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First Reading: Proverbs Chapter 17 and 18
17:1 The LORD Tests Hearts
Better is a dry morsel with quietness,Than a house full of feasting with strife.
2 A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame,And will share an inheritance among the brothers.
3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,But the LORD tests the hearts.
4 An evildoer gives heed to false lips;A liar listens eagerly to a spiteful tongue.
5 He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker;He who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
6 Children's children are the crown of old men,And the glory of children is their father.
7 Excellent speech is not becoming to a fool,Much less lying lips to a prince.
8 A present is a precious stone in the eyes of its possessor;Wherever he turns, he prospers.
9 He who covers a transgression seeks love,But he who repeats a matter separates friends.
10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise manThan a hundred blows on a fool.
11 An evil man seeks only rebellion;Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.
12 Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,Rather than a fool in his folly.
13 Whoever rewards evil for good,Evil will not depart from his house.
14 The beginning of strife is like releasing water;Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.
15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.
16 Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom,Since he has no heart for it?
17 A friend loves at all times,And a brother is born for adversity.
18 A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge,And becomes surety for his friend.
19 He who loves transgression loves strife,And he who exalts his gate seeks destruction.
20 He who has a deceitful heart finds no good,And he who has a perverse tongue falls into evil.
21 He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow,And the father of a fool has no joy.
22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.
23 A wicked man accepts a bribe behind the back To pervert the ways of justice.
24 Wisdom is in the sight of him who has understanding,But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son is a grief to his father,And bitterness to her who bore him.
26 Also, to punish the righteous is not good,Nor to strike princes for their uprightness.
27 He who has knowledge spares his words,And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. 28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
18:1 The Name of the LORD Is a Strong Tower
A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;He rages against all wise judgment.
2 A fool has no delight in understanding,But in expressing his own heart.
3 When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;And with dishonor comes reproach.
4 The words of a man's mouth are deep waters;The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.
5 It is not good to show partiality to the wicked,Or to overthrow the righteous in judgment.
6 A fool's lips enter into contention,And his mouth calls for blows. 7 A fool's mouth is his destruction,And his lips are the snare of his soul. 8 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body.
9 He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;The righteous run to it and are safe. 11 The rich man's wealth is his strong city,And like a high wall in his own esteem.
12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,And before honor is humility.
13 He who answers a matter before he hears it,It is folly and shame to him.
14 The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,But who can bear a broken spirit?
15 The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge,And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16 A man's gift makes room for him,And brings him before great men.
17 The first one to plead his cause seems right,Until his neighbor comes and examines him.
18 Casting lots causes contentions to cease,And keeps the mighty apart.
19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,And contentions are like the bars of a castle.
20 A man's stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,And those who love it will eat its fruit.
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing,And obtains favor from the LORD.
23 The poor man uses entreaties,But the rich answers roughly.
24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
13:1 Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple
(Matt 24:1,2; Luke 21:5,6)
Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, "Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!"
2 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
3 The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age
(Matt 24:3-14; Luke 21:7-19)
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?"
5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.
9 "But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
14 The Great Tribulation
(Matt 24:15-28; Luke 21:20-24)
"So when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not" (let the reader understand), "then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. 16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. 20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
21 "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'Look, He is there!' do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.
24 The Coming of the Son of Man
(Matt 24:29-31; Luke 21:25-28)
"But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
28 The Parable of the Fig Tree
(Matt 24:32-35; Luke 21:29-33)
"Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
32 No One Knows the Day or Hour
(Matt 24:36-44; Luke 21:34-36)
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"
LIFE AND DEATH IN THE BIBLE
Part 2 of 3
The beginning of life is described in the Bible as God forming the dust of the ground and breathing into it the breath of life. Death is described as the opposite process: "When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust." Psalm 104:29 (NIV) and "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." Psalm 142:3-4 (KJV)
In the beginning everything God had made was deemed "very good." However, God did give one simple law to Adam and Eve in the garden: "...but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you wil surely die." Genesis 2:17 (NIV) That promise was kept following the eating of the fruit by Adam and Eve. The curse of death was pronounced upon them by God in Genesis 3:15-19. Note especially the end of verse 19 where we have the familiar words, "for dust you are and unto dust you will return." Death was the punishment for disobedience. The serpent said in chapter 3 to Eve "You will not surely die." but that was a lie. Death, the punishment for sin, passed to all the descendants of Adam and Eve:
"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and this way death came to all men, because all sinned...." Romans 5:12 (NIV)
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 (NIV)