Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 19

Exodus 19–21, Matthew 5–7

Bible text(s)

The Israelites at Mount Sinai

1-2The people of Israel left Rephidim, and on the first day of the third month after they had left Egypt they came to the desert of Sinai. There they set up camp at the foot of Mount Sinai, 3and Moses went up the mountain to meet with God.

The LORD called to him from the mountain and told him to say to the Israelites, Jacob's descendants: 4“You saw what I, the LORD, did to the Egyptians and how I carried you as an eagle carries her young on her wings, and brought you here to me. 5 Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own people. The whole earth is mine, but you will be my chosen people, 6a people dedicated to me alone, and you will serve me as priests.” 7So Moses went down and called the leaders of the people together and told them everything that the LORD had commanded him. 8Then all the people answered together, “We will do everything that the LORD has said,” and Moses reported this to the LORD.

9The LORD said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will believe you from now on.”

Moses told the LORD what the people had answered, 10and the LORD said to him, “Go to the people and tell them to spend today and tomorrow purifying themselves for worship. They must wash their clothes 11and be ready the day after tomorrow. On that day I will come down on Mount Sinai, where all the people can see me. 12Mark a boundary round the mountain that the people must not cross, and tell them not to go up the mountain or even get near it. If anyone sets foot on it, he is to be put to death; 13he must either be stoned or shot with arrows, without anyone touching him. This applies to both men and animals; they must be put to death. But when the trumpet is blown, then the people are to go up to the mountain.”

14Then Moses came down the mountain and told the people to get ready for worship. So they washed their clothes, 15and Moses said to them, “Be ready by the day after tomorrow and don't have sexual intercourse in the meantime.”

16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud appeared on the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast was heard. All the people in the camp trembled with fear. 17Moses led them out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18The whole of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD had come down on it in fire. The smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and all the people trembled violently. 19The sound of the trumpet became louder and louder. Moses spoke, and God answered him with thunder. 20The LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. Moses went up 21and the LORD said to him, “Go down and warn the people not to cross the boundary to come and look at me; if they do, many of them will die. 22Even the priests who come near me must purify themselves, or I will punish them.”

23Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up, because you commanded us to consider the mountain sacred and to mark a boundary round it.”

24The LORD replied, “Go down and bring Aaron back with you. But the priests and the people must not cross the boundary to come up to me, or I will punish them.” 25Moses then went down to the people and told them what the LORD had said.

The Ten Commandments

(Deut 5.1–21)

1God spoke, and these were his words: 2“I am the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, where you were slaves.

3“Worship no god but me.

4“Do not make for yourselves images of anything in heaven or on earth or in the water under the earth. 5Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the LORD your God and I tolerate no rivals. I bring punishment on those who hate me and on their descendants down to the third and fourth generation. 6But I show my love to thousands of generations of those who love me and obey my laws.

7“Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the LORD your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name.

8“Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. 9You have six days in which to do your work, 10but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work — neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. 11In six days I, the LORD, made the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the LORD, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.

12“Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.

13“Do not commit murder.

14“Do not commit adultery.

15“Do not steal.

16“Do not accuse anyone falsely.

17“Do not desire another man's house; do not desire his wife, his slaves, his cattle, his donkeys, or anything else that he owns.”

The People's Fear

(Deut 5.22–33)

18When the people heard the thunder and the trumpet blast and saw the lightning and the smoking mountain, they trembled with fear and stood a long way off. 19They said to Moses, “If you speak to us, we will listen; but we are afraid that if God speaks to us, we will die.”

20Moses replied, “Don't be afraid; God has only come to test you and make you keep on obeying him, so that you will not sin.” 21But the people continued to stand a long way off, and only Moses went near the dark cloud where God was.

Laws about Altars

22The LORD commanded Moses to say to the Israelites: “You have seen how I, the LORD, have spoken to you from heaven. 23Do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gold to be worshipped in addition to me. 24Make an altar of earth for me, and on it sacrifice your sheep and your cattle as offerings to be completely burnt and as fellowship offerings. In every place that I set aside for you to worship me, I will come to you and bless you. 25If you make an altar of stone for me, do not build it out of cut stones, because when you use a chisel on stones, you make them unfit for my use. 26Do not build an altar for me with steps leading up to it; if you do, you will expose yourselves as you go up the steps.

The Treatment of Slaves

(Deut 15.12–18)

1“Give the Israelites the following laws: 2If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay anything. 3If he was unmarried when he became your slave, he is not to take a wife with him when he leaves; but if he was married when he became your slave, he may take his wife with him. 4If his master gave him a wife and she bore him sons or daughters, the woman and her children belong to the master, and the man shall leave by himself. 5But if the slave declares that he loves his master, his wife, and his children and does not want to be set free, 6then his master shall take him to the place of worship. There he is to make him stand against the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear. Then he will be his slave for life.

7“If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she is not to be set free, as male slaves are. 8If she is sold to someone who intends to make her his wife, but he doesn't like her, then she is to be sold back to her father; her master cannot sell her to foreigners, because he has treated her unfairly. 9If a man buys a female slave to give to his son, he is to treat her like a daughter. 10If a man takes a second wife, he must continue to give his first wife the same amount of food and clothing and the same rights that she had before. 11If he does not fulfil these duties to her, he must set her free and not receive any payment.

Laws about Violent Acts

12“Whoever hits someone and kills him is to be put to death. 13But if it was an accident and he did not mean to kill him, he can escape to a place which I will choose for you, and there he will be safe. 14But when anyone gets angry and deliberately kills someone else, he is to be put to death, even if he has run to my altar for safety.

15“Whoever hits his father or his mother is to be put to death.

16“Whoever kidnaps someone, either to sell him or to keep him as a slave, is to be put to death.

17“Whoever curses his father or his mother is to be put to death.

18-19“If there is a fight and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist, but does not kill them, they are not to be punished. If the one who was hit has to stay in bed, but later is able to get up and walk outside with the help of a stick, the one who hit them is to pay for their lost time and take care of them until they get well.

20“If a slave owner takes a stick and beats his slave, whether male or female, and the slave dies on the spot, the slave owner is to be punished. 21But if the slave does not die for a day or two, the master is not to be punished. The loss of his property is punishment enough.

22“If some men are fighting and hurt a pregnant woman so that she loses her child, but she is not injured in any other way, the one who hurt her is to be fined whatever amount the woman's husband demands, subject to the approval of the judges. 23But if the woman herself is injured, the punishment shall be life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26“If someone hits his male or female slave in the eye and puts it out, he is to free the slave as payment for the eye. 27If he knocks out a tooth, he is to free the slave as payment for the tooth.

The Responsibility of Owners

28“If a bull gores someone to death, it is to be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but its owner is not to be punished. 29But if the bull had been in the habit of attacking people and its owner had been warned, but did not keep it penned up — then if it gores someone to death, it is to be stoned, and its owner is to be put to death also. 30However, if the owner is allowed to pay a fine to save his life, he must pay the full amount required. 31If the bull kills a boy or a girl, the same rule applies. 32If the bull kills a male or female slave, its owner shall pay the owner of the slave thirty pieces of silver, and the bull shall be stoned to death.

33“If someone takes the cover off a pit or if he digs one and does not cover it, and a bull or a donkey falls into it, 34he must pay for the animal. He is to pay the money to the owner and may keep the dead animal. 35If someone's bull kills someone else's bull, the two of them shall sell the live bull and divide the money; they shall also divide up the meat from the dead animal. 36But if it was known that the bull had been in the habit of attacking and its owner did not keep it penned up, he must make good the loss by giving the other man a live bull, but he may keep the dead animal.

The Sermon on the Mount

5.1—7.29

1Jesus saw the crowds and went up a hill, where he sat down. His disciples gathered round him, 2and he began to teach them:

True Happiness

(Lk 6.20–23)

3“Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor;

the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

4Happy are those who mourn;

God will comfort them!

5Happy are those who are humble;

they will receive what God has promised!

6Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires;

God will satisfy them fully!

7Happy are those who are merciful to others;

God will be merciful to them!

8Happy are the pure in heart;

they will see God!

9Happy are those who work for peace;

God will call them his children!

10Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires;

the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!

11“Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. 12Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.

Salt and Light

(Mk 9.50; Lk 14.34–35)

13“You are like salt for the whole human race. But if salt loses its saltiness, there is no way to make it salty again. It has become worthless, so it is thrown out and people trample on it.

14“You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead he puts it on the lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. 16In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Teaching about the Law

17“Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. 18Remember that as long as heaven and earth last, not the least point nor the smallest detail of the Law will be done away with — not until the end of all things. 19So then, whoever disobeys even the least important of the commandments and teaches others to do the same, will be least in the Kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, whoever obeys the Law and teaches others to do the same, will be great in the Kingdom of heaven. 20I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.

Teaching about Anger

(Lk 12.57–59)

21“You have heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial.’ 22But now I tell you: whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trial, whoever calls his brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ will be brought before the Council, and whoever calls his brother a worthless fool will be in danger of going to the fire of hell. 23So if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God.

25“If someone brings a lawsuit against you and takes you to court, settle the dispute with him while there is time, before you get to court. Once you are there, he will hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to the police, and you will be put in jail. 26There you will stay, I tell you, until you pay the last penny of your fine.

Teaching about Adultery

27“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28But now I tell you: anyone who looks at a woman and wants to possess her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart. 29So if your right eye causes you to sin, take it out and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose a part of your body than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is much better for you to lose one of your limbs than for your whole body to go to hell.

Teaching about Divorce

(Mt 19.9; Mk 10.11–12; Lk 16.18)

31“It was also said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce.’ 32But now I tell you: if a man divorces his wife, for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, then he is guilty of making her commit adultery if she marries again; and the man who marries her commits adultery also.

Teaching about Vows

33“You have also heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not break your promise, but do what you have vowed to the Lord to do.’ 34But now I tell you: do not use any vow when you make a promise. Do not swear by heaven, for it is God's throne; 35nor by earth, for it is the resting place for his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36Do not even swear by your head, because you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37Just say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ — anything else you say comes from the Evil One.

Teaching about Revenge

(Lk 6.29–30)

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. 40And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one kilometre, carry it two kilometres. 42When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him.

Love for Enemies

(Lk 6.27–28, 32–36)

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ 44But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. 46Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! 47And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! 48You must be perfect — just as your Father in heaven is perfect!

Teaching about Charity

1“Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven.

2“So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 3But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. 4Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Teaching about Prayer

(Lk 11.2–4)

5“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 6But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

7“When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. 8Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. 9This, then, is how you should pray:

‘Our Father in heaven:

May your holy name be honoured;

10may your Kingdom come;

may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11Give us today the food we need.

12Forgive us the wrongs we have done,

as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.

13Do not bring us to hard testing,

but keep us safe from the Evil One.’

14“If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.

Teaching about Fasting

16“And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 17When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, 18so that others cannot know that you are fasting — only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.

Riches in Heaven

(Lk 12.33–34)

19“Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. 20Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. 21For your heart will always be where your riches are.

The Light of the Body

(Lk 11.34–36)

22“The eyes are like a lamp for the body. If your eyes are sound, your whole body will be full of light; 23but if your eyes are no good, your body will be in darkness. So if the light in you is darkness, how terribly dark it will be!

God and Possessions

(Lk 16.13; 12.22–31)

24“No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25“This is why I tell you not to be worried about the food and drink you need in order to stay alive, or about clothes for your body. After all, isn't life worth more than food? And isn't the body worth more than clothes? 26Look at the birds: they do not sow seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren't you worth much more than birds? 27Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?

28“And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. 29But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. 30It is God who clothes the wild grass — grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burnt up in the oven. Won't he be all the more sure to clothe you? How little faith you have!

31“So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32(These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. 34So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.

Judging Others

(Lk 6.37–38, 41–42)

1“Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, 2for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. 3Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, and pay no attention to the log in your own eye? 4How dare you say to your brother, ‘Please, let me take that speck out of your eye,’ when you have a log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite! First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

6“Do not give what is holy to dogs — they will only turn and attack you. Do not throw your pearls in front of pigs — they will only trample them underfoot.

Ask, Seek, Knock

(Lk 11.9–13)

7“Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock. 9Would any of you who are fathers give your son a stone when he asks for bread? 10Or would you give him a snake when he asks for a fish? 11Bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

12“Do for others what you want them to do for you: this is the meaning of the Law of Moses and of the teachings of the prophets.

The Narrow Gate

(Lk 13.24)

13“Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. 14But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.

A Tree and its Fruit

(Lk 6.43–44)

15“Be on your guard against false prophets; they come to you looking like sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are really like wild wolves. 16You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briars do not bear figs. 17A healthy tree bears good fruit, but a poor tree bears bad fruit. 18A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a poor tree cannot bear good fruit. 19And any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in the fire. 20So then, you will know the false prophets by what they do.

I Never Knew You

(Lk 13.25–27)

21“Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. 22When Judgement Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’ 23Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’

The Two House Builders

(Lk 6.47–49)

24“So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. 25The rain poured down, the rivers overflowed, and the wind blew hard against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on rock.

26“But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not obey them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain poured down, the rivers overflowed, the wind blew hard against that house, and it fell. And what a terrible fall that was!”

The Authority of Jesus

28When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowd was amazed at the way he taught. 29He wasn't like the teachers of the Law; instead, he taught with authority.

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