Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 100

Isaiah 36–39, Matthew 8–9

Bible text(s)

The Assyrians Threaten Jerusalem

(2 Kgs 18.13–27; 2 Chr 32.1–19)

1In the fourteenth year that Hezekiah was king of Judah, Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria, attacked the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 2Then he ordered his chief official to go from Lachish to Jerusalem with a large military force to demand that King Hezekiah should surrender. The official occupied the road where the clothmakers work, by the ditch that brings water from the upper pond. 3Three Judeans came out to meet him: the official in charge of the palace, Eliakim son of Hilkiah; the court secretary, Shebna; and the official in charge of the records, Joah son of Asaph. 4The Assyrian official told them that the emperor wanted to know what made King Hezekiah so confident. 5He demanded, “Do you think that words can take the place of military skill and might? Who do you think will help you rebel against Assyria? 6You are expecting Egypt to help you, but that would be like using a reed as a walking stick — it would break and jab your hand. That is what the king of Egypt is like when anyone relies on him.”

7The Assyrian official went on, “Or will you tell me that you are relying on the LORD your God? It was the LORD's shrines and altars that Hezekiah destroyed when he told the people of Judah and Jerusalem to worship at one altar only. 8I will make a bargain with you in the name of the emperor. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many riders. 9You are no match for even the lowest ranking Assyrian official, and yet you expect the Egyptians to send you chariots and cavalry. 10Do you think I have attacked your country and destroyed it without the LORD's help? The LORD himself told me to attack it and destroy it.”

11Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the official, “Speak Aramaic to us. We understand it. Don't speak Hebrew; all the people on the wall are listening.”

12He replied, “Do you think you and the king are the only ones the emperor sent me to say all these things to? No, I am also talking to the people who are sitting on the wall, who will have to eat their excrement and drink their urine, just as you will.”

13Then the official stood up and shouted in Hebrew, “Listen to what the emperor of Assyria is telling you. 14He warns you not to let Hezekiah deceive you. Hezekiah can't save you. 15And don't let him persuade you to rely on the LORD. Don't think that the LORD will save you and that he will stop our Assyrian army from capturing your city. 16Don't listen to Hezekiah! The emperor of Assyria commands you to come out of the city and surrender. You will all be allowed to eat grapes from your own vines and figs from your own trees, and to drink water from your own wells — 17until the emperor resettles you in a country much like your own, where there are vineyards to give wine and there is corn for making bread. 18Don't let Hezekiah fool you into thinking that the LORD will rescue you. Did the gods of any other nations save their countries from the emperor of Assyria? 19Where are they now, the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Did anyone save Samaria? 20When did any of the gods of all these countries ever save their country from our emperor? Then what makes you think the LORD can save Jerusalem?”

21The people kept quiet, just as King Hezekiah had told them to; they did not say a word. 22Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah tore their clothes in grief and went and reported to the king what the Assyrian official had said.

The King Asks Isaiah's Advice

(2 Kgs 19.1–7)

1As soon as King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes in grief, put on sackcloth, and went to the Temple of the LORD. 2He sent Eliakim, the official in charge of the palace, Shebna, the court secretary, and the senior priests to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They also were wearing sackcloth. 3This is the message which he told them to give to Isaiah: “Today is a day of suffering; we are being punished and are in disgrace. We are like a woman who is ready to give birth, but is too weak to do it. 4The Assyrian emperor has sent his chief official to insult the living God. May the LORD your God hear these insults and punish those who spoke them. So pray to God for those of our people who survive.”

5When Isaiah received King Hezekiah's message, 6he sent back this answer: “The LORD tells you not to let the Assyrians frighten you by their claims that he cannot save you. 7The LORD will cause the emperor to hear a rumour that will make him go back to his own country, and the LORD will have him killed there.”

The Assyrians Send Another Threat

(2 Kgs 19.8–19)

8The Assyrian official learnt that the emperor had left Lachish and was fighting against the nearby city of Libnah; so he went there to consult him. 9Word reached the Assyrians that the Egyptian army, led by King Tirhakah of Ethiopia, was coming to attack them. When the emperor heard this, he sent a letter to King Hezekiah 10of Judah to say to him, “The god you are trusting in has told you that you will not fall into my hands, but don't let that deceive you. 11You have heard what an Assyrian emperor does to any country he decides to destroy. Do you think that you can escape? 12My ancestors destroyed the cities of Gozan, Haran, and Rezeph, and killed the people of Betheden who lived in Telassar, and none of their gods could save them. 13Where are the kings of the cities of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”

14King Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went to the Temple, placed the letter there in the presence of the LORD, 15and prayed, 16“Almighty LORD, God of Israel, enthroned above the winged creatures, you alone are God, ruling all the kingdoms of the world. You created the earth and the sky. 17Now, LORD, hear us and look at what is happening to us. Listen to all the things that Sennacherib is saying to insult you, the living God. 18We all know, LORD, that the emperors of Assyria have destroyed many nations, made their lands desolate, 19and burnt up their gods — which were no gods at all, only images of wood and stone made by human hands. 20Now, LORD our God, rescue us from the Assyrians, so that all the nations of the world will know that you alone are God.”

Isaiah's Message to the King

(2 Kgs 19.20–37)

21Then Isaiah sent a message telling King Hezekiah that in answer to the king's prayer 22the LORD had said, “The city of Jerusalem laughs at you, Sennacherib, and despises you. 23Whom do you think you have been insulting and ridiculing? You have been disrespectful to me, the holy God of Israel. 24You sent your servants to boast to me that with all your chariots you had conquered the highest mountains of Lebanon. You boasted that there you cut down the tallest cedars and the finest cypress trees, and that you reached the deepest parts of the forests. 25You boasted that you dug wells and drank water in foreign lands, and that the feet of your soldiers tramped the River Nile dry.

26“Have you never heard that I planned all this long ago? And now I have carried it out. I gave you the power to turn fortified cities into piles of rubble. 27The people who lived there were powerless; they were frightened and stunned. They were like grass in a field or weeds growing on a roof when the hot east wind blasts them.

28“But I know everything about you, what you do and where you go. I know how you rage against me. 29I have received the report of that rage and that pride of yours, and now I will put a hook through your nose and a bit in your mouth and will take you back by the road on which you came.”

30Then Isaiah said to King Hezekiah, “This is a sign of what will happen. This year and next you will have only wild grain to eat, but the following year you will be able to sow your corn and harvest it, and plant vines and eat grapes. 31Those in Judah who survive will flourish like plants that send roots deep into the ground and produce fruit. 32There will be people in Jerusalem and on Mount Zion who will survive, because the LORD Almighty is determined to make this happen.

33“This is what the LORD has said about the Assyrian emperor: ‘He will not enter this city or shoot a single arrow against it. No soldiers with shields will come near the city, and no siege mounds will be built round it. 34He will go back by the road on which he came, without entering this city. I, the LORD, have spoken. 35I will defend this city and protect it, for the sake of my own honour and because of the promise I made to my servant David.’ ”

36An angel of the LORD went to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 soldiers. At dawn the next day there they lay, all dead! 37Then the Assyrian emperor Sennacherib withdrew and returned to Nineveh. 38One day when he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch, two of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, killed him with their swords and then escaped to the land of Ararat. Another of his sons, Esarhaddon, succeeded him as emperor.

King Hezekiah's Illness and Recovery

(2 Kgs 20.1–11; 2 Chr 32.24–26)

1About this time King Hezekiah fell ill and almost died. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to see him and said to him, “The LORD tells you that you are to put everything in order because you will not recover. Get ready to die.”

2Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed: 3“Remember, LORD, that I have served you faithfully and loyally, and that I have always tried to do what you wanted me to.” And he began to cry bitterly.

4Then the LORD commanded Isaiah 5to go back to Hezekiah and say to him, “I, the LORD, the God of your ancestor David, have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will let you live fifteen years longer. 6I will rescue you and this city of Jerusalem from the emperor of Assyria, and I will continue to protect the city.”

21 Isaiah told the king to put a paste made of figs on his boil, and he would get well. 22Then King Hezekiah asked, “What is the sign to prove that I will be able to go to the Temple?”

7Isaiah replied, “The LORD will give you a sign to prove that he will keep his promise. 8On the stairway built by King Ahaz, the LORD will make the shadow go back ten steps.” And the shadow moved back ten steps.

9After Hezekiah recovered from his illness, he wrote this song of praise:

10I thought that in the prime of life

I was going to the world of the dead,

Never to live out my life.

11I thought that in this world of the living

I would never again see the LORD

Or any living person.

12My life was cut off and ended,

Like a tent that is taken down,

Like cloth that is cut from a loom.

I thought that God was ending my life.

13All night I cried out with pain,

As if a lion were breaking my bones.

I thought that God was ending my life.

14My voice was thin and weak,

And I moaned like a dove.

My eyes grew tired from looking to heaven.

Lord, rescue me from all this trouble.

15What can I say? The LORD has done this.

My heart is bitter, and I cannot sleep.

16Lord, I will live for you, for you alone;

Heal me and let me live.

17My bitterness will turn into peace.

You save my life from all danger;

You forgive all my sins.

18No one in the world of the dead can praise you;

The dead cannot trust in your faithfulness.

19It is the living who praise you,

As I praise you now.

Parents tell their children how faithful you are.

20LORD, you have healed me.

We will play harps and sing your praise,

Sing praise in your Temple as long as we live.

Messengers from Babylonia

(2 Kgs 20.12–19)

1About this time, the king of Babylonia, Merodach Baladan, son of Baladan, heard that King Hezekiah had been ill, so he sent him a letter and a present. 2Hezekiah welcomed the messengers and showed them his wealth — his silver and gold, his spices and perfumes, and all his military equipment. There was nothing in his storerooms or anywhere in his kingdom that he did not show them. 3Then the prophet Isaiah went to King Hezekiah and asked, “Where did they come from and what did they say to you?”

Hezekiah answered, “They came from a very distant country, from Babylonia.”

4“What did they see in the palace?”

“They saw everything. There is nothing in the storerooms that I didn't show them.”

5Isaiah then told the king, “The LORD Almighty says that 6a time is coming when everything in your palace, everything that your ancestors have stored up to this day, will be carried off to Babylonia. Nothing will be left. 7Some of your own direct descendants will be taken away and made eunuchs to serve in the palace of the king of Babylonia.”

8King Hezekiah understood this to mean that there would be peace and security during his lifetime, so he replied, “The message you have given me from the LORD is good.”

Jesus Heals a Man

(Mk 1.40–45; Lk 5.12–16)

1When Jesus came down from the hill, large crowds followed him. 2Then a man suffering from a dreaded skin disease came to him, knelt down before him, and said, “Sir, if you want to, you can make me clean.”

3Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. “I do want to,” he answered. “Be clean!” At once the man was healed of his disease. 4Then Jesus said to him, “Listen! Don't tell anyone, but go straight to the priest and let him examine you; then in order to prove to everyone that you are cured, offer the sacrifice that Moses ordered.”

Jesus Heals a Roman Officer's Servant

(Lk 7.1–10)

5When Jesus entered Capernaum, a Roman officer met him and begged for help: 6“Sir, my servant is sick in bed at home, unable to move and suffering terribly.”

7“I will go and make him well,” Jesus said.

8“Oh no, sir,” answered the officer. “I do not deserve to have you come into my house. Just give the order, and my servant will get well. 9I, too, am a man under the authority of superior officers, and I have soldiers under me. I order this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes; and I order that one, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and I order my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.”

10When Jesus heard this, he was surprised and said to the people following him, “I tell you, I have never found anyone in Israel with faith like this. 11I assure you that many will come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of heaven. 12But those who should be in the Kingdom will be thrown out into the darkness, where they will cry and grind their teeth.” 13Then Jesus said to the officer, “Go home, and what you believe will be done for you.”

And the officer's servant was healed that very moment.

Jesus Heals Many People

(Mk 1.29–34; Lk 4.38–41)

14Jesus went to Peter's home, and there he saw Peter's mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand; the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

16When evening came, people brought to Jesus many who had demons in them. Jesus drove out the evil spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17He did this to make what the prophet Isaiah had said come true, “He himself took our sickness and carried away our diseases.”

The Would-be Followers of Jesus

(Lk 9.57–62)

18When Jesus noticed the crowd round him, he ordered his disciples to go to the other side of the lake. 19A teacher of the Law came to him. “Teacher,” he said, “I am ready to go with you wherever you go.”

20Jesus answered him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lie down and rest.”

21Another man, who was a disciple, said, “Sir, first let me go back and bury my father.”

22“Follow me,” Jesus answered, “and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Jesus Calms a Storm

(Mk 4.35–41; Lk 8.22–25)

23Jesus got into a boat, and his disciples went with him. 24Suddenly a fierce storm hit the lake, and the boat was in danger of sinking. But Jesus was asleep. 25The disciples went to him and woke him up. “Save us, Lord!” they said. “We are about to die!”

26“Why are you so frightened?” Jesus answered. “How little faith you have!” Then he got up and ordered the winds and the waves to stop, and there was a great calm.

27Everyone was amazed. “What kind of man is this?” they said. “Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons

(Mk 5.1–20; Lk 8.26–39)

28When Jesus came to the territory of Gadara on the other side of the lake, he was met by two men who came out of the burial caves there. These men had demons in them and were so fierce that no one dared travel on that road. 29At once they screamed, “What do you want with us, you Son of God? Have you come to punish us before the right time?”

30Not far away there was a large herd of pigs feeding. 31So the demons begged Jesus, “If you are going to drive us out, send us into that herd of pigs.”

32“Go,” Jesus told them; so they left and went off into the pigs. The whole herd rushed down the side of the cliff into the lake and was drowned.

33The men who had been taking care of the pigs ran away and went into the town, where they told the whole story and what had happened to the men with the demons. 34So everyone from the town went out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their territory.

Jesus Heals a Paralysed Man

(Mk 2.1–12; Lk 5.17–26)

1Jesus got into the boat and went back across the lake to his own town, 2where some people brought to him a paralysed man, lying on a bed. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the paralysed man, “Courage, my son! Your sins are forgiven.”

3Then some teachers of the Law said to themselves, “This man is speaking blasphemy!”

4Jesus perceived what they were thinking, so he said, “Why are you thinking such evil things? 5Is it easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6I will prove to you, then, that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralysed man, “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home!”

7The man got up and went home. 8When the people saw it, they were afraid, and praised God for giving such authority to people.

Jesus Calls Matthew

(Mk 2.13–17; Lk 5.27–32)

9Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, he saw a tax collector, named Matthew, sitting in his office. He said to him, “Follow me.”

Matthew got up and followed him.

10While Jesus was having a meal in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and other outcasts came and joined Jesus and his disciples at the table. 11Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such people?”

12Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. 13Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.”

The Question about Fasting

(Mk 2.18–22; Lk 5.33–39)

14Then the followers of John the Baptist came to Jesus, asking, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don't fast at all?”

15Jesus answered, “Do you expect the guests at a wedding party to be sad as long as the bridegroom is with them? Of course not! But the day will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

16“No one patches up an old coat with a piece of new cloth, for the new patch will shrink and make an even bigger hole in the coat. 17Nor does anyone pour new wine into used wineskins, for the skins will burst, the wine will pour out, and the skins will be ruined. Instead, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins, and both will keep in good condition.”

The Official's Daughter and the Woman who Touched Jesus' Cloak

(Mk 5.21–43; Lk 8.40–56)

18While Jesus was saying this, a Jewish official came to him, knelt down before him, and said, “My daughter has just died; but come and place your hands on her, and she will live.”

19So Jesus got up and followed him, and his disciples went along with him.

20A woman who had suffered from severe bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. 21She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will get well.”

22Jesus turned round and saw her, and said, “Courage, my daughter! Your faith has made you well.” At that very moment the woman became well.

23Then Jesus went into the official's house. When he saw the musicians for the funeral and the people all stirred up, 24he said, “Get out, everybody! The little girl is not dead — she is only sleeping!” Then they all laughed at him. 25But as soon as the people had been put out, Jesus went into the girl's room and took hold of her hand, and she got up. 26The news about this spread all over that part of the country.

Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

27Jesus left that place, and as he walked along, two blind men started following him. “Take pity on us, Son of David!” they shouted.

28When Jesus had gone indoors, the two blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I can heal you?”

“Yes, sir!” they answered.

29Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, “Let it happen, then, just as you believe!”30and their sight was restored. Jesus spoke sternly to them, “Don't tell this to anyone!”

31But they left and spread the news about Jesus all over that part of the country.

Jesus Heals a Man who could not Speak

32As the men were leaving, some people brought to Jesus a man who could not talk because he had a demon. 33But as soon as the demon was driven out, the man started talking, and everyone was amazed. “We have never seen anything like this in Israel!” they exclaimed.

34But the Pharisees said, “It is the chief of the demons who gives Jesus the power to drive out demons.”

Jesus has Pity for the People

35Jesus went round visiting all the towns and villages. He taught in the synagogues, preached the Good News about the Kingdom, and healed people with every kind of disease and sickness. 36As he saw the crowds, his heart was filled with pity for them, because they were worried and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37So he said to his disciples, “The harvest is large, but there are few workers to gather it in. 38Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest.”

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