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

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The Apostles Are Persecuted

Acts 5 17Then the High Priest and all his companions, members of the local party of the Sadducees, became extremely jealous of the apostles; so they decided to take action. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But that night an angel of the Lord opened the prison gates, led the apostles out, and said to them, 20"Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new life." 21The apostles obeyed, and at dawn they entered the Temple and started teaching.
The High Priest and his companions called together all the Jewish elders for a full meeting of the Council; then they sent orders to the prison to have the apostles brought before them. 22But when the officials arrived, they did not find the apostles in prison, so they returned to the Council and reported, 23"When we arrived at the jail, we found it locked up tight and all the guards on watch at the gates; but when we opened the gates, we found no one inside!" 24When the chief priests and the officer in charge of the Temple guards heard this, they wondered what had happened to the apostles. 25Then a man came in and said to them, "Listen! The men you put in prison are in the Temple teaching the people!" 26So the officer went off with his men and brought the apostles back. They did not use force, however, because they were afraid that the people might stone them.
27They brought the apostles in, made them stand before the Council, and the High Priest questioned them. 28"We gave you strict orders not to teach in the name of this man," he said; "but see what you have done! You have spread your teaching all over Jerusalem, and you want to make us responsible for his death!"
29Peter and the other apostles answered, "We must obey God, not men. 30The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death, after you had killed him by nailing him to a cross. 31God raised him to his right side as Leader and Savior, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. 32We are witnesses to these things--we and the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to those who obey him."
33When the members of the Council heard this, they were so furious that they wanted to have the apostles put to death. 34But one of them, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was a teacher of the Law and was highly respected by all the people, stood up in the Council. He ordered the apostles to be taken out for a while, 35and then he said to the Council, "Fellow Israelites, be careful what you do to these men. 36You remember that Theudas appeared some time ago, claiming to be somebody great, and about four hundred men joined him. But he was killed, all his followers were scattered, and his movement died out. 37After that, Judas the Galilean appeared during the time of the census; he drew a crowd after him, but he also was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38And so in this case, I tell you, do not take any action against these men. Leave them alone! If what they have planned and done is of human origin, it will disappear, 39but if it comes from God, you cannot possibly defeat them. You could find yourselves fighting against God!"
The Council followed Gamaliel's advice. 40They called the apostles in, had them whipped, and ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus; and then they set them free. 41As the apostles left the Council, they were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Jesus. 42And every day in the Temple and in people's homes they continued to teach and preach the Good News about Jesus the Messiah.

Deuteronomy 25 "Suppose two Israelites go to court to settle a dispute, and one is declared innocent and the other guilty. 2If the guilty one is sentenced to be beaten, the judge is to make him lie face downward and have him whipped. The number of lashes will depend on the crime he has committed. 3He may be given as many as forty lashes, but no more; more than that would humiliate him publicly.
4"Do not muzzle an ox when you are using it to thresh grain.

Duty to a Dead Brother

5"If two brothers live on the same property and one of them dies, leaving no son, then his widow is not to be married to someone outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her. 6The first son that they have will be considered the son of the dead man, so that his family line will continue in Israel. 7But if the dead man's brother does not want to marry her, she is to go before the town leaders and say, 'My husband's brother will not do his duty; he refuses to give his brother a descendant among the people of Israel.' 8Then the town leaders are to summon him and speak to him. If he still refuses to marry her, 9his brother's widow is to go up to him in the presence of the town leaders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face, and say, 'This is what happens to the man who refuses to give his brother a descendant.' 10His family will be known in Israel as 'the family of the man who had his sandal pulled off.'

Other Laws

11"If two men are having a fight and the wife of one tries to help her husband by grabbing hold of the other man's genitals, 12show her no mercy; cut off her hand.
13-14"Do not cheat when you use weights and measures. 15Use true and honest weights and measures, so that you may live a long time in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 16The LORD hates people who cheat.

The Command to Kill the Amalekites

17"Remember what the Amalekites did to you as you were coming from Egypt. 18They had no fear of God, and so they attacked you from the rear when you were tired and exhausted, and killed all who were straggling behind. 19So then, when the LORD your God has given you the land and made you safe from all your enemies who live around you, be sure to kill all the Amalekites, so that no one will remember them any longer. Do not forget!

Harvest Offerings

Deuteronomy 26 "After you have occupied the land that the LORD your God is giving you and have settled there, 2each of you must place in a basket the first part of each crop that you harvest and you must take it with you to the one place of worship. 3Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, 'I now acknowledge to the LORD my God that I have entered the land that he promised our ancestors to give us.'
4"The priest will take the basket from you and place it before the altar of the LORD your God. 5Then, in the LORD's presence you will recite these words: 'My ancestor was a wandering Aramean, who took his family to Egypt to live. They were few in number when they went there, but they became a large and powerful nation. 6The Egyptians treated us harshly and forced us to work as slaves. 7Then we cried out for help to the LORD, the God of our ancestors. He heard us and saw our suffering, hardship, and misery. 8By his great power and strength he rescued us from Egypt. He worked miracles and wonders, and caused terrifying things to happen. 9He brought us here and gave us this rich and fertile land. 10So now I bring to the LORD the first part of the harvest that he has given me.'
"Then set the basket down in the LORD's presence and worship there. 11Be grateful for the good things that the LORD your God has given you and your family; and let the Levites and the foreigners who live among you join in the celebration.
12"Every third year give the tithe--a tenth of your crops--to the Levites, the foreigners, the orphans, and the widows, so that in every community they will have all they need to eat. When you have done this, 13say to the LORD, 'None of the sacred tithe is left in my house; I have given it to the Levites, the foreigners, the orphans, and the widows, as you commanded me to do. I have not disobeyed or forgotten any of your commands concerning the tithe. 14I have not eaten any of it when I was mourning; I have not taken any of it out of my house when I was ritually unclean; and I have not given any of it as an offering for the dead. I have obeyed you, O LORD; I have done everything you commanded concerning the tithe. 15Look down from your holy place in heaven and bless your people Israel; bless also the rich and fertile land that you have given us, as you promised our ancestors.'

The LORD's Own People

16"Today the LORD your God commands you to obey all his laws; so obey them faithfully with all your heart. 17Today you have acknowledged the LORD as your God; you have promised to obey him, to keep all his laws, and to do all that he commands. 18Today the LORD has accepted you as his own people, as he promised you; and he commands you to obey all his laws. 19He will make you greater than any other nation that he has created, and you will bring praise and honor to his name. You will be his own people, as he promised."

God's Laws Written on Stones

Deuteronomy 27 Then Moses, together with the leaders of Israel, said to the people, "Obey all the instructions that I am giving you today. 2On the day you cross the Jordan River and enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you are to set up some large stones, cover them with plaster, 3and write on them all these laws and teachings. When you have entered the rich and fertile land that the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you, 4and you are on the other side of the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal, as I am instructing you today, and cover them with plaster. 5Build an altar there made of stones that have had no iron tools used on them, 6because any altar you build for the LORD your God must be made of uncut stones. There you are to offer the sacrifices that are to be burned, 7and there you are to sacrifice and eat your fellowship offerings and be grateful in the presence of the LORD your God. 8On the stones covered with plaster write clearly every word of God's laws."
9Then Moses, together with the levitical priests, said to all the people of Israel, "Give me your attention, people of Israel, and listen to me. Today you have become the people of the LORD your God; 10so obey him and keep all his laws that I am giving you today."

The Curses on Disobedience

11Then Moses said to the people of Israel, 12"After you have crossed the Jordan, the following tribes are to stand on Mount Gerizim when the blessings are pronounced on the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13And the following tribes will stand on Mount Ebal when the curses are pronounced: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14The Levites will speak these words in a loud voice:
15"'God's curse on anyone who makes an idol of stone, wood, or metal and secretly worships it; the LORD hates idolatry.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
16"'God's curse on anyone who dishonors his father or mother.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
17"'God's curse on anyone who moves a neighbor's property line.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
18"'God's curse on anyone who leads a blind person in the wrong direction.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
19"'God's curse on anyone who deprives foreigners, orphans, and widows of their rights.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
20"'God's curse on anyone who disgraces his father by having intercourse with any of his father's wives.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
21"'God's curse on anyone who has sexual relations with an animal.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
22"'God's curse on anyone who has intercourse with his sister or half sister.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
23"'God's curse on anyone who has intercourse with his mother-in-law.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
24"'God's curse on anyone who secretly commits murder.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
25"'God's curse on anyone who accepts money to murder an innocent person.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'
26"'God's curse on anyone who does not obey all of God's laws and teachings.'
"And all the people will answer, 'Amen!'

Job 16

1-2I have heard words like that before;
the comfort you give is only torment.
3Are you going to keep on talking forever?
Do you always have to have the last word?
4If you were in my place and I in yours,
I could say everything you are saying.
I could shake my head wisely
and drown you with a flood of words.
5I could strengthen you with advice
and keep talking to comfort you.

6But nothing I say helps,
and being silent does not calm my pain.
7You have worn me out, God;
you have let my family be killed.
8 You have seized me; you are my enemy.
I am skin and bones,
and people take that as proof of my guilt.

9In anger God tears me limb from limb;
he glares at me with hate.
10People sneer at me;
they crowd around me and slap my face.
11God has handed me over to evil people.
12I was living in peace,
but God took me by the throat
and battered me and crushed me.
God uses me for target practice
13 and shoots arrows at me from every side--
arrows that pierce and wound me;
and even then he shows no pity.
14He wounds me again and again;
he attacks like a soldier gone mad with hate.

15I mourn and wear clothes made of sackcloth,
and I sit here in the dust defeated.
16I have cried until my face is red,
and my eyes are swollen and circled with shadows,
17 but I am not guilty of any violence,
and my prayer to God is sincere.

18O Earth, don't hide the wrongs done to me!
Don't let my call for justice be silenced!
19There is someone in heaven
to stand up for me and take my side.
20My friends scorn me;
my eyes pour out tears to God.
21I want someone to plead with God for me,
as one pleads for a friend.
22My years are passing now,
and I walk the road of no return.

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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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