Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 56

Joshua 4–6, Acts 4–6

Bible text(s)

Memorial Stones are Set Up

1When the whole nation had crossed the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, 2“Choose twelve men, one from each tribe, 3and command them to take twelve stones out of the middle of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests were standing. Tell them to carry these stones with them and to put them down where you camp tonight.”

4Then Joshua called the twelve men he had chosen, 5and said, “Go into the Jordan ahead of the Covenant Box of the LORD your God. Each one of you take a stone on your shoulder, one for each of the tribes of Israel. 6These stones will remind the people of what the LORD has done. In the future, when your children ask what these stones mean to you, 7you will tell them that the water of the Jordan stopped flowing when the LORD's Covenant Box crossed the river. These stones will always remind the people of Israel of what happened here.”

8The men followed Joshua's orders. As the LORD had commanded Joshua, they took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the tribes of Israel, carried them to the camping place, and put them down there. 9Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, where the priests carrying the Covenant Box had stood. (Those stones are still there.) 10The priests stood in the middle of the Jordan until everything had been done that the LORD ordered Joshua to tell the people to do. This is what Moses had commanded.

The people hurried across the river. 11When they were all on the other side, the priests with the LORD's Covenant Box went on ahead of the people. 12The men of the tribes of Reuben and Gad and of half the tribe of Manasseh, ready for battle, crossed ahead of the rest of the people, as Moses had told them to do. 13In the presence of the LORD about 40,000 men ready for war crossed over to the plain near Jericho. 14What the LORD did that day made the people of Israel consider Joshua a great man. They honoured him all his life, just as they had honoured Moses.

15Then the LORD told Joshua 16to command the priests carrying the Covenant Box to come up out of the Jordan. 17Joshua did so, 18and when the priests reached the river bank, the river began flowing once more and flooded its banks again.

19The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month and made camp at Gilgal, east of Jericho. 20There Joshua set up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan. 21He said to the people of Israel, “In the future, when your children ask you what these stones mean, 22you will tell them about the time when Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground. 23Tell them that the LORD your God dried up the water of the Jordan for you until you had crossed, just as he dried up the Red Sea for us. 24Because of this everyone on earth will know how great the LORD's power is, and you will honour the LORD your God for ever.”

1All the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the Mediterranean Sea heard that the LORD had dried up the Jordan until the people of Israel had crossed it. They became afraid and lost their courage because of the Israelites.

The Circumcision at Gilgal

2Then the LORD told Joshua, “Make some knives out of flint and circumcise the Israelites.” 3So Joshua did as the LORD had commanded, and he circumcised the Israelites at a place called Circumcision Hill. 4-6When the people of Israel left Egypt, all the males were already circumcised. However, during the forty years the people spent crossing the desert, none of the baby boys had been circumcised. Also, by the end of that time all the men who were of fighting age when they left Egypt had died because they had disobeyed the LORD. Just as he had sworn, they were not allowed to see the rich and fertile land that he had promised their ancestors. 7The sons of these men had never been circumcised, and it was this new generation that Joshua circumcised.

8After the circumcision was completed, the whole nation stayed in the camp until the wounds had healed. 9The LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have removed from you the disgrace of being slaves in Egypt.” That is why the place was named Gilgal, the name it still has.

10While the Israelites were camping at Gilgal on the plain near Jericho, they observed Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month. 11The next day was the first time they ate food grown in Canaan: roasted grain and bread made without yeast. 12The manna stopped falling then, and the Israelites no longer had any. From that time on they ate food grown in Canaan.

Joshua and the Man with a Sword

13While Joshua was near Jericho, he suddenly saw a man standing in front of him, holding a sword. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you one of our soldiers, or an enemy?”

14“Neither,” the man answered. “I am here as the commander of the LORD's army.”

Joshua threw himself on the ground in worship and said, “I am your servant, sir. What do you want me to do?”

15And the commander of the LORD's army told him, “Take your sandals off; you are standing on holy ground.” And Joshua did as he was told.

The Fall of Jericho

1The gates of Jericho were kept shut and guarded to keep the Israelites out. No one could enter or leave the city. 2The LORD said to Joshua, “I am putting into your hands Jericho, with its king and all its brave soldiers. 3You and your soldiers are to march round the city once a day for six days. 4Seven priests, each carrying a trumpet, are to go in front of the Covenant Box. On the seventh day you and your soldiers are to march round the city seven times while the priests blow the trumpets. 5Then they are to sound one long note. As soon as you hear it, all the people are to give a loud shout, and the city walls will collapse. Then the whole army will go straight into the city.”

6Joshua called the priests and said to them, “Take the Covenant Box, and seven of you go in front of it, carrying trumpets.” 7Then he ordered the people to start marching round the city, with an advance guard going on ahead of the LORD's Covenant Box.

8-9So, just as Joshua had ordered, an advance guard started out ahead of the priests who were blowing trumpets; behind these came the priests who were carrying the Covenant Box, followed by a rearguard. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 10But Joshua had ordered the people not to shout, not to say a word until he gave the order. 11So he told this group of men to take the LORD's Covenant Box round the city once. Then they came back to camp and spent the night there.

12-13Joshua got up early the next morning, and for the second time the priests and soldiers marched round the city in the same order as the day before: first, the advance guard; next, the seven priests blowing the seven trumpets; then, the priests carrying the LORD's Covenant Box; and finally, the rearguard. All this time the trumpets were sounding. 14On this second day they again marched round the city once and then returned to camp. They did this for six days.

15On the seventh day they got up at daybreak and marched seven times round the city in the same way — this was the only day that they marched round it seven times. 16The seventh time round, when the priests were about to sound the trumpets, Joshua ordered the people to shout, and he said, “The LORD has given you the city! 17The city and everything in it must be totally destroyed as an offering to the LORD. Only the prostitute Rahab and her household will be spared, because she hid our spies. 18But you are not to take anything that is to be destroyed; if you do, you will bring trouble and destruction on the Israelite camp. 19Everything made of silver, gold, bronze, or iron is set apart for the LORD. It is to be put in the LORD's treasury.”

20So the priests blew the trumpets. As soon as the people heard it, they gave a loud shout, and the walls collapsed. Then all the army went straight up the hill into the city and captured it. 21With their swords they killed everyone in the city, men and women, young and old. They also killed the cattle, sheep, and donkeys.

22Joshua then told the two men who had served as spies, “Go into the prostitute's house and bring her and her family out, as you promised her.” 23So they went and brought Rahab out, along with her father and mother, her brothers, and the rest of her family. They took them all, family and slaves, to safety near the Israelite camp. 24Then they set fire to the city and burnt it to the ground, along with everything in it, except the things made of gold, silver, bronze, and iron, which they took and put in the LORD's treasury. 25But Joshua spared the lives of the prostitute Rahab and all her relatives, because she had hidden the two spies that he had sent to Jericho. (Her descendants have lived in Israel to this day.)

26At that time Joshua issued a solemn warning: “Anyone who tries to rebuild the city of Jericho will be under the LORD's curse.

Whoever lays the foundation will lose his eldest son;

Whoever builds the gates will lose his youngest.”

27So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame spread through the whole country.

Peter and John before the Council

1Peter and John were still speaking to the people when some priests, the officer in charge of the temple guards, and some Sadducees arrived. 2They were annoyed because the two apostles were teaching the people that Jesus had risen from death, which proved that the dead will rise to life. 3So they arrested them and put them in jail until the next day, since it was already late. 4But many who heard the message believed; and the number of men grew to about 5,000.

5The next day the Jewish leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law gathered in Jerusalem. 6They met with the High Priest Annas and with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and the others who belonged to the High Priest's family. 7They made the apostles stand before them and asked them, “How did you do this? What power have you got or whose name did you use?”

8Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: 9if we are being questioned today about the good deed done to the lame man and how he was healed, 10then you should all know, and all the people of Israel should know, that this man stands here before you completely well through the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth — whom you crucified and whom God raised from death. 11Jesus is the one of whom the scripture says:

‘The stone that you the builders despised

turned out to be the most important of all.’

12Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.”

13The members of the Council were amazed to see how bold Peter and John were and to learn that they were ordinary men of no education. They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus. 14But there was nothing that they could say, because they saw the man who had been healed standing there with Peter and John. 15So they told them to leave the Council room, and then they started discussing among themselves. 16“What shall we do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone in Jerusalem knows that this extraordinary miracle has been performed by them, and we cannot deny it. 17But to keep this matter from spreading any further among the people, let us warn these men never again to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus.”

18So they called them back in and told them that on no condition were they to speak or to teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “You yourselves judge which is right in God's sight — to obey you or to obey God. 20For we cannot stop speaking of what we ourselves have seen and heard.” 21So the Council warned them even more strongly and then set them free. They saw that it was impossible to punish them, because the people were all praising God for what had happened. 22The man on whom this miracle of healing had been performed was over forty years old.

The Believers Pray for Boldness

23As soon as Peter and John were set free, they returned to their group and told them what the chief priests and the elders had said. 24When the believers heard it, they all joined together in prayer to God: “Master and Creator of heaven, earth, and sea, and all that is in them! 25By means of the Holy Spirit you spoke through our ancestor David, your servant, when he said:

‘Why were the Gentiles furious;

why did people make their useless plots?

26The kings of the earth prepared themselves,

and the rulers met together

against the Lord and his Messiah.’

27For indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together in this city with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Jesus, your holy Servant, whom you made Messiah. 28They gathered to do everything that you by your power and will had already decided would happen. 29And now, Lord, take notice of the threats they have made, and allow us, your servants, to speak your message with all boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal, and grant that wonders and miracles may be performed through the name of your holy Servant Jesus.”

31When they finished praying, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim God's message with boldness.

The Believers Share their Possessions

32The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had. 33With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessings on them all. 34There was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale, 35and hand it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed to each one according to his need.

36And so it was that Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “One who Encourages”), 37sold a field he owned, brought the money, and handed it over to the apostles.

Ananias and Sapphira

1But there was a man named Ananias, who with his wife Sapphira sold some property that belonged to them. 2But with his wife's agreement he kept part of the money for himself and handed the rest over to the apostles. 3Peter said to him, “Ananias, why did you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by keeping part of the money you received for the property? 4Before you sold the property, it belonged to you; and after you sold it, the money was yours. Why, then, did you decide to do such a thing? You have not lied to human beings — you have lied to God!” 5As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell down dead; and all who heard about it were terrified. 6The young men came in, wrapped up his body, carried him out, and buried him.

7About three hours later his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in. 8Peter asked her, “Tell me, was this the full amount you and your husband received for your property?”

“Yes,” she answered, “the full amount.”

9So Peter said to her, “Why did you and your husband decide to put the Lord's Spirit to the test? The men who buried your husband are now at the door, and they will carry you out too!” 10At once she fell down at his feet and died. The young men came in and saw that she was dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11The whole church and all the others who heard of this were terrified.

Miracles and Wonders

12Many miracles and wonders were being performed among the people by the apostles. All the believers met together in Solomon's Porch. 13Nobody outside the group dared to join them, even though the people spoke highly of them. 14But more and more people were added to the group — a crowd of men and women who believed in the Lord. 15As a result of what the apostles were doing, sick people were carried out into the streets and placed on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16And crowds of people came in from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing those who were ill or who had evil spirits in them; and they were all healed.

The Apostles are Persecuted

17Then the High Priest and all his companions, members of the local party of the Sadducees, became extremely jealous of the apostles; so they decided to take action. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19But that night an angel of the Lord opened the prison gates, led the apostles out, and said to them, 20“Go and stand in the Temple, and tell the people all about this new life.” 21The apostles obeyed, and at dawn they entered the Temple and started teaching.

The High Priest and his companions called together all the Jewish elders for a full meeting of the Council; then they sent orders to the prison to have the apostles brought before them. 22But when the officials arrived, they did not find the apostles in prison, so they returned to the Council and reported, 23“When we arrived at the jail, we found it locked up tight and all the guards on watch at the gates; but when we opened the gates, we found no one inside!” 24When the chief priests and the officer in charge of the temple guards heard this, they wondered what had happened to the apostles. 25Then a man came in and said to them, “Listen! The men you put in prison are in the Temple teaching the people!” 26So the officer went off with his men and brought the apostles back. They did not use force, however, because they were afraid that the people might stone them.

27They brought the apostles in, made them stand before the Council, and the High Priest questioned them. 28“We gave you strict orders not to teach in the name of this man,” he said; “but see what you have done! You have spread your teaching all over Jerusalem, and you want to make us responsible for his death!”

29Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God, not men. 30The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death, after you had killed him by nailing him to a cross. 31God raised him to his right-hand side as Leader and Saviour, to give the people of Israel the opportunity to repent and have their sins forgiven. 32We are witnesses to these things — we and the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to those who obey him.”

33When the members of the Council heard this, they were so furious that they wanted to have the apostles put to death. 34But one of them, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was a teacher of the Law and was highly respected by all the people, stood up in the Council. He ordered the apostles to be taken out for a while, 35and then he said to the Council, “Fellow-Israelites, be careful what you do to these men. 36You remember that Theudas appeared some time ago, claiming to be somebody great, and about 400 men joined him. But he was killed, all his followers were scattered, and his movement died out. 37After that, Judas the Galilean appeared during the time of the census; he drew a crowd after him, but he also was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38And so in this case, I tell you, do not take any action against these men. Leave them alone! If what they have planned and done is of human origin, it will disappear, 39but if it comes from God, you cannot possibly defeat them. You could find yourselves fighting against God!”

The Council followed Gamaliel's advice. 40They called the apostles in, had them whipped, and ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus; and then they set them free. 41As the apostles left the Council, they were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of Jesus. 42And every day in the Temple and in people's homes they continued to teach and preach the Good News about Jesus the Messiah.

The Seven Helpers

1Some time later, as the number of disciples kept growing, there was a quarrel between the Greek-speaking Jews and the native Jews. The Greek-speaking Jews claimed that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of funds. 2So the twelve apostles called the whole group of believers together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the preaching of God's word in order to handle finances. 3So then, brothers and sisters, choose seven men among you who are known to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, and we will put them in charge of this matter. 4We ourselves, then, will give our full time to prayer and the work of preaching.”

5The whole group was pleased with the apostles' proposal, so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a Gentile from Antioch who had earlier been converted to Judaism. 6The group presented them to the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on them.

7And so the word of God continued to spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem grew larger and larger, and a great number of priests accepted the faith.

The Arrest of Stephen

8Stephen, a man richly blessed by God and full of power, performed great miracles and wonders among the people. 9But he was opposed by some men who were members of the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), which included Jews from Cyrene and Alexandria. They and other Jews from the provinces of Cilicia and Asia started arguing with Stephen. 10But the Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom that when he spoke, they could not refute him. 11So they bribed some men to say, “We heard him speaking against Moses and against God!” 12In this way they stirred up the people, the elders, and the teachers of the Law. They seized Stephen and took him before the Council. 13Then they brought in some men to tell lies about him. “This man,” they said, “is always talking against our sacred Temple and the Law of Moses. 14We heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will tear down the Temple and change all the customs which have come down to us from Moses!” 15All those sitting in the Council fixed their eyes on Stephen and saw that his face looked like the face of an angel.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.16
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