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First Reading: Deuteronomy Chapter 33 and 34
33:1 Moses' Final Blessing on Israel
Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children
of Israel before his death. 2 And he said:
"The LORD came from Sinai,And dawned on them from Seir;He shone forth from Mount Paran,And He came with ten thousands of saints;From His right hand Came a fiery law for them. 3 Yes, He loves the people;All His saints are in Your hand;They sit down at Your feet;everyone receives Your words. 4 Moses commanded a law for us,A heritage of the congregation of Jacob. 5 And He was King in Jeshurun,When the leaders of the people were gathered,All the tribes of Israel together.
6 "Let Reuben live, and not die,Nor let his men be few."
7 And this he said of Judah:
"Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah,And bring him to his people;Let his hands be sufficient for him,And may You be a help against his enemies."
8 And of Levi he said:
"Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one,Whom You tested at Massah,And with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah, 9 Who says of his father and mother,'I have not seen them';Nor did he acknowledge his brothers,Or know his own children;For they have observed Your word And kept Your covenant. 10 They shall teach Jacob Your judgments,And Israel Your law.They shall put incense before You,And a whole burnt sacrifice on Your altar. 11 Bless his substance, LORD,And accept the work of his hands;Strike the loins of those who rise against him,And of those who hate him, that they rise not again."
12 Of Benjamin he said:
"The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by Him,Who shelters him all the day long;And he shall dwell between His shoulders."
13 And of Joseph he said:
"Blessed of the LORD is his land,With the precious things of heaven, with the dew,And the deep lying beneath, 14 With the precious fruits of the sun,With the precious produce of the months, 15 With the best things of the ancient mountains,With the precious things of the everlasting hills, 16 With the precious things of the earth and its fullness,And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.Let the blessing come'on the head of Joseph,And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.' 17 His glory is like a firstborn bull,And his horns like the horns of the wild ox;Together with them He shall push the peoples To the ends of the earth;They are the ten thousands of Ephraim,And they are the thousands of Manasseh."
18 And of Zebulun he said:
"Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,And Issachar in your tents! 19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain;There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness;For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas And of treasures hidden in the sand."
20 And of Gad he said:
"Blessed is he who enlarges Gad;He dwells as a lion,And tears the arm and the crown of his head. 21 He provided the first part for himself,Because a lawgiver's portion was reserved there.He came with the heads of the people;He administered the justice of the LORD,And His judgments with Israel."
22 And of Dan he said:
"Dan is a lion's whelp;He shall leap from Bashan."
23 And of Naphtali he said:
"O Naphtali, satisfied with favor,And full of the blessing of the LORD,Possess the west and the south."
24 And of Asher he said:
"Asher is most blessed of sons;Let him be favored by his brothers,And let him dip his foot in oil. 25 Your sandals shall be iron and bronze;As your days, so shall your strength be.
26 "There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,Who rides the heavens to help you,And in His excellency on the clouds. 27 The eternal God is your refuge,And underneath are the everlasting arms;He will thrust out the enemy from before you,And will say, 'Destroy!' 28 Then Israel shall dwell in safety,The fountain of Jacob alone,In a land of grain and new wine;His heavens shall also drop dew. 29 Happy are you, O Israel!Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD,The shield of your help And the sword of your majesty!Your enemies shall submit to you,And you shall tread down their high places."
34:1 Moses Dies on Mount Nebo
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah,
which is across from Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead
as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the
land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the South, and the plain of the Valley
of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the LORD said to
him,"This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have caused you to see it with
your eyes, but you shall not cross over there."
5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. 7 Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. 8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.
9 Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses.
10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
12:1 The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers
(Matt 21:33-46; Luke 20:9-19)
Then He began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. 2 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. 5 And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some. 6 Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 7 But those vinedressers said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' 8 So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.
9 "Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not even read this Scripture:
'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. 11 This was the LORD's doing,And it is marvelous in our eyes'?"
12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.
13 The Pharisees: Is It Lawful to Pay Taxes to Caesar?
(Matt 22:15-22; Luke 20:20-26)
Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. 14 When they had come, they said to Him, "Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?"
But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, "Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it." 16 So they brought it.
And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's."
17 And Jesus answered and said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
And they marveled at Him.
18 The Sadducees: What About the Resurrection?
(Matt 22:23-33; Luke 20:27-40)
Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying: 19 "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother. 20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring. 21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise. 22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also. 23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife."
24 Jesus answered and said to them, "Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, '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 the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken."
28 The Scribes: Which Is the First Commandment of All?
(Matt 22:34-40; Luke 10:25-28)
Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"
29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
32 So the scribe said to Him, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."
But after that no one dared question Him.
35 Jesus: How Can David Call His Descendant Lord?
(Matt 22:41-46; Luke 20:41-44)
Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, "How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit:
'The LORD said to my Lord,"Sit at My right hand,Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."'
37 Therefore David himself calls Him 'Lord'; how is He then his Son?"
And the common people heard Him gladly.
38 Beware of the Scribes
(Matt 23:1-7; Luke 20:45-47)
Then He said to them in His teaching, "Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 40 who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation."
41 The Widow's Two Mites
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."
LIFE AND DEATH IN THE BIBLE
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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