February 17 - Hebrews 12, Exodus 16-17 and Proverbs 7.6-27
God Our FatherHebrews 12 As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. 2Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God's throne.
3Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up. 4For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed. 5Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children?
"My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you,
and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you.
6Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves,
and punishes everyone he accepts as a child."
7Endure what you suffer as being a father's punishment; your suffering shows that God is treating you as his children. Was there ever a child who was not punished by his father? 8If you are not punished, as all his children are, it means you are not real children, but bastards. 9In the case of our human fathers, they punished us and we respected them. How much more, then, should we submit to our spiritual Father and live! 10Our human fathers punished us for a short time, as it seemed right to them; but God does it for our own good, so that we may share his holiness. 11When we are punished, it seems to us at the time something to make us sad, not glad. Later, however, those who have been disciplined by such punishment reap the peaceful reward of a righteous life.
Instructions and Warnings12Lift up your tired hands, then, and strengthen your trembling knees! 13Keep walking on straight paths, so that the lame foot may not be disabled, but instead be healed.
14Try to be at peace with everyone, and try to live a holy life, because no one will see the Lord without it. 15Guard against turning back from the grace of God. Let no one become like a bitter plant that grows up and causes many troubles with its poison. 16Let no one become immoral or unspiritual like Esau, who for a single meal sold his rights as the older son. 17Afterward, you know, he wanted to receive his father's blessing; but he was turned back, because he could not find any way to change what he had done, even though in tears he looked for it.
18You have not come, as the people of Israel came, to what you can feel, to Mount Sinai with its blazing fire, the darkness and the gloom, the storm, 19the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of a voice. When the people heard the voice, they begged not to hear another word, 20because they could not bear the order which said, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death." 21The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, "I am trembling and afraid!"
22Instead, you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, with its thousands of angels. 23You have come to the joyful gathering of God's first-born, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, who is the judge of all people, and to the spirits of good people made perfect. 24You have come to Jesus, who arranged the new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that promises much better things than does the blood of Abel.
25Be careful, then, and do not refuse to hear him who speaks. Those who refused to hear the one who gave the divine message on earth did not escape. How much less shall we escape, then, if we turn away from the one who speaks from heaven! 26His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, "I will once more shake not only the earth but heaven as well." 27The words "once more" plainly show that the created things will be shaken and removed, so that the things that cannot be shaken will remain.
28Let us be thankful, then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe; 29because our God is indeed a destroying fire.
The Manna and the QuailsExodus 16 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim, and on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, they came to the desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai. 2There in the desert they all complained to Moses and Aaron 3and said to them, "We wish that the LORD had killed us in Egypt. There we could at least sit down and eat meat and as much other food as we wanted. But you have brought us out into this desert to starve us all to death."
4The LORD said to Moses, "Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions. 5On the sixth day they are to bring in twice as much as usual and prepare it."
6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "This evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt. 7In the morning you will see the dazzling light of the LORD's presence. He has heard your complaints against him--yes, against him, because we are only carrying out his instructions." 8Then Moses said, "It is the LORD who will give you meat to eat in the evening and as much bread as you want in the morning, because he has heard how much you have complained against him. When you complain against us, you are really complaining against the LORD."
9Moses said to Aaron, "Tell the whole community to come and stand before the LORD, because he has heard their complaints." 10As Aaron spoke to the whole community, they turned toward the desert, and suddenly the dazzling light of the LORD appeared in a cloud. 11The LORD said to Moses, 12"I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. Tell them that at twilight they will have meat to eat, and in the morning they will have all the bread they want. Then they will know that I, the LORD, am their God."
13In the evening a large flock of quails flew in, enough to cover the camp, and in the morning there was dew all around the camp. 14When the dew evaporated, there was something thin and flaky on the surface of the desert. It was as delicate as frost. 15When the Israelites saw it, they didn't know what it was and asked each other, "What is it?"
Moses said to them, "This is the food that the LORD has given you to eat. 16The LORD has commanded that each of you is to gather as much of it as he needs, two quarts for each member of his household."
17The Israelites did this, some gathering more, others less. 18When they measured it, those who gathered much did not have too much, and those who gathered less did not have too little. Each had gathered just what he needed. 19Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it for tomorrow." 20But some of them did not listen to Moses and saved part of it. The next morning it was full of worms and smelled rotten, and Moses was angry with them. 21Every morning each one gathered as much as he needed; and when the sun grew hot, what was left on the ground melted.
22On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, four quarts for each person. All the leaders of the community came and told Moses about it, 23and he said to them, "The LORD has commanded that tomorrow is a holy day of rest, dedicated to him. Bake today what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Whatever is left should be put aside and kept for tomorrow." 24As Moses had commanded, they kept what was left until the next day; it did not spoil or get worms in it. 25Moses said, "Eat this today, because today is the Sabbath, a day of rest dedicated to the LORD, and you will not find any food outside the camp. 26You must gather food for six days, but on the seventh day, the day of rest, there will be none."
27On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather food, but they did not find any. 28Then the LORD said to Moses, "How much longer will you people refuse to obey my commands? 29Remember that I, the LORD, have given you a day of rest, and that is why on the sixth day I will always give you enough food for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day and not leave his home." 30So the people did no work on the seventh day.
31The people of Israel called the food manna. It was like a small white seed, and tasted like thin cakes made with honey. 32Moses said, "The LORD has commanded us to save some manna, to be kept for our descendants, so that they can see the food which he gave us to eat in the desert when he brought us out of Egypt." 33Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar, put two quarts of manna in it, and place it in the LORD's presence to be kept for our descendants." 34As the LORD had commanded Moses, Aaron put it in front of the Covenant Box, so that it could be kept. 35The Israelites ate manna for the next forty years, until they reached the land of Canaan, where they settled. ( 36The standard dry measure then in use equaled twenty quarts.)
Water from the Rock
Moses answered, "Why are you complaining? Why are you putting the LORD to the test?"
3But the people were very thirsty and continued to complain to Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt? To kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?"
4Moses prayed earnestly to the LORD and said, "What can I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
5The LORD said to Moses, "Take some of the leaders of Israel with you, and go on ahead of the people. Take along the stick with which you struck the Nile. 6I will stand before you on a rock at Mount Sinai. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." Moses did so in the presence of the leaders of Israel.
7The place was named Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites complained and put the LORD to the test when they asked, "Is the LORD with us or not?"
War with the Amalekites8The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9Moses said to Joshua, "Pick out some men to go and fight the Amalekites tomorrow. I will stand on top of the hill holding the stick that God told me to carry." 10Joshua did as Moses commanded him and went out to fight the Amalekites, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11As long as Moses held up his arms, the Israelites won, but when he put his arms down, the Amalekites started winning. 12When Moses' arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur brought a stone for him to sit on, while they stood beside him and held up his arms, holding them steady until the sun went down. 13In this way Joshua totally defeated the Amalekites.
14Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write an account of this victory, so that it will be remembered. Tell Joshua that I will completely destroy the Amalekites." 15Moses built an altar and named it "The LORD is my Banner." 16He said, "Hold high the banner of the LORD! The LORD will continue to fight against the Amalekites forever!"
The Immoral WomanProverbs 76Once I was looking out the window of my house, 7and I saw many inexperienced young men, but noticed one foolish fellow in particular. 8He was walking along the street near the corner where a certain woman lived. He was passing near her house 9in the evening after it was dark. 10And then she met him; she was dressed like a prostitute and was making plans. 11She was a bold and shameless woman who always walked the streets 12or stood waiting at a corner, sometimes in the streets, sometimes in the marketplace. 13She threw her arms around the young man, kissed him, looked him straight in the eye, and said, 14"I made my offerings today and have the meat from the sacrifices. 15So I came out looking for you. I wanted to find you, and here you are! 16I've covered my bed with sheets of colored linen from Egypt. 17I've perfumed it with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. 18Come on! Let's make love all night long. We'll be happy in each other's arms. 19My husband isn't at home. He's on a long trip. 20He took plenty of money with him and won't be back for two weeks." 21So she tempted him with her charms, and he gave in to her smooth talk. 22Suddenly he was going with her like an ox on the way to be slaughtered, like a deer prancing into a trap 23where an arrow would pierce its heart. He was like a bird going into a net--he did not know that his life was in danger.
24Now then, sons, listen to me. Pay attention to what I say. 25Do not let such a woman win your heart; don't go wandering after her. 26She has been the ruin of many men and caused the death of too many to count. 27If you go to her house, you are on the way to the world of the dead. It is a shortcut to death.
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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