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First Reading: Isaiah Chapter 21 and 22
21:1 The Fall of Babylon Proclaimed
The burden against the Wilderness of the Sea.
As whirlwinds in the South pass through,So it comes from the desert, from a terrible land. 2 A distressing vision is declared to me;The treacherous dealer deals treacherously,And the plunderer plunders.Go up, O Elam!Besiege, O Media!All its sighing I have made to cease.
3 Therefore my loins are filled with pain;Pangs have taken hold of me, like the pangs of a woman in labor.I was distressed when I heard it;I was dismayed when I saw it. 4 My heart wavered, fearfulness frightened me;The night for which I longed He turned into fear for me. 5 Prepare the table,Set a watchman in the tower,Eat and drink.Arise, you princes,Anoint the shield!
6 For thus has the Lord said to me:"Go, set a watchman,Let him declare what he sees." 7 And he saw a chariot with a pair of horsemen,A chariot of donkeys, and a chariot of camels,And he listened earnestly with great care. 8 Then he cried, "A lion, my Lord!I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime;I have sat at my post every night. 9 And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!"Then he answered and said,"Babylon is fallen, is fallen!And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground."
10 Oh, my threshing and the grain of my floor!That which I have heard from the LORD of hosts,The God of Israel,I have declared to you.
11 Proclamation Against Edom
The burden against Dumah.
He calls to me out of Seir,"Watchman, what of the night?Watchman, what of the night?" 12 The watchman said,'The morning comes, and also the night.If you will inquire, inquire;Return! Come back!"
13 Proclamation Against Arabia
The burden against Arabia.
In the forest in Arabia you will lodge,O you traveling companies of Dedanites. 14 O inhabitants of the land of Tema,Bring water to him who is thirsty;With their bread they met him who fled. 15 For they fled from the swords, from the drawn sword,From the bent bow, and from the distress of war.
16 For thus the LORD has said to me: "Within a year, according to the year of a hired man, all the glory of Kedar will fail; 17 and the remainder of the number of archers, the mighty men of the people of Kedar, will be diminished; for the LORD God of Israel has spoken it."
22:1 Proclamation Against Jerusalem
The burden against the Valley of Vision.
What ails you now, that you have all gone up to the housetops, 2 You who are full of noise,A tumultuous city, a joyous city?Your slain men are not slain with the sword,Nor dead in battle. 3 All your rulers have fled together;They are captured by the archers.All who are found in you are bound together;They have fled from afar. 4 Therefore I said, "Look away from me,I will weep bitterly;Do not labor to comfort me Because of the plundering of the daughter of my people."
5 For it is a day of trouble and treading down and perplexity By the Lord GOD of hosts In the Valley of Vision Breaking down the walls And of crying to the mountain. 6 Elam bore the quiver With chariots of men and horsemen,And Kir uncovered the shield. 7 It shall come to pass that your choicest valleys Shall be full of chariots,And the horsemen shall set themselves in array at the gate.
8 He removed the protection of Judah.You looked in that day to the armor of the House of the Forest; 9 You also saw the damage to the city of David,That it was great;And you gathered together the waters of the lower pool. 10 You numbered the houses of Jerusalem,And the houses you broke down To fortify the wall. 11 You also made a reservoir between the two walls For the water of the old pool.But you did not look to its Maker,Nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.
12 And in that day the Lord GOD of hosts Called for weeping and for mourning,For baldness and for girding with sackcloth. 13 But instead, joy and gladness,Slaying oxen and killing sheep,Eating meat and drinking wine:"Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!"
14 Then it was revealed in my hearing by the LORD of hosts,"Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you,Even to your death," says the Lord GOD of hosts.
15 The Judgment on Shebna
Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts:
"Go, proceed to this steward,To Shebna, who is over the house, and say: 16'What have you here, and whom have you here,That you have hewn a sepulcher here,As he who hews himself a sepulcher on high,Who carves a tomb for himself in a rock? 17 Indeed, the LORD will throw you away violently,O mighty man,And will surely seize you. 18 He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball Into a large country;There you shall die, and there your glorious chariots Shall be the shame of your master's house. 19 So I will drive you out of your office,And from your position he will pull you down.
20'Then it shall be in that day,That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; 21 I will clothe him with your robe And strengthen him with your belt;I will commit your responsibility into his hand.He shall be a father to the inhabitants of JerusalemAnd to the house of Judah. 22 The key of the house of DavidI will lay on his shoulder;So he shall open, and no one shall shut;And he shall shut, and no one shall open. 23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place,And he will become a glorious throne to his father's house.
24'They will hang on him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the posterity, all vessels of small quantity, from the cups to all the pitchers. 25 In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'the peg that is fastened in the secure place will be removed and be cut down and fall, and the burden that was on it will be cut off; for the LORD has spoken.'"
78:1 God's Kindness to Rebellious Israel
A Contemplation of Asaph.
Give ear, O my people, to my law;Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable;I will utter dark sayings of old, 3 Which we have heard and known,And our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children,Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD,And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.
5 For He established a testimony in Jacob,And appointed a law in Israel,Which He commanded our fathers,That they should make them known to their children; 6 That the generation to come might know them,The children who would be born,That they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God,And not forget the works of God,But keep His commandments; 8 And may not be like their fathers,A stubborn and rebellious generation,A generation that did not set its heart aright,And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
9 The children of Ephraim, being armed and carrying bows,Turned back in the day of battle. 10 They did not keep the covenant of God;They refused to walk in His law, 11 And forgot His works And His wonders that He had shown them.
12 Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers,In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. 13 He divided the sea and caused them to pass through;And He made the waters stand up like a heap. 14 In the daytime also He led them with the cloud,And all the night with a light of fire. 15 He split the rocks in the wilderness,And gave them drink in abundance like the depths. 16 He also brought streams out of the rock,And caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 But they sinned even more against Him By rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness. 18 And they tested God in their heart By asking for the food of their fancy. 19 Yes, they spoke against God:They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? 20 Behold, He struck the rock,So that the waters gushed out,And the streams overflowed.Can He give bread also?Can He provide meat for His people?"
21 Therefore the LORD heard this and was furious;So a fire was kindled against Jacob,And anger also came up against Israel, 22 Because they did not believe in God,And did not trust in His salvation. 23 Yet He had commanded the clouds above,And opened the doors of heaven, 24 Had rained down manna on them to eat,And given them of the bread of heaven. 25 Men ate angels' food;He sent them food to the full.
26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens;And by His power He brought in the south wind. 27 He also rained meat on them like the dust,Feathered fowl like the sand of the seas; 28 And He let them fall in the midst of their camp,All around their dwellings. 29 So they ate and were well filled,For He gave them their own desire. 30 They were not deprived of their craving;But while their food was still in their mouths, 31 The wrath of God came against them,And slew the stoutest of them,And struck down the choice men of Israel.
32 In spite of this they still sinned,And did not believe in His wondrous works. 33 Therefore their days He consumed in futility,And their years in fear.
34 When He slew them, then they sought Him;And they returned and sought earnestly for God. 35 Then they remembered that God was their rock,And the Most High God their Redeemer. 36 Nevertheless they flattered Him with their mouth,And they lied to Him with their tongue; 37 For their heart was not steadfast with Him,Nor were they faithful in His covenant. 38 But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity,And did not destroy them.Yes, many a time He turned His anger away,And did not stir up all His wrath; 39 For He remembered that they were but flesh,A breath that passes away and does not come again.
40 How often they provoked Him in the wilderness,And grieved Him in the desert! 41 Yes, again and again they tempted God,And limited the Holy One of Israel. 42 They did not remember His power:The day when He redeemed them from the enemy, 43 When He worked His signs in Egypt,And His wonders in the field of Zoan; 44 Turned their rivers into blood,And their streams, that they could not drink. 45 He sent swarms of flies among them, which devoured them,And frogs, which destroyed them. 46 He also gave their crops to the caterpillar,And their labor to the locust. 47 He destroyed their vines with hail,And their sycamore trees with frost. 48 He also gave up their cattle to the hail,And their flocks to fiery lightning. 49 He cast on them the fierceness of His anger,Wrath, indignation, and trouble,By sending angels of destruction among them. 50 He made a path for His anger;He did not spare their soul from death,But gave their life over to the plague, 51 And destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt,The first of their strength in the tents of Ham. 52 But He made His own people go forth like sheep,And guided them in the wilderness like a flock; 53 And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear;But the sea overwhelmed their enemies. 54 And He brought them to His holy border,This mountain which His right hand had acquired. 55 He also drove out the nations before them,Allotted them an inheritance by survey,And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.
56 Yet they tested and provoked the Most High God,And did not keep His testimonies, 57 But turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers;They were turned aside like a deceitful bow. 58 For they provoked Him to anger with their high places,And moved Him to jealousy with their carved images. 59 When God heard this, He was furious,And greatly abhorred Israel, 60 So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh,The tent He had placed among men, 61 And delivered His strength into captivity,And His glory into the enemy's hand. 62 He also gave His people over to the sword,And was furious with His inheritance. 63 The fire consumed their young men,And their maidens were not given in marriage. 64 Their priests fell by the sword,And their widows made no lamentation.
65 Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,Like a mighty man who shouts because of wine. 66 And He beat back His enemies;He put them to a perpetual reproach.
67 Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph,And did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, 68 But chose the tribe of Judah,Mount Zion which He loved. 69 And He built His sanctuary like the heights,Like the earth which He has established forever. 70 He also chose David His servant,And took him from the sheepfolds; 71 From following the ewes that had young He brought him,To shepherd Jacob His people,And Israel His inheritance. 72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart,And guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.
THE ROLE OF PROPHECY
Part 2 of 6
Because God warns us of the result of our faith or faithlessness, much of the prophecy in the Bible is fore-telling. That is, it tells beforehand what God is going to do:
Acts 17:30-31" In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead."
Deuteronomy 28:15, 64-66 However, if you (Israel) do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.......Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods--gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life.
Ezekiel 37:21-23 " and say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God."
Acts 1:10-11 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Prophecy serves to warn people regarding sin and the need of repentance and salvation provided by God, while at the same time confirming the certainty of God's plan. The question is: Do we believe what God says? Prophecy is not for the purpose of satisfying idle curiosity about future events, but to assist believers in developing faith.
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