February 8 - Hebrews 4.14-6.12, Genesis 49-50 and Psalm 39
Jesus the Great High PriestHebrews 414Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God--Jesus, the Son of God. 15Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. 16Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
Hebrews 5 Every high priest is chosen from his fellow-men and appointed to serve God on their behalf, to offer sacrifices and offerings for sins. 2Since he himself is weak in many ways, he is able to be gentle with those who are ignorant and make mistakes. 3And because he is himself weak, he must offer sacrifices not only for the sins of the people but also for his own sins. 4No one chooses for himself the honor of being a high priest. It is only by God's call that a man is made a high priest--just as Aaron was.
5In the same way, Christ did not take upon himself the honor of being a high priest. Instead, God said to him,
"You are my Son;
today I have become your Father."
6He also said in another place,
"You will be a priest forever,
in the priestly order of Melchizedek."
7In his life on earth Jesus made his prayers and requests with loud cries and tears to God, who could save him from death. Because he was humble and devoted, God heard him. 8But even though he was God's Son, he learned through his sufferings to be obedient. 9When he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him, 10and God declared him to be high priest, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.
Warning against Abandoning the Faith11There is much we have to say about this matter, but it is hard to explain to you, because you are so slow to understand. 12There has been enough time for you to be teachers--yet you still need someone to teach you the first lessons of God's message. Instead of eating solid food, you still have to drink milk. 13Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong. 14Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil.
Hebrews 6 Let us go forward, then, to mature teaching and leave behind us the first lessons of the Christian message. We should not lay again the foundation of turning away from useless works and believing in God; 2of the teaching about baptisms and the laying on of hands; of the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment. 3Let us go forward! And this is what we will do, if God allows.
4For how can those who abandon their faith be brought back to repent again? They were once in God's light; they tasted heaven's gift and received their share of the Holy Spirit; 5they knew from experience that God's word is good, and they had felt the powers of the coming age. 6And then they abandoned their faith! It is impossible to bring them back to repent again, because they are again crucifying the Son of God and exposing him to public shame.
7God blesses the soil which drinks in the rain that often falls on it and which grows plants that are useful to those for whom it is cultivated. 8But if it grows thorns and weeds, it is worth nothing; it is in danger of being cursed by God and will be destroyed by fire.
9But even if we speak like this, dear friends, we feel sure about you. We know that you have the better blessings that belong to your salvation. 10God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to other Christians. 11Our great desire is that each of you keep up your eagerness to the end, so that the things you hope for will come true. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to be like those who believe and are patient, and so receive what God has promised.
The Last Words of JacobGenesis 49 Jacob called for his sons and said, "Gather around, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the future:
2"Come together and listen, sons of Jacob.
Listen to your father Israel.
3"Reuben, my first-born, you are my strength
And the first child of my manhood,
The proudest and strongest of all my sons.
4You are like a raging flood,
But you will not be the most important,
For you slept with my concubine
And dishonored your father's bed.
5"Simeon and Levi are brothers.
They use their weapons to commit violence.
6I will not join in their secret talks,
Nor will I take part in their meetings,
For they killed people in anger
And they crippled bulls for sport.
7A curse be on their anger, because it is so fierce,
And on their fury, because it is so cruel.
I will scatter them throughout the land of Israel.
I will disperse them among its people.
8"Judah, your brothers will praise you.
You hold your enemies by the neck.
Your brothers will bow down before you.
9Judah is like a lion,
Killing his victim and returning to his den,
Stretching out and lying down.
No one dares disturb him.
10Judah will hold the royal scepter,
And his descendants will always rule.
Nations will bring him tribute
And bow in obedience before him.
11He ties his young donkey to a grapevine,
To the very best of the vines.
He washes his clothes in blood-red wine.
12His eyes are bloodshot from drinking wine,
His teeth white from drinking milk.
13"Zebulun will live beside the sea.
His shore will be a haven for ships.
His territory will reach as far as Sidon.
14"Issachar is no better than a donkey
That lies stretched out between its saddlebags.
15But he sees that the resting place is good
And that the land is delightful.
So he bends his back to carry the load
And is forced to work as a slave.
16"Dan will be a ruler for his people.
They will be like the other tribes of Israel.
17Dan will be a snake at the side of the road,
A poisonous snake beside the path,
That strikes at the horse's heel,
So that the rider is thrown off backward.
18"I wait for your deliverance, LORD.
19"Gad will be attacked by a band of robbers,
But he will turn and pursue them.
20"Asher's land will produce rich food.
He will provide food fit for a king.
21"Naphtali is a deer that runs free,
Who bears lovely fawns.
22"Joseph is like a wild donkey by a spring,
A wild colt on a hillside.
23His enemies attack him fiercely
And pursue him with their bows and arrows.
24But his bow remains steady,
And his arms are made strong
By the power of the Mighty God of Jacob,
By the Shepherd, the Protector of Israel.
25It is your father's God who helps you,
The Almighty God who blesses you
With blessings of rain from above
And of deep waters from beneath the ground,
Blessings of many cattle and children,
26Blessings of grain and flowers,
Blessings of ancient mountains,
Delightful things from everlasting hills.
May these blessings rest on the head of Joseph,
On the brow of the one set apart from his brothers.
27"Benjamin is like a vicious wolf.
Morning and evening he kills and devours."
28These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said as he spoke a suitable word of farewell to each son.
The Death and Burial of Jacob29Then Jacob commanded his sons, "Now that I am going to join my people in death, bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30at Machpelah east of Mamre in the land of Canaan. Abraham bought this cave and field from Ephron for a burial ground. 31That is where they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah; that is where they buried Isaac and his wife Rebecca; and that is where I buried Leah. 32The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites. Bury me there." 33When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he lay back down and died.
Genesis 50 Joseph threw himself on his father, crying and kissing his face. 2Then Joseph gave orders to embalm his father's body. 3It took forty days, the normal time for embalming. The Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
4When the time of mourning was over, Joseph said to the king's officials, "Please take this message to the king: 5'When my father was about to die, he made me promise him that I would bury him in the tomb which he had prepared in the land of Canaan. So please let me go and bury my father, and then I will come back.'"
6The king answered, "Go and bury your father, as you promised you would."
7So Joseph went to bury his father. All the king's officials, the senior men of his court, and all the leading men of Egypt went with Joseph. 8His family, his brothers, and the rest of his father's family all went with him. Only their small children and their sheep, goats, and cattle stayed in the region of Goshen. 9Men in chariots and men on horseback also went with him; it was a huge group.
10When they came to the threshing place at Atad east of the Jordan, they mourned loudly for a long time, and Joseph performed mourning ceremonies for seven days. 11When the citizens of Canaan saw those people mourning at Atad, they said, "What a solemn ceremony of mourning the Egyptians are holding!" That is why the place was named Abel Mizraim.
12So Jacob's sons did as he had commanded them; 13they carried his body to Canaan and buried it in the cave at Machpelah east of Mamre in the field which Abraham had bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial ground. 14After Joseph had buried his father, he returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone with him for the funeral.
Joseph Reassures His Brothers15After the death of their father, Joseph's brothers said, "What if Joseph still hates us and plans to pay us back for all the harm we did to him?" 16So they sent a message to Joseph: "Before our father died, 17he told us to ask you, 'Please forgive the crime your brothers committed when they wronged you.' Now please forgive us the wrong that we, the servants of your father's God, have done." Joseph cried when he received this message.
18Then his brothers themselves came and bowed down before him. "Here we are before you as your slaves," they said.
19But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid; I can't put myself in the place of God. 20You plotted evil against me, but God turned it into good, in order to preserve the lives of many people who are alive today because of what happened. 21You have nothing to fear. I will take care of you and your children." So he reassured them with kind words that touched their hearts.
The Death of Joseph22Joseph continued to live in Egypt with his father's family; he was a hundred and ten years old when he died. 23He lived to see Ephraim's children and grandchildren. He also lived to receive the children of Machir son of Manasseh into the family. 24He said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will certainly take care of you and lead you out of this land to the land he solemnly promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." 25Then Joseph asked his people to make a vow. "Promise me," he said, "that when God leads you to that land, you will take my body with you." 26So Joseph died in Egypt at the age of a hundred and ten. They embalmed his body and put it in a coffin.
The Confession of a SuffererPsalm 39 I said, "I will be careful about what I do
and will not let my tongue make me sin;
I will not say anything
while evil people are near."
2I kept quiet, not saying a word,
not even about anything good!
But my suffering only grew worse,
3and I was overcome with anxiety.
The more I thought, the more troubled I became;
I could not keep from asking:
4"LORD, how long will I live?
When will I die?
Tell me how soon my life will end."
5How short you have made my life!
In your sight my lifetime seems nothing.
Indeed every living being is no more than a puff of wind,
6no more than a shadow.
All we do is for nothing;
we gather wealth, but don't know who will get it.
7What, then, can I hope for, Lord?
I put my hope in you.
8Save me from all my sins,
and don't let fools make fun of me.
9I will keep quiet, I will not say a word,
for you are the one who made me suffer like this.
10Don't punish me any more!
I am about to die from your blows.
11You punish our sins by your rebukes,
and like a moth you destroy what we love.
Indeed we are no more than a puff of wind!
12Hear my prayer, LORD,
and listen to my cry;
come to my aid when I weep.
Like all my ancestors
I am only your guest for a little while.
13Leave me alone so that I may have some happiness
before I go away and am no more.
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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