Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 102

Isaiah 40–43, Matthew 10–11

Bible text(s)

Words of Hope

1“Comfort my people,” says our God. “Comfort them!

2Encourage the people of Jerusalem.

Tell them they have suffered long enough

and their sins are now forgiven.

I have punished them in full for all their sins.”

3A voice cries out,

“Prepare in the wilderness a road for the LORD!

Clear the way in the desert for our God!

4Fill every valley;

level every mountain.

The hills will become a plain,

and the rough country will be made smooth.

5Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,

and the whole human race will see it.

The LORD himself has promised this.”

6A voice cries out, “Proclaim a message!”

“What message shall I proclaim?” I ask.

“Proclaim that all human beings are like grass;

they last no longer than wild flowers.

7Grass withers and flowers fade,

when the LORD sends the wind blowing over them.

People are no more enduring than grass.

8Yes, grass withers and flowers fade,

but the word of our God endures for ever.”

9Jerusalem, go up on a high mountain

and proclaim the good news!

Call out with a loud voice, Zion;

announce the good news!

Speak out and do not be afraid.

Tell the towns of Judah

that their God is coming!

10The Sovereign LORD is coming to rule with power,

bringing with him the people he has rescued.

11He will take care of his flock like a shepherd;

he will gather the lambs together

and carry them in his arms;

he will gently lead their mothers.

Israel's Incomparable God

12Can anyone measure the ocean by handfuls

or measure the sky with his hands?

Can anyone hold the soil of the earth in a cup

or weigh the mountains and hills on scales?

13Can anyone tell the LORD what to do?

Who can teach him or give him advice?

14With whom does God consult

in order to know and understand

and to learn how things should be done?

15To the LORD the nations are nothing,

no more than a drop of water;

the distant islands are as light as dust.

16All the animals in the forests of Lebanon

are not enough for a sacrifice to our God,

and its trees are too few to kindle the fire.

17The nations are nothing at all to him.

18To whom can God be compared?

How can you describe what he is like?

19He is not like an idol that workmen make,

that metalworkers cover with gold

and set in a base of silver.

20The man who cannot afford silver or gold

chooses wood that will not rot.

He finds a skilful craftsman

to make an image that won't fall down.

21Do you not know?

Were you not told long ago?

Have you not heard how the world began?

22It was made by the one who sits on his throne

above the earth and beyond the sky;

the people below look as tiny as ants.

He stretched out the sky like a curtain,

like a tent in which to live.

23He brings down powerful rulers

and reduces them to nothing.

24They are like young plants,

just set out and barely rooted.

When the LORD sends a wind,

they dry up and blow away like straw.

25To whom can the holy God be compared?

Is there anyone else like him?

26Look up at the sky!

Who created the stars you see?

The one who leads them out like an army,

he knows how many there are

and calls each one by name!

His power is so great —

not one of them is ever missing!

27Israel, why then do you complain

that the LORD doesn't know your troubles

or care if you suffer injustice?

28Don't you know? Haven't you heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God;

he created all the world.

He never grows tired or weary.

No one understands his thoughts.

29He strengthens those who are weak and tired.

30Even those who are young grow weak;

young people can fall exhausted.

31But those who trust in the LORD for help

will find their strength renewed.

They will rise on wings like eagles;

they will run and not get weary;

they will walk and not grow weak.

God's Assurance to Israel

1God says,

“Be silent and listen to me, you distant lands!

Get ready to present your case in court;

you will have your chance to speak.

Let us come together to decide who is right.

2“Who was it that brought the conqueror from the east,

and makes him triumphant wherever he goes?

Who gives him victory over kings and nations?

His sword strikes them down as if they were dust.

His arrows scatter them like straw before the wind.

3He follows in pursuit and marches safely on,

so fast that he hardly touches the ground!

4Who was it that made this happen?

Who has determined the course of history?

I, the LORD, was there at the beginning,

and I, the LORD, will be there at the end.

5“The people of distant lands have seen what I have done;

they are frightened and tremble with fear.

So they all assemble and come.

6The craftsmen help and encourage one another.

7The carpenter says to the goldsmith, ‘Well done!’

The man who beats the idol smooth

encourages the one who nails it together.

They say, ‘The soldering is good’ —

and they fasten the idol in place with nails.

8“But you, Israel my servant,

you are the people that I have chosen,

the descendants of Abraham, my friend.

9I brought you from the ends of the earth;

I called you from its farthest corners

and said to you, ‘You are my servant.’

I did not reject you, but chose you.

10Do not be afraid — I am with you!

I am your God — let nothing terrify you!

I will make you strong and help you;

I will protect you and save you.

11“Those who are angry with you

will know the shame of defeat.

Those who fight against you will die

12and will disappear from the earth.

13I am the LORD your God;

I strengthen you and say,

‘Do not be afraid; I will help you.’ ”

14The LORD says,

“Small and weak as you are, Israel,

don't be afraid; I will help you.

I, the holy God of Israel, am the one who saves you.

15I will make you like a threshing board,

with spikes that are new and sharp.

You will thresh mountains and destroy them;

hills will crumble into dust.

16You will toss them in the air;

the wind will carry them off,

and they will be scattered by the storm.

Then you will be happy because I am your God;

you will praise me, the holy God of Israel.

17“When my people in their need look for water,

when their throats are dry with thirst,

then I, the LORD, will answer their prayer;

I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.

18I will make rivers flow among barren hills

and springs of water run in the valleys.

I will turn the desert into pools of water

and the dry land into flowing springs.

19I will make cedars grow in the desert,

and acacias and myrtles and olive trees.

Forests will grow in barren land,

forests of pine and juniper and cypress.

20People will see this and know

that I, the LORD, have done it.

They will come to understand

that Israel's holy God has made it happen.”

The LORD's Challenge to False Gods

21The LORD, the king of Israel, has this to say:

“You gods of the nations, present your case.

Bring the best arguments you have!

22Come here and predict what will happen,

so that we will know it when it takes place.

Explain to the court the events of the past,

and tell us what they mean.

23Tell us what the future holds —

then we will know that you are gods!

Do something good or bring some disaster;

fill us with fear and awe!

24You and all you do are nothing;

those who worship you are disgusting!

25“I have chosen a man who lives in the east;

I will bring him to attack from the north.

He tramples on rulers as if they were mud,

like a potter trampling clay.

26Which of you predicted that this would happen,

so that we could say that you were right?

None of you said a word about it;

no one heard you say a thing!

27I, the LORD, was the first to tell Zion the news;

I sent a messenger to Jerusalem to say,

‘Your people are coming! They are coming home!’

28When I looked among the gods,

none of them had a thing to say;

not one could answer the questions I asked.

29All these gods are useless;

they can do nothing at all —

these idols are weak and powerless.”

The LORD's Servant

1The LORD says,

“Here is my servant, whom I strengthen —

the one I have chosen, with whom I am pleased.

I have filled him with my Spirit,

and he will bring justice to every nation.

2He will not shout or raise his voice

or make loud speeches in the streets.

3He will not break off a bent reed

or put out a flickering lamp.

He will bring lasting justice to all.

4He will not lose hope or courage;

he will establish justice on the earth.

Distant lands eagerly wait for his teaching.”

5God created the heavens and stretched them out;

he fashioned the earth and all that lives there;

he gave life and breath to all its people.

And now the LORD God says to his servant,

6“I, the LORD, have called you and given you power

to see that justice is done on earth.

Through you I will make a covenant with all peoples;

through you I will bring light to the nations.

7You will open the eyes of the blind

and set free those who sit in dark prisons.

8“I alone am the LORD your God.

No other god may share my glory;

I will not let idols share my praise.

9The things I predicted have now come true.

Now I will tell you of new things

even before they begin to happen.”

A Song of Praise

10Sing a new song to the LORD;

sing his praise, all the world!

Praise him, you that sail the sea;

praise him, all creatures of the sea!

Sing, distant lands and all who live there!

11Let the desert and its towns praise God;

let the people of Kedar praise him!

Let those who live in the city of Sela

shout for joy from the tops of the mountains!

12Let those who live in distant lands

give praise and glory to the LORD!

13The LORD goes out to fight like a warrior;

he is ready and eager for battle.

He gives a war cry, a battle shout;

he shows his power against his enemies.

God Promises to Help his People

14God says,

“For a long time I kept silent;

I did not answer my people.

But now the time to act has come;

I cry out like a woman in labour.

15I will destroy the hills and mountains

and dry up the grass and trees.

I will turn the river valleys into deserts

and dry up the pools of water.

16“I will lead my blind people

by roads they have never travelled.

I will turn their darkness into light

and make rough country smooth before them.

These are my promises,

and I will keep them without fail.

17All who trust in idols,

who call images their gods,

will be humiliated and disgraced.”

Israel's Failure to Learn

18The LORD says,

“Listen, you deaf people!

Look closely, you that are blind!

19Is anyone more blind than my servant,

more deaf than the messenger I send?

20Israel, you have seen so much,

but what has it meant to you?

You have ears to hear with,

but what have you really heard?”

21The LORD is a God who is eager to save,

so he exalted his laws and teachings,

and he wanted his people to honour them.

22But now his people have been plundered;

they are locked up in dungeons

and hidden away in prisons.

They were robbed and plundered,

with no one to come to their rescue.

23Will any of you listen to this?

From now on will you listen with care?

24Who gave Israel up to the looters?

It was the LORD himself, against whom we sinned!

We would not live as he wanted us to live

or obey the teachings he gave us.

25So he made us feel the force of his anger

and suffer the violence of war.

Like fire his anger burned throughout Israel,

but we never knew what was happening;

we learnt from it nothing at all.

God Promises to Rescue his People

1Israel, the LORD who created you says,

“Do not be afraid — I will save you.

I have called you by name — you are mine.

2When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;

your troubles will not overwhelm you.

When you pass through fire, you will not be burnt;

the hard trials that come will not hurt you.

3For I am the LORD your God,

the holy God of Israel, who saves you.

I will give up Egypt to set you free;

I will give up Ethiopia and Seba.

4I will give up whole nations to save your life,

because you are precious to me

and because I love you and give you honour.

5Do not be afraid — I am with you!

“From the distant east and the farthest west,

I will bring your people home.

6I will tell the north to let them go

and the south not to hold them back.

Let my people return from distant lands,

from every part of the world.

7They are my own people,

and I created them to bring me glory.”

Israel is the LORD's Witness

8God says,

“Summon my people to court.

They have eyes, but they are blind;

they have ears, but they are deaf!

9Summon the nations to come to the trial.

Which of their gods can predict the future?

Which of them foretold what is happening now?

Let these gods bring in their witnesses

to prove that they are right,

to testify to the truth of their words.

10“People of Israel, you are my witnesses;

I chose you to be my servant,

so that you would know me and believe in me

and understand that I am the only God.

Besides me there is no other god;

there never was and never will be.

11“I alone am the LORD,

the only one who can save you.

12I predicted what would happen,

and then I came to your aid.

No foreign god has ever done this;

you are my witnesses.

13I am God and always will be.

No one can escape from my power;

no one can change what I do.”

Escape from Babylon

14Israel's holy God, the LORD who saves you, says,

“To save you, I will send an army against Babylon;

I will break down the city gates,

and the shouts of her people will turn into crying.

15I am the LORD, your holy God.

I created you, Israel, and I am your king.”

16Long ago the LORD made a road through the sea,

a path through the swirling waters.

17He led a mighty army to destruction,

an army of chariots and horses.

Down they fell, never to rise,

snuffed out like the flame of a lamp!

18But the LORD says,

“Do not cling to events of the past

or dwell on what happened long ago.

19Watch for the new thing I am going to do.

It is happening already — you can see it now!

I will make a road through the wilderness

and give you streams of water there.

20Even the wild animals will honour me;

jackals and ostriches will praise me

when I make rivers flow in the desert

to give water to my chosen people.

21They are the people I made for myself,

and they will sing my praises!”

Israel's Sin

22The LORD says,

“But you were tired of me, Israel;

you did not worship me.

23You did not bring me your burnt offerings of sheep;

you did not honour me with your sacrifices.

I did not burden you by demanding offerings

or wear you out by asking for incense.

24You didn't buy incense for me

or satisfy me with the fat of your animals.

Instead you burdened me with your sins;

you wore me out with the wrongs you committed.

25And yet, I am the God who forgives your sins,

and I do this because of who I am.

I will not hold your sins against you.

26“Let us go to court; bring your accusation!

Present your case to prove you are in the right!

27Your earliest ancestor sinned;

your leaders sinned against me,

28and your rulers profaned my sanctuary.

So I brought destruction on Israel;

I let my own people be insulted.”

The Twelve Apostles

(Mk 3.13–19; Lk 6.12–16)

1Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and every sickness. 2These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Patriot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

The Mission of the Twelve

(Mk 6.7–13; Lk 9.1–6)

5These twelve men were sent out by Jesus with the following instructions: “Do not go to any Gentile territory or any Samaritan towns. 6Instead, you are to go to the lost sheep of the people of Israel. 7Go and preach, ‘The Kingdom of heaven is near!’ 8Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, heal those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases, and drive out demons. You have received without paying, so give without being paid. 9Do not carry any gold, silver, or copper money in your pockets; 10do not carry a beggar's bag for the journey or an extra shirt or shoes or a stick. Workers should be given what they need.

11“When you come to a town or village, go in and look for someone who is willing to welcome you, and stay with him until you leave that place. 12When you go into a house, say, ‘Peace be with you.’ 13If the people in that house welcome you, let your greeting of peace remain; but if they do not welcome you, then take back your greeting. 14And if some home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. 15I assure you that on the Judgement Day God will show more mercy to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than to the people of that town!

Coming Persecutions

(Mk 13.9–13; Lk 21.12–17)

16“Listen! I am sending you out just like sheep to a pack of wolves. You must be as cautious as snakes and as gentle as doves. 17Watch out, for there will be those who will arrest you and take you to court, and they will whip you in the synagogues. 18For my sake you will be brought to trial before rulers and kings, to tell the Good News to them and to the Gentiles. 19When they bring you to trial, do not worry about what you are going to say or how you will say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you will say. 20For the words you will speak will not be yours; they will come from the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

21“Men will hand over their own brothers to be put to death, and fathers will do the same to their children; children will turn against their parents and have them put to death. 22Everyone will hate you because of me. But whoever holds out to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in one town, run away to another one. I assure you that you will not finish your work in all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24“No pupil is greater than his teacher; no slave is greater than his master. 25So a pupil should be satisfied to become like his teacher, and a slave like his master. If the head of the family is called Beelzebul, the members of the family will be called even worse names!

Whom to Fear

(Lk 12.2–7)

26“So do not be afraid of people. Whatever is now covered up will be uncovered, and every secret will be made known. 27What I am telling you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight, and what you have heard in private you must announce from the housetops. 28Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather be afraid of God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell. 29For only a penny you can buy two sparrows, yet not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent. 30As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. 31So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!

Confessing and Rejecting Christ

(Lk 12.8–9)

32“For those who declare publicly that they belong to me, I will do the same before my Father in heaven. 33But if anyone rejects me publicly, I will reject him before my Father in heaven.

Not Peace, but a Sword

(Lk 12.51–53; 14.26–27)

34“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; 36your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.

37“Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples. 38Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. 39Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.

Rewards

(Mk 9.41)

40“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41Whoever welcomes God's messenger because he is God's messenger, will share in his reward. And whoever welcomes a good man because he is good, will share in his reward. 42You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.”

Matthew 10GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Messengers from John the Baptist

(Lk 7.18–35)

1When Jesus finished giving these instructions to his twelve disciples, he left that place and went off to teach and preach in the towns near there.

2When John the Baptist heard in prison about the things that Christ was doing, he sent some of his disciples to him. 3“Tell us,” they asked Jesus, “are you the one John said was going to come, or should we expect someone else?”

4Jesus answered, “Go back and tell John what you are hearing and seeing: 5the blind can see, the lame can walk, those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead are brought back to life, and the Good News is preached to the poor. 6How happy are those who have no doubts about me!”

7While John's disciples were leaving, Jesus spoke about him to the crowds: “When you went out to John in the desert, what did you expect to see? A blade of grass bending in the wind? 8What did you go out to see? A man dressed up in fancy clothes? People who dress like that live in palaces! 9Tell me, what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes indeed, but you saw much more than a prophet. 10For John is the one of whom the scripture says: ‘God said, I will send my messenger ahead of you to open the way for you.’ 11I assure you that John the Baptist is greater than anyone who has ever lived. But the one who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than John. 12From the time John preached his message until this very day the Kingdom of heaven has suffered violent attacks, and violent men try to seize it. 13Until the time of John all the prophets and the Law of Moses spoke about the Kingdom; 14and if you are willing to believe their message, John is Elijah, whose coming was predicted. 15Listen, then, if you have ears!

16“Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the market place. One group shouts to the other, 17‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn't dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn't cry!’ 18When John came, he fasted and drank no wine, and everyone said, ‘He has a demon in him!’ 19When the Son of Man came, he ate and drank, and everyone said, ‘Look at this man! He is a glutton and a drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcasts!’ God's wisdom, however, is shown to be true by its results.”

The Unbelieving Towns

(Lk 10.13–15)

20The people in the towns where Jesus had performed most of his miracles did not turn from their sins, so he reproached those towns. 21“How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible for you too, Bethsaida! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would long ago have put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their sins! 22I assure you that on the Judgement Day God will show more mercy to the people of Tyre and Sidon than to you! 23And as for you, Capernaum! Did you want to lift yourself up to heaven? You will be thrown down to hell! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would still be in existence today! 24You can be sure that on the Judgement Day God will show more mercy to Sodom than to you!”

Come to Me and Rest

(Lk 10.21–22)

25At that time Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned. 26Yes, Father, this was how you wanted it to happen.

27“My Father has given me all things. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

28“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. 30For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”

Matthew 11GNBOpen in Bible reader
Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
Find us on