Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 99

Isaiah 33–35, Matthew 5–7

Bible text(s)

A Prayer for Help

1Our enemies are doomed! They have robbed and betrayed, although no one has robbed them or betrayed them. But their time to rob and betray will end, and they themselves will become victims of robbery and treachery.

2LORD, have mercy on us. We have put our hope in you. Protect us day by day and save us in times of trouble. 3When you fight for us, nations run away from the noise of battle. 4Their belongings are pounced upon and taken as loot.

5How great the LORD is! He rules over everything. He will fill Jerusalem with justice and integrity 6and give stability to the nation. He always protects his people and gives them wisdom and knowledge. Their greatest treasure is their reverence for the LORD.

7The brave are calling for help. The ambassadors who tried to bring about peace are crying bitterly. 8The highways are so dangerous that no one travels on them. Treaties are broken and agreements are violated. No one is respected any more. 9The land lies idle and deserted. The forests of Lebanon have withered, the fertile valley of Sharon is like a desert, and in Bashan and on Mount Carmel the leaves are falling from the trees.

The LORD Warns his Enemies

10The LORD says to the nations, “Now I will act. I will show how powerful I am. 11You make worthless plans and everything you do is useless. My spirit is like a fire that will destroy you. 12You will crumble like rocks burnt to make lime, like thorns burnt to ashes. 13Let everyone near and far hear what I have done and acknowledge my power.”

14The sinful people of Zion are trembling with fright. They say, “God's judgement is like a fire that burns for ever. Can any of us survive a fire like that?” 15You can survive if you say and do what is right. Don't use your power to cheat the poor and don't accept bribes. Don't join with those who plan to commit murder or to do other evil things. 16Then you will be safe; you will be as secure as if you were in a strong fortress. You will have food to eat and water to drink.

The Glorious Future

17Once again you will see a king ruling in splendour over a land that stretches in all directions. 18Your old fears of foreign tax collectors and spies will be only a memory. 19You will no longer see any arrogant foreigners who speak a language that you can't understand. 20Look at Zion, the city where we celebrate our religious festivals. Look at Jerusalem! What a safe place it will be to live in! It will be like a tent that is never moved, whose pegs are never pulled up and whose ropes never break. 21The LORD will show us his glory. We will live beside broad rivers and streams, but hostile ships will not sail on them. 22-23All the rigging on those ships is useless; the sails cannot be spread! We will seize all the wealth of enemy armies, and there will be so much that even the lame can have a share. The LORD himself will be our king; he will rule over us and protect us. 24No one who lives in our land will ever again complain of being ill, and all sins will be forgiven.

God will Punish his Enemies

1Come, people of all nations! Gather round and listen. Let the whole earth and everyone living on it come here and listen. 2The LORD is angry with all the nations and all their armies. He has condemned them to destruction. 3Their corpses will not be buried, but will lie there rotting and stinking; and the mountains will be red with blood. 4The sun, moon, and stars will crumble to dust. The sky will disappear like a scroll being rolled up, and the stars will fall like leaves dropping from a vine or a fig tree.

5The LORD has prepared his sword in heaven, and now it will strike Edom, those people whom he has condemned to destruction. 6His sword will be covered with their blood and fat, like the blood and fat of lambs and goats that are sacrificed. The LORD will offer this sacrifice in the city of Bozrah; he will make this a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7The people will fall like wild oxen and young bulls, and the earth will be red with blood and covered with fat. 8This is the time when the LORD will rescue Zion and take vengeance on her enemies.

9The rivers of Edom will turn into tar, and the soil will turn into sulphur. The whole country will burn like tar. 10It will burn day and night, and smoke will rise from it for ever. The land will lie waste age after age, and no one will ever travel through it again. 11Owls and ravens will take over the land. The LORD will make it a barren waste again, as it was before the creation. 12There will be no king to rule the country, and the leaders will all be gone. 13Thorns and thistles will grow up in all the palaces and walled towns, and jackals and owls will live in them. 14Wild animals will roam there, and demons will call to each other. The night monster will come there looking for a place to rest. 15Owls will build their nests, lay eggs, hatch their young, and care for them there. Vultures will gather there, one after another.

16Search in the LORD's book of living creatures and read what it says. Not one of these creatures will be missing, and not one will be without its mate. The LORD has commanded it to be so; he himself will bring them together. 17It is the LORD who will divide the land among them and give each of them a share. They will live in the land age after age, and it will belong to them for ever.

The Road of Holiness

1The desert will rejoice,

and flowers will bloom in the wilderness.

2The desert will sing and shout for joy;

it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains

and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon.

Everyone will see the LORD's splendour,

see his greatness and power.

3Give strength to hands that are tired

and to knees that tremble with weakness.

4Tell everyone who is discouraged,

“Be strong and don't be afraid!

God is coming to your rescue,

coming to punish your enemies.”

5The blind will be able to see,

and the deaf will hear.

6The lame will leap and dance,

and those who cannot speak will shout for joy.

Streams of water will flow through the desert;

7the burning sand will become a lake,

and dry land will be filled with springs.

Where jackals used to live,

marsh grass and reeds will grow.

8There will be a highway there,

called “The Road of Holiness”.

No sinner will ever travel that road;

no fools will mislead those who follow it.

9No lions will be there;

no fierce animals will pass that way.

Those whom the LORD has rescued

will travel home by that road.

10They will reach Jerusalem with gladness,

singing and shouting for joy.

They will be happy for ever,

for ever free from sorrow and grief.

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.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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