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

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Peter and John before the Council

Acts 4 Peter and John were still speaking to the people when some priests, the officer in charge of the Temple guards, and some Sadducees arrived. 2They were annoyed because the two apostles were teaching the people that Jesus had risen from death, which proved that the dead will rise to life. 3So they arrested them and put them in jail until the next day, since it was already late. 4But many who heard the message believed; and the number grew to about five thousand.
5The next day the Jewish leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law gathered in Jerusalem. 6They met with the High Priest Annas and with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and the others who belonged to the High Priest's family. 7They made the apostles stand before them and asked them, "How did you do this? What power do you have or whose name did you use?"
8Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, answered them, "Leaders of the people and elders: 9if we are being questioned today about the good deed done to the lame man and how he was healed, 10then you should all know, and all the people of Israel should know, that this man stands here before you completely well through the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth--whom you crucified and whom God raised from death. 11Jesus is the one of whom the scripture says,
'The stone that you the builders despised
turned out to be the most important of all.'
12Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us."
13The members of the Council were amazed to see how bold Peter and John were and to learn that they were ordinary men of no education. They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus. 14But there was nothing that they could say, because they saw the man who had been healed standing there with Peter and John. 15So they told them to leave the Council room, and then they started discussing among themselves. 16"What shall we do with these men?" they asked. "Everyone in Jerusalem knows that this extraordinary miracle has been performed by them, and we cannot deny it. 17But to keep this matter from spreading any further among the people, let us warn these men never again to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus."
18So they called them back in and told them that under no condition were they to speak or to teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, "You yourselves judge which is right in God's sight--to obey you or to obey God. 20For we cannot stop speaking of what we ourselves have seen and heard." 21So the Council warned them even more strongly and then set them free. They saw that it was impossible to punish them, because the people were all praising God for what had happened. 22The man on whom this miracle of healing had been performed was over forty years old.

The Cities of Refuge
(Numbers 35.9-34; Joshua 20.1-9)

Deuteronomy 19 "After the LORD your God has destroyed the people whose land he is giving you and after you have taken their cities and houses and settled there, 2-3divide the territory into three parts, each with a city that can be easily reached. Then any of you that kill will be able to escape to one of them for protection. 4If you accidentally kill someone who is not your enemy, you may escape to any of these cities and be safe. 5For example, if two of you go into the forest together to cut wood and if, as one of you is chopping down a tree, the ax head comes off the handle and kills the other, you can run to one of those three cities and be safe. 6If there were only one city, the distance to it might be too great, and the relative who is responsible for taking revenge for the killing might catch you and angrily kill an innocent person. After all, it was by accident that you killed someone who was not your enemy. 7This is why I order you to set aside three cities.
8"When the LORD your God enlarges your territory, as he told your ancestors he would, and gives you all the land he has promised, 9then you are to select three more cities. (He will give you this land if you do everything that I command you today and if you love the LORD your God and live according to his teachings.) 10Do this, so that innocent people will not die and so that you will not be guilty of putting them to death in the land that the LORD is giving you.
11"But suppose you deliberately murder your enemy in cold blood and then escape to one of those cities for protection. 12In that case, the leaders of your own town are to send for you and hand you over to the relative responsible for taking revenge for the murder, so that you may be put to death. 13No mercy will be shown to you. Israel must rid itself of murderers, so that all will go well.

Ancient Property Lines

14"Do not move your neighbor's property line, established long ago in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Concerning Witnesses

15"One witness is not enough to convict someone of a crime; at least two witnesses are necessary to prove that someone is guilty. 16If any of you try to harm another by false accusations, 17both of you are to go to the one place of worship and be judged by the priests and judges who are then in office. 18The judges will investigate the case thoroughly; and if you have made a false accusation, 19you are to receive the punishment the accused would have received. In this way your nation will get rid of this evil. 20Then everyone else will hear what happened; they will be afraid, and no one will ever again do such an evil thing. 21In such cases show no mercy; the punishment is to be a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot.

Concerning War

Deuteronomy 20 "When you go out to fight against your enemies and you see chariots and horses and an army that outnumbers yours, do not be afraid of them. The LORD your God, who rescued you from Egypt, will be with you. 2Before you start fighting, a priest is to come forward and say to the army, 3'Men of Israel, listen! Today you are going into battle. Do not be afraid of your enemies or lose courage or panic. 4The LORD your God is going with you, and he will give you victory.'
5"Then the officers will address the men and say, 'Is there any man here who has just built a house, but has not yet dedicated it? If so, he is to go home. Otherwise, if he is killed in battle, someone else will dedicate his house. 6Is there any man here who has just planted a vineyard, but has not yet had the chance to harvest its grapes? If so, he is to go home. Otherwise, if he is killed in battle, someone else will enjoy the wine. 7Is there anyone here who is engaged to be married? If so, he is to go home. Otherwise, if he is killed in battle, someone else will marry the woman he is engaged to.'
8"The officers will also say to the men, 'Is there any man here who has lost his nerve and is afraid? If so, he is to go home. Otherwise, he will destroy the morale of the others.' 9When the officers have finished speaking to the army, leaders are to be chosen for each unit.
10"When you go to attack a city, first give its people a chance to surrender. 11If they open the gates and surrender, they are all to become your slaves and do forced labor for you. 12But if the people of that city will not surrender, but choose to fight, surround it with your army. 13Then, when the LORD your God lets you capture the city, kill every man in it. 14You may, however, take for yourselves the women, the children, the livestock, and everything else in the city. You may use everything that belongs to your enemies. The LORD has given it to you. 15That is how you are to deal with those cities that are far away from the land you will settle in.
16"But when you capture cities in the land that the LORD your God is giving you, kill everyone. 17Completely destroy all the people: the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, as the LORD ordered you to do. 18Kill them, so that they will not make you sin against the LORD by teaching you to do all the disgusting things that they do in the worship of their gods.
19"When you are trying to capture a city, do not cut down its fruit trees, even though the siege lasts a long time. Eat the fruit, but do not destroy the trees; the trees are not your enemies. 20You may cut down the other trees and use them in the siege mounds until the city is captured.

Job 13 1-2Everything you say, I have heard before.
I understand it all; I know as much as you do.
I'm not your inferior.
3But my dispute is with God, not you;
I want to argue my case with him.
4You cover up your ignorance with lies;
you are like doctors who can't heal anyone.
5Say nothing, and someone may think you are wise!

6Listen while I state my case.
7 Why are you lying?
Do you think your lies will benefit God?
8Are you trying to defend him?
Are you going to argue his case in court?
9If God looks at you closely, will he find anything good?
Do you think you can fool God the way you fool others?
10Even though your prejudice is hidden,
he will reprimand you,
11 and his power will fill you with terror.
12Your proverbs are as useless as ashes;
your arguments are as weak as clay.
13Be quiet and give me a chance to speak,
and let the results be what they will.

14I am ready to risk my life.
15I've lost all hope, so what if God kills me?
I am going to state my case to him.
16It may even be that my boldness will save me,
since no wicked person would dare to face God.
17Now listen to my words of explanation.
18I am ready to state my case,
because I know I am in the right.

19Are you coming to accuse me, God?
If you do, I am ready to be silent and die.
20Let me ask for two things; agree to them,
and I will not try to hide from you:
21 stop punishing me, and don't crush me with terror.

22Speak first, O God, and I will answer.
Or let me speak, and you answer me.
23What are my sins? What wrongs have I done?
What crimes am I charged with?

24Why do you avoid me?
Why do you treat me like an enemy?
25Are you trying to frighten me? I'm nothing but a leaf;
you are attacking a piece of dry straw.

26You bring bitter charges against me,
even for what I did when I was young.
27You bind chains on my feet;
you watch every step I take,
and even examine my footprints.
28As a result, I crumble like rotten wood,
like a moth-eaten coat.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.

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