11, January 2019

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Today’s Readings

Isaiah 34–37 ()

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34:1   Draw near, O nations, to hear,
    and give attention, O peoples!
  Let the earth hear, and all that fills it;
    the world, and all that comes from it.
  For the LORD is enraged against all the nations,
    and furious against all their host;
    he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter.
  Their slain shall be cast out,
    and the stench of their corpses shall rise;
    the mountains shall flow with their blood.
  All the host of heaven shall rot away,
    and the skies roll up like a scroll.
  All their host shall fall,
    as leaves fall from the vine,
    like leaves falling from the fig tree.
  For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens;
    behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom,
    upon the people I have devoted to destruction.
  The LORD has a sword; it is sated with blood;
    it is gorged with fat,
    with the blood of lambs and goats,
    with the fat of the kidneys of rams.
  For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
    a great slaughter in the land of Edom.
  Wild oxen shall fall with them,
    and young steers with the mighty bulls.
  Their land shall drink its fill of blood,
    and their soil shall be gorged with fat.
  For the LORD has a day of vengeance,
    a year of recompense for the cause of Zion.
  And the streams of Edom shall be turned into pitch,
    and her soil into sulfur;
    her land shall become burning pitch.
10   Night and day it shall not be quenched;
    its smoke shall go up forever.
  From generation to generation it shall lie waste;
    none shall pass through it forever and ever.
11   But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it,
    the owl and the raven shall dwell in it.
  He shall stretch the line of confusion over it,
    and the plumb line of emptiness.
12   Its nobles—there is no one there to call it a kingdom,
    and all its princes shall be nothing.
13   Thorns shall grow over its strongholds,
    nettles and thistles in its fortresses.
  It shall be the haunt of jackals,
    an abode for ostriches.
14   And wild animals shall meet with hyenas;
    the wild goat shall cry to his fellow;
  indeed, there the night bird settles
    and finds for herself a resting place.
15   There the owl nests and lays
    and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow;
  indeed, there the hawks are gathered,
    each one with her mate.
16   Seek and read from the book of the LORD:
    Not one of these shall be missing;
    none shall be without her mate.
  For the mouth of the LORD has commanded,
    and his Spirit has gathered them.
17   He has cast the lot for them;
    his hand has portioned it out to them with the line;
  they shall possess it forever;
    from generation to generation they shall dwell in it.

35:1   The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
  it shall blossom abundantly
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
  The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
  They shall see the glory of the LORD,
    the majesty of our God.
  Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
  Say to those who have an anxious heart,
    “Be strong; fear not!
  Behold, your God
    will come with vengeance,
  with the recompense of God.
    He will come and save you.”
  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
  then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
  For waters break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
  the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
  in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
  And a highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
  the unclean shall not pass over it.
    It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
    even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
  No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
  they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
10   And the ransomed of the LORD shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
  everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

36:1 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer's Field. And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder.

And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, “We trust in the LORD our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”? Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master's servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, “Go up against this land and destroy it.”’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and drink their own urine?”

13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. 15 Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”

21 But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king's command was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

37:1 As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz. They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’”

When the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, “Say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’”

The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: 16 “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20 So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.”

21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him:

  “‘She despises you, she scorns you—
    the virgin daughter of Zion;
  she wags her head behind you—
    the daughter of Jerusalem.
23   “‘Whom have you mocked and reviled?
    Against whom have you raised your voice
  and lifted your eyes to the heights?
    Against the Holy One of Israel!
24   By your servants you have mocked the Lord,
    and you have said, With my many chariots
  I have gone up the heights of the mountains,
    to the far recesses of Lebanon,
  to cut down its tallest cedars,
    its choicest cypresses,
  to come to its remotest height,
    its most fruitful forest.
25   I dug wells
    and drank waters,
  to dry up with the sole of my foot
    all the streams of Egypt.
26   “‘Have you not heard
    that I determined it long ago?
  I planned from days of old
    what now I bring to pass,
  that you should make fortified cities
    crash into heaps of ruins,
27   while their inhabitants, shorn of strength,
    are dismayed and confounded,
  and have become like plants of the field
    and like tender grass,
  like grass on the housetops,
    blighted before it is grown.
28   “‘I know your sitting down
    and your going out and coming in,
    and your raging against me.
29   Because you have raged against me
    and your complacency has come to my ears,
  I will put my hook in your nose
    and my bit in your mouth,
  and I will turn you back on the way
    by which you came.’

30 “And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

33 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

36 And the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

Luke 2:21–33 ()

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21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29   “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
30   for my eyes have seen your salvation
31     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32   a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

Psalm 71:17–24 ()

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17   O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
18   So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
  until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.
19   Your righteousness, O God,
    reaches the high heavens.
  You who have done great things,
    O God, who is like you?
20   You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
  from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
21   You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.
22   I will also praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, O my God;
  I will sing praises to you with the lyre,
    O Holy One of Israel.
23   My lips will shout for joy,
    when I sing praises to you;
    my soul also, which you have redeemed.
24   And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long,
  for they have been put to shame and disappointed
    who sought to do me hurt.

Proverbs 2:3–5 ()

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  yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
  if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
  then you will understand the fear of the LORD
    and find the knowledge of God.

11, January 2019

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