May 2 - Acts 15.1-21, Joshua 23-24 and Job 32
The Meeting at JerusalemActs 15 Some men came from Judea to Antioch and started teaching the believers, "You cannot be saved unless you are circumcised as the Law of Moses requires." 2Paul and Barnabas got into a fierce argument with them about this, so it was decided that Paul and Barnabas and some of the others in Antioch should go to Jerusalem and see the apostles and elders about this matter.
3They were sent on their way by the church; and as they went through Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported how the Gentiles had turned to God; this news brought great joy to all the believers. 4When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, to whom they told all that God had done through them. 5But some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and told to obey the Law of Moses."
6The apostles and the elders met together to consider this question. 7After a long debate Peter stood up and said, "My friends, you know that a long time ago God chose me from among you to preach the Good News to the Gentiles, so that they could hear and believe. 8And God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, showed his approval of the Gentiles by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he had to us. 9He made no difference between us and them; he forgave their sins because they believed. 10So then, why do you now want to put God to the test by laying a load on the backs of the believers which neither our ancestors nor we ourselves were able to carry? 11No! We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are."
12The whole group was silent as they heard Barnabas and Paul report all the miracles and wonders that God had performed through them among the Gentiles. 13When they had finished speaking, James spoke up: "Listen to me, my friends! 14Simon has just explained how God first showed his care for the Gentiles by taking from among them a people to belong to him. 15The words of the prophets agree completely with this. As the scripture says,
16'After this I will return, says the Lord,
and restore the kingdom of David.
I will rebuild its ruins
and make it strong again.
17And so all the rest of the human race will come to me,
all the Gentiles whom I have called to be my own.
18So says the Lord, who made this known long ago.'
19"It is my opinion," James went on, "that we should not trouble the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20Instead, we should write a letter telling them not to eat any food that is ritually unclean because it has been offered to idols; to keep themselves from sexual immorality; and not to eat any animal that has been strangled, or any blood. 21For the Law of Moses has been read for a very long time in the synagogues every Sabbath, and his words are preached in every town."
Joshua's Farewell AddressJoshua 23 Much later the LORD gave Israel security from their enemies around them. By that time Joshua was very old, 2so he called all Israel, the elders, leaders, judges, and officers of the people, and said, "I am very old now. 3You have seen everything that the LORD your God has done to all these nations because of you. The LORD your God has been fighting for you. 4I have assigned as the possession of your tribes the land of the nations that are still left, as well as of all the nations that I have already conquered, from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5The LORD your God will make them retreat from you, and he will drive them away as you advance. You shall have their land, as the LORD your God has promised you. 6So be careful to obey and do everything that is written in the book of the Law of Moses. Do not neglect any part of it, 7and then you will not associate with these peoples left among you or speak the names of their gods or use those names in taking vows or worship those gods or bow down to them. 8Instead, be faithful to the LORD, as you have been till now. 9The LORD has driven great and powerful nations out as you advanced, and no one has ever been able to stand against you. 10Any one of you can make a thousand men run away, because the LORD your God is fighting for you, just as he promised. 11Be careful, then, to love the LORD your God. 12If you are disloyal and join with the nations that are still left among you and intermarry with them, 13you may be sure that the LORD your God will no longer drive these nations out as you advance. Rather, they will be as dangerous for you as a trap or a pit and as painful as a whip on your back or thorns in your eyes. And this will last until none of you are left in this good land which the LORD your God has given you.
14"Now my time has come to die. Every one of you knows in his heart and soul that the LORD your God has given you all the good things that he promised. Every promise he made has been kept; not one has failed. 15But just as he kept every promise that he made to you, so he will carry out every threat. 16If you do not keep the covenant which the LORD your God commanded you to keep and if you serve and worship other gods, then in his anger he will punish you, and soon none of you will be left in this good land that he has given you."
Joshua Speaks to the People at ShechemJoshua 24 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel together at Shechem. He called the elders, the leaders, the judges, and the officers of Israel, and they came into the presence of God. 2Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, has to say: 'Long ago your ancestors lived on the other side of the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. One of those ancestors was Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor. 3Then I took Abraham, your ancestor, from the land across the Euphrates and led him through the whole land of Canaan. I gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave Esau the hill country of Edom as his possession, but your ancestor Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. 5Later I sent Moses and Aaron, and I brought great trouble on Egypt. But I led you out; 6I brought your ancestors out of Egypt, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and cavalry. But when your ancestors got to the Red Sea 7they cried out to me for help, and I put darkness between them and the Egyptians. I made the sea come rolling over the Egyptians and drown them. You know what I did to Egypt.
"'You lived in the desert a long time. 8Then I brought you to the land of the Amorites, who lived on the east side of the Jordan. They fought you, but I gave you victory over them. You took their land, and I destroyed them as you advanced. 9Then the king of Moab, Balak son of Zippor, fought against you. He sent word to Balaam son of Beor and asked him to put a curse on you. 10But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you, and in this way I rescued you from Balak. 11You crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The men of Jericho fought you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. But I gave you victory over them all. 12As you advanced, I threw them into panic in order to drive out the two Amorite kings. Your swords and bows had nothing to do with it. 13I gave you a land that you had never worked and cities that you had not built. Now you are living there and eating grapes from vines that you did not plant, and olives from trees that you did not plant.'
14"Now then," Joshua continued, "honor the LORD and serve him sincerely and faithfully. Get rid of the gods which your ancestors used to worship in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, and serve only the LORD. 15If you are not willing to serve him, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors worshiped in Mesopotamia or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are now living. As for my family and me, we will serve the LORD."
16The people replied, "We would never leave the LORD to serve other gods! 17The LORD our God brought our fathers and us out of slavery in Egypt, and we saw the miracles that he performed. He kept us safe wherever we went among all the nations through which we passed. 18As we advanced into this land, the LORD drove out all the Amorites who lived here. So we also will serve the LORD; he is our God."
19Joshua said to the people, "But you may not be able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God and will not forgive your sins. He will tolerate no rivals, 20and if you leave him to serve foreign gods, he will turn against you and punish you. He will destroy you, even though he was good to you before."
21The people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the LORD."
22Joshua told them, "You are your own witnesses to the fact that you have chosen to serve the LORD."
"Yes," they said, "we are witnesses."
23"Then get rid of those foreign gods that you have," he demanded, "and pledge your loyalty to the LORD, the God of Israel."
24The people then said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God. We will obey his commands."
25So Joshua made a covenant for the people that day, and there at Shechem he gave them laws and rules to follow. 26Joshua wrote these commands in the book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up under the oak tree in the LORD's sanctuary. 27He said to all the people, "This stone will be our witness. It has heard all the words that the LORD has spoken to us. So it will be a witness against you, to keep you from rebelling against your God." 28Then Joshua sent the people away, and everyone returned to their own part of the land.
Joshua and Eleazar Die29After that, the LORD's servant Joshua son of Nun died at the age of a hundred and ten. 30They buried him on his own land at Timnath Serah in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash.
31As long as Joshua lived, the people of Israel served the LORD, and after his death they continued to do so as long as those leaders were alive who had seen for themselves everything that the LORD had done for Israel.
32The body of Joseph, which the people of Israel had brought from Egypt, was buried at Shechem, in the piece of land that Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, for a hundred pieces of silver. This land was inherited by Joseph's descendants.
33Eleazar son of Aaron died and was buried at Gibeah, the town in the hill country of Ephraim which had been given to his son Phinehas.
The Speeches of Elihu
I am young, and you are old,
so I was afraid to tell you what I think.
7I told myself that you ought to speak,
that you older men should share your wisdom.
8But it is the spirit of Almighty God
that comes to us and gives us wisdom.
9It is not growing old that makes us wise
or helps us to know what is right.
10So now I want you to listen to me;
let me tell you what I think.
11I listened patiently while you were speaking
and waited while you searched for wise phrases.
12I paid close attention and heard you fail;
you have not disproved what Job has said.
13How can you claim you have discovered wisdom?
God must answer Job, for you have failed.
14Job was speaking to you, not to me,
but I would never answer the way you did.
15Words have failed them, Job;
they have no answer for you.
16Shall I go on waiting when they are silent?
They stand there with nothing more to say.
17No, I will give my own answer now
and tell you what I think.
18I can hardly wait to speak.
I can't hold back the words.
19If I don't get a chance to speak,
I will burst like a wineskin full of new wine.
20I can't stand it; I have to speak.
21I will not take sides in this debate;
I am not going to flatter anyone.
22I don't know how to flatter,
and God would quickly punish me if I did.
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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