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First Reading: Deuteronomy Chapter 33 and 34

Deuteronomy 33

33:1 This is the blessing that Moses the man of God pronounced on the Israelites before his death. 2 He said:
"The LORD came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir;he shone forth from Mount Paran.He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes. 3 Surely it is you who love the people;all the holy ones are in your hand.At your feet they all bow down,and from you receive instruction, 4 the law that Moses gave us,the possession of the assembly of Jacob. 5 He was king over Jeshurun when the leaders of the people assembled,along with the tribes of Israel.
6 "Let Reuben live and not die,nor his men be few."
7 And this he said about Judah:
"Hear, O LORD, the cry of Judah;bring him to his people.With his own hands he defends his cause.Oh, be his help against his foes!"
8 About Levi he said:
"Your Thummim and Urim belong to the man you favored.You tested him at Massah;you contended with him at the waters of Meribah. 9 He said of his father and mother,'I have no regard for them.'He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children,but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant. 10 He teaches your precepts to Jacob and your law to Israel.He offers incense before you and whole burnt offerings on your altar. 11 Bless all his skills, O LORD,and be pleased with the work of his hands.Smite the loins of those who rise up against him;strike his foes till they rise no more."
12 About Benjamin he said:
"Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him,for he shields him all day long,and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders."
13 About Joseph he said:
"May the LORD bless his land with the precious dew from heaven above and with the deep waters that lie below; 14 with the best the sun brings forth and the finest the moon can yield; 15 with the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills; 16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwelt in the burning bush.Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,on the brow of the prince among his brothers. 17 In majesty he is like a firstborn bull;his horns are the horns of a wild ox.With them he will gore the nations,even those at the ends of the earth.Such are the ten thousands of Ephraim;such are the thousands of Manasseh."
18 About Zebulun he said:
"Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,and you, Issachar, in your tents. 19 They will summon peoples to the mountain and there offer sacrifices of righteousness;they will feast on the abundance of the seas,on the treasures hidden in the sand."
20 About Gad he said:
"Blessed is he who enlarges Gad's domain!Gad lives there like a lion,tearing at arm or head. 21 He chose the best land for himself;the leader's portion was kept for him.When the heads of the people assembled,he carried out the LORD's righteous will,and his judgments concerning Israel."
22 About Dan he said:
"Dan is a lion's cub,springing out of Bashan."
23 About Naphtali he said:
"Naphtali is abounding with the favor of the LORD and is full of his blessing;he will inherit southward to the lake."
24 About Asher he said:
"Most blessed of sons is Asher;let him be favored by his brothers,and let him bathe his feet in oil. 25 The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze,and your strength will equal your days.
26 "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,who rides on the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty. 27 The eternal God is your refuge,and underneath are the everlasting arms.He will drive out your enemy before you,saying, 'Destroy him!' 28 So Israel will live in safety alone;Jacob's spring is secure in a land of grain and new wine,where the heavens drop dew. 29 Blessed are you, O Israel!Who is like you,a people saved by the LORD?He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.Your enemies will cower before you,and you will trample down their high places."

Deuteronomy 34

34:1 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land — from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it."
5 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. 8 The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
9 Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses.
10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt — to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

Second Reading: Mark Chapter 12

Mark 12

12:1 He then began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 2 At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. 5 He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.
6 "He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, 'They will respect my son.'
7 "But the tenants said to one another, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' 8 So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.
9 "What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. 10 Haven't you read this scripture:
"'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; 11 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"
12 Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.
13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, "Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn't we?"
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. "Why are you trying to trap me?" he asked. "Bring me a denarius and let me look at it." 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied.
17 Then Jesus said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's."
And they were amazed at him.
18 Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 19 "Teacher," they said, "Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. 21 The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third. 22 In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too. 23 At the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?"
24 Jesus replied, "Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? 25 When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 26 Now about the dead rising-have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!"
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29 "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."
32 "Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
35 While Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, he asked, "How is it that the teachers of the law say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, speaking by the Holy Spirit, declared:
"'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." '
37 David himself calls him 'Lord.' How then can he be his son?"
The large crowd listened to him with delight.
38 As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39 and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on."

Bible Background


Part 1 of 3

The Bible is a life and death book. It has a serious message and starts in the very first chapters to address that message. In Genesis chapter 1 the story of creation is told. All living things are created by God's Spirit. In chapter 2 verse 7 the creation of man is described: "The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." (NIV) The dust by itself is just dust. It takes the breath of life from God to make it a living being.

Some of the older translations like the King James Version translate "living being" as "living soul." The original Hebrew word for this is "nephesh." It is translated as soul in the King James Version in many places but in other places is translated as "beast", "life", "man", and "creature." It does not refer to an "immortal soul." In fact the same word is translated in Exekiel 18:4 : "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." (KJV). People do not automatically have immortality. In fact, we're told that only God has immortality (I Timothy 6:16) and that life eternal is a gift from God (Romans 6:23).

"This is what God the LORD says--he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:" Isaiah 42:5 (NIV)


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