May 7 - Acts 17.16-34, Judges 7-8 and Job 37
In AthensActs 17 16While Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy, he was greatly upset when he noticed how full of idols the city was. 17So he held discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentiles who worshiped God, and also in the public square every day with the people who happened to come by. 18Certain Epicurean and Stoic teachers also debated with him. Some of them asked, "What is this ignorant show-off trying to say?"
Others answered, "He seems to be talking about foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching about Jesus and the resurrection. 19So they took Paul, brought him before the city council, the Areopagus, and said, "We would like to know what this new teaching is that you are talking about. 20Some of the things we hear you say sound strange to us, and we would like to know what they mean." ( 21For all the citizens of Athens and the foreigners who lived there liked to spend all their time telling and hearing the latest new thing.)
22Paul stood up in front of the city council and said, "I see that in every way you Athenians are very religious. 23For as I walked through your city and looked at the places where you worship, I found an altar on which is written, 'To an Unknown God.' That which you worship, then, even though you do not know it, is what I now proclaim to you. 24God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples made by human hands. 25Nor does he need anything that we can supply by working for him, since it is he himself who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone. 26From one human being he created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. 27He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us; 28as someone has said,
'In him we live and move and exist.'
It is as some of your poets have said,
'We too are his children.'
29Since we are God's children, we should not suppose that his nature is anything like an image of gold or silver or stone, shaped by human art and skill. 30God has overlooked the times when people did not know him, but now he commands all of them everywhere to turn away from their evil ways. 31For he has fixed a day in which he will judge the whole world with justice by means of a man he has chosen. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising that man from death!"
32When they heard Paul speak about a raising from death, some of them made fun of him, but others said, "We want to hear you speak about this again." 33And so Paul left the meeting. 34Some men joined him and believed, among whom was Dionysius, a member of the council; there was also a woman named Damaris, and some other people.
Gideon Defeats the MidianitesJudges 7 One day Gideon and all his men got up early and camped beside Harod Spring. The Midianite camp was in the valley to the north of them by Moreh Hill.
2The LORD said to Gideon, "The men you have are too many for me to give them victory over the Midianites. They might think that they had won by themselves, and so give me no credit. 3Announce to the people, 'Anyone who is afraid should go back home, and we will stay here at Mount Gilead.'" So twenty-two thousand went back, but ten thousand stayed.
4Then the LORD said to Gideon, "You still have too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will separate them for you there. If I tell you a man should go with you, he will go. If I tell you a man should not go with you, he will not go." 5Gideon took the men down to the water, and the LORD told him, "Separate everyone who laps up the water with his tongue like a dog, from everyone who gets down on his knees to drink." 6There were three hundred men who scooped up water in their hands and lapped it; all the others got down on their knees to drink. 7The LORD said to Gideon, "I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites with the three hundred men who lapped the water. Tell everyone else to go home." 8So Gideon sent all the Israelites home, except the three hundred, who kept all the supplies and trumpets. The Midianite camp was below them in the valley.
9That night the LORD commanded Gideon, "Get up and attack the camp; I am giving you victory over it. 10But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. 11You will hear what they are saying, and then you will have the courage to attack." So Gideon and his servant Purah went down to the edge of the enemy camp. 12The Midianites, the Amalekites, and the desert tribesmen were spread out in the valley like a swarm of locusts, and they had as many camels as there are grains of sand on the seashore.
13When Gideon arrived, he heard a man telling a friend about a dream. He was saying, "I dreamed that a loaf of barley bread rolled into our camp and hit a tent. The tent collapsed and lay flat on the ground."
14His friend replied, "It's the sword of the Israelite, Gideon son of Joash! It can't mean anything else! God has given him victory over Midian and our whole army!"
15When Gideon heard about the man's dream and what it meant, he fell to his knees and worshiped the LORD. Then he went back to the Israelite camp and said, "Get up! The LORD is giving you victory over the Midianite army!" 16He divided his three hundred men into three groups and gave each man a trumpet and a jar with a torch inside it. 17He told them, "When I get to the edge of the camp, watch me, and do what I do. 18When my group and I blow our trumpets, then you blow yours all around the camp and shout, 'For the LORD and for Gideon!'"
19Gideon and his one hundred men came to the edge of the camp a while before midnight, just after the guard had been changed. Then they blew the trumpets and broke the jars they were holding, 20and the other two groups did the same. They all held the torches in their left hands, the trumpets in their right, and shouted, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" 21Every man stood in his place around the camp, and the whole enemy army ran away yelling. 22While Gideon's men were blowing their trumpets, the LORD made the enemy troops attack each other with their swords. They ran toward Zarethan as far as Beth Shittah, as far as the town of Abel Meholah near Tabbath.
23Then men from the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and both parts of Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24Gideon sent messengers through all the hill country of Ephraim to say, "Come down and fight the Midianites. Hold the Jordan River and the streams as far as Bethbarah, to keep the Midianites from crossing them." The men of Ephraim were called together, and they held the Jordan River and the streams as far as Bethbarah. 25They captured the two Midianite chiefs, Oreb and Zeeb; they killed Oreb at Oreb Rock, and Zeeb at the Winepress of Zeeb. They continued to pursue the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was now east of the Jordan.
The Final Defeat of the MidianitesJudges 8 Then the people of Ephraim said to Gideon, "Why didn't you call us when you went to fight the Midianites? Why did you treat us like this?" They complained bitterly about it.
2But he told them, "What I was able to do is nothing compared with what you have done. Even the little that you people of Ephraim did is worth more than what my whole clan has done. 3After all, through the power of God you killed the two Midianite chiefs, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I done to compare with that?" When he said this, they were no longer so angry.
4By this time Gideon and his three hundred men had come to the Jordan River and had crossed it. They were exhausted, but were still pursuing the enemy. 5When they arrived at Sukkoth, he said to the men of the town, "Please give my men some loaves of bread. They are exhausted, and I am chasing Zebah and Zalmunna, the Midianite kings."
6But the leaders of Sukkoth said, "Why should we give your army any food? You haven't captured Zebah and Zalmunna yet."
7So Gideon said, "All right! When the LORD has handed Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I will beat you with thorns and briers from the desert!" 8Gideon went on to Penuel and made the same request of the people there, but the men of Penuel gave the same answer as the men of Sukkoth. 9So he said to them, "I am going to come back safe and sound, and when I do, I will tear this tower down!"
10Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor with their army. Of the whole army of desert tribesmen, only about 15,000 were left; 120,000 soldiers had been killed. 11Gideon went on the road along the edge of the desert, east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and attacked the army by surprise. 12The two Midianite kings, Zebah and Zalmunna, ran away, but he pursued them and captured them, and caused their whole army to panic.
13When Gideon was returning from the battle by way of Heres Pass, 14he captured a young man from Sukkoth and questioned him. The young man wrote down for Gideon the names of the seventy-seven leading men of Sukkoth. 15Then Gideon went to the men of Sukkoth and said, "Remember when you refused to help me? You said that you couldn't give any food to my exhausted army because I hadn't captured Zebah and Zalmunna yet. Well, here they are!" 16He then took thorns and briers from the desert and used them to punish the leaders of Sukkoth. 17He also tore down the tower at Penuel and killed the men of that city.
18Then Gideon asked Zebah and Zalmunna, "What about the men you killed at Tabor?"
They answered, "They looked like you--every one of them like the son of a king."
19Gideon said, "They were my brothers, my own mother's sons. I solemnly swear that if you had not killed them, I would not kill you." 20Then he said to Jether, his oldest son, "Go ahead, kill them!" But the boy did not draw his sword. He hesitated, because he was still only a boy.
21Then Zebah and Zalmunna said to Gideon, "Come on, kill us yourself. It takes a man to do a man's job." So Gideon killed them and took the ornaments that were on the necks of their camels.
22After that, the Israelites said to Gideon, "Be our ruler--you and your descendants after you. You have saved us from the Midianites."
23Gideon answered, "I will not be your ruler, nor will my son. The LORD will be your ruler." 24But he went on to say, "Let me ask one thing of you. Every one of you give me the earrings you took." (The Midianites, like other desert people, wore gold earrings.)
25The people answered, "We'll be glad to give them to you." They spread out a cloth, and everyone put on it the earrings that he had taken. 26The gold earrings that Gideon got weighed over forty pounds, and this did not include the ornaments, necklaces, and purple clothes that the kings of Midian wore, nor the collars that were around the necks of their camels. 27Gideon made an idol from the gold and put it in his hometown, Ophrah. All the Israelites abandoned God and went there to worship the idol. It was a trap for Gideon and his family.
28So Midian was defeated by the Israelites and was no longer a threat. The land was at peace for forty years, until Gideon died.
The Death of Gideon29Gideon went back to his own home and lived there. 30He had seventy sons, because he had many wives. 31He also had a concubine in Shechem; she bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech. 32Gideon son of Joash died at a ripe old age and was buried in the tomb of his father Joash, at Ophrah, the town of the clan of Abiezer.
33After Gideon's death the people of Israel were unfaithful to God again and worshiped the Baals. They made Baal-of-the-Covenant their god, 34and no longer served the LORD their God, who had saved them from all their enemies around them. 35They were not grateful to the family of Gideon for all the good that he had done for Israel.
Job 37 1The storm makes my heart beat wildly.
2Listen, all of you, to the voice of God,
to the thunder that comes from his mouth.
3He sends the lightning across the sky,
from one end of the earth to the other.
4Then the roar of his voice is heard,
the majestic sound of thunder,
and all the while the lightning flashes.
5At God's command amazing things happen,
wonderful things that we can't understand.
6He commands snow to fall on the earth,
and sends torrents of drenching rain.
7He brings our work to a stop;
he shows us what he can do.
8The wild animals go to their dens.
9The storm winds come from the south,
and the biting cold from the north.
10The breath of God freezes the waters,
and turns them to solid ice.
11Lightning flashes from the clouds,
12 as they move at God's will.
They do all that God commands,
everywhere throughout the world.
13God sends rain to water the earth;
he may send it to punish us,
or to show us his favor.
14Pause a moment, Job, and listen;
consider the wonderful things God does.
15Do you know how God gives the command
and makes lightning flash from the clouds?
16Do you know how clouds float in the sky,
the work of God's amazing skill?
17No, you can only suffer in the heat
when the south wind oppresses the land.
18Can you help God stretch out the sky
and make it as hard as polished metal?
19Teach us what to say to God;
our minds are blank; we have nothing to say.
20I won't ask to speak with God;
why should I give him a chance to destroy me?
21And now the light in the sky is dazzling,
too bright for us to look at it;
and the sky has been swept clean by the wind.
22A golden glow is seen in the north,
and the glory of God fills us with awe.
23God's power is so great that we cannot come near him;
he is righteous and just in his dealings with us.
24No wonder, then, that everyone is awed by him,
and that he ignores those who claim to be wise.
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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