May 14 - Acts 21.37-22.29, Judges 17-18 and Psalm 43
Paul Defends HimselfActs 21 37As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the fort, he spoke to the commander: "May I say something to you?"
"You speak Greek, do you?" the commander asked. 38"Then you are not that Egyptian fellow who some time ago started a revolution and led four thousand armed terrorists out into the desert?"
39Paul answered, "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. Please let me speak to the people."
40The commander gave him permission, so Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand for the people to be silent. When they were quiet, Paul spoke to them in Hebrew:
Acts 22 "My fellow Jews, listen to me as I make my defense before you!" 2When they heard him speaking to them in Hebrew, they became even quieter; and Paul went on:
3"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up here in Jerusalem as a student of Gamaliel. I received strict instruction in the Law of our ancestors and was just as dedicated to God as are all of you who are here today. 4I persecuted to the death the people who followed this Way. I arrested men and women and threw them into prison. 5The High Priest and the whole Council can prove that I am telling the truth. I received from them letters written to fellow Jews in Damascus, so I went there to arrest these people and bring them back in chains to Jerusalem to be punished.
Paul Tells of His Conversion
12"In that city was a man named Ananias, a religious man who obeyed our Law and was highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13He came to me, stood by me, and said, 'Brother Saul, see again!' At that very moment I saw again and looked at him. 14He said, 'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see his righteous Servant, and to hear him speaking with his own voice. 15For you will be a witness for him to tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16And now, why wait any longer? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by praying to him.'
Paul's Call to Preach to the Gentiles17"I went back to Jerusalem, and while I was praying in the Temple, I had a vision, 18in which I saw the Lord, as he said to me, 'Hurry and leave Jerusalem quickly, because the people here will not accept your witness about me.' 19'Lord,' I answered, 'they know very well that I went to the synagogues and arrested and beat those who believe in you. 20And when your witness Stephen was put to death, I myself was there, approving of his murder and taking care of the cloaks of his murderers.' 21'Go,' the Lord said to me, 'for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
22The people listened to Paul until he said this; but then they started shouting at the top of their voices, "Away with him! Kill him! He's not fit to live!" 23They were screaming, waving their clothes, and throwing dust up in the air. 24The Roman commander ordered his men to take Paul into the fort, and he told them to whip him in order to find out why the Jews were screaming like this against him. 25But when they had tied him up to be whipped, Paul said to the officer standing there, "Is it lawful for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't even been tried for any crime?"
26When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked him, "What are you doing? That man is a Roman citizen!"
27So the commander went to Paul and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?"
"Yes," answered Paul.
28The commander said, "I became one by paying a large amount of money."
"But I am one by birth," Paul answered.
29At once the men who were going to question Paul drew back from him; and the commander was frightened when he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had put him in chains.
Micah's IdolsJudges 17 There was once a man named Micah, who lived in the hill country of Ephraim. 2He told his mother, "When someone stole those eleven hundred pieces of silver from you, you put a curse on the robber. I heard you do it. Look, I have the money. I am the one who took it."
His mother said, "May the LORD bless you, my son!" 3He gave the money back to his mother, and she said, "To keep the curse from falling on my son, I myself am solemnly dedicating the silver to the LORD. It will be used to make a wooden idol covered with silver. So now I will give the pieces of silver back to you." 4Then he gave them back to his mother. She took two hundred of the pieces of silver and gave them to a metalworker, who made an idol, carving it from wood and covering it with the silver. It was placed in Micah's house.
5This man Micah had his own place of worship. He made some idols and an ephod, and appointed one of his sons as his priest. 6There was no king in Israel at that time; everyone did whatever they wanted.
7At that same time there was a young Levite who had been living in the town of Bethlehem in Judah. 8He left Bethlehem to find another place to live. While he was traveling, he came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim. 9Micah asked him, "Where do you come from?"
He answered, "I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I am looking for a place to live."
10Micah said, "Stay with me. Be my adviser and priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, some clothes, and your food." 11The young Levite agreed to stay with Micah and became like a son to him. 12Micah appointed him as his priest, and he lived in Micah's home. 13Micah said, "Now that I have a Levite as my priest, I know that the LORD will make things go well for me."
Micah and the Tribe of DanJudges 18 There was no king in Israel at that time. In those days the tribe of Dan was looking for territory to claim and settle in because they had not yet received any land of their own among the tribes of Israel. 2So the people of Dan chose five qualified men out of all the families in the tribe and sent them from the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol with instructions to explore the land and spy on it. When they arrived in the hill country of Ephraim, they stayed at Micah's house. 3While they were there, they recognized the accent of the young Levite, so they went up to him and asked, "What are you doing here? Who brought you here?"
4He answered, "I have an arrangement with Micah, who pays me to serve as his priest."
5They said to him, "Please ask God if we are going to be successful on our trip."
6The priest answered, "You have nothing to worry about. The LORD is taking care of you on this trip."
7So the five men left and went to the town of Laish. They saw how the people there lived in security like the Sidonians. They were a peaceful, quiet people, with no argument with anyone; they had all they needed. They lived far away from the Sidonians and had no dealings with any other people. 8When the five men returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, the people asked them what they had found out. 9"Come on," they replied. "Let's attack Laish. We saw the land, and it's very good. Don't stay here doing nothing; hurry! Go on in and take it over! 10When you get there, you will find that the people don't suspect a thing. It is a big country; it has everything a person could want, and God has given it to you."
11So six hundred men from the tribe of Dan left Zorah and Eshtaol, ready for battle. 12They went up and camped west of Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place is still called Camp of Dan. 13They went on from there and came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim.
14Then the five men who had gone to spy on the country around Laish said to their companions, "Did you know that here in one of these houses there is a wooden idol covered with silver? There are also other idols and an ephod. What do you think we should do?" 15So they went into Micah's house, where the young Levite lived, and asked the Levite how he was getting along. 16Meanwhile the six hundred Danite soldiers, ready for battle, were standing at the gate. 17The five spies went straight on into the house and took the wooden idol covered with silver, the other idols, and the ephod, while the priest stayed at the gate with the six hundred armed men.
18When the men went into Micah's house and took the sacred objects, the priest asked them, "What are you doing?"
19They told him, "Keep quiet. Don't say a word. Come with us and be our priest and adviser. Wouldn't you rather be a priest for a whole Israelite tribe than for the family of one man?" 20This made the priest very happy, so he took the sacred objects and went along with them.
21They turned around and started off, with their children, their livestock, and their belongings going ahead. 22They had traveled a good distance from the house when Micah called his neighbors out for battle. They caught up with the Danites 23and shouted at them. The Danites turned around and asked Micah, "What's the matter? Why all this mob?"
24Micah answered, "What do you mean, 'What's the matter?' You take my priest and the gods that I made, and walk off ! What have I got left?"
25The Danites told him, "You had better not say anything else unless you want these men to get angry and attack you. You and your whole family would die." 26Then the Danites went on. Micah saw that they were too strong for him, so he turned and went back home.
27-28After the Danites had taken the priest and the things that Micah had made, they went and attacked Laish, that town of peaceful, quiet people which was in the same valley as Bethrehob. They killed the inhabitants and burned the town. There was no one to save them, because Laish was a long way from Sidon, and they had no dealings with any other people. The Danites rebuilt the town and settled down there. 29They changed its name from Laish to Dan, after their ancestor Dan, the son of Jacob. 30The Danites set up the idol to be worshiped, and Jonathan, the son of Gershom and grandson of Moses, served as a priest for the Danites, and his descendants served as their priests until the people were taken away into exile. 31Micah's idol remained there as long as the Tent where God was worshiped remained at Shiloh.
The Prayer of Someone in Exile
and defend my cause against the ungodly;
deliver me from lying and evil people!
2You are my protector;
why have you abandoned me?
Why must I go on suffering
from the cruelty of my enemies?
3Send your light and your truth;
may they lead me
and bring me back to Zion, your sacred hill,
and to your Temple, where you live.
4Then I will go to your altar, O God;
you are the source of my happiness.
I will play my harp and sing praise to you,
O God, my God.
5Why am I so sad?
Why am I so troubled?
I will put my hope in God,
and once again I will praise him,
my savior and my God.
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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