February 12 - Hebrews 9.1-22, Exodus 6.28-8.32 and Proverbs 2

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The Tent in Heaven

Hebrews 9 The first promise that was made included rules for worship and a tent for worship here on earth. 2The first part of the tent was called the holy place, and a lampstand, a table, and the sacred loaves of bread were kept there.
3Behind the curtain was the most holy place. 4The gold altar that was used for burning incense was in this holy place. The gold-covered sacred chest was also there, and inside it were three things. First, there was a gold jar filled with manna. Then there was Aaron's walking stick that sprouted. Finally, there were the flat stones with the Ten Commandments written on them. 5On top of the chest were the glorious creatures with wings opened out above the place of mercy.
Now isn't the time to go into detail about these things. 6But this is how everything was when the priests went each day into the first part of the tent to do their duties. 7However, only the high priest could go into the second part of the tent, and he went in only once a year. Each time he carried blood to offer for his sins and for any sins that the people had committed without meaning to.
8All of this is the Holy Spirit's way of saying that no one could enter the most holy place while the tent was still the place of worship. 9This also has a meaning for today. It shows that we cannot make our consciences clear by offering gifts and sacrifices. 10These rules are merely about such things as eating and drinking and ceremonies for washing ourselves. And rules about physical things will last only until the time comes to change them for something better.
11Christ came as the high priest of the good things that are now here. He also went into a much better tent that wasn't made by humans and that doesn't belong to this world. 12Then Christ went once for all into the most holy place and freed us from sin forever. He did this by offering his own blood instead of the blood of goats and bulls.
13According to the Law of Moses, those people who become unclean are not fit to worship God. Yet they will be considered clean, if they are sprinkled with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a sacrificed calf. 14But Christ was sinless, and he offered himself as an eternal and spiritual sacrifice to God. That's why his blood is much more powerful and makes our consciences clear. Now we can serve the living God and no longer do things that lead to death.
15Christ died to rescue those who had sinned and broken the old agreement. Now he brings his chosen ones a new agreement with its guarantee of God's eternal blessings! 16In fact, making an agreement of this kind is like writing a will. This is because the one who makes the will must die before it is of any use. 17In other words, a will doesn't go into effect as long as the one who made it is still alive.
18Blood was also used to put the first agreement into effect. 19Moses told the people all that the Law said they must do. Then he used red wool and a hyssop plant to sprinkle the people and the book of the Law with the blood of bulls and goats and with water. 20He told the people, "With this blood God makes his agreement with you." 21Moses also sprinkled blood on the tent and on everything else that was used in worship. 22The Law says that almost everything must be sprinkled with blood, and no sins can be forgiven unless blood is offered.

The LORD Commands Moses and Aaron To Speak to the King

>Exodus 6 28When the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29he said, "I am the LORD. Tell the king of Egypt everything I say to you."
30But Moses answered, "You know I am a very poor speaker, and the king will never listen to me."
Exodus 7 The LORD said:
I am going to let your brother Aaron speak for you. He will tell your message to the king, just as a prophet speaks my message to the people. 2Tell Aaron everything I say to you, and he will order the king to let my people leave his country. 3-4But I will make the king so stubborn that he won't listen to you. He won't listen even when I do many terrible things to him and his nation. Then I will bring a final punishment on Egypt, and the king will let Israel's families and tribes go. 5When this happens, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.

6Moses and Aaron obeyed the LORD 7and spoke to the king. At the time, Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was eighty-three.

A Stick Turns into a Snake

8-9The LORD said, "Moses, when the king asks you and Aaron to perform a miracle, command Aaron to throw his walking stick down in front of the king, and it will turn into a snake."
10Moses and Aaron went to the king and his officials and did exactly as the LORD had commanded--Aaron threw the stick down, and it turned into a snake. 11Then the king called in the wise men and the magicians, who used their secret powers to do the same thing--12they threw down sticks that turned into snakes. But Aaron's snake swallowed theirs. 13The king behaved just as the LORD had said and stubbornly refused to listen.

The Nile River Turns into Blood

14The LORD said to Moses:
The Egyptian king stubbornly refuses to change his mind and let the people go. 15Tomorrow morning take the stick that turned into a snake, then wait beside the Nile River for the king. 16Tell him, "The LORD God of the Hebrews sent me to order you to release his people, so they can worship him in the desert. But until now, you have paid no attention.
17"The LORD is going to do something to show you that he really is the LORD. I will strike the Nile with this stick, and the water will turn into blood. 18The fish will die, the river will stink, and none of you Egyptians will be able to drink the water."
19Moses, then command Aaron to hold his stick over the water. And when he does, every drop of water in Egypt will turn into blood, including rivers, canals, ponds, and even the water in buckets and jars.

20Moses and Aaron obeyed the LORD. Aaron held out his stick, then struck the Nile, as the king and his officials watched. The river turned into blood, 21the fish died, and the water smelled so bad that none of the Egyptians could drink it. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
22But the Egyptian magicians used their secret powers to do the same thing. The king did just as the LORD had said--he stubbornly refused to listen. 23Then he went back to his palace and never gave it a second thought. 24The Egyptians had to dig holes along the banks of the Nile for drinking water, because water from the river was unfit to drink.


25Seven days after the LORD had struck the Nile,
Exodus 8 1he said to Moses:
Go to the palace and tell the king of Egypt that I order him to let my people go, so they can worship me. 2If he refuses, I will cover his entire country with frogs. 3Warn the king that the Nile will be full of frogs, and from there they will spread into the royal palace, including the king's bedroom and even his bed. Frogs will enter the homes of his officials and will find their way into ovens and into the bowls of bread dough. 4Frogs will be crawling on everyone--the king, his officials, and every citizen of Egypt.
5Moses, now command Aaron to hold his stick over the water. Then frogs will come from all rivers, canals, and ponds in Egypt, and they will cover the land.

6Aaron obeyed, and suddenly frogs were everywhere in Egypt. 7But the magicians used their secret powers to do the same thing.
8The king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, "If you ask the LORD to take these frogs away from me and my people, I will let your people go and offer sacrifices to him."
9"All right," Moses answered. "You choose the time when I am to pray for the frogs to stop bothering you, your officials, and your people, and for them to leave your houses and be found only in the river."
10"Do it tomorrow!" the king replied.
"As you wish," Moses agreed. "Then everyone will discover that there is no god like the LORD, 11and frogs will no longer be found anywhere, except in the Nile."
12After Moses and Aaron left the palace, Moses begged the LORD to do something about the frogs he had sent as punishment for the king. 13The LORD listened to Moses, and frogs died everywhere--in houses, yards, and fields. 14The dead frogs were placed in piles, and the whole country began to stink. 15But when the king saw that things were now better, he again did just as the LORD had said and stubbornly refused to listen to Moses and Aaron.


16The LORD said to Moses, "Command Aaron to strike the ground with his walking stick, and everywhere in Egypt the dust will turn into gnats." 17They obeyed, and when Aaron struck the ground with the stick, gnats started swarming on people and animals. In fact, every speck of dust in Egypt turned into a gnat. 18When the magicians tried to use their secret powers to do this, they failed, and gnats stayed on people and animals.
19The magicians told the king, "God has done this."
But, as the LORD had said, the king was too stubborn to listen.


20The LORD said to Moses:
Early tomorrow morning, while the king is on his way to the river, go and say to him, "The LORD commands you to let his people go, so they can worship him. 21If you don't, he will send swarms of flies to attack you, your officials, and every citizen of your country. Houses will be full of flies, and the ground will crawl with them.
22-23"The LORD's people in Goshen won't be bothered by flies, but your people in the rest of the country will be tormented by them. That's how you will know that the LORD is here in Egypt. This miracle will happen tomorrow."

24The LORD kept his promise--the palace and the homes of the royal officials swarmed with flies, and the rest of the country was infested with them as well. 25Then the king sent for Moses and Aaron and told them, "Go sacrifice to your God, but stay here in Egypt."
26"That's impossible!" Moses replied. "Any sacrifices we offer to the LORD our God would disgust the Egyptians, and they would stone us to death. 27No indeed! The LORD has ordered us to walk three days into the desert before offering sacrifices to him, and that's what we have to do."
28Then the king told him, "I'll let you go into the desert to offer sacrifices, if you don't go very far. But in the meantime, pray for me."
29"Your Majesty," Moses replied, "I'll pray for you as soon as I leave, and by tomorrow the flies will stop bothering you, your officials, and the citizens of your country. Only make sure that you're telling the truth this time and that you really intend to let our people offer sacrifices to the LORD."
30After leaving the palace, Moses prayed, 31and the LORD answered his prayer. Not a fly was left to pester the king, his officials, or anyone else in Egypt. 32But the king turned stubborn again and would not let the people go.

Wisdom and Bad Friends

Proverbs 2 My child, you must follow and treasure
my teachings and my instructions.
2Keep in tune with wisdom
and think what it means to have common sense.
3Beg as loud as you can for good common sense.
4Search for wisdom
as you would search for silver or hidden treasure.
5Then you will understand what it means to respect
and to know the LORD God.

6All wisdom comes from the LORD,
and so do common sense and understanding.
7God gives helpful advice to everyone who obeys him
and protects all of those who live as they should.
8God sees that justice is done,
and he watches over everyone who is faithful to him.
9With wisdom you will learn
what is right and honest and fair.

10Wisdom will control your mind,
and you will be pleased with knowledge.
11Sound judgment and good sense will watch over you.
12Wisdom will protect you
from evil schemes and from those liars
13who turned from doing good to live in the darkness.
14Most of all they enjoy being mean and deceitful.
15They are dishonest themselves, and all they do is crooked.

Wisdom and Sexual Purity

16Wisdom will protect you
from the smooth talk of a sinful woman,
17who breaks her wedding vows
and leaves the man she married when she was young.
18The road to her house leads down
to the dark world of the dead.
19Visit her, and you will never find the road to life again.

20Follow the example of good people
and live an honest life.
21If you are honest and innocent, you will keep your land;
22if you do wrong and can never be trusted,
you will be rooted out.

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

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