Today our passages are Exodus 10:1–12:13; Matthew 20:1-28; Psalm 25:1-15; and Proverbs 6:6-11. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Exodus 10-12:13 (The Message)
Strike Eight: Locusts1-2 God said to Moses: "Go to Pharaoh. I've made him stubborn, him and his servants, so that I can force him to look at these signs and so you'll be able to tell your children and grandchildren how I toyed with the Egyptians, like a cat with a mouse; you'll tell them the stories of the signs that I brought down on them, so that you'll all know that I am God." 3-6 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, "God, the God of the Hebrews, says, 'How long are you going to refuse to knuckle under? Release my people so that they can worship me. If you refuse to release my people, watch out; tomorrow I'm bringing locusts into your country. They'll cover every square inch of ground; no one will be able to see the ground. They'll devour everything left over from the hailstorm, even the saplings out in the fields—they'll clear-cut the trees. And they'll invade your houses, filling the houses of your servants, filling every house in Egypt. Nobody will have ever seen anything like this, from the time your ancestors first set foot on this soil until today.'"
Then he turned on his heel and left Pharaoh.
7 Pharaoh's servants said to him, "How long are you going to let this man harass us? Let these people go and worship their God. Can't you see that Egypt is on its last legs?"
8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. He said to them, "Go ahead then. Go worship your God. But just who exactly is going with you?"
9 Moses said, "We're taking young and old, sons and daughters, flocks and herds—this is our worship-celebration of God."
10-11 He said, "I'd sooner send you off with God's blessings than let you go with your children. Look, you're up to no good—it's written all over your faces. Nothing doing. Just the men are going—go ahead and worship God. That's what you want so badly." And they were thrown out of Pharaoh's presence.
12 God said to Moses: "Stretch your hand over Egypt and signal the locusts to cover the land of Egypt, devouring every blade of grass in the country, everything that the hail didn't get."
13 Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt. God let loose an east wind. It blew that day and night. By morning the east wind had brought in the locusts.
14-15 The locusts covered the country of Egypt, settling over every square inch of Egypt; the place was thick with locusts. There never was an invasion of locusts like it in the past, and never will be again. The ground was completely covered, black with locusts. They ate everything, every blade of grass, every piece of fruit, anything that the hail didn't get. Nothing left but bare trees and bare fields—not a sign of green in the whole land of Egypt.
16-17 Pharaoh had Moses and Aaron back in no time. He said, "I've sinned against your God and against you. Overlook my sin one more time. Pray to your God to get me out of this—get death out of here!"
18-19 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to God. God reversed the wind—a powerful west wind took the locusts and dumped them into the Red Sea. There wasn't a single locust left in the whole country of Egypt.
20 But God made Pharaoh stubborn as ever. He still didn't release the Israelites.
Strike Nine: Darkness21 God said to Moses: "Stretch your hand to the skies. Let darkness descend on the land of Egypt—a darkness so dark you can touch it." 22-23 Moses stretched out his hand to the skies. Thick darkness descended on the land of Egypt for three days. Nobody could see anybody. For three days no one could so much as move. Except for the Israelites: they had light where they were living.
24 Pharaoh called in Moses: "Go and worship God. Leave your flocks and herds behind. But go ahead and take your children."
25-26 But Moses said, "You have to let us take our sacrificial animals and offerings with us so we can sacrifice them in worship to our God. Our livestock has to go with us with not a hoof left behind; they are part of the worship of our God. And we don't know just what will be needed until we get there."
27 But God kept Pharaoh stubborn as ever. He wouldn't agree to release them.
28 Pharaoh said to Moses: "Get out of my sight! And watch your step. I don't want to ever see you again. If I lay eyes on you again, you're dead."
29 Moses said, "Have it your way. You won't see my face again."
Strike Ten: Death1God said to Moses: "I'm going to hit Pharaoh and Egypt one final time, and then he'll let you go. When he releases you, that will be the end of Egypt for you; he won't be able to get rid of you fast enough. 2-3 "So here's what you do. Tell the people to ask, each man from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor, for things made of silver and gold." God saw to it that the Egyptians liked the people. Also, Moses was greatly admired by the Egyptians, a respected public figure among both Pharaoh's servants and the people at large.
4-7 Then Moses confronted Pharaoh: "God's Message: 'At midnight I will go through Egypt and every firstborn child in Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl working at her hand mill. Also the firstborn of animals. Widespread wailing will erupt all over the country, lament such as has never been and never will be again. But against the Israelites—man, woman, or animal—there won't be so much as a dog's bark, so that you'll know that God makes a clear distinction between Egypt and Israel.'
8 "Then all these servants of yours will go to their knees, begging me to leave, 'Leave! You and all the people who follow you!' And I will most certainly leave."
Moses, seething with anger, left Pharaoh.
9 God said to Moses, "Pharaoh's not going to listen to a thing you say so that the signs of my presence and work are going to multiply in the land of Egypt."
10 Moses and Aaron had performed all these signs in Pharaoh's presence, but God turned Pharaoh more stubborn than ever—yet again he refused to release the Israelites from his land.
Exodus 121-10 God said to Moses and Aaron while still in Egypt, "This month is to be the first month of the year for you. Address the whole community of Israel; tell them that on the tenth of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one lamb to a house. If the family is too small for a lamb, then share it with a close neighbor, depending on the number of persons involved. Be mindful of how much each person will eat. Your lamb must be a healthy male, one year old; you can select it from either the sheep or the goats. Keep it penned until the fourteenth day of this month and then slaughter it—the entire community of Israel will do this—at dusk. Then take some of the blood and smear it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which you will eat it. You are to eat the meat, roasted in the fire, that night, along with bread, made without yeast, and bitter herbs. Don't eat any of it raw or boiled in water; make sure it's roasted—the whole animal, head, legs, and innards. Don't leave any of it until morning; if there are leftovers, burn them in the fire. 11 "And here is how you are to eat it: Be fully dressed with your sandals on and your stick in your hand. Eat in a hurry; it's the Passover to God.
12-13 "I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.
Matthew 20:1-28 (The Message)
A Story About Workers
1-2 "God's kingdom is like an estate manager who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. They agreed on a wage of a dollar a day, and went to work. 3-5"Later, about nine o'clock, the manager saw some other men hanging around the town square unemployed. He told them to go to work in his vineyard and he would pay them a fair wage. They went.
5-6"He did the same thing at noon, and again at three o'clock. At five o'clock he went back and found still others standing around. He said, 'Why are you standing around all day doing nothing?'
7"They said, 'Because no one hired us.'
"He told them to go to work in his vineyard.
8"When the day's work was over, the owner of the vineyard instructed his foreman, 'Call the workers in and pay them their wages. Start with the last hired and go on to the first.'
9-12"Those hired at five o'clock came up and were each given a dollar. When those who were hired first saw that, they assumed they would get far more. But they got the same, each of them one dollar. Taking the dollar, they groused angrily to the manager, 'These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us, who slaved all day under a scorching sun.'
13-15"He replied to the one speaking for the rest, 'Friend, I haven't been unfair. We agreed on the wage of a dollar, didn't we? So take it and go. I decided to give to the one who came last the same as you. Can't I do what I want with my own money? Are you going to get stingy because I am generous?'
16"Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first."
To Drink from the Cup
17-19Jesus, now well on the way up to Jerusalem, took the Twelve off to the side of the road and said, "Listen to me carefully. We are on our way up to Jerusalem. When we get there, the Son of Man will be betrayed to the religious leaders and scholars. They will sentence him to death. They will then hand him over to the Romans for mockery and torture and crucifixion. On the third day he will be raised up alive."
20It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
21"What do you want?" Jesus asked.
She said, "Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand."
22Jesus responded, "You have no idea what you're asking." And he said to James and John, "Are you capable of drinking the cup that I'm about to drink?"
They said, "Sure, why not?"
23Jesus said, "Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that's not my business. My Father is taking care of that."
24-28When the ten others heard about this, they lost their tempers, thoroughly disgusted with the two brothers. So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, "You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage."
Psalm 25:1-15 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-2 My head is high, God, held high; I'm looking to you, God;
No hangdog skulking for me.
3 I've thrown in my lot with you;
You won't embarrass me, will you?
Or let my enemies get the best of me? Don't embarrass any of us
Who went out on a limb for you.
It's the traitors who should be humiliated.
4 Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.
5 Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren't you?
6 Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!
7 Forget that I sowed wild oats;
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, God!
8 God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.
9 He gives the rejects his hand,
And leads them step-by-step.
10 From now on every road you travel
Will take you to God.
Follow the Covenant signs;
Read the charted directions.
11 Keep up your reputation, God;
Forgive my bad life;
It's been a very bad life.
12 My question: What are God-worshipers like?
Your answer: Arrows aimed at God's bull's-eye.
13 They settle down in a promising place;
Their kids inherit a prosperous farm.
14 God-friendship is for God-worshipers;
They are the ones he confides in.
15 If I keep my eyes on God,
I won't trip over my own feet.
Proverbs 6:6-11 (The Message)
A Lesson from the Ant6-11 You lazy fool, look at an ant.
Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two.
Nobody has to tell it what to do.
All summer it stores up food;
at harvest it stockpiles provisions.
So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing?
How long before you get out of bed?
A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
poverty your permanent houseguest!
Verse of the Day
Thought for the Day
American statesman and political leader who served as the President of the United States from 1933 to 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote, “We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.”