Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 104

Isaiah 48–51, Matthew 14–15

Bible text(s)

God is LORD of the Future

1Listen to this, people of Israel,

you that are descended from Judah:

You swear by the name of the LORD

and claim to worship the God of Israel —

but you don't mean a word you say.

2And yet you are proud to say

that you are citizens of the holy city

and that you depend on Israel's God,

whose name is the LORD Almighty.

3The LORD says to Israel,

“Long ago I predicted what would take place;

then suddenly I made it happen.

4I knew that you would prove to be stubborn,

as rigid as iron and unyielding as bronze.

5And so I predicted your future long ago,

announcing events before they took place,

to prevent you from claiming

that your idols and images made them happen.

6“All I foretold has now taken place;

you have to admit my predictions were right.

Now I will tell you of new things to come,

events that I did not reveal before.

7Only now am I making them happen;

nothing like this took place in the past.

If it had, you would claim that you knew all about it.

8I knew that you couldn't be trusted,

that you have always been known as a rebel.

That is why you never heard of this at all,

why no word of it ever came to your ears.

9“In order that people will praise my name,

I am holding my anger in check;

I am keeping it back and will not destroy you.

10I have tested you in the fire of suffering,

as silver is refined in a furnace.

But I have found that you are worthless.

11What I do is done for my own sake —

I will not let my name be dishonoured

or let anyone else share the glory

that should be mine and mine alone.”

Cyrus, the LORD's Chosen Leader

12The LORD says,

“Listen to me, Israel, the people I have called!

I am God, the first, the last, the only God!

13My hands made the earth's foundations

and spread the heavens out.

When I summon earth and sky,

they come at once and present themselves.

14“Assemble and listen, all of you!

None of the gods could predict

that the man I have chosen would attack Babylon;

he will do what I want him to do.

15I am the one who spoke and called him;

I led him out and gave him success.

16“Now come close to me and hear what I say.

From the beginning I have spoken openly,

and have always made my words come true.”

(Now the Sovereign LORD has given me his power and sent me.)

The LORD's Plan for his People

17The holy God of Israel,

the LORD who saves you, says:

“I am the LORD your God,

the one who wants to teach you for your own good

and direct you in the way you should go.

18“If only you had listened to my commands!

Then blessings would have flowed for you

like a stream that never goes dry!

Victory would have come to you

like the waves that roll on the shore.

19Your descendants would be as numerous as grains of sand,

and I would have made sure they were never destroyed.”

20Go out from Babylon, go free!

Shout the news gladly; make it known everywhere:

“The LORD has saved his servant Israel!”

21When the LORD led his people through a hot, dry desert,

they did not suffer from thirst.

He made water come from a rock for them;

he split the rock open, and water flowed out.

22“There is no safety for sinners,” says the LORD.

Israel, a Light to the Nations

1Listen to me, distant nations,

you people who live far away!

Before I was born, the LORD chose me

and appointed me to be his servant.

2He made my words as sharp as a sword.

With his own hand he protected me.

He made me like an arrow,

sharp and ready for use.

3He said to me, “Israel, you are my servant;

because of you, people will praise me.”

4I said, “I have worked, but how hopeless it is!

I have used up my strength, but have accomplished nothing.”

Yet I can trust the LORD to defend my cause;

he will reward me for what I do.

5Before I was born, the LORD appointed me;

he made me his servant to bring back his people,

to bring back the scattered people of Israel.

The LORD gives me honour;

he is the source of my strength.

6The LORD said to me,

“I have a greater task for you, my servant.

Not only will you restore to greatness

the people of Israel who have survived,

but I will also make you a light to the nations —

so that all the world may be saved.”

7Israel's holy God and saviour says

to the one who is deeply despised,

who is hated by the nations

and is the servant of rulers:

“Kings will see you released

and will rise to show their respect;

princes also will see it,

and they will bow low to honour you.”

This will happen because the LORD has chosen his servant;

the holy God of Israel keeps his promises.

The Restoration of Jerusalem

8The LORD says to his people,

“When the time comes to save you, I will show you favour

and answer your cries for help.

I will guard and protect you

and through you make a covenant with all peoples.

I will let you settle once again

in your land that is now laid waste.

9I will say to the prisoners, ‘Go free!’

and to those who are in darkness,

‘Come out to the light!’

They will be like sheep that graze on the hills;

10they will never be hungry or thirsty.

Sun and desert heat will not hurt them,

for they will be led by one who loves them.

He will lead them to springs of water.

11“I will make a highway across the mountains

and prepare a road for my people to travel.

12My people will come from far away,

from the north and the west,

and from Aswan in the south.”

13Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth!

Let the mountains burst into song!

The LORD will comfort his people;

he will have pity on his suffering people.

14But the people of Jerusalem said,

“The LORD has abandoned us!

He has forgotten us.”

15So the LORD answers,

“Can a woman forget her own baby

and not love the child she bore?

Even if a mother should forget her child,

I will never forget you.

16Jerusalem, I can never forget you!

I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

17“Those who will rebuild you are coming soon,

and those who destroyed you will leave.

18Look around and see what is happening!

Your people are assembling — they are coming home!

As surely as I am the living God,

you will be proud of your people,

as proud as a bride is of her jewels.

19“Your country was ruined and desolate —

but now it will be too small

for those who are coming to live there.

And those who left you in ruins

will be far removed from you.

20Your people who were born in exile

will one day say to you,

‘This land is too small —

we need more room to live in!’

21Then you will say to yourself,

‘Who bore all these children for me?

I lost my children and could have no more.

I was exiled and driven away —

who brought these children up?

I was left all alone —

where did these children come from?’ ”

22The Sovereign LORD says to his people:

“I will signal to the nations,

and they will bring your children home.

23Kings will be like fathers to you;

queens will be like mothers.

They will bow low before you and honour you;

they will humbly show their respect for you.

Then you will know that I am the LORD;

no one who waits for my help will be disappointed.”

24Can you take away a soldier's loot?

Can you rescue the prisoners of a tyrant?

25The LORD replies,

“That is just what is going to happen.

The soldier's prisoners will be taken away,

and the tyrant's loot will be seized.

I will fight against whoever fights you,

and I will rescue your children.

26I will make your oppressors kill each other;

they will be drunk with murder and rage.

Then the whole human race will know that I am the LORD,

the one who saves you and sets you free.

They will know that I am Israel's powerful God.”

1The LORD says,

“Do you think I sent my people away

like a man who divorces his wife?

Where, then, are the papers of divorce?

Do you think I sold you into captivity

like a man who sells his children as slaves?

No, you went away captive because of your sins;

you were sent away because of your crimes.

2“Why did my people fail to respond

when I went to them to save them?

Why did they not answer when I called?

Am I too weak to save them?

I can dry up the sea with a command

and turn rivers into a desert,

so that the fish in them die for lack of water.

3I can make the sky turn dark,

as if it were in mourning for the dead.”

The Obedience of the LORD's Servant

4The Sovereign LORD has taught me what to say,

so that I can strengthen the weary.

Every morning he makes me eager

to hear what he is going to teach me.

5The LORD has given me understanding,

and I have not rebelled

or turned away from him.

6I bared my back to those who beat me.

I did not stop them when they insulted me,

when they pulled out the hairs of my beard

and spat in my face.

7But their insults cannot hurt me

because the Sovereign LORD gives me help.

I brace myself to endure them.

I know that I will not be disgraced,

8for God is near,

and he will prove me innocent.

Does anyone dare to bring charges against me?

Let us go to court together!

Let him bring his accusation!

9The Sovereign LORD himself defends me —

who, then, can prove me guilty?

All my accusers will disappear;

they will vanish like moth-eaten cloth.

10All of you that honour the LORD

and obey the words of his servant,

the path you walk may be dark indeed,

but trust in the LORD, rely on your God.

11All of you that plot to destroy others

will be destroyed by your own plots.

The LORD himself will make this happen;

you will suffer a miserable fate.

Words of Comfort to Jerusalem

1The LORD says,

“Listen to me, you that want to be saved,

you that come to me for help.

Think of the rock from which you came,

the quarry from which you were dug.

2Think of your ancestor, Abraham,

and of Sarah, from whom you are descended.

When I called Abraham, he was childless,

but I blessed him and gave him children;

I made his descendants numerous.

3“I will show compassion to Jerusalem,

to all who live in her ruins.

Though her land is a desert, I will make it a garden,

like the garden I planted in Eden.

Joy and gladness will be there,

and songs of praise and thanks to me.

4“Listen to me, my people,

listen to what I say:

I give my teaching to the nations;

my laws will bring them light.

5I will come quickly and save them;

the time of my victory is near.

I myself will rule over the nations.

Distant lands wait for me to come;

they wait with hope for me to save them.

6Look up at the heavens; look at the earth!

The heavens will disappear like smoke;

the earth will wear out like old clothing,

and all its people will die like flies.

But the deliverance I bring will last for ever;

my victory will be final.

7“Listen to me, you that know what is right,

who have my teaching fixed in your hearts.

Do not be afraid when people taunt and insult you;

8they will vanish like moth-eaten clothing!

But the deliverance I bring will last for ever;

my victory will endure for all time.”

9Wake up, LORD, and help us!

Use your power and save us;

use it as you did in ancient times.

It was you that cut the sea monster Rahab to pieces.

10It was you also who dried up the sea

and made a path through the water,

so that those you were saving could cross.

11Those whom you have rescued

will reach Jerusalem with gladness,

singing and shouting for joy.

They will be happy for ever,

for ever free from sorrow and grief.

12The LORD says,

“I am the one who strengthens you.

Why should you fear mortals,

who are no more enduring than grass?

13Have you forgotten the LORD who made you,

who stretched out the heavens

and laid the earth's foundations?

Why should you live in constant fear

of the fury of those who oppress you,

of those who are ready to destroy you?

Their fury can no longer touch you.

14Those who are prisoners will soon be set free;

they will live a long life

and have all the food they need.

15“I am the LORD your God;

I stir up the sea

and make its waves roar.

My name is the LORD Almighty!

16I stretched out the heavens

and laid the earth's foundations;

I say to Jerusalem, ‘You are my people!

I have given you my teaching,

and I protect you with my hand.’ ”

The End of Jerusalem's Suffering

17Jerusalem, wake up!

Rouse yourself and get up!

You have drunk the cup of punishment

that the LORD in his anger gave you to drink;

you drank it down, and it made you stagger.

18There is no one to lead you,

no one among your people

to take you by the hand.

19A double disaster has fallen on you:

your land has been devastated by war,

and your people have starved.

There is no one to show you sympathy.

20At the corner of every street

your people collapse from weakness;

they are like deer caught in a hunter's net.

They have felt the force of God's anger.

21You suffering people of Jerusalem,

you that stagger as though you were drunk,

22the LORD your God defends you and says,

“I am taking away the cup

that I gave you in my anger.

You will no longer have to drink

the wine that makes you stagger.

23I will give it to those who oppressed you,

to those who made you lie down in the streets

and trampled on you as if you were dirt.”

The Death of John the Baptist

(Mk 6.14–29; Lk 9.7–9)

1At that time Herod, the ruler of Galilee, heard about Jesus. 2“He is really John the Baptist, who has come back to life,” he told his officials. “That is why he has this power to perform miracles.”

3For Herod had earlier ordered John's arrest, and he had him chained and put in prison. He had done this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. 4For some time John the Baptist had told Herod, “It isn't right for you to be married to Herodias!” 5Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid of the Jewish people, because they considered John to be a prophet.

6On Herod's birthday the daughter of Herodias danced in front of the whole group. Herod was so pleased 7that he promised her, “I swear that I will give you anything you ask for!”

8At her mother's suggestion she asked him, “Give me here and now the head of John the Baptist on a dish!”

9The king was sad, but because of the promise he had made in front of all his guests he gave orders that her wish be granted. 10So he had John beheaded in prison. 11The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. 12John's disciples came, carried away his body, and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.

Jesus Feeds a Great Crowd

(Mk 6.30–44; Lk 9.10–17; Jn 6.1–14)

13When Jesus heard the news about John, he left there in a boat and went to a lonely place by himself. The people heard about it, so they left their towns and followed him by land. 14Jesus got out of the boat, and when he saw the large crowd, his heart was filled with pity for them, and he healed those who were ill.

15That evening his disciples came to him and said, “It is already very late, and this is a lonely place. Send the people away and let them go to the villages to buy food for themselves.”

16“They don't have to leave,” answered Jesus. “You yourselves give them something to eat!”

17“All we have here are five loaves and two fish,” they replied.

18“Then bring them here to me,” Jesus said. 19He ordered the people to sit down on the grass; then he took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks to God. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20Everyone ate and had enough. Then the disciples took up twelve baskets full of what was left over. 21The number of men who ate was about 5,000, not counting the women and children.

Jesus Walks on the Water

(Mk 6.45–52; Jn 6.15–21)

22Then Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people away. 23After sending the people away, he went up a hill by himself to pray. When evening came, Jesus was there alone; 24and by this time the boat was far out in the lake, tossed about by the waves, because the wind was blowing against it.

25Between three and six o'clock in the morning Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the water. 26When they saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. “It's a ghost!” they said, and screamed with fear.

27Jesus spoke to them at once. “Courage!” he said. “It is I. Don't be afraid!”

28Then Peter spoke up. “Lord, if it is really you, order me to come out on the water to you.”

29“Come!” answered Jesus. So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he was afraid and started to sink down in the water. “Save me, Lord!” he cried.

31At once Jesus reached out and grabbed hold of him and said, “How little faith you have! Why did you doubt?”

32They both got into the boat, and the wind died down. 33Then the disciples in the boat worshipped Jesus. “Truly you are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

(Mk 6.53–56)

34They crossed the lake and came to land at Gennesaret, 35where the people recognized Jesus. So they sent for the sick people in all the surrounding country and brought them to Jesus. 36They begged him to let those who were ill at least touch the edge of his cloak; and all who touched it were made well.

Matthew 14GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Teaching of the Ancestors

(Mk 7.1–13)

1Then some Pharisees and teachers of the Law came from Jerusalem to Jesus and asked him, 2“Why is it that your disciples disobey the teaching handed down by our ancestors? They don't wash their hands in the proper way before they eat!”

3Jesus answered, “And why do you disobey God's command and follow your own teaching? 4For God said, ‘Respect your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death.’ 5But you teach that if a person has something he could use to help his father or mother, but says, ‘This belongs to God,’ 6he does not need to honour his father. In this way you disregard God's command, in order to follow your own teaching. 7You hypocrites! How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you!

8‘These people, says God, honour me with their words,

but their heart is really far away from me.

9It is no use for them to worship me,

because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’ ”

The Things that Make a Person Unclean

(Mk 7.14–23)

10Then Jesus called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand! 11It is not what goes into a person's mouth that makes him ritually unclean; rather, what comes out of it makes him unclean.”

12Then the disciples came to him and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees had their feelings hurt by what you said?”

13“Every plant which my Father in heaven did not plant will be pulled up,” answered Jesus. 14“Don't worry about them! They are blind leaders of the blind; and when one blind man leads another, both fall into a ditch.”

15Peter spoke up, “Explain this saying to us.”

16Jesus said to them, “You are still no more intelligent than the others. 17Don't you understand? Anything that goes into a person's mouth goes into his stomach and then on out of his body. 18But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these are the things that make a person ritually unclean. 19For from his heart come the evil ideas which lead him to kill, commit adultery, and do other immoral things; to rob, lie, and slander others. 20These are the things that make a person unclean. But to eat without washing your hands as they say you should — this doesn't make a person unclean.”

A Woman's Faith

(Mk 7.24–30)

21Jesus left that place and went off to the territory near the cities of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman who lived in that region came to him. “Son of David!” she cried out. “Have mercy on me, sir! My daughter has a demon and is in a terrible condition.”

23But Jesus did not say a word to her. His disciples came to him and begged him, “Send her away! She is following us and making all this noise!”

24Then Jesus replied, “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”

25At this the woman came and fell at his feet. “Help me, sir!” she said.

26Jesus answered, “It isn't right to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs.”

27“That's true, sir,” she answered; “but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their masters' table.”

28So Jesus answered her, “You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you.” And at that very moment her daughter was healed.

Jesus Heals Many People

29Jesus left there and went along by Lake Galilee. He climbed a hill and sat down. 30Large crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the dumb, and many other sick people, whom they placed at Jesus' feet; and he healed them. 31The people were amazed as they saw the dumb speaking, the crippled made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they praised the God of Israel.

Jesus Feeds Another Great Crowd

(Mk 8.1–10)

32Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I feel sorry for these people, because they have been with me for three days and now have nothing to eat. I don't want to send them away without feeding them, for they might faint on their way home.”

33The disciples asked him, “Where will we find enough food in this desert to feed this crowd?”

34“How much bread have you?” Jesus asked.

“Seven loaves,” they answered, “and a few small fish.”

35So Jesus ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks to God, broke them, and gave them to the disciples; and the disciples gave them to the people. 37They all ate and had enough. Then the disciples took up seven baskets full of pieces left over. 38The number of men who ate was 4,000, not counting the women and children.

39Then Jesus sent the people away, got into a boat, and went to the territory of Magadan.

Matthew 15GNBOpen in Bible reader
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