April 19 - Acts 7.23-8.1, Deuteronomy 31-32 and Job 19

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Acts 723"When Moses was forty years old, he decided to find out how his fellow Israelites were being treated. 24He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his help and took revenge on the Egyptian by killing him. ( 25He thought that his own people would understand that God was going to use him to set them free, but they did not understand.) 26The next day he saw two Israelites fighting, and he tried to make peace between them. 'Listen, men,' he said, 'you are fellow Israelites; why are you fighting like this?' 27But the one who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside. 'Who made you ruler and judge over us?' he asked. 28'Do you want to kill me, just as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?' 29When Moses heard this, he fled from Egypt and went to live in the land of Midian. There he had two sons.
30"After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31Moses was amazed by what he saw, and went near the bush to get a better look. But he heard the Lord's voice: 32'I am the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Moses trembled with fear and dared not look. 33The Lord said to him, 'Take your sandals off, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 34I have seen the cruel suffering of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans, and I have come down to set them free. Come now; I will send you to Egypt.'
35"Moses is the one who was rejected by the people of Israel. 'Who made you ruler and judge over us?' they asked. He is the one whom God sent to rule the people and set them free with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush. 36He led the people out of Egypt, performing miracles and wonders in Egypt and at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. 37Moses is the one who said to the people of Israel, 'God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me, and he will be one of your own people.' 38He is the one who was with the people of Israel assembled in the desert; he was there with our ancestors and with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and he received God's living messages to pass on to us.
39"But our ancestors refused to obey him; they pushed him aside and wished that they could go back to Egypt. 40So they said to Aaron, 'Make us some gods who will lead us. We do not know what has happened to that man Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.' 41It was then that they made an idol in the shape of a bull, offered sacrifice to it, and had a feast in honor of what they themselves had made. 42So God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the stars of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets:
'People of Israel! It was not to me
that you slaughtered and sacrificed animals
for forty years in the desert.
43It was the tent of the god Molech that you carried,
and the image of Rephan, your star god;
they were idols that you had made to worship.
And so I will send you into exile beyond Babylon.'
44"Our ancestors had the Tent of God's presence with them in the desert. It had been made as God had told Moses to make it, according to the pattern that Moses had been shown. 45Later on, our ancestors who received the tent from their fathers carried it with them when they went with Joshua and took over the land from the nations that God drove out as they advanced. And it stayed there until the time of David. 46He won God's favor and asked God to allow him to provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. 47But it was Solomon who built him a house.
48"But the Most High God does not live in houses built by human hands; as the prophet says,
49'Heaven is my throne, says the Lord,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house would you build for me?
Where is the place for me to live in?
50Did not I myself make all these things?'
51"How stubborn you are!" Stephen went on to say. "How heathen your hearts, how deaf you are to God's message! You are just like your ancestors: you too have always resisted the Holy Spirit! 52Was there any prophet that your ancestors did not persecute? They killed God's messengers, who long ago announced the coming of his righteous Servant. And now you have betrayed and murdered him. 53You are the ones who received God's law, that was handed down by angels--yet you have not obeyed it!"

The Stoning of Stephen

54As the members of the Council listened to Stephen, they became furious and ground their teeth at him in anger. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw God's glory and Jesus standing at the right side of God. 56"Look!" he said. "I see heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right side of God!"
57With a loud cry the Council members covered their ears with their hands. Then they all rushed at him at once, 58threw him out of the city, and stoned him. The witnesses left their cloaks in the care of a young man named Saul. 59They kept on stoning Stephen as he called out to the Lord, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 60He knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord! Do not remember this sin against them!" He said this and died.
Acts 8 And Saul approved of his murder.

Joshua Becomes Moses' Successor

Deuteronomy 31 Moses continued speaking to the people of Israel, 2and said, "I am now a hundred and twenty years old and am no longer able to be your leader. And besides this, the LORD has told me that I will not cross the Jordan. 3The LORD your God himself will go before you and destroy the nations living there, so that you can occupy their land; and Joshua will be your leader, as the LORD has said. 4The LORD will destroy those people, just as he defeated Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, and destroyed their country. 5The LORD will give you victory over them, and you are to treat them exactly as I have told you. 6Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God, the LORD himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you."
7Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the presence of all the people of Israel, "Be determined and confident; you are the one who will lead these people to occupy the land that the LORD promised to their ancestors. 8The LORD himself will lead you and be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you, so do not lose courage or be afraid."

The Law Is to Be Read Every Seven Years

9So Moses wrote down God's Law and gave it to the levitical priests, who were in charge of the LORD's Covenant Box, and to the leaders of Israel. 10He commanded them, "At the end of every seven years, when the year that debts are canceled comes around, read this aloud at the Festival of Shelters. 11Read it to the people of Israel when they come to worship the LORD your God at the one place of worship. 12Call together all the men, women, and children, and the foreigners who live in your towns, so that everyone may hear it and learn to honor the LORD your God and to obey his teachings faithfully. 13In this way your descendants who have never heard the Law of the LORD your God will hear it. And so they will learn to obey him as long as they live in the land that you are about to occupy across the Jordan."

The LORD's Last Instructions to Moses

14Then the LORD said to Moses, "You do not have much longer to live. Call Joshua and bring him to the Tent, so that I may give him his instructions." Moses and Joshua went to the Tent, 15and the LORD appeared to them there in a pillar of cloud that stood by the door of the Tent.
16The LORD said to Moses, "You will soon die, and after your death the people will become unfaithful to me and break the covenant that I made with them. They will abandon me and worship the pagan gods of the land they are about to enter. 17When that happens, I will become angry with them; I will abandon them, and they will be destroyed. Many terrible disasters will come upon them, and then they will realize that these things are happening to them because I, their God, am no longer with them. 18And I will refuse to help them then, because they have done evil and worshiped other gods.
19"Now, write down this song. Teach it to the people of Israel, so that it will stand as evidence against them. 20I will take them into this rich and fertile land, as I promised their ancestors. There they will have all the food they want, and they will live comfortably. But they will turn away and worship other gods. They will reject me and break my covenant, 21and many terrible disasters will come on them. But this song will still be sung, and it will stand as evidence against them. Even now, before I take them into the land that I promised to give them, I know what they are thinking."
22That same day Moses wrote down the song and taught it to the people of Israel.
23Then the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun and told him, "Be confident and determined. You will lead the people of Israel into the land that I promised them, and I will be with you."
24Moses wrote God's Law in a book, taking care not to leave out anything. 25When he finished, he said to the levitical priests, who were in charge of the LORD's Covenant Box, 26"Take this book of God's Law and place it beside the Covenant Box of the LORD your God, so that it will remain there as a witness against his people. 27I know how stubborn and rebellious they are. They have rebelled against the LORD during my lifetime, and they will rebel even more after I am dead. 28Assemble all your tribal leaders and officials before me, so that I can tell them these things; I will call heaven and earth to be my witnesses against them. 29I know that after my death the people will become wicked and reject what I have taught them. And in time to come they will meet with disaster, because they will have made the LORD angry by doing what he has forbidden."

The Song of Moses

30Then Moses recited the entire song while all the people of Israel listened.

Deuteronomy 32 "Earth and sky, hear my words,
listen closely to what I say.
2My teaching will fall like drops of rain
and form on the earth like dew.
My words will fall like showers on young plants,
like gentle rain on tender grass.
3I will praise the name of the LORD,
and his people will tell of his greatness.

4"The LORD is your mighty defender,
perfect and just in all his ways;
Your God is faithful and true;
he does what is right and fair.
5But you are unfaithful, unworthy to be his people,
a sinful and deceitful nation.
6Is this the way you should treat the LORD,
you foolish, senseless people?
He is your father, your Creator,
he made you into a nation.

7"Think of the past, of the time long ago;
ask your parents to tell you what happened,
ask the old people to tell of the past.
8The Most High assigned nations their lands;
he determined where peoples should live.
He assigned to each nation a heavenly being,
9 but Jacob's descendants he chose for himself.

10"He found them wandering through the desert,
a desolate, wind-swept wilderness.
He protected them and cared for them,
as he would protect himself.
11Like an eagle teaching its young to fly,
catching them safely on its spreading wings,
the LORD kept Israel from falling.
12The LORD alone led his people
without the help of a foreign god.

13"He let them rule the highlands,
and they ate what grew in the fields.
They found wild honey among the rocks;
their olive trees flourished in stony ground.
14Their cows and goats gave plenty of milk;
they had the best sheep, goats, and cattle,
the finest wheat, and the choicest wine.

15"The LORD's people grew rich, but rebellious;
they were fat and stuffed with food.
They abandoned God their Creator
and rejected their mighty savior.
16Their idolatry made the LORD jealous;
the evil they did made him angry.
17They sacrificed to gods that are not real,
new gods their ancestors had never known,
gods that Israel had never obeyed.
18They forgot their God, their mighty savior,
the one who had given them life.

19"When the LORD saw this, he was angry
and rejected his sons and daughters.
20'I will no longer help them,' he said;
'then I will see what happens to them,
those stubborn, unfaithful people.
21With their idols they have made me angry,
jealous with their so-called gods,
gods that are really not gods.
So I will use a so-called nation to make them angry;
I will make them jealous with a nation of fools.
22My anger will flame up like fire
and burn everything on earth.
It will reach to the world below
and consume the roots of the mountains.

23"'I will bring on them endless disasters
and use all my arrows against them.
24They will die from hunger and fever;
they will die from terrible diseases.
I will send wild animals to attack them,
and poisonous snakes to bite them.
25War will bring death in the streets;
terrors will strike in the homes.
Young men and young women will die;
neither babies nor old people will be spared.
26I would have destroyed them completely,
so that no one would remember them.
27But I could not let their enemies boast
that they had defeated my people,
when it was I myself who had crushed them.'

28"Israel is a nation without sense;
they have no wisdom at all.
29They fail to see why they were defeated;
they cannot understand what happened.
30Why were a thousand defeated by one,
and ten thousand by only two?
The LORD, their God, had abandoned them;
their mighty God had given them up.
31Their enemies know that their own gods are weak,
not mighty like Israel's God.
32Their enemies, corrupt as Sodom and Gomorrah,
are like vines that bear bitter and poisonous grapes,
33 like wine made from the venom of snakes.

34"The LORD remembers what their enemies have done;
he waits for the right time to punish them.
35The LORD will take revenge and punish them;
the time will come when they will fall;
the day of their doom is near.
36The LORD will rescue his people
when he sees that their strength is gone.
He will have mercy on those who serve him,
when he sees how helpless they are.
37Then the LORD will ask his people,
'Where are those mighty gods you trusted?
38You fed them the fat of your sacrifices
and offered them wine to drink.
Let them come and help you now;
let them run to your rescue.

39"'I, and I alone, am God;
no other god is real.
I kill and I give life, I wound and I heal,
and no one can oppose what I do.
40As surely as I am the living God,
I raise my hand and I vow
41 that I will sharpen my flashing sword
and see that justice is done.
I will take revenge on my enemies
and punish those who hate me.
42My arrows will drip with their blood,
and my sword will kill all who oppose me.
I will spare no one who fights against me;
even the wounded and prisoners will die.'

43"Nations, you must praise the LORD's people--
he punishes all who kill them.
He takes revenge on his enemies
and forgives the sins of his people."

44Moses and Joshua son of Nun recited this song, so that the people of Israel could hear it.

Moses' Final Instructions

45When Moses had finished giving God's teachings to the people, 46he said, "Be sure to obey all these commands that I have given you today. Repeat them to your children, so that they may faithfully obey all of God's teachings. 47These teachings are not empty words; they are your very life. Obey them and you will live long in that land across the Jordan that you are about to occupy."
48That same day the LORD said to Moses, 49"Go to the Abarim Mountains in the land of Moab opposite the city of Jericho; climb Mount Nebo and look at the land of Canaan that I am about to give the people of Israel. 50You will die on that mountain as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor, 51because both of you were unfaithful to me in the presence of the people of Israel. When you were at the waters of Meribah, near the town of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, you dishonored me in the presence of the people. 52You will look at the land from a distance, but you will not enter the land that I am giving the people of Israel."

Job 19

1-2Why do you keep tormenting me with words?
3Time after time you insult me
and show no shame for the way you abuse me.
4Even if I have done wrong,
how does that hurt you?
5You think you are better than I am,
and regard my troubles as proof of my guilt.
6Can't you see it is God who has done this?
He has set a trap to catch me.
7I protest his violence,
but no one is listening;
no one hears my cry for justice.
8God has blocked the way, and I can't get through;
he has hidden my path in darkness.
9He has taken away all my wealth
and destroyed my reputation.
10He batters me from every side.
He uproots my hope
and leaves me to wither and die.
11God is angry and rages against me;
he treats me like his worst enemy.
12He sends his army to attack me;
they dig trenches and lay siege to my tent.

13God has made my own family forsake me;
I am a stranger to those who knew me;
14 my relatives and friends are gone.
15Those who were guests in my house have forgotten me;
my servant women treat me like a stranger and a foreigner.
16When I call a servant, he doesn't answer--
even when I beg him to help me.
17My wife can't stand the smell of my breath,
and my own brothers won't come near me.
18Children despise me and laugh when they see me.
19My closest friends look at me with disgust;
those I loved most have turned against me.
20My skin hangs loose on my bones;
I have barely escaped with my life.
21You are my friends! Take pity on me!
The hand of God has struck me down.
22Why must you persecute me the way God does?
Haven't you tormented me enough?

23How I wish that someone would remember my words
and record them in a book!
24Or with a chisel carve my words in stone
and write them so that they would last forever.

25But I know there is someone in heaven
who will come at last to my defense.
26Even after my skin is eaten by disease,
while still in this body I will see God.
27I will see him with my own eyes,
and he will not be a stranger.

My courage failed because you said,
28 "How can we torment him?"
You looked for some excuse to attack me.
29But now, be afraid of the sword--
the sword that brings God's wrath on sin,
so that you will know there is one who judges.

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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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