February 10 - Hebrews 7, Exodus 3-4 and Psalm 41

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The Priestly Family of Melchizedek

Hebrews 7 Melchizedek was both king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He was the one who went out and gave Abraham his blessing, when Abraham returned from killing the kings. 2Then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything he had.
The meaning of the name Melchizedek is "King of Justice." But since Salem means "peace," he is also "King of Peace." 3We are not told that he had a father or mother or ancestors or beginning or end. He is like the Son of God and will be a priest forever.
4Notice how great Melchizedek is! Our famous ancestor Abraham gave him a tenth of what he had taken from his enemies. 5The Law teaches that even Abraham's descendants must give a tenth of what they possess. And they are to give this to their own relatives, who are the descendants of Levi and are priests. 6Although Melchizedek wasn't a descendant of Levi, Abraham gave him a tenth of what he had. Then Melchizedek blessed Abraham, who had been given God's promise. 7Everyone agrees that a person who gives a blessing is greater than the one who receives the blessing.
8Priests are given a tenth of what people earn. But all priests die, except Melchizedek, and the Scriptures teach that he is alive. 9Levi's descendants are now the ones who receive a tenth from people. We could even say that when Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth, Levi also gave him a tenth. 10This is because Levi was born later into the family of Abraham, who gave a tenth to Melchizedek.
11Even though the Law of Moses says that the priests must be descendants of Levi, those priests cannot make anyone perfect. So there needs to be a priest like Melchizedek, rather than one from the priestly family of Aaron. 12And when the rules for selecting a priest are changed, the Law must also be changed.
13The person we are talking about is our Lord, who came from a tribe that had never had anyone to serve as a priest at the altar. 14Everyone knows he came from the tribe of Judah, and Moses never said that priests would come from that tribe.
15All of this becomes clearer, when someone who is like Melchizedek is appointed to be a priest. 16That person wasn't appointed because of his ancestors, but because his life can never end. 17The Scriptures say about him,
"You are a priest forever,
just like Melchizedek."
18In this way a weak and useless command was put aside, 19because the Law cannot make anything perfect. At the same time, we are given a much better hope, and it can bring us close to God.
20-21God himself made a promise when this priest was appointed. But he did not make a promise like this when the other priests were appointed. The promise he made is,
"I, the Lord, promise that you will be a priest forever!
And I will never change my mind!"
22This means that Jesus guarantees us a better agreement with God. 23There have been a lot of other priests, and all of them have died. 24But Jesus will never die, and so he will be a priest forever! 25He is forever able to save the people he leads to God, because he always lives to speak to God for them.
26Jesus is the high priest we need. He is holy and innocent and faultless, and not at all like us sinners. Jesus is honored above all beings in heaven, 27and he is better than any other high priest. Jesus doesn't need to offer sacrifices each day for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. He offered a sacrifice once for all, when he gave himself. 28The Law appoints priests who have weaknesses. But God's promise, which came later than the Law, appoints his Son. And he is the perfect high priest forever.

God Speaks to Moses

Exodus 3 One day, Moses was taking care of the sheep and goats of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, and Moses decided to lead them across the desert to Sinai, the holy mountain. 2There an angel of the LORD appeared to him from a burning bush. Moses saw that the bush was on fire, but it was not burning up. 3"This is strange!" he said to himself. "I'll go over and see why the bush isn't burning up."
4When the LORD saw Moses coming near the bush, he called him by name, and Moses answered, "Here I am."
5God replied, "Don't come any closer. Take off your sandals--the ground where you are standing is holy. 6I am the God who was worshiped by your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Moses was afraid to look at God, and so he hid his face.
7The LORD said:
I have seen how my people are suffering as slaves in Egypt, and I have heard them beg for my help because of the way they are being mistreated. I feel sorry for them, 8and I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians.
I will bring my people out of Egypt into a country where there is good land, rich with milk and honey. I will give them the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live. 9My people have begged for my help, and I have seen how cruel the Egyptians are to them. 10Now go to the king! I am sending you to lead my people out of his country.

11But Moses said, "Who am I to go to the king and lead your people out of Egypt?"
12God replied, "I will be with you. And you will know that I am the one who sent you, when you worship me on this mountain after you have led my people out of Egypt."
13Moses answered, "I will tell the people of Israel that the God their ancestors worshiped has sent me to them. But what should I say, if they ask me your name?"
14-15God said to Moses:
I am the eternal God. So tell them that the LORD, whose name is "I Am," has sent you. This is my name forever, and it is the name that people must use from now on.
16Call together the leaders of Israel and tell them that the God who was worshiped by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has appeared to you. Tell them I have seen how terribly they are being treated in Egypt, 17and I promise to lead them out of their troubles. I will give them a land rich with milk and honey, where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.
18The leaders of Israel will listen to you. Then you must take them to the king of Egypt and say, "The LORD God of the Hebrews has appeared to us. Let us walk three days into the desert, where we can offer a sacrifice to him." 19But I know that the king of Egypt won't let you go unless something forces him to. 20So I will use my mighty power to perform all kinds of miracles and strike down the Egyptians. Then the king will send you away.
21After I punish the Egyptians, they will be so afraid of you that they will give you anything you want. You are my people, and I will let you take many things with you when you leave the land of Egypt. 22Every Israelite woman will go to her Egyptian neighbors or to any Egyptian woman living in her house. She will ask them for gold and silver jewelry and for their finest clothes. The Egyptians will give them to you, and you will put these fine things on your sons and daughters. You will carry all this away when you leave Egypt.

The LORD Gives Great Power to Moses

Exodus 4 Moses asked the LORD, "Suppose everyone refuses to listen to my message, and no one believes that you really appeared to me?"
2The LORD answered, "What's that in your hand?"
"A walking stick," Moses replied.
3"Throw it down!" the LORD commanded. So Moses threw the stick on the ground. It immediately turned into a snake, and Moses jumped back.
4"Pick it up by the tail!" the LORD told him. And when Moses did this, the snake turned back into a walking stick.
5"Do this," the LORD said, "and the Israelites will believe that you have seen me, the God who was worshiped by their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
6Next, the LORD commanded Moses, "Put your hand inside your shirt." Moses obeyed, and when he took it out, his hand had turned white as snow--like someone with leprosy.
7"Put your hand back inside your shirt," the LORD told him. Moses did so, and when he took it out again, it was as healthy as the rest of his body.
8-9Then the LORD said, "If no one believes either of these miracles, take some water from the Nile River and pour it on the ground. The water will immediately turn into blood."
10Moses replied, "I have never been a good speaker. I wasn't one before you spoke to me, and I'm not one now. I am slow at speaking, and I can never think of what to say."
11But the LORD answered, "Who makes people able to speak or makes them deaf or unable to speak? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Don't you know that I am the one who does these things? 12Now go! When you speak, I will be with you and give you the words to say."
13Moses begged, "LORD, please send someone else to do it."
14The LORD became irritated with Moses and said:
What about your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know he is a good speaker. He is already on his way here to visit you, and he will be happy to see you again. 15-16Aaron will speak to the people for you, and you will be like me, telling Aaron what to say. I will be with both of you as you speak, and I will tell each of you what to do. 17Now take this walking stick and use it to perform miracles.

Moses Returns to Egypt

18Moses went to his father-in-law Jethro and asked, "Please let me return to Egypt to see if any of my people are still alive."
"All right," Jethro replied. "I hope all goes well."
19But even before this, the LORD had told Moses, "Leave the land of Midian and return to Egypt. Everyone who wanted to kill you is dead." 20So Moses put his wife and sons on donkeys and headed for Egypt, holding the walking stick that had the power of God.
21On the way the LORD said to Moses:
When you get to Egypt, go to the king and work the miracles I have shown you. But I will make him so stubborn that he will refuse to let my people go. 22Then tell him that I have said, "Israel is my first-born son, 23and I commanded you to release him, so he could worship me. But you refused, and now I will kill your first-born son."

Zipporah's Son Is Circumcised

24One night while Moses was in camp, the LORD was about to kill him. 25But Zipporah circumcised her son with a flint knife. She touched his legs with the skin she had cut off and said, "My dear son, this blood will protect you." 26So the LORD did not harm Moses. Then Zipporah said, "Yes, my dear, you are safe because of this circumcision."

Aaron Is Sent To Meet Moses

27The LORD sent Aaron to meet Moses in the desert. So Aaron met Moses at Mount Sinai and greeted him with a kiss. 28Moses told Aaron what God had sent him to say; he also told him about the miracles God had given him the power to perform.
29Later they brought together the leaders of Israel, 30and Aaron told them what the LORD had sent Moses to say. Then Moses worked the miracles for the people, 31and everyone believed. They bowed down and worshiped the LORD because they knew that he had seen their suffering and was going to help them.

Psalm 41
[A psalm by David for the music leader.]
A Prayer in Time of Sickness

1You, LORD God, bless everyone who cares for the poor,
and you rescue those people in times of trouble.
2You protect them and keep them alive.
You make them happy here in this land,
and you don't hand them over to their enemies.
3You always heal them and restore their strength
when they are sick.
4I prayed, "Have pity, LORD! Heal me,
though I have sinned against you."

5My vicious enemies ask me,
"When will you die and be forgotten?"
6When visitors come,
all they ever bring are worthless words,
and when they leave, they spread gossip.

7My enemies whisper about me.
They think the worst, 8and they say,
"You have some fatal disease!
You'll never get well."
9My most trusted friend has turned against me,
though he ate at my table.

10Have pity, LORD! Heal me, so I can pay them back.
11Then my enemies won't defeat me,
and I will know that you really care.
12You have helped me because I am innocent,
and you will always be close to my side.

13You, the LORD God of Israel, will be praised forever!
Amen and amen.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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