Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 97

Isaiah 26–28, Matthew 1–3

Bible text(s)

God will Give his People Victory

1A day is coming when the people will sing this song in the land of Judah:

Our city is strong!

God himself defends its walls!

2Open the city gates

and let the faithful nation enter,

the nation whose people do what is right.

3You, LORD, give perfect peace

to those who keep their purpose firm

and put their trust in you.

4Trust in the LORD for ever;

he will always protect us.

5He has humbled those who were proud;

he destroyed the strong city they lived in,

and sent its walls crashing into the dust.

6Those who were oppressed walk over it now

and trample it under their feet.

7LORD, you make the path smooth for good people;

the road they travel is level.

8We follow your will and put our hope in you;

you are all that we desire.

9At night I long for you with all my heart;

when you judge the earth and its people,

they will all learn what justice is.

10Even though you are kind to the wicked,

they never learn to do what is right.

Even here in a land of righteous people they still do wrong;

they refuse to recognize your greatness.

11Your enemies do not know that you will punish them.

LORD, put them to shame and let them suffer;

let them suffer the punishment you have prepared.

Show them how much you love your people.

12You will give us prosperity, LORD;

everything that we achieve

is the result of what you do.

13LORD our God, we have been ruled by others,

but you alone are our LORD.

14Now they are dead and will not live again;

their ghosts will not rise,

for you have punished them and destroyed them.

No one remembers them any more.

15LORD, you have made our nation grow,

enlarging its territory on every side,

and this has brought you honour.

16You punished your people, LORD,

and in anguish they prayed to you.

17You, LORD, have made us cry out,

as a woman in labour cries out in pain.

18We were in pain and agony,

but we gave birth to nothing.

We have won no victory for our land;

we have accomplished nothing.

19Those of our people who have died will live again!

Their bodies will come back to life.

All those sleeping in their graves

will wake up and sing for joy.

As the sparkling dew refreshes the earth,

so the LORD will revive those who have long been dead.

Judgement and Restoration

20Go into your houses, my people, and shut the door behind you. Hide yourselves for a little while until God's anger is over. 21The LORD is coming from his heavenly dwelling place to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The murders that were secretly committed on the earth will be revealed, and the ground will no longer hide those who have been killed.

1On that day the LORD will use his powerful and deadly sword to punish Leviathan, that wriggling, twisting dragon, and to kill the monster that lives in the sea.

2On that day the LORD will say of his pleasant vineyard, 3“I watch over it and water it continually. I guard it night and day so that no one will harm it. 4I am no longer angry with the vineyard. If only there were thorns and briars to fight against, then I would burn them up completely. 5But if the enemies of my people want my protection, let them make peace with me. Yes, let them make peace with me.”

6In days to come the people of Israel, the descendants of Jacob, will take root like a tree, and they will blossom and bud. The earth will be covered with the fruit they produce.

7Israel has not been punished by the LORD as severely as its enemies, nor lost as many people. 8The LORD punished his people by sending them into exile. He took them away with a cruel wind from the east. 9But Israel's sins will be forgiven only when the stones of pagan altars are ground up like chalk, and no more incense altars or symbols of the goddess Asherah are left.

10The fortified city lies in ruins. It is deserted like an empty wilderness. It has become a pasture for cattle, where they can rest and graze. 11The branches of the trees are withered and broken, and women gather them for firewood. Because the people have understood nothing, God their Creator will not pity them or show them any mercy.

12On that day, from the Euphrates to the Egyptian border, the LORD will gather his people one by one, like someone separating the wheat from the chaff.

13When that day comes, a trumpet will be blown to call back from Assyria and Egypt all the Israelites who are in exile there. They will come and worship the LORD in Jerusalem, on his sacred hill.

A Warning to the Northern Kingdom

1The kingdom of Israel is doomed! Its glory is fading like the crowns of flowers on the heads of its drunken leaders. Their proud heads are well perfumed, but there they lie, dead drunk. 2The Lord has someone strong and powerful ready to attack them, someone who will come like a hailstorm, like a torrent of rain, like a rushing, overpowering flood, and will overwhelm the land. 3The pride of those drunken leaders will be trampled underfoot. 4The fading glory of those proud leaders will disappear like the first figs of the season, picked and eaten as soon as they are ripe.

5A day is coming when the LORD Almighty will be like a glorious crown of flowers for his people who survive. 6He will give a sense of justice to those who serve as judges, and courage to those who defend the city gates from attack.

Isaiah and the Drunken Prophets of Judah

7Even the prophets and the priests are so drunk that they stagger. They have drunk so much wine and liquor that they stumble in confusion. The prophets are too drunk to understand the visions that God sends, and the priests are too drunk to decide the cases that are brought to them. 8The tables where they sit are all covered with vomit, and not a clean spot is left.

9They complain about me. They say, “Who does that man think he's teaching? Who needs his message? It's only good for babies that have just been weaned! 10He is trying to teach us letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson.”

11If you won't listen to me, then God will use foreigners speaking some strange-sounding language to teach you a lesson. 12He offered rest and comfort to all of you, but you refused to listen to him. 13That is why the LORD is going to teach you letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson. Then you will stumble with every step you take. You will be wounded, trapped, and taken prisoner.

A Cornerstone for Zion

14Now you arrogant ones who rule here in Jerusalem over this people, listen to what the LORD is saying. 15You boast that you have made a treaty with death and reached an agreement with the world of the dead. You are certain that disaster will spare you when it comes, because you depend on lies and deceit to keep you safe. 16This, now, is what the Sovereign LORD says: “I am placing in Zion a foundation that is firm and strong. In it I am putting a solid cornerstone on which are written the words, ‘Faith that is firm is also patient.’ 17Justice will be the measuring line for the foundation, and honesty will be its plumb line.”

Hailstorms will sweep away all the lies you depend on, and floods will destroy your security. 18The treaty you have made with death will be abolished, and your agreement with the world of the dead will be cancelled. When disaster sweeps down, you will be overcome. 19It will strike you again and again, morning after morning. You will have to bear it day and night. Each new message from God will bring new terror! 20You will be like the person in the proverb, who tries to sleep in a bed too short to stretch out on, with a blanket too narrow to wrap himself in. 21The LORD will fight as he did at Mount Perazim and in the valley of Gibeon, in order to do what he intends to do — strange as his actions may seem. He will complete his work, his mysterious work.

22Don't laugh at the warning I am giving you! If you do, it will be even harder for you to escape. I have heard the LORD Almighty's decision to destroy the whole country.

God's Wisdom

23Listen to what I am saying; pay attention to what I am telling you. 24No farmer goes on constantly ploughing his fields and getting them ready for sowing. 25Once he has prepared the soil, he sows the seeds of herbs such as dill and cumin. He sows rows of wheat and barley, and at the edges of his fields he sows other grain. 26He knows how to do his work, because God has taught him. 27He never uses a heavy club to beat out dill seeds or cumin seeds; instead he uses light sticks of the proper size. 28He does not ruin the wheat by threshing it endlessly, and he knows how to thresh it by driving a cart over it without bruising the grains. 29All this wisdom comes from the LORD Almighty. The plans God makes are wise, and they always succeed!

The Ancestors of Jesus Christ

(Lk 3.23–38)

1This is the list of the ancestors of Jesus Christ, a descendant of David, who was a descendant of Abraham.

2-6aFrom Abraham to King David, the following ancestors are listed: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and his brothers; then Perez and Zerah (their mother was Tamar), Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Obed (his mother was Ruth), Jesse, and King David.

6b-11From David to the time when the people of Israel were taken into exile in Babylon, the following ancestors are listed: David, Solomon (his mother was the woman who had been Uriah's wife), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, Josiah, and Jehoiachin and his brothers.

12-16From the time after the exile in Babylon to the birth of Jesus, the following ancestors are listed: Jehoiachin, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob, and Joseph, who married Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was called the Messiah.

17So then, there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David, and fourteen from David to the exile in Babylon, and fourteen from then to the birth of the Messiah.

The Birth of Jesus Christ

(Lk 2.1–7)

18This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. 19Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately. 20While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. 21She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus — because he will save his people from their sins.”

22Now all this happened in order to make what the Lord had said through the prophet come true, 23“A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” (which means, “God is with us”).

24So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to do. 25But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

Visitors from the East

1Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the time when Herod was king. Soon afterwards, some men who studied the stars came from the east to Jerusalem 2and asked, “Where is the baby born to be the king of the Jews? We saw his star when it came up in the east, and we have come to worship him.”

3When King Herod heard about this, he was very upset, and so was everyone else in Jerusalem. 4He called together all the chief priests and the teachers of the Law and asked them, “Where will the Messiah be born?”

5“In the town of Bethlehem in Judea,” they answered. “For this is what the prophet wrote:

6‘Bethlehem in the land of Judah,

you are by no means the least of the leading cities of Judah;

for from you will come a leader

who will guide my people Israel.’ ”

7So Herod called the visitors from the east to a secret meeting and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem with these instructions: “Go and make a careful search for the child, and when you find him, let me know, so that I too may go and worship him.”

9-10And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the east. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 11They went into the house, and when they saw the child with his mother Mary, they knelt down and worshipped him. They brought out their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, and presented them to him.

12Then they returned to their country by another road, since God had warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod.

The Escape to Egypt

13After they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph and said, “Herod will be looking for the child in order to kill him. So get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you to leave.”

14Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and left during the night for Egypt, 15where he stayed until Herod died. This was done to make what the Lord had said through the prophet come true, “I called my Son out of Egypt.”

The Killing of the Children

16When Herod realized that the visitors from the east had tricked him, he was furious. He gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its neighbourhood who were two years old and younger — this was done in accordance with what he had learned from the visitors about the time when the star had appeared.

17In this way what the prophet Jeremiah had said came true:

18“A sound is heard in Ramah,

the sound of bitter weeping.

Rachel is crying for her children;

she refuses to be comforted,

for they are dead.”

The Return from Egypt

19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel, because those who tried to kill the child are dead.” 21So Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went back to Israel.

22But when Joseph heard that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as king of Judea, he was afraid to go there. He was given more instructions in a dream, so he went to the province of Galilee 23and made his home in a town named Nazareth. And so what the prophets had said came true: “He will be called a Nazarene.”

The Preaching of John the Baptist

(Mk 1.1–8; Lk 3.1–18; Jn 1.19–28)

1At that time John the Baptist came to the desert of Judah and started preaching. 2“Turn away from your sins,” he said, “because the Kingdom of heaven is near!” 3John was the man the prophet Isaiah was talking about when he said:

“Someone is shouting in the desert,

‘Prepare a road for the Lord;

make a straight path for him to travel!’ ”

4John's clothes were made of camel's hair; he wore a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5People came to him from Jerusalem, from the whole province of Judea, and from all the country near the River Jordan. 6They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan.

7When John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him to be baptized, he said to them, “You snakes — who told you that you could escape from the punishment God is about to send? 8Do those things that will show that you have turned from your sins. 9And don't think you can escape punishment by saying that Abraham is your ancestor. I tell you that God can take these stones and make descendants for Abraham! 10The axe is ready to cut down the trees at the roots; every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire. 11I baptize you with water to show that you have repented, but the one who will come after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. He is much greater than I am; and I am not good enough even to carry his sandals. 12He has his winnowing shovel with him to thresh out all the grain. He will gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn the chaff in a fire that never goes out.”

The Baptism of Jesus

(Mk 1.9–11; Lk 3.21–22)

13At that time Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to make him change his mind. “I ought to be baptized by you,” John said, “and yet you have come to me!”

15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so for now. For in this way we shall do all that God requires.” So John agreed.

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and alighting on him. 17Then a voice said from heaven, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased.”

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.20
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