he gets a little drunk from the wine and is feeling good, I'll give the signal. Then kill him! I've commanded you to do it, so don't be afraid. Be strong and brave."
29Absalom's servants killed Amnon, just as Absalom had told them. The rest of the king's sons quickly rode away on their mules to escape from Absalom.
30While they were on their way to Jerusalem, someone told David, "Absalom has killed all of your sons! Not even one is left." 31David got up, and in his sorrow he tore his clothes and lay down on the ground. His servants remained standing, but they tore their clothes too.
32Then David's nephew Jonadab said, "Your Majesty, not all of your sons were killed! Only Amnon is dead. On the day that Amnon raped Tamar, Absalom decided to kill him. 33Don't worry about the report that all your sons were killed. Only Amnon is dead, 34and Absalom has run away."
One of the guards noticed a lot of people coming along the hillside on the road to Horonaim. He went and told the king, "I saw some men coming along Horonaim Road."
35Jonadab said, "Your Majesty, look! Here come your sons now, just as I told you."
36No sooner had he said it, than David's sons came in. They were weeping out loud, and David and all his officials cried just as loudly. 37-38David was sad for a long time because Amnon was dead.

David Lets Absalom Come Home

Absalom had run away to Geshur, where he stayed for three years with King Talmai the son of Ammihud. 39David still felt so sad over the loss of Amnon that he wanted to take his army there and capture Absalom.

Daniel's Vision of the Four Beasts

Daniel 7 1-2Daniel wrote:
In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylonia, I had some dreams and visions while I was asleep one night, and I wrote them down.
The four winds were stirring up the mighty sea, 3when suddenly four powerful beasts came out of the sea. Each beast was different. 4The first was like a lion with the wings of an eagle. As I watched, its wings were pulled off. Then it was lifted to an upright position and made to stand on two feet, just like a human, and it was given a human mind.
5The second beast looked like a bear standing on its hind legs. It held three ribs in its teeth, and it was told, "Attack! Eat all the flesh you want."
6The third beast was like a leopard--except that it had four wings and four heads. It was given authority to rule.
7The fourth beast was stronger and more terrifying than the others. Its huge teeth were made of iron, and what it didn't grind with its teeth, it smashed with its feet. It was different from the others, and it had horns on its head--ten of them. 8Just as I was thinking about these horns, a smaller horn appeared, and three of the other horns were pulled up by the roots to make room for it. This horn had the eyes of a human and a mouth that spoke with great pride.


Daniel wrote:
9Thrones were set up while I was watching,
and the Eternal God took his place.
His clothing and his hair were white as snow.
His throne was a blazing fire with fiery wheels,
10and flames were dashing out from all around him.
Countless thousands were standing there to serve him.
The time of judgment began,
and the books were opened.
11I watched closely to see what would happen to this smaller horn because of the arrogant things it was saying. Then before my very eyes, the fourth beast was killed and its body destroyed by fire. 12The other three beasts had their authority taken from them, but they were allowed to live a while longer. 13As I continued to watch the vision that night,
I saw what looked like a son of man
coming with the clouds of heaven,
and he was presented to the Eternal God.
14He was crowned king and given power and glory,
so that all people of every nation and race
would serve him.
He will rule forever, and his kingdom is eternal,
never to be destroyed.

The Meaning of Daniel's Vision

15Daniel wrote:
I was terrified by these visions, and I didn't know what to think. 16So I asked one of those standing there, and he explained, 17"The four beasts are four earthly kingdoms. 18But God Most High will give his kingdom to his chosen ones, and it will be theirs forever and ever."
19I wanted to know more about the fourth beast, because it was so different and much more terrifying than the others. What was the meaning of its iron teeth and bronze claws and of its feet that smashed what the teeth and claws had not ground and crushed? 20I also wanted to know more about all ten of those horns on its head. I especially wanted to know more about the one that took the place of three of the others--the horn that had eyes and spoke with arrogance and seemed greater than the others. 21While I was looking, this horn attacked God's chosen ones and was winning the battle. 22Then God Most High, the Eternal God, came and judged in favor of his chosen ones, because the time had arrived for them to be given the kingdom.
23Then I was told by the one standing there:
"The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom
to appear on earth.
It will be different from all the others--
it will trample the earth and crush it to pieces.
24All ten of those horns are kings
who will come from this kingdom,
and one more will follow.
This horn will be different from the others,
and it will conquer three other kings.

25"This king will speak evil of God Most High,
and he will be cruel to God's chosen ones.
He will try to change God's Law and the sacred seasons.
And he will be able to do this
for a time, two times, and half a time.
26But he will finally be judged,
and his kingdom completely destroyed.

27"Then the greatest kingdom of all will be given
to the chosen ones of God Most High.
His kingdom will be eternal,
and all others will serve and obey him."
28That was what I saw and heard. I turned pale with fear and kept it all to myself.

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

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