Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 106

Isaiah 56–58, Matthew 17–19

Bible text(s)

God's People will Include All Nations

1The LORD says to his people, “Do what is just and right, for soon I will save you. 2I will bless those who always observe the Sabbath and do not misuse it. I will bless those who do nothing evil.”

3A foreigner who has joined the LORD's people should not say, “The LORD will not let me worship with his people.”

A man who has been castrated should never think that because he cannot have children, he can never be part of God's people. 4The LORD says to such a man, “If you honour me by observing the Sabbath and if you do what pleases me and faithfully keep my covenant, 5then your name will be remembered in my Temple and among my people longer than if you had sons and daughters. You will never be forgotten.”

6And the LORD says to those foreigners who become part of his people, who love him and serve him, who observe the Sabbath and faithfully keep his covenant: 7“I will bring you to Zion, my sacred hill, give you joy in my house of prayer, and accept the sacrifices you offer on my altar. My Temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.”

8The Sovereign LORD, who has brought his people Israel home from exile, has promised that he will bring still other people to join them.

Israel's Leaders are Condemned

9The LORD has told the foreign nations to come like wild animals and devour his people. 10He says, “All the leaders, who are supposed to warn my people, are blind! They know nothing. They are like watchdogs that don't bark — they only lie about and dream. How they love to sleep! 11They are like greedy dogs that never get enough. These leaders have no understanding. They each do as they please and seek their own advantage. 12‘Let's get some wine,’ these drunkards say, ‘and drink all we can hold! Tomorrow will be even better than today!’ ”

Israel's Idolatry is Condemned

1Good people die, and no one understands or even cares. But when they die, no calamity can hurt them. 2Those who live good lives find peace and rest in death.

3Come here to be judged, you sinners! You are no better than sorcerers, adulterers, and prostitutes. 4Who are you making fun of? Who are you liars jeering at? 5You worship the fertility gods by having sex under those sacred trees of yours. You offer your children as sacrifices in the rocky caves near the bed of a stream. 6You take smooth stones from there and worship them as gods. You pour out wine as offerings to them and bring them grain offerings. Do you think I am pleased with all this? 7You go to the high mountains to offer sacrifices and have sex. 8You set up your obscene idols just inside your front doors. You forsake me; you take off your clothes and climb into your large beds with your lovers, whom you pay to sleep with you. And there you satisfy your lust. 9You put on your perfumes and ointments and go to worship the god Molech. To find gods to worship, you send messengers far and wide, even to the world of the dead. 10You wear yourselves out looking for other gods, but you never give up. You think your obscene idols give you strength, and so you never grow weak.

11The LORD says, “Who are these gods that make you afraid, so that you tell me lies and forget me completely? Have you stopped honouring me because I have kept silent for so long? 12You think that what you do is right, but I will expose your conduct, and your idols will not be able to help you. 13When you cry for help, let those idols of yours save you! A puff of wind will carry them off! But those who trust in me will live in the land and will worship me in my Temple.”

God's Promise of Help and Healing

14The LORD says, “Let my people return to me. Remove every obstacle from their path! Build the road, and make it ready!

15“I am the high and holy God, who lives for ever. I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope. 16I gave my people life, and I will not continue to accuse them or be angry with them for ever. 17I was angry with them because of their sin and greed, and so I punished them and abandoned them. But they were stubborn and kept on going their own way.

18“I have seen how they acted, but I will heal them. I will lead them and help them, and I will comfort those who mourn. 19I offer peace to all, both near and far! I will heal my people. 20But evil people are like the restless sea, whose waves never stop rolling in, bringing filth and muck. 21There is no safety for sinners,” says the LORD.

True Fasting

1The LORD says, “Shout as loud as you can! Tell my people Israel about their sins! 2They worship me every day, claiming that they are eager to know my ways and obey my laws. They say they want me to give them just laws and that they take pleasure in worshipping me.”

3The people ask, “Why should we fast if the LORD never notices? Why should we go without food if he pays no attention?”

The LORD says to them, “The truth is that at the same time as you fast, you pursue your own interests and oppress your workers. 4Your fasting makes you violent, and you quarrel and fight. Do you think this kind of fasting will make me listen to your prayers? 5When you fast, you make yourselves suffer; you bow your heads low like a blade of grass, and spread out sackcloth and ashes to lie on. Is that what you call fasting? Do you think I will be pleased with that?

6“The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. 7Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.

8“Then my favour will shine on you like the morning sun, and your wounds will be quickly healed. I will always be with you to save you; my presence will protect you on every side. 9When you pray, I will answer you. When you call to me, I will respond.

“If you put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt, and to every evil word; 10if you give food to the hungry and satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon. 11And I will always guide you and satisfy you with good things. I will keep you strong and well. You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring of water that never runs dry. 12Your people will rebuild what has long been in ruins, building again on the old foundations. You will be known as the people who rebuilt the walls, who restored the ruined houses.”

The Reward for Keeping the Sabbath

13The LORD says, “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honour it by not travelling, working, or talking idly on that day, 14then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honoured all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

The Transfiguration

(Mk 9.2–13; Lk 9.28–36)

1Six days later Jesus took with him Peter and the brothers James and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone. 2As they looked on, a change came over Jesus: his face was shining like the sun, and his clothes were dazzling white. 3Then the three disciples saw Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus. 4So Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how good it is that we are here! If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5While he was talking, a shining cloud came over them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased — listen to him!”

6When the disciples heard the voice, they were so terrified that they threw themselves face downwards on the ground. 7Jesus came to them and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don't be afraid!” 8So they looked up and saw no one there but Jesus.

9As they came down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Don't tell anyone about this vision you have seen until the Son of Man has been raised from death.”

10Then the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the teachers of the Law say that Elijah has to come first?”

11“Elijah is indeed coming first,” answered Jesus, “and he will get everything ready. 12But I tell you that Elijah has already come and people did not recognize him, but treated him just as they pleased. In the same way they will also ill-treat the Son of Man.”

13Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Jesus Heals a Boy with a Demon

(Mk 9.14–29; Lk 9.37–43a)

14When they returned to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, 15and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son! He is an epileptic and has such terrible fits that he often falls in the fire or into water. 16I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17Jesus answered, “How unbelieving and wrong you people are! How long must I stay with you? How long do I have to put up with you? Bring the boy here to me!” 18Jesus gave a command to the demon, and it went out of the boy, and at that very moment he was healed.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked him, “Why couldn't we drive the demon out?”

20“It was because you haven't enough faith,” answered Jesus. “I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything!”

Jesus Speaks Again about his Death

(Mk 9.30–32; Lk 9.43b–45)

22When the disciples all came together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be handed over to people 23who will kill him; but three days later he will be raised to life.”

The disciples became very sad.

Payment of the Temple Tax

24When Jesus and his disciples came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Does your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25“Of course,” Peter answered.

When Peter went into the house, Jesus spoke up first, “Simon, what is your opinion? Who pays duties or taxes to the kings of this world? The citizens of the country or the foreigners?”

26“The foreigners,” answered Peter.

“Well, then,” replied Jesus, “that means that the citizens don't have to pay. 27But we don't want to offend these people. So go to the lake and drop in a line. Pull up the first fish you hook, and in its mouth you will find a coin worth enough for my temple tax and yours. Take it and pay them our taxes.”

Matthew 17GNBOpen in Bible reader

Who is the Greatest?

(Mk 9.33–37; Lk 9.46–48)

1At that time the disciples came to Jesus, asking, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”

2So Jesus called a child, made him stand in front of them, 3and said, “I assure you that unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. 4The greatest in the Kingdom of heaven is the one who humbles himself and becomes like this child. 5And whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.

Temptations to Sin

(Mk 9.42–48; Lk 17.1–2)

6“If anyone should cause one of these little ones to lose his faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large millstone tied round his neck and be drowned in the deep sea. 7How terrible for the world that there are things that make people lose their faith! Such things will always happen — but how terrible for the one who causes them!

8“If your hand or your foot makes you lose your faith, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life without a hand or a foot than to keep both hands and both feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. 9And if your eye makes you lose your faith, take it out and throw it away! It is better for you to enter life with only one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

(Lk 15.3–7)

10“See that you don't despise any of these little ones. Their angels in heaven, I tell you, are always in the presence of my Father in heaven.

12“What do you think a man does who has 100 sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other 99 grazing on the hillside and go and look for the lost sheep. 13When he finds it, I tell you, he feels far happier over this one sheep than over the 99 that did not get lost. 14In just the same way your Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost.

A Brother or Sister who Sins

15“If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back. 16But if he will not listen to you, take one or two other persons with you, so that ‘every accusation may be upheld by the testimony of two or more witnesses,’ as the scripture says. 17And if he will not listen to them, then tell the whole thing to the church. Finally, if he will not listen to the church, treat him as though he were a pagan or a tax collector.

Prohibiting and Permitting

18“And so I tell all of you: what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.

19“And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?”

22“No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven, 23because the Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who decided to check on his servants' accounts. 24He had just begun to do so when one of them was brought in who owed him millions of pounds. 25The servant did not have enough to pay his debt, so the king ordered him to be sold as a slave, with his wife and his children and all that he had, in order to pay the debt. 26The servant fell on his knees before the king. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay you everything!’ 27The king felt sorry for him, so he forgave him the debt and let him go.

28“Then the man went out and met one of his fellow-servants who owed him a few pounds. He grabbed him and started choking him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he said. 29His fellow-servant fell down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back!’ 30But he refused; instead, he had him thrown into jail until he should pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were very upset and went to the king and told him everything. 32So he called the servant in. ‘You worthless slave!’ he said. ‘I forgave you the whole amount you owed me, just because you asked me to. 33You should have had mercy on your fellow-servant, just as I had mercy on you.’ 34The king was very angry, and he sent the servant to jail to be punished until he should pay back the whole amount.”

35And Jesus concluded, “That is how my Father in heaven will treat every one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Matthew 18GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jesus Teaches about Divorce

(Mk 10.1–12)

1When Jesus finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the territory of Judea on the other side of the River Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

3Some Pharisees came to him and tried to trap him by asking, “Does our Law allow a man to divorce his wife for whatever reason he wishes?”

4Jesus answered, “Haven't you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female? 5And God said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.’ 6So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.”

7The Pharisees asked him, “Why, then, did Moses give the law for a man to hand his wife a divorce notice and send her away?”

8Jesus answered, “Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation. 9I tell you, then, that any man who divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, commits adultery if he marries some other woman.”

10His disciples said to him, “If this is how it is between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.”

11Jesus answered, “This teaching does not apply to everyone, but only to those to whom God has given it. 12For there are different reasons why men cannot marry: some, because they were born that way; others, because men made them that way; and others do not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Let him who can accept this teaching do so.”

Jesus Blesses Little Children

(Mk 10.13–16; Lk 18.15–17)

13Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and to pray for them, but the disciples scolded the people. 14Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

15He placed his hands on them and then went away.

The Rich Young Man

(Mk 10.17–31; Lk 18.18–30)

16Once a man came to Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?”

17“Why do you ask me concerning what is good?” answered Jesus. “There is only One who is good. Keep the commandments if you want to enter life.”

18“What commandments?” he asked.

Jesus answered, “Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not accuse anyone falsely; 19respect your father and your mother; and love your neighbour as you love yourself.”

20“I have obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else do I need to do?”

21Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.”

22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he was very rich.

23Jesus then said to his disciples, “I assure you: it will be very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven. 24I repeat: it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.”

25When the disciples heard this, they were completely amazed. “Who, then, can be saved?” they asked.

26Jesus looked straight at them and answered, “This is impossible for human beings, but for God everything is possible.”

27Then Peter spoke up. “Look,” he said, “we have left everything and followed you. What will we have?”

28Jesus said to them, “You can be sure that when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne in the New Age, then you twelve followers of mine will also sit on thrones, to rule the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake, will receive a hundred times more and will be given eternal life. 30But many who now are first will be last, and many who now are last will be first.

Matthew 19GNBOpen in Bible reader
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