Today our passages are Numbers 33:40–35:34; Luke 5:12-28; Psalm 65:1-13; and Proverbs 11:23. 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.
Numbers 33:40-35:34 (The Message)
40 The Canaanite king of Arad—he ruled in the Negev of Canaan—heard that the People of Israel had arrived.
41-47 They left Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah;
left Zalmonah and camped at Punon;
left Punon and camped at Oboth;
left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim on the border of Moab;
left Iyim and camped at Dibon Gad;
left Dibon Gad and camped at Almon Diblathaim;
left Almon Diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim (Across-the-River), within sight of Nebo.
48-49 After they left the mountains of Abarim they camped on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho. On the Plains of Moab their camp stretched along the banks of the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim (Acacia Meadow).
50-53 God spoke to Moses on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho: "Tell the People of Israel, When you cross the Jordan into the country of Canaan, drive out the native population before you, destroy their carved idols, destroy their cast images, level their worship-mounds so that you take over the land and make yourself at home in it; I've given it to you. It's yours.
54 "Divide up the land by lot according to the size of your clans: Large clans will get large tracts of land, small clans will get smaller tracts of land. However the lot falls, that's it. Divide it up according to your ancestral tribes.
55-56 "But if you don't drive out the native population, everyone you let stay there will become a cinder in your eye and a splinter in your foot. They'll give you endless trouble right in your own backyards. And I'll start treating you the way I planned to treat them."
Land Inheritance1-2 God spoke to Moses: "Command the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter Canaan, these are the borders of the land you are getting as an inheritance: 3-5 "Your southern border will take in some of the Wilderness of Zin where it touches Edom. It starts in the east at the Dead Sea, curves south of Scorpion Pass and on to Zin, continues south of Kadesh Barnea, then to Hazar Addar and on to Azmon, where it takes a turn to the northwest to the Brook of Egypt and on to the Mediterranean Sea.
6 "Your western border will be the Mediterranean Sea.
7-9 "Your northern border runs on a line from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Hor, and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath, connects to Zedad, continues to Ziphron, and ends at Hazar Enan. This is your northern border.
10-12 "Your eastern border runs on a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. The border goes south from Shepham to Riblah to the east of Ain, and continues along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee. The border then follows the Jordan River and ends at the Dead Sea.
"This is your land with its four borders."
13-15 Moses then commanded the People of Israel: "This is the land: Divide up the inheritance by lot. God has ordered it to be given to the nine and a half tribes. The tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have already received their inheritance; the two tribes and the half-tribe got their inheritance east of Jordan-Jericho, facing the sunrise."
16-19 God spoke to Moses: "These are the men who will be in charge of distributing the inheritance of the land: Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun. Assign one leader from each tribe to help them in distributing the land. Assign these:
19-28 Caleb son of Jephunneh from the tribe of Judah;
Shemuel son of Ammihud from the tribe of Simeon;
Elidad son of Kislon from the tribe of Benjamin;
Bukki son of Jogli, leader from the tribe of Dan;
Hanniel son of Ephod, leader from the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph;
Kemuel son of Shiphtan, leader from the tribe of Ephraim son of Joseph;
Elizaphan son of Parnach, leader from the tribe of Zebulun;
Paltiel son of Azzan, leader from the tribe of Issachar;
Ahihud son of Shelomi, leader from the tribe of Asher;
Pedahel son of Ammihud, leader from the tribe of Naphtali."
29 These are the men God commanded to hand out the assignments of land-inheritance to the People of Israel in the country of Canaan.
Cities for Levites and Asylum-Cities1-3 Then God spoke to Moses on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho: "Command the People of Israel to give the Levites as their part of the total inheritance towns to live in. Make sure there is plenty of pasture around the towns. Then they will be well taken care of with towns to live in and pastures for their cattle, flocks, and other livestock. 4-5 "The pasture surrounding the Levites' towns is to extend 1,500 feet in each direction from the city wall. The outside borders of the pasture are to measure three thousand feet on each of the four sides—east, south, west, and north—with the town at the center. Each city will be supplied with pasture.
6-8 "Six of these towns that you give the Levites will be asylum-cities to which anyone who accidentally kills another person may flee for asylum. In addition, you will give them forty-two other towns—forty-eight towns in all, together with their pastures. The towns that you give the Levites from the common inheritance of the People of Israel are to be taken in proportion to the size of each tribe—many towns from a tribe that has many, few from a tribe that has few."
9-15 God spoke to Moses: "Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you cross the River Jordan into the country of Canaan, designate your asylum-cities, towns to which a person who accidentally kills someone can flee for asylum. They will be places of refuge from the avenger so that the alleged murderer won't be killed until he can appear before the community in court. Provide six asylum-cities. Designate three of the towns to the east side of the Jordan, the other three in Canaan proper—asylum-cities for the People of Israel, for the foreigner, and for any occasional visitors or guests—six asylum-cities to run to for anyone who accidentally kills another.
16 "But if the killer has used an iron object, that's just plain murder; he's obviously a murderer and must be put to death.
17 "Or if he has a rock in his hand big enough to kill and the man dies, that's murder; he's a murderer and must be put to death.
18 "Or if he's carrying a wooden club heavy enough to kill and the man dies, that's murder; he's a murderer and must be put to death.
19 "In such cases the avenger has a right to kill the murderer when he meets him—he can kill him on the spot.
20-21 "And if out of sheer hatred a man pushes another or from ambush throws something at him and he dies, or angrily hits him with his fist and kills him, that's murder—he must be put to death. The avenger has a right to kill him when he gets him.
22-27 "If, however, he impulsively pushes someone and there is no history of hard feelings, or he impetuously picks up something and throws it, or he accidentally drops a stone tool—a maul or hammer, say—and it hits and kills someone he didn't even know was there, and there's no suspicion that there was bad blood between them, the community is to judge between the killer and the avenger following these guidelines. It's the task of the community to save the killer from the hand of the avenger—the community is to return him to his asylum-city to which he fled. He must stay there until the death of the High Priest who was anointed with the holy oil. But if the murderer leaves the asylum-city to which he has fled, and the avenger finds him outside the borders of his asylum-city, the avenger has a right to kill the murderer. And he's not considered guilty of murder.
28 "So it's important that he stay in his asylum-city until the death of the High Priest. After the death of the High Priest he is free to return to his own place.
29 "These are the procedures for making judgments from now on, wherever you live.
30 "Anyone who kills another may be executed only on the testimony of eyewitnesses. But no one can be executed on the testimony of only one witness.
31 "Don't accept bribe money in exchange for the life of a murderer. He's guilty and deserves the death penalty. Put him to death.
32 "And don't accept bribe money for anyone who has fled to an asylum-city so as to permit him to go back and live in his own place before the death of the High Priest.
33 "Don't pollute the land in which you live. Murder pollutes the land. The land can't be cleaned up of the blood of murder except through the blood of the murderer.
34 "Don't desecrate the land in which you live. I live here, too—I, God, live in the same neighborhood with the People of Israel."
Luke 5:12-28 (The Message)
Invitation to a Changed Life
12One day in one of the villages there was a man covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus he fell down before him in prayer and said, "If you want to, you can cleanse me."
13Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there his skin was smooth, the leprosy gone.
14-16Jesus instructed him, "Don't talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done." But the man couldn't keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.
17One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and religion teachers were sitting around. They had come from nearly every village in Galilee and Judea, even as far away as Jerusalem, to be there. The healing power of God was on him.
18-20Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn't find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, "Friend, I forgive your sins."
21That set the religion scholars and Pharisees buzzing. "Who does he think he is? That's blasphemous talk! God and only God can forgive sins."
22-26Jesus knew exactly what they were thinking and said, "Why all this gossipy whispering? Which is simpler: to say 'I forgive your sins,' or to say 'Get up and start walking'? Well, just so it's clear that I'm the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . ." He now spoke directly to the paraplegic: "Get up. Take your bedroll and go home." Without a moment's hesitation, he did it—got up, took his blanket, and left for home, giving glory to God all the way. The people rubbed their eyes, incredulous—and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, "We've never seen anything like that!"
27-28After this he went out and saw a man named Levi at his work collecting taxes. Jesus said, "Come along with me." And he did—walked away from everything and went with him.
Psalm 65:1-13 (The Message)
A David Psalm1-2 Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God,
And also obedience.
You hear the prayer in it all.
2-8 We all arrive at your doorstep sooner
or later, loaded with guilt,
Our sins too much for us—
but you get rid of them once and for all.
Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest
at home in your place!
We expect our fill of good things
in your house, your heavenly manse.
All your salvation wonders
are on display in your trophy room.
Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash,
of mobs in noisy riot—
Far and wide they'll come to a stop,
they'll stare in awe, in wonder.
Dawn and dusk take turns
calling, "Come and worship."
9-13 Oh, visit the earth,
ask her to join the dance!
Deck her out in spring showers,
fill the God-River with living water.
Paint the wheat fields golden.
Creation was made for this!
Drench the plowed fields,
soak the dirt clods
With rainfall as harrow and rake
bring her to blossom and fruit.
Snow-crown the peaks with splendor,
scatter rose petals down your paths,
All through the wild meadows, rose petals.
Set the hills to dancing,
Dress the canyon walls with live sheep,
a drape of flax across the valleys.
Let them shout, and shout, and shout!
Oh, oh, let them sing!
Proverbs 11:23 (The Message)
23 The desires of good people lead straight to the best,
but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.
Verse of the Day
“[The Fight against Evil]Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil's tricks.” - Ephesians 6:10-11
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
American politician who served as the 38th Vice President of the United States under President Lyndon B. Johnson, from 1965 to 1969, Hubert H. Humphrey wrote, “The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.”