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Ezekiel 29-30

29 In the 10th year, on the 12th day of the 10th month, the word of the Eternal came to me with a message about Egypt.

Eternal One: Son of man, face Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and preach against him and against all of Egypt! Tell him this is what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say:

Look, I am against you,
Pharaoh king of Egypt.
You are like a great river monster,
snaking through the streams in the Nile,
declaring, “I own the Nile. I made it, and it is mine.”
But I will set a hook in your jaws
and make the fish of the Nile cling to your scales.
I will haul you in out of your waterways,
with all the fish clinging to your scales.
Then I will take you and leave you out in the desert,
you and all the fish of your waters.
You’ll collapse in the wide open space,
but no one will bother to collect your remains
Or bury you with your ancestors.
You’ll be food for wild beasts of the earth and birds in the sky.
Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Eternal One.
You have been nothing more than a staff made of wobbly reeds to the people of Israel.
When they took hold of you, looking for support,
you splintered and tore their hands.
When they leaned on you, you snapped in two,
and they wrenched their backs because of you.

So this is what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say: “Look, I will march an army against you! It’s coming to slaughter your people and your animals. I am going to make the land of Egypt a lonely wasteland; then they will know that I am the Eternal One.”

Because of your arrogant utterance, “I own the Nile. I made it, and it is mine,10 I oppose you and your streams. I will turn the land of Egypt into a lonely wasteland from Migdol to Aswan, all the way to Ethiopia. 11-12 No people or animals will pass through there. Not a single person will live there for 40 years. I will turn the land of Egypt into a wasteland, a tragedy among tragedies, the most devastating of devastations! Any cities still standing after the war will lie in ruins for 40 years. I will scatter the Egyptians to the wind and divide them among the nations.

13 After 40 years have passed, I am going to gather the Egyptians from the nations where I scattered them. 14 I will restore their fortunes and lead them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their ancestors. There, Egypt will begin again, but this time as an insignificant kingdom.

According to Egyptian legends, their people originate in southern Egypt near Pathros. Ezekiel is apparently aware of these stories and indicates God will give Egypt a new start.

15 She will be the weakest of any kingdom, never gaining power and never again ruling over other nations. 16 The people of Israel will never again turn to Egypt in a time of crisis because Egypt’s fate will be a reminder of her sins—when Israel chose to trust a pagan nation instead of Me. Then My people will know that I am the Eternal Lord.

The prophet directs his oracle against Pharaoh, but in reality the pharaoh represents all of the people. Pharaoh’s audacious claim that he created the Nile stands in clear contradiction to the fact that Israel’s God created the heavens and the earth. So God becomes his enemy, fishes the great river monster out of the river—the lifeline of Egypt—and leaves his body as food for the animals and birds of the desert. The “monster” could refer either to the Nile crocodile—a symbol of the Pharaoh’s power—or the mythical creature of chaos who opposes God but is ultimately defeated by Him. The other fishes clinging to his scales appear to represent all those who depend on Pharaoh, including the Egyptian people and those foolish enough to align with them.

17 In the 27th year, on the 1st day of the 1st month, the word of the Eternal came to me.

Eternal One: 18 Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, has exhausted his army with the long siege of Tyre. His soldiers’ bodies are spent, their heads bald and shoulders rubbed raw, yet they have made little progress. The king and his army have not been rewarded for all of their hard work against Tyre.

19 Therefore, the Eternal Lord says:

Eternal One: Look, I am going to hand the land of Egypt over to Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. He will take away her wealth—her goods and her population—by force and pay his army with the treasures he acquires there. 20 I have given him Egypt’s land as his reward to compensate him for all the work he has done for Me.

21 When that day comes, I will make a horn grow for the people of Israel so that they will be confident that My deliverance is near. Then I will open your mouth so that they will realize you have been speaking for Me all along. Then they will know that I am the Eternal One.

30 The word of the Eternal came to me with a lament for Egypt.

Eternal One: Son of man, speak! Tell them this is what the Eternal Lord has to say:

Weep and wail,
for today is the day you’ve dreaded;
The day of God’s judgment is near;
the day of the Eternal is closing in!
It is a day of dark clouds and gloom
that foreshadows the doom of the nations.
A sword will come against Egypt,
agony will invade Ethiopia,
When the dead cover the land of Egypt,
when her wealth is taken away and her foundations are leveled.

Every nation in league with her will be destroyed in the war: Ethiopia, Put, Lud, all of Arabia, and Libya.

Egypt’s friends will crumble
along with her arrogance, her proud strength.
From Migdol to Aswan,
they will fall by the sword.

Egypt will be laid waste, a tragedy among tragedies, the most devastating of devastations! Her cities will lie in ruins, surrounded by the empty desolation of other ruined cities. Then they will all know that I am the Eternal One after I burn down Egypt and demolish her allies. On that day of destruction, I will dispatch messengers in ships to wake up the sleeping nation of Ethiopia. They will drown in agony when they hear the news of Egypt’s doom! They will know, “We’re next! Judgment is on the horizon!”

10-11 This is what the Eternal Lord has to say:

Eternal One: I will put an end to the wealth and population of Egypt
using the power of Nebuchadnezzar as My weapon.
I will dispatch the king of Babylon and his armies—
the most ruthless in the world—
to ravage the land!
They will unsheathe their swords against Egypt
and fill the land with the slain.
12  I will dry up the waterways of the Nile
and sell the land to those who have evil designs.
I, the Eternal, promise to recruit foreigners
to destroy the land and plunder away everything of value.

13  I, the Eternal Lord, have this to say:
I will demolish the breathless idols
and destroy the vulgar images in Memphis.
There won’t be a prince left in all the land of Egypt anymore;
I will infect the entire nation with a plague of fear!
14  I will crush Pathros in the south, set fire to Zoan in the delta,
and deliver a horrific punishment to Thebes and all its temples.
15  I will drown Sin—the great fortress of Egypt—in My wrath
and put an end to the wealth and population of Thebes.
16  I will set fire to all of Egypt!
Sin will writhe in pain.
Thebes will be torn apart;
day after day Memphis will live in fear.
17  The young soldiers of Heliopolis and Pi-beseth will die in the battle;
the women will go into captivity.

In the ancient world, conquered peoples become the victors’ property. While the men are often killed, the women are taken away and used as slaves for various purposes.

18  An unnatural darkness will cover Tehaphnehes
when I destroy the dominion of Egypt.
I will put an end to her arrogance, her proud strength!
Dark clouds will veil her,
and her daughters will be led away as slaves.
19  This is how I will deliver My punishing judgments against Egypt;
then they will know that I am the Eternal One.

20 During the eleventh year, on the seventh day of the first month, the word of the Eternal came to me with a message about Egypt:

Eternal One: 21 Son of man, I’ve broken the arm of the Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Look! The bone has not yet been set, and his arm has not been splinted in order to promote healing. Therefore, he won’t be able to handle a sword to defend the nation’s power. 22 So this is what I, the Eternal Lord, have to say: Look! I oppose Pharaoh, king of Egypt. I will break both arms—the strong one and the already-broken one. I’ll make sure he’ll not be able to handle a sword! 23 I will scatter the Egyptians to the wind—dividing them among the nations. 24-25 Meanwhile I will strengthen the arms of Babylon’s king, and I will place My sword in his hand. But I will break Pharaoh’s arms, and the king of Egypt will groan with the pain of his injury before Nebuchadnezzar. So I will make the arms of Babylon’s king strong, even as the arms of Pharaoh grow weak and fall limp at his side. Then Egypt will know that I am the Eternal One—when I place My sword in the hands of the Babylonian king and he wields it against the land of Egypt. 26 When I scatter the Egyptians to the wind and divide them among the nations, they will know that I am the Eternal One.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Hebrews 11:32-12:13

32 I could speak more of faith; I could talk until time itself ran out. If I continued, I could speak of the examples of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and all the prophets. 33 I could give accounts of people alive with faith who conquered kingdoms, brought justice, obtained promises, and closed the mouths of hungry lions. 34 I could tell you how people of faith doused raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, made the weak strong, and—stoking great valor among the champions of God—sent opposing armies into panicked flight.

35 I could speak of faith bringing women their loved ones back from death and how the faithful accepted torture instead of earthly deliverance because they believed they would obtain a better life in the resurrection. 36 Others suffered mockery and whippings; they were placed in chains and in prisons. 37 The faithful were stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword, clothed only in sheepskins and goatskins; they were penniless, afflicted, and tormented. 38 The world was not worthy of these saints. They wandered across deserts, crossed mountains, and lived in the caves, cracks, and crevasses of the earth.

Stories of faith and faithfulness are central to the First Testament. The writer of Hebrews recalls some of the most memorable examples of how people of faith lived their lives. But what is faith? Faith is more than belief; it is trust, assurance, and firm conviction. Ironically most of those who lived by faith never fully realized the promises God had made. Like us they journeyed as strangers and exiles, longing for another country. We should remember their patient faith when we face prolonged hardships and allow the trials we face to strengthen our faith rather than destroy it. If we are comfortable here and don’t face suffering for our faith, perhaps we aren’t fully living by faith and looking forward to a future hope.

39 These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. 40 That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed.

12 So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.

We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.

Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.

Consider the life of the One who endured such personal attacks and hostility from sinners so that you will not grow weary or lose heart. Among you, in your striving against sin, none has resisted the pressure to the point of death, as He did.

God “disciplines” His “disciples.” God is training us not just to live here and now, but to have life in the age to come, to share His life and holiness.

Indeed, you seem to have forgotten the proverb directed to you as children:

My child, do not ignore the instruction that comes from the Lord,
or lose heart when He steps in to correct you;
For the Lord disciplines those He loves,
and He corrects each one He takes as His own.

Endure hardship as God’s discipline and rejoice that He is treating you as His children, for what child doesn’t experience discipline from a parent? But if you are not experiencing the correction that all true children receive, then it may be that you are not His children after all. Remember, when our human parents disciplined us, we respected them. If that was true, shouldn’t we respect and live under the correction of the Father of all spirits even more? 10 Our parents corrected us for a time as seemed good to them, but God only corrects us to our good so that we may share in His holiness.

11 When punishment is happening, it never seems pleasant, only painful. Later, though, it yields the peaceful fruit called righteousness to everyone who has been trained by it. 12 So lift up your hands that are dangling and brace your weakened knees. 13 Make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame in you won’t be put out of joint, but will heal.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Psalm 112

Psalm 112

Praise the Eternal!
How blessed are those who revere the Eternal,
who turn from evil and take great pleasure in His commandments.
Their children will be a powerful force upon the earth;
this generation that does what is right in God’s eyes will be blessed.
His house will be stocked with wealth and riches,
and His love for justice will endure for all time.
When life is dark, a light will shine for those who live rightly—
those who are merciful, compassionate, and strive for justice.
Good comes to all who are gracious and share freely;
they conduct their affairs with sound judgment.
Nothing will ever rattle them;
the just will always be remembered.
They will not be afraid when the news is bad
because they have resolved to trust in the Eternal.
Their hearts are confident, and they are fearless,
for they expect to see their enemies defeated.
They give freely to the poor;
their righteousness endures for all time;
their strength and power is established in honor.
10 The wicked will be infuriated when they see the good man honored!
They will clench their teeth and dissolve to nothing;
and when they go, their wicked desires will follow.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Proverbs 27:17

17 In the same way that iron sharpens iron,
a person sharpens the character of his friend.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

 

 

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