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Today’s Reading

Devotional: Micah 4

Several times Micah moves from a long section of denunciation and warning to a relatively short, positive vision of the future. Micah 4 includes one such vision (Micah 4:1–5), immediately followed by a description of how the daughter of Zion gets from here to there (Micah 4:6–13): she passes through severe testing and chastening, and emerges on the other side into the light of God’s blessing.

The opening verses depict a time when “the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it” (Micah 4:1). Many mountains in the ancient Near East were sites for the worship of some god or other. To say that “the mountain of the LORD’s temple”—i.e., Zion—is established as “chief” among them and “raised above the others” is to say that the God of Israel has now eclipsed all other gods. The result is that not only does Israel stream back to the site, but “peoples” do so as well. “Many nations” exhort one another, saying, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths” (Micah 4:2).

Then the movement of the oracle swings around from the centripetal to the centrifugal. “The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Micah 4:2b). The result is that justice prevails among many peoples, and war sinks away, swamped by peace as people, transformed by the word of God, “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks” (Micah 4:3). The vision concludes with the only thing that can ensure its fulfillment: “the LORD Almighty has spoken” (Micah 4:4). So now, in his own day, Micah insists that genuine believers not be seduced by other gods, who could not possibly effect this transformation. This is the time to be faithful to the one, true God of the covenant. “All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever” (Micah 4:5).

The symbol-laden vision is cast in the categories of Micah’s day: the weapons of war, for example, become plowshares and pruning hooks, not tractors and combines. Though cast in terms of the supremacy of Mount Zion, there is no mention of an Israelite hegemony over the nations, nor of the Messiah or the sacrifice he would offer. Even the geography of the oracle looks a little different from the perspective of John 4:21–24. But in the light of the Gospel, the triumph of the new Jerusalem, which brings to an end death and war and all sin (Rev. 21:1–4), is that for which all Christians pray, the fulfillment of Micah’s vision.

Devotional: 2 Peter 1

Second Peter 1:5–9 provides us with a remarkable sequence of steps. Peter knows his readers are believers. Now he exhorts them to add some things to their faith.

(1) Add goodness to faith (2 Pet. 1:5): Probably the kind of faith Peter does not want to see is the kind of faith that James 2 dismisses: faith that is merely intellectual, merely affirming, but devoid of transparent trust and ready obedience. Genuine faith issues in obedience—but as usual, believers are responsible to go down that track and are discouraged from mere passivity. So add goodness to faith.

(2) Add knowledge to goodness (2 Pet. 1:5): Some knowledge is necessary for faith, but Peter has moved beyond that point. Elsewhere Timothy is encouraged to persevere in his “doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:16); here Christians are similarly exhorted to add knowledge to goodness. Nothing is as stabilizing and as motivating as a growing grasp of the mind of God.

(3) Add self-control to knowledge (2 Pet. 1:6): Mere knowledge may simply puff one up (1 Cor. 8:1–3) and fail to transform anyone. But if self-control, that blessed element in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23), is present in abundance, the potential for good is incalculable.

(4) Add perseverance to self-control (2 Pet. 1:6): It is one thing to be self-controlled in a crisis, or for a short period of time, or when things are going well. It takes long-term perseverance to bring self-control to a shining polish.

(5) Add godliness to perseverance (2 Pet. 1:6): Otherwise, perseverance may turn out to be little more than a supreme effort of merely human will. God-centeredness, a genuine religious element in every virtue, transforms mere stoic resolve into transparent godliness.

(6) Add brotherly kindness to godliness (2 Pet. 1:7): Everyone hates the self-righteous. Self-control and perseverance, even godliness, have been known to generate rigid and unforgiving Pharisees. Add brotherly kindness.

(7) Add love to brotherly kindness (2 Pet. 1:7): That is better yet. For then we are mirroring, however falteringly or poorly, the character of the Master himself.

Note carefully what brackets these seven steps. First, at the front end, Peter tells us we are to “make every effort” to pursue this list, “for this very reason” (2 Pet. 1:5). “This very reason” is spelled out in the previous verses (2 Pet. 1:3–4). God’s glory and goodness have provided great and precious promises, so that through them we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world. For this reason we are to make every effort to pursue these seven steps. Second, at the back end Peter assures us that these qualities will prevent us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:8–9).

1 Chronicles 26–27

Divisions of the Gatekeepers

26:1 As for the divisions of the gatekeepers: of the Korahites, Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of Asaph. And Meshelemiah had sons: Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh. And Obed-edom had sons: Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sachar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peullethai the eighth, for God blessed him. Also to his son Shemaiah were sons born who were rulers in their fathers' houses, for they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah: Othni, Rephael, Obed and Elzabad, whose brothers were able men, Elihu and Semachiah. All these were of the sons of Obed-edom with their sons and brothers, able men qualified for the service; sixty-two of Obed-edom. And Meshelemiah had sons and brothers, able men, eighteen. 10 And Hosah, of the sons of Merari, had sons: Shimri the chief (for though he was not the firstborn, his father made him chief), 11 Hilkiah the second, Tebaliah the third, Zechariah the fourth: all the sons and brothers of Hosah were thirteen.

12 These divisions of the gatekeepers, corresponding to their chief men, had duties, just as their brothers did, ministering in the house of the LORD. 13 And they cast lots by fathers' houses, small and great alike, for their gates. 14 The lot for the east fell to Shelemiah. They cast lots also for his son Zechariah, a shrewd counselor, and his lot came out for the north. 15 Obed-edom's came out for the south, and to his sons was allotted the gatehouse. 16 For Shuppim and Hosah it came out for the west, at the gate of Shallecheth on the road that goes up. Watch corresponded to watch. 17 On the east there were six each day,1 on the north four each day, on the south four each day, as well as two and two at the gatehouse. 18 And for the colonnade2 on the west there were four at the road and two at the colonnade. 19 These were the divisions of the gatekeepers among the Korahites and the sons of Merari.

Treasurers and Other Officials

20 And of the Levites, Ahijah had charge of the treasuries of the house of God and the treasuries of the dedicated gifts. 21 The sons of Ladan, the sons of the Gershonites belonging to Ladan, the heads of the fathers' houses belonging to Ladan the Gershonite: Jehieli.3

22 The sons of Jehieli, Zetham, and Joel his brother, were in charge of the treasuries of the house of the LORD. 23 Of the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites, and the Uzzielites—24 and Shebuel the son of Gershom, son of Moses, was chief officer in charge of the treasuries. 25 His brothers: from Eliezer were his son Rehabiah, and his son Jeshaiah, and his son Joram, and his son Zichri, and his son Shelomoth. 26 This Shelomoth and his brothers were in charge of all the treasuries of the dedicated gifts that David the king and the heads of the fathers' houses and the officers of the thousands and the hundreds and the commanders of the army had dedicated. 27 From spoil won in battles they dedicated gifts for the maintenance of the house of the LORD. 28 Also all that Samuel the seer and Saul the son of Kish and Abner the son of Ner and Joab the son of Zeruiah had dedicated—all dedicated gifts were in the care of Shelomoth4 and his brothers.

29 Of the Izharites, Chenaniah and his sons were appointed to external duties for Israel, as officers and judges. 30 Of the Hebronites, Hashabiah and his brothers, 1,700 men of ability, had the oversight of Israel westward of the Jordan for all the work of the LORD and for the service of the king. 31 Of the Hebronites, Jerijah was chief of the Hebronites of whatever genealogy or fathers' houses. (In the fortieth year of David's reign search was made and men of great ability among them were found at Jazer in Gilead.) 32 King David appointed him and his brothers, 2,700 men of ability, heads of fathers' houses, to have the oversight of the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of the Manassites for everything pertaining to God and for the affairs of the king.

Military Divisions

27:1 This is the number of the people of Israel, the heads of fathers' houses, the commanders of thousands and hundreds, and their officers who served the king in all matters concerning the divisions that came and went, month after month throughout the year, each division numbering 24,000:

Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel was in charge of the first division in the first month; in his division were 24,000. He was a descendant of Perez and was chief of all the commanders. He served for the first month. Dodai the Ahohite5 was in charge of the division of the second month; in his division were 24,000. The third commander, for the third month, was Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada the chief priest; in his division were 24,000. This is the Benaiah who was a mighty man of the thirty and in command of the thirty; Ammizabad his son was in charge of his division.6 Asahel the brother of Joab was fourth, for the fourth month, and his son Zebadiah after him; in his division were 24,000. The fifth commander, for the fifth month, was Shamhuth the Izrahite; in his division were 24,000. Sixth, for the sixth month, was Ira, the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite; in his division were 24,000. 10 Seventh, for the seventh month, was Helez the Pelonite, of the sons of Ephraim; in his division were 24,000. 11 Eighth, for the eighth month, was Sibbecai the Hushathite, of the Zerahites; in his division were 24,000. 12 Ninth, for the ninth month, was Abiezer of Anathoth, a Benjaminite; in his division were 24,000. 13 Tenth, for the tenth month, was Maharai of Netophah, of the Zerahites; in his division were 24,000. 14 Eleventh, for the eleventh month, was Benaiah of Pirathon, of the sons of Ephraim; in his division were 24,000. 15 Twelfth, for the twelfth month, was Heldai the Netophathite, of Othniel; in his division were 24,000.

Leaders of Tribes

16 Over the tribes of Israel, for the Reubenites, Eliezer the son of Zichri was chief officer; for the Simeonites, Shephatiah the son of Maacah; 17 for Levi, Hashabiah the son of Kemuel; for Aaron, Zadok; 18 for Judah, Elihu, one of David's brothers; for Issachar, Omri the son of Michael; 19 for Zebulun, Ishmaiah the son of Obadiah; for Naphtali, Jeremoth the son of Azriel; 20 for the Ephraimites, Hoshea the son of Azaziah; for the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joel the son of Pedaiah; 21 for the half-tribe of Manasseh in Gilead, Iddo the son of Zechariah; for Benjamin, Jaasiel the son of Abner; 22 for Dan, Azarel the son of Jeroham. These were the leaders of the tribes of Israel. 23 David did not count those below twenty years of age, for the LORD had promised to make Israel as many as the stars of heaven. 24 Joab the son of Zeruiah began to count, but did not finish. Yet wrath came upon Israel for this, and the number was not entered in the chronicles of King David.

25 Over the king's treasuries was Azmaveth the son of Adiel; and over the treasuries in the country, in the cities, in the villages, and in the towers, was Jonathan the son of Uzziah; 26 and over those who did the work of the field for tilling the soil was Ezri the son of Chelub; 27 and over the vineyards was Shimei the Ramathite; and over the produce of the vineyards for the wine cellars was Zabdi the Shiphmite. 28 Over the olive and sycamore trees in the Shephelah was Baal-hanan the Gederite; and over the stores of oil was Joash. 29 Over the herds that pastured in Sharon was Shitrai the Sharonite; over the herds in the valleys was Shaphat the son of Adlai. 30 Over the camels was Obil the Ishmaelite; and over the donkeys was Jehdeiah the Meronothite. Over the flocks was Jaziz the Hagrite. 31 All these were stewards of King David's property.

32 Jonathan, David's uncle, was a counselor, being a man of understanding and a scribe. He and Jehiel the son of Hachmoni attended the king's sons. 33 Ahithophel was the king's counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king's friend. 34 Ahithophel was succeeded by Jehoiada the son of Benaiah, and Abiathar. Joab was commander of the king's army.

Footnotes

[1] 26:17 Septuagint; Hebrew six Levites
[2] 26:18 Or court; Hebrew parbar (meaning unknown); twice in this verse
[3] 26:21 The Hebrew of verse 21 is uncertain
[4] 26:28 Hebrew Shelomith
[5] 27:4 Septuagint; Hebrew Ahohite and his division and Mikloth the chief officer
[6] 27:6 Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew was his division

(ESV)

2 Peter 1

Greeting

1:1 Simeon1 Peter, a servant2 and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirm Your Calling and Election

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to3 his own glory and excellence,4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,5 and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities6 are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers,7 be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body,8 to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Christ's Glory and the Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,9 with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Footnotes

[1] 1:1 Some manuscripts Simon
[2] 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface
[3] 1:3 Or by
[4] 1:3 Or virtue
[5] 1:5 Or excellence; twice in this verse
[6] 1:8 Greek these things; also verses 9, 10, 12
[7] 1:10 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
[8] 1:13 Greek tent; also verse 14
[9] 1:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

(ESV)

Micah 4

The Mountain of the Lord

4:1   It shall come to pass in the latter days
    that the mountain of the house of the LORD
  shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
    and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
  and peoples shall flow to it,
    and many nations shall come, and say:
  “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
  that he may teach us his ways
    and that we may walk in his paths.”
  For out of Zion shall go forth the law,1
    and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
  He shall judge between many peoples,
    and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away;
  and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
  nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war anymore;
  but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
    and no one shall make them afraid,
    for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
  For all the peoples walk
    each in the name of its god,
  but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
    forever and ever.

The Lord Shall Rescue Zion

  In that day, declares the LORD,
    I will assemble the lame
  and gather those who have been driven away
    and those whom I have afflicted;
  and the lame I will make the remnant,
    and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
  and the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion
    from this time forth and forevermore.
  And you, O tower of the flock,
    hill of the daughter of Zion,
  to you shall it come,
    the former dominion shall come,
    kingship for the daughter of Jerusalem.
  Now why do you cry aloud?
    Is there no king in you?
  Has your counselor perished,
    that pain seized you like a woman in labor?
10   Writhe and groan,2 O daughter of Zion,
    like a woman in labor,
  for now you shall go out from the city
    and dwell in the open country;
    you shall go to Babylon.
  There you shall be rescued;
    there the LORD will redeem you
    from the hand of your enemies.
11   Now many nations
    are assembled against you,
  saying, “Let her be defiled,
    and let our eyes gaze upon Zion.”
12   But they do not know
    the thoughts of the LORD;
  they do not understand his plan,
    that he has gathered them as sheaves to the threshing floor.
13   Arise and thresh,
    O daughter of Zion,
  for I will make your horn iron,
    and I will make your hoofs bronze;
  you shall beat in pieces many peoples;
    and shall devote3 their gain to the LORD,
    their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.

Footnotes

[1] 4:2 Or teaching
[2] 4:10 Or push
[3] 4:13 Hebrew devote to destruction

(ESV)

Luke 13

Repent or Perish

13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

A Woman with a Disabling Spirit

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

The Mustard Seed and the Leaven

18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened.”

The Narrow Door

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Lament over Jerusalem

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

(ESV)