May 8 - Acts 18, Judges 9 and Job 38
In CorinthActs 18 After this, Paul left Athens and went on to Corinth. 2There he met a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, for Emperor Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3and stayed and worked with them, because he earned his living by making tents, just as they did. 4He held discussions in the synagogue every Sabbath, trying to convince both Jews and Greeks.
5When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul gave his whole time to preaching the message, testifying to the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6When they opposed him and said evil things about him, he protested by shaking the dust from his clothes and saying to them, "If you are lost, you yourselves must take the blame for it! I am not responsible. From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 7So he left them and went to live in the house of a Gentile named Titius Justus, who worshiped God; his house was next to the synagogue. 8Crispus, who was the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with all his family; and many other people in Corinth heard the message, believed, and were baptized.
9One night Paul had a vision in which the Lord said to him, "Do not be afraid, but keep on speaking and do not give up, 10for I am with you. No one will be able to harm you, for many in this city are my people." 11So Paul stayed there for a year and a half, teaching the people the word of God.
12When Gallio was made the Roman governor of Achaia, Jews there got together, seized Paul, and took him into court. 13"This man," they said, "is trying to persuade people to worship God in a way that is against the law!"
14Paul was about to speak when Gallio said to the Jews, "If this were a matter of some evil crime or wrong that has been committed, it would be reasonable for me to be patient with you Jews. 15But since it is an argument about words and names and your own law, you yourselves must settle it. I will not be the judge of such things!" 16And he drove them out of the court. 17They all grabbed Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the court. But that did not bother Gallio a bit.
The Return to Antioch18Paul stayed on with the believers in Corinth for many days, then left them and sailed off with Priscilla and Aquila for Syria. Before sailing from Cenchreae he had his head shaved because of a vow he had taken. 19They arrived in Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He went into the synagogue and held discussions with the Jews. 20The people asked him to stay longer, but he would not consent. 21Instead, he told them as he left, "If it is the will of God, I will come back to you." And so he sailed from Ephesus.
22When he arrived at Caesarea, he went to Jerusalem and greeted the church, and then went to Antioch. 23After spending some time there, he left and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the believers.
Apollos in Ephesus and Corinth24At that time a Jew named Apollos, who had been born in Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker and had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he proclaimed and taught correctly the facts about Jesus. However, he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home with them and explained to him more correctly the Way of God. 27Apollos then decided to go to Achaia, so the believers in Ephesus helped him by writing to the believers in Achaia, urging them to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who through God's grace had become believers. 28For with his strong arguments he defeated the Jews in public debates by proving from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.
AbimelechJudges 9 Gideon's son Abimelech went to the town of Shechem, where all his mother's relatives lived, and told them 2to ask the men of Shechem, "Which would you prefer? To have all seventy of Gideon's sons govern you or to have just one man? Remember that Abimelech is your own flesh and blood." 3His mother's relatives talked to the men of Shechem about this for him, and the men of Shechem decided to follow Abimelech because he was their relative. 4They gave him seventy pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-of-the-Covenant, and with this money he hired a bunch of worthless scoundrels to join him. 5He went to his father's house at Ophrah, and there on top of a single stone he killed his seventy brothers, Gideon's sons. But Jotham, Gideon's youngest son, hid and was not killed. 6Then all the men of Shechem and Bethmillo got together and went to the sacred oak tree at Shechem, where they made Abimelech king.
7When Jotham heard about this, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and shouted out to them, "Listen to me, you men of Shechem, and God may listen to you! 8Once upon a time the trees went out to choose a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, 'Be our king.' 9The olive tree answered, 'In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my oil, which is used to honor gods and human beings.' 10Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'You come and be our king.' 11But the fig tree answered, 'In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my good sweet fruit.' 12So the trees then said to the grapevine, 'You come and be our king.' 13But the vine answered, 'In order to govern you, I would have to stop producing my wine, that makes gods and human beings happy.' 14So then all the trees said to the thorn bush, 'You come and be our king.' 15The thorn bush answered, 'If you really want to make me your king, then come and take shelter in my shade. If you don't, fire will blaze out of my thorny branches and burn up the cedars of Lebanon.'
16"Now then," Jotham continued, "were you really honest and sincere when you made Abimelech king? Did you respect Gideon's memory and treat his family properly, as his actions deserved? 17Remember that my father fought for you. He risked his life to save you from the Midianites. 18But today you turned against my father's family. You killed his sons--seventy men on a single stone--and just because Abimelech, his son by his servant woman, is your relative, you have made him king of Shechem. 19Now then, if what you did today to Gideon and his family was sincere and honest, then be happy with Abimelech and let him be happy with you. 20But if not, may fire blaze out from Abimelech and burn up the men of Shechem and Bethmillo. May fire blaze out from the men of Shechem and Bethmillo and burn Abimelech up." 21Then because he was afraid of his brother Abimelech, Jotham ran away and went to live at Beer.
22Abimelech ruled Israel for three years. 23Then God made Abimelech and the men of Shechem hostile to each other, and they rebelled against Abimelech. 24This happened so that Abimelech and the men of Shechem, who encouraged him to murder Gideon's seventy sons, would pay for their crime. 25The men of Shechem put men in ambush against Abimelech on the mountaintops, and they robbed everyone who passed their way. Abimelech was told about this.
26Then Gaal son of Ebed came to Shechem with his brothers, and the men of Shechem put their confidence in him. 27They all went out into their vineyards and picked the grapes, made wine from them, and held a festival. They went into the temple of their god, where they ate and drank and made fun of Abimelech. 28Gaal said, "What kind of men are we in Shechem? Why are we serving Abimelech? Who is he, anyway? The son of Gideon! And Zebul takes orders from him, but why should we serve him? Be loyal to your ancestor Hamor, who founded your clan! 29I wish I were leading this people! I would get rid of Abimelech! I would tell him, 'Reinforce your army, come on out and fight!'"
30Zebul, the ruler of the city, became angry when he heard what Gaal had said. 31He sent messengers to Abimelech at Arumah to say, "Gaal son of Ebed and his brothers have come to Shechem, and they are not going to let you into the city. 32Now then, you and your men should move by night and hide in the fields. 33Get up tomorrow morning at sunrise and make a sudden attack on the city. Then when Gaal and his men come out against you, hit them with all you've got!"
34So Abimelech and all his men made their move at night and hid outside Shechem in four groups. 35When Abimelech and his men saw Gaal come out and stand at the city gate, they got up from their hiding places. 36Gaal saw them and said to Zebul, "Look! There are men coming down from the mountaintops!"
"Those are not men," Zebul answered. "They are just shadows on the mountains."
37Gaal said again, "Look! There are men coming down the crest of the mountain and one group is coming along the road from the oak tree of the fortunetellers!"
38Then Zebul said to him, "Where is all your big talk now? You were the one who asked why we should serve this man Abimelech. These are the men you were making fun of. Go on out now and fight them." 39Gaal led the men of Shechem out and fought Abimelech. 40Abimelech started after Gaal, and Gaal ran. Many were wounded, even at the city gate. 41Abimelech lived in Arumah, and Zebul drove Gaal and his brothers out of Shechem, so that they could no longer live there.
42The next day Abimelech found out that the people of Shechem were planning to go out into the fields, 43so he took his men, divided them into three groups, and hid in the fields, waiting. When he saw the people coming out of the city, he came out of hiding to kill them. 44While Abimelech and his group hurried forward to guard the city gate, the other two companies attacked the people in the fields and killed them all. 45The fighting continued all day long. Abimelech captured the city, killed its people, tore it down, and covered the ground with salt.
46When all the leading men in the fort at Shechem heard about this, they sought safety in the stronghold of the temple of Baal-of-the-Covenant. 47Abimelech was told that they had gathered there, 48so he went up to Mount Zalmon with his men. There he took an ax, cut a limb off a tree, and put it on his shoulder. He told his men to hurry and do the same thing. 49So everyone cut off a tree limb; then they followed Abimelech and piled the wood up against the stronghold. They set it on fire, with the people inside, and all the people of the fort died--about a thousand men and women.
50Then Abimelech went to Thebez, surrounded that city, and captured it. 51There was a strong tower there, and every man and woman in the city, including the leaders, ran to it. They locked themselves in and went up to the roof. 52When Abimelech came to attack the tower, he went up to the door to set the tower on fire. 53But a woman threw a millstone down on his head and fractured his skull. 54Then he quickly called the young man who was carrying his weapons and told him, "Draw your sword and kill me. I don't want it said that a woman killed me." So the young man ran him through, and he died. 55When the Israelites saw that Abimelech was dead, they all went home.
56And so it was that God paid Abimelech back for the crime that he committed against his father in killing his seventy brothers. 57God also made the men of Shechem suffer for their wickedness, just as Jotham, Gideon's son, said they would when he cursed them.
The LORD Answers JobJob 38 Then out of the storm the LORD spoke to Job.
2Who are you to question my wisdom
with your ignorant, empty words?
3Now stand up straight
and answer the questions I ask you.
4Were you there when I made the world?
If you know so much, tell me about it.
5Who decided how large it would be?
Who stretched the measuring line over it?
Do you know all the answers?
6What holds up the pillars that support the earth?
Who laid the cornerstone of the world?
7In the dawn of that day the stars sang together,
and the heavenly beings shouted for joy.
8Who closed the gates to hold back the sea
when it burst from the womb of the earth?
9It was I who covered the sea with clouds
and wrapped it in darkness.
10I marked a boundary for the sea
and kept it behind bolted gates.
11I told it, "So far and no farther!
Here your powerful waves must stop."
12Job, have you ever in all your life
commanded a day to dawn?
13Have you ordered the dawn to seize the earth
and shake the wicked from their hiding places?
14Daylight makes the hills and valleys stand out
like the folds of a garment,
clear as the imprint of a seal on clay.
15The light of day is too bright for the wicked
and restrains them from doing violence.
16Have you been to the springs in the depths of the sea?
Have you walked on the floor of the ocean?
17Has anyone ever shown you the gates
that guard the dark world of the dead?
18Have you any idea how big the world is?
Answer me if you know.
19Do you know where the light comes from
or what the source of darkness is?
20Can you show them how far to go,
or send them back again?
21I am sure you can, because you're so old
and were there when the world was made!
22Have you ever visited the storerooms,
where I keep the snow and the hail?
23I keep them ready for times of trouble,
for days of battle and war.
24Have you been to the place where the sun comes up,
or the place from which the east wind blows?
25Who dug a channel for the pouring rain
and cleared the way for the thunderstorm?
26Who makes rain fall where no one lives?
27Who waters the dry and thirsty land,
so that grass springs up?
28Does either the rain or the dew have a father?
29Who is the mother of the ice and the frost,
30 which turn the waters to stone
and freeze the face of the sea?
31Can you tie the Pleiades together
or loosen the bonds that hold Orion?
32Can you guide the stars season by season
and direct the Big and the Little Dipper?
33Do you know the laws that govern the skies,
and can you make them apply to the earth?
34Can you shout orders to the clouds
and make them drench you with rain?
35And if you command the lightning to flash,
will it come to you and say, "At your service"?
36Who tells the ibis when the Nile will flood,
or who tells the rooster that rain will fall?
37Who is wise enough to count the clouds
and tilt them over to pour out the rain,
38 rain that hardens the dust into lumps?
39Do you find food for lions to eat,
and satisfy hungry young lions
40 when they hide in their caves,
or lie in wait in their dens?
41Who is it that feeds the ravens
when they wander about hungry,
when their young cry to me for food?
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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