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First Reading: Proverbs Chapter 21 and 22

Proverbs 21

21:1 The LORD Considers the Heart

The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD,Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.
2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,But the LORD weighs the hearts.
3 To do righteousness and justice Is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
4 A haughty look, a proud heart,And the plowing of the wicked are sin.
5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.
6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue Is the fleeting fantasy of those who seek death.
7 The violence of the wicked will destroy them, Because they refuse to do justice.
8 The way of a guilty man is perverse; But as for the pure, his work is right.
9 Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,Than in a house shared with a contentious woman.
10 The soul of the wicked desires evil;His neighbor finds no favor in his eyes.
11 When the scoffer is punished, the simple is made wise;But when the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge.
12 The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked,Overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.
13 Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be heard.
14 A gift in secret pacifies anger,And a bribe behind the back, strong wrath.
15 It is a joy for the just to do justice,But destruction will come to the workers of iniquity.
16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead.
17 He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous,And the unfaithful for the upright.
19 Better to dwell in the wilderness,Than with a contentious and angry woman.
20 There is desirable treasure,And oil in the dwelling of the wise,But a foolish man squanders it.
21 He who follows righteousness and mercy Finds life, righteousness and honor.
22 A wise man scales the city of the mighty,And brings down the trusted stronghold.
23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles.
24 A proud and haughty man — "Scoffer" is his name;He acts with arrogant pride.
25 The desire of the lazy man kills him,For his hands refuse to labor. 26 He covets greedily all day long,But the righteous gives and does not spare.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination;How much more when he brings it with wicked intent!
28 A false witness shall perish,But the man who hears him will speak endlessly.
29 A wicked man hardens his face,But as for the upright, he establishes his way.
30 There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the LORD.
31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle,But deliverance is of the LORD.

Proverbs 22

22:1 The Value of a Good Name

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,Loving favor rather than silver and gold.
2 The rich and the poor have this in common,The LORD is the maker of them all.
3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,But the simple pass on and are punished.
4 By humility and the fear of the LORDAre riches and honor and life.
5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse;He who guards his soul will be far from them.
6 Train up a child in the way he should go,And when he is old he will not depart from it.
7 The rich rules over the poor,And the borrower is servant to the lender.
8 He who sows iniquity will reap sorrow,And the rod of his anger will fail.
9 He who has a generous eye will be blessed,For he gives of his bread to the poor.
10 Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave;Yes, strife and reproach will cease.
11 He who loves purity of heart And has grace on his lips,The king will be his friend.
12 The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge,But He overthrows the words of the faithless.
13 The lazy man says, "There is a lion outside!I shall be slain in the streets!"
14 The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit;He who is abhorred by the LORD will fall there.
15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;The rod of correction will drive it far from him.
16 He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches,And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.
17 Sayings of the Wise

Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,And apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you;Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19 So that your trust may be in the LORD;I have instructed you today, even you. 20 Have I not written to you excellent things Of counsels and knowledge, 21 That I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth,That you may answer words of truth To those who send to you?
22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor,Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate; 23 For the LORD will plead their cause,And plunder the soul of those who plunder them.
24 Make no friendship with an angry man,And with a furious man do not go, 25 Lest you learn his ways And set a snare for your soul.
26 Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge,One of those who is surety for debts; 27 If you have nothing with which to pay,Why should he take away your bed from under you?
28 Do not remove the ancient landmark Which your fathers have set.
29 Do you see a man who excels in his work?He will stand before kings;He will not stand before unknown men.

Second Reading: Mark Chapter 15

Mark 15

15:1 Jesus Faces Pilate
(Matt 27:1,2,11-14; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:28-38)

Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 Then Pilate asked Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"
He answered and said to him, "It is as you say."
3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. 4 Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, "Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!" 5 But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.

6 Taking the Place of Barabbas
(Matt 27:15-26; Luke 23:17-25; John 18:39-19:16)

Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. 8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" 10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.
11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. 12 Pilate answered and said to them again, "What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?"
13 So they cried out again, "Crucify Him!"
14 Then Pilate said to them, "Why, what evil has He done?"
But they cried out all the more, "Crucify Him!"
15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.

16 The Soldiers Mock Jesus
(Matt 27:27-31)

Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. 17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, 18 and began to salute Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.

21 The King on a Cross
(Matt 27:32-44; Luke 23:26-43; John 19:17-27)

Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. 24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.
25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. 26 And the inscription of His accusation was written above:
27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. 28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "And He was numbered with the transgressors."
29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, "Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!"
31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe."
Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.

33 Jesus Dies on the Cross
(Matt 27:45-56; Luke 23:44-49; John 19:28-30)

Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is translated, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, "Look, He is calling for Elijah!" 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down."
37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God!"
40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, 41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.

42 Jesus Buried in Joseph's Tomb
(Matt 27:57-61; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)

Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.

Bible Background


Part 4 of 6

We have already discussed covenants (promises) that God made to the Fathers: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These were unconditional promises. God will not destroy the earth with water again. Through Abraham all the families of the earth will be blessed. Abraham will possess the promised land for ever.

The Covenant that God made with the Children of Israel in the wilderness was conditional. They would receive blessings and stay in the land as long as they obeyed. If they disobeyed they would lose the blessings. Deuteronomy details the conditions and outcome of this covenant. Much of the history details the failure of the Israelites to meet the conditions of this covenant. But God also promised a new covenant for Israel:

"The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8:8-12 as quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)


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