April 30 - Acts 13.26-52, Joshua 20-21 and Job 30

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Acts 13 26"My fellow Israelites, descendants of Abraham, and all Gentiles here who worship God: it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent! 27For the people who live in Jerusalem and their leaders did not know that he is the Savior, nor did they understand the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Yet they made the prophets' words come true by condemning Jesus. 28And even though they could find no reason to pass the death sentence on him, they asked Pilate to have him put to death. 29And after they had done everything that the Scriptures say about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from death, 31and for many days he appeared to those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now witnesses for him to the people of Israel. 32-33And we are here to bring the Good News to you: what God promised our ancestors he would do, he has now done for us, who are their descendants, by raising Jesus to life. As it is written in the second Psalm,
'You are my Son;
today I have become your Father.'
34And this is what God said about raising him from death, never to rot away in the grave:
'I will give you the sacred and sure blessings
that I promised to David.'
35As indeed he says in another passage,
'You will not allow your faithful servant to rot in the grave.'
36For David served God's purposes in his own time, and then he died, was buried with his ancestors, and his body rotted in the grave. 37But this did not happen to the one whom God raised from death. 38-39All of you, my fellow Israelites, are to know for sure that it is through Jesus that the message about forgiveness of sins is preached to you; you are to know that everyone who believes in him is set free from all the sins from which the Law of Moses could not set you free. 40Take care, then, so that what the prophets said may not happen to you:
41'Look, you scoffers! Be astonished and die!
For what I am doing today
is something that you will not believe,
even when someone explains it to you!'"
42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to come back the next Sabbath and tell them more about these things. 43After the people had left the meeting, Paul and Barnabas were followed by many Jews and by many Gentiles who had been converted to Judaism. The apostles spoke to them and encouraged them to keep on living in the grace of God.
44The next Sabbath nearly everyone in the town came to hear the word of the Lord. 45When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; they disputed what Paul was saying and insulted him. 46But Paul and Barnabas spoke out even more boldly: "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. But since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we will leave you and go to the Gentiles. 47For this is the commandment that the Lord has given us:
'I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
so that all the world may be saved.'"
48When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the Lord's message; and those who had been chosen for eternal life became believers.
49The word of the Lord spread everywhere in that region. 50But the Jews stirred up the leading men of the city and the Gentile women of high social standing who worshiped God. They started a persecution against Paul and Barnabas and threw them out of their region. 51The apostles shook the dust off their feet in protest against them and went on to Iconium. 52The believers in Antioch were full of joy and the Holy Spirit.

The Cities of Refuge

Joshua 20 Then the LORD told Joshua 2to say to the people of Israel, "Choose the cities of refuge that I had Moses tell you about. 3If any of you accidentally kills someone, you can go there and escape the one who is looking for revenge. 4You can run away to one of these cities, go to the place of judgment at the entrance to the city, and explain to the leaders what happened. Then they will let you into the city and give you a place to live in, so that you can stay there. 5If the one looking for revenge follows you there, the people of the city must not hand you over to that one. They must protect you because you killed the person accidentally and not out of anger. 6You may stay in the city until you have received a public trial and until the death of the man who is then the High Priest. Then you may go back home to your own town, from which you had run away."
7So, on the west side of the Jordan they set aside Kedesh in Galilee, in the hill country of Naphtali; Shechem, in the hill country of Ephraim; and Hebron, in the hill country of Judah. 8East of the Jordan, on the desert plateau east of Jericho, they chose Bezer in the territory of Reuben; Ramoth in Gilead, in the territory of Gad; and Golan in Bashan, in the territory of Manasseh. 9These were the cities of refuge chosen for all the people of Israel and for any foreigner living among them. Any who killed a person accidentally could find protection there from the one looking for revenge; they could not be killed unless they had first received a public trial.

The Cities of the Levites

Joshua 21 The leaders of the Levite families went to Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and to the heads of the families of all the tribes of Israel. 2There at Shiloh in the land of Canaan they said to them, "The LORD commanded through Moses that we were to be given cities to live in, as well as pasture land around them for our livestock." 3So in accordance with the LORD's command the people of Israel gave the Levites certain cities and pasture lands out of their own territories.
4The families of the Levite clan of Kohath were the first to be assigned cities. The families who were descended from Aaron the priest were assigned thirteen cities from the territories of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin. 5The rest of the clan of Kohath was assigned ten cities from the territories of Ephraim, Dan, and West Manasseh.
6The clan of Gershon was assigned thirteen cities from the territories of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and East Manasseh.
7The families of the clan of Merari were assigned twelve cities from the territories of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun.
8By drawing lots, the people of Israel assigned these cities and their pasture lands to the Levites, as the LORD had commanded through Moses.
9These are the names of the cities from the territories of Judah and Simeon which were given 10to the descendants of Aaron who were of the clan of Kohath, which was descended from Levi. Their assignment was the first to be made. 11They were given the city of Arba (Arba was Anak's father), now called Hebron, in the hill country of Judah, along with the pasture land surrounding it. 12However, the fields of the city, as well as its towns, had already been given to Caleb son of Jephunneh as his possession.
13In addition to Hebron (one of the cities of refuge), the following cities were assigned to the descendants of Aaron the priest: Libnah, 14Jattir, Eshtemoa, 15Holon, Debir, 16Ain, Juttah, and Beth Shemesh, with their pasture lands: nine cities from the tribes of Judah and Simeon. 17From the territory of Benjamin they were given four cities: Gibeon, Geba, 18Anathoth, and Almon, with their pasture lands. 19Thirteen cities in all, with their pasture lands, were given to the priests, the descendants of Aaron.
20The other families of the Levite clan of Kohath were assigned some cities from the territory of Ephraim. 21They were given four cities: Shechem and its pasture lands in the hill country of Ephraim (one of the cities of refuge), Gezer, 22Kibzaim, and Beth Horon, with their pasture lands. 23From the territory of Dan they were given four cities: Eltekeh, Gibbethon, 24Aijalon, and Gathrimmon, with their pasture lands. 25From the territory of West Manasseh they were given two cities: Taanach and Gathrimmon, with their pasture lands. 26These families of the clan of Kohath received ten cities in all, with their pasture lands.
27Another group of Levites, the clan of Gershon, received from the territory of East Manasseh two cities: Golan in Bashan (one of the cities of refuge) and Beeshterah, with their pasture lands. 28From the territory of Issachar they received four cities: Kishion, Daberath, 29Jarmuth, and Engannim, with their pasture lands. 30From the territory of Asher they received four cities: Mishal, Abdon, 31Helkath, and Rehob, with their pasture lands. 32From the territory of Naphtali they received three cities: Kedesh in Galilee, with its pasture lands (one of the cities of refuge), Hammoth Dor, and Kartan, with their pasture lands. 33The various families of the clan of Gershon received a total of thirteen cities with their pasture lands.
34The rest of the Levites, the clan of Merari, received from the territory of Zebulun four cities: Jokneam, Kartah, 35Dimnah, and Nahalal, with their pasture lands. 36From the territory of Reuben they received four cities: Bezer, Jahaz, 37Kedemoth, and Mephaath, with their pasture lands. 38From the tribe of Gad they received four cities: Ramoth in Gilead, with its pasture lands (one of the cities of refuge), Mahanaim, 39Heshbon, and Jazer, with their pasture lands. 40So the clan of Merari was assigned a total of twelve cities.
41-42From the land that the people of Israel possessed, a total of forty-eight cities, with the pasture lands around them, was given to the Levites.

Israel Takes Possession of the Land

43So the LORD gave to Israel all the land that he had solemnly promised their ancestors he would give them. When they had taken possession of it, they settled down there. 44The LORD gave them peace throughout the land, just as he had promised their ancestors. Not one of all their enemies had been able to stand against them, because the LORD gave the Israelites the victory over all their enemies. 45The LORD kept every one of the promises that he had made to the people of Israel.

Job 30 But men younger than I am make fun of me now!
Their fathers have always been so worthless
that I wouldn't let them help my dogs guard sheep.
2They were a bunch of worn-out men,
too weak to do any work for me.
3They were so poor and hungry
that they would gnaw dry roots--
at night, in wild, desolate places.
4They pulled up the plants of the desert and ate them,
even the tasteless roots of the broom tree!
5Everyone drove them away with shouts,
as if they were shouting at thieves.
6They had to live in caves,
in holes dug in the sides of cliffs.
7Out in the wilds they howled like animals
and huddled together under the bushes.
8A worthless bunch of nameless nobodies!
They were driven out of the land.

9Now they come and laugh at me;
I am nothing but a joke to them.
10They treat me with disgust;
they think they are too good for me,
and even come and spit in my face.
11Because God has made me weak and helpless,
they turn against me with all their fury.
12This mob attacks me head-on;
they send me running; they prepare their final assault.
13They cut off my escape and try to destroy me;
and there is no one to stop them.
14They pour through the holes in my defenses
and come crashing down on top of me;
15I am overcome with terror;
my dignity is gone like a puff of wind,
and my prosperity like a cloud.

16Now I am about to die;
there is no relief for my suffering.
17At night my bones all ache;
the pain that gnaws me never stops.
18God seizes me by my collar
and twists my clothes out of shape.
19He throws me down in the mud;
I am no better than dirt.

20I call to you, O God, but you never answer;
and when I pray, you pay no attention.
21You are treating me cruelly;
you persecute me with all your power.
22You let the wind blow me away;
you toss me about in a raging storm.
23I know you are taking me off to my death,
to the fate in store for everyone.
24Why do you attack a ruined man,
one who can do nothing but beg for pity?
25Didn't I weep with people in trouble
and feel sorry for those in need?
26I hoped for happiness and light,
but trouble and darkness came instead.
27I am torn apart by worry and pain;
I have had day after day of suffering.
28I go about in gloom, without any sunshine;
I stand up in public and plead for help.
29My voice is as sad and lonely
as the cries of a jackal or an ostrich.
30My skin has turned dark; I am burning with fever.
31Where once I heard joyful music,
now I hear only mourning and weeping.

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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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