April 18 - Acts 7.1-22, Deuteronomy 29-30 and Job 18
Stephen's SpeechActs 7 The High Priest asked Stephen, "Is this true?"
2Stephen answered, "Brothers and fathers, listen to me! Before our ancestor Abraham had gone to live in Haran, the God of glory appeared to him in Mesopotamia 3and said to him, 'Leave your family and country and go to the land that I will show you.' 4And so he left his country and went to live in Haran. After Abraham's father died, God made him move to this land where you now live. 5God did not then give Abraham any part of it as his own, not even a square foot of ground, but God promised to give it to him, and that it would belong to him and to his descendants. At the time God made this promise, Abraham had no children. 6This is what God said to him: 'Your descendants will live in a foreign country, where they will be slaves and will be badly treated for four hundred years. 7But I will pass judgment on the people that they will serve, and afterward your descendants will come out of that country and will worship me in this place.' 8Then God gave to Abraham the ceremony of circumcision as a sign of the covenant. So Abraham circumcised Isaac a week after he was born; Isaac circumcised his son Jacob, and Jacob circumcised his twelve sons, the famous ancestors of our race.
9"Jacob's sons became jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to be a slave in Egypt. But God was with him 10and brought him safely through all his troubles. When Joseph appeared before the king of Egypt, God gave him a pleasing manner and wisdom, and the king made Joseph governor over the country and the royal household. 11Then there was a famine all over Egypt and Canaan, which caused much suffering. Our ancestors could not find any food, 12and when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons, our ancestors, on their first visit there. 13On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and the king of Egypt came to know about Joseph's family. 14So Joseph sent a message to his father Jacob, telling him and the whole family, seventy-five people in all, to come to Egypt. 15Then Jacob went to Egypt, where he and his sons died. 16Their bodies were taken to Shechem, where they were buried in the grave which Abraham had bought from the clan of Hamor for a sum of money.
17"When the time drew near for God to keep the promise he had made to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt had grown much larger. 18At last a king who did not know about Joseph began to rule in Egypt. 19He tricked our ancestors and was cruel to them, forcing them to put their babies out of their homes, so that they would die. 20It was at this time that Moses was born, a very beautiful child. He was cared for at home for three months, 21and when he was put out of his home, the king's daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 22He was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in words and deeds.
The LORD's Covenant with Israel in the Land of MoabDeuteronomy 29 These are the terms of the covenant that the LORD commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab; all this was in addition to the covenant which the LORD had made with them at Mount Sinai.
2Moses called together all the people of Israel and said to them, "You saw for yourselves what the LORD did to the king of Egypt, to his officials, and to his entire country. 3You saw the terrible plagues, the miracles, and the great wonders that the LORD performed. 4But to this very day he has not let you understand what you have experienced. 5For forty years the LORD led you through the desert, and your clothes and sandals never wore out. 6You did not have bread to eat or wine or beer to drink, but the LORD provided for your needs in order to teach you that he is your God. 7And when we came to this place, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan came out to fight against us. But we defeated them, 8took their land, and divided it among the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh. 9Obey faithfully all the terms of this covenant, so that you will be successful in everything you do.
10"Today you are standing in the presence of the LORD your God, all of you--your leaders and officials, your men, 11women, and children, and the foreigners who live among you and cut wood and carry water for you. 12You are here today to enter into this covenant that the LORD your God is making with you and to accept its obligations, 13so that the LORD may now confirm you as his people and be your God, as he promised you and your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 14You are not the only ones with whom the LORD is making this covenant with its obligations. 15He is making it with all of us who stand here in his presence today and also with our descendants who are not yet born.
16"You remember what life was like in Egypt and what it was like to travel through the territory of other nations. 17You saw their disgusting idols made of wood, stone, silver, and gold. 18Make sure that no man, woman, family, or tribe standing here today turns from the LORD our God to worship the gods of other nations. This would be like a root that grows to be a bitter and poisonous plant. 19Make sure that there is no one here today who hears these solemn demands and yet convinces himself that all will be well with him, even if he stubbornly goes his own way. That would destroy all of you, good and evil alike. 20The LORD will not forgive such a man. Instead, the LORD's burning anger will flame up against him, and all the disasters written in this book will fall on him until the LORD has destroyed him completely. 21The LORD will make an example of him before all the tribes of Israel and will bring disaster on him in accordance with all the curses listed in the covenant that is written in this book of the LORD's teachings.
22"In future generations your descendants and foreigners from distant lands will see the disasters and sufferings that the LORD has brought on your land. 23The fields will be a barren waste, covered with sulfur and salt; nothing will be planted, and not even weeds will grow there. Your land will be like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD destroyed when he was furiously angry. 24Then the whole world will ask, 'Why did the LORD do this to their land? What was the reason for his fierce anger?' 25And the answer will be, 'It is because the LORD's people broke the covenant they had made with him, the God of their ancestors, when he brought them out of Egypt. 26They served other gods that they had never worshiped before, gods that the LORD had forbidden them to worship. 27And so the LORD became angry with his people and brought on their land all the disasters written in this book. 28The LORD became furiously angry, and in his great anger he uprooted them from their land and threw them into a foreign land, and there they are today.'
29"There are some things that the LORD our God has kept secret; but he has revealed his Law, and we and our descendants are to obey it forever.
Conditions for Restoration and BlessingDeuteronomy 30 "I have now given you a choice between a blessing and a curse. When all these things have happened to you, and you are living among the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you, you will remember the choice I gave you. 2If you and your descendants will turn back to the LORD and with all your heart obey his commands that I am giving you today, 3then the LORD your God will have mercy on you. He will bring you back from the nations where he has scattered you, and he will make you prosperous again. 4Even if you are scattered to the farthest corners of the earth, the LORD your God will gather you together and bring you back, 5so that you may again take possession of the land where your ancestors once lived. And he will make you more prosperous and more numerous than your ancestors ever were. 6The LORD your God will give you and your descendants obedient hearts, so that you will love him with all your heart, and you will continue to live in that land. 7He will turn all these curses against your enemies, who hated you and oppressed you, 8and you will again obey him and keep all his commands that I am giving you today. 9The LORD will make you prosperous in all that you do; you will have many children and a lot of livestock, and your fields will produce abundant crops. He will be as glad to make you prosperous as he was to make your ancestors prosperous, 10but you will have to obey him and keep all his laws that are written in this book of his teachings. You will have to turn to him with all your heart.
11"The command that I am giving you today is not too difficult or beyond your reach. 12It is not up in the sky. You do not have to ask, 'Who will go up and bring it down for us, so that we can hear it and obey it?' 13Nor is it on the other side of the ocean. You do not have to ask, 'Who will go across the ocean and bring it to us, so that we may hear it and obey it?' 14No, it is here with you. You know it and can quote it, so now obey it.
15"Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death. 16If you obey the commands of the LORD your God, which I give you today, if you love him, obey him, and keep all his laws, then you will prosper and become a nation of many people. The LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are about to occupy. 17But if you disobey and refuse to listen, and are led away to worship other gods, 18you will be destroyed--I warn you here and now. You will not live long in that land across the Jordan that you are about to occupy. 19I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God's blessing and God's curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life. 20Love the LORD your God, obey him and be faithful to him, and then you and your descendants will live long in the land that he promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
1-2Job, can't people like you ever be quiet?
If you stopped to listen, we could talk to you.
3What makes you think we are as stupid as cattle?
4You are only hurting yourself with your anger.
Will the earth be deserted because you are angry?
Will God move mountains to satisfy you?
5The light of the wicked will still be put out;
its flame will never burn again.
6The lamp in their tents will be darkened.
7Their steps were firm, but now they stumble;
they fall--victims of their own advice.
8They walk into a net, and their feet are caught;
9 a trap catches their heels and holds them.
10On the ground a snare is hidden;
a trap has been set in their path.
11All around them terror is waiting;
it follows them at every step.
12They used to be rich, but now they go hungry;
disaster stands and waits at their side.
13A deadly disease spreads over their bodies
and causes their arms and legs to rot.
14They are torn from the tents where they lived secure,
and are dragged off to face King Death.
15Now anyone may live in their tents--
after sulfur is sprinkled to disinfect them!
16Their roots and branches are withered and dry.
17Their fame is ended at home and abroad;
no one remembers them any more.
18They will be driven out of the land of the living,
driven from light into darkness.
19They have no descendants, no survivors.
20From east to west, all who hear of their fate
shudder and tremble with fear.
21That is the fate of evil people,
the fate of those who care nothing for God.
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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