Today our passages are Jeremiah 49:23–50:46; Titus 1:1-6; Psalm 97:1–98:9; and Proverbs 26:13-16. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you missed a day, you can find all the readings at our blog, The Bible in a Year. 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 by using the link below.
Jeremiah 49:23-50:46 (The Message)
The Blood Will Drain from the Face of Damascus23-27The Message on Damascus: "Hamath and Arpad will be in shock
when they hear the bad news.
Their hearts will melt in fear
as they pace back and forth in worry.
The blood will drain from the face of Damascus
as she turns to flee.
Hysterical, she'll fall to pieces,
disabled, like a woman in childbirth.
And now how lonely—bereft, abandoned!
The once famous city, the once happy city.
Her bright young men dead in the streets,
her brave warriors silent as death.
On that day"—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—
"I'll start a fire at the wall of Damascus
that will burn down all of Ben-hadad's forts."
Find a Safe Place to Hide28-33The Message on Kedar and the sheikdoms of Hazor who were attacked by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. This is God's Message: "On your feet! Attack Kedar!
Plunder the Bedouin nomads from the east.
Grab their blankets and pots and pans.
Steal their camels.
Traumatize them, shouting, 'Terror! Death! Doom!
Oh, run for your lives,
You nomads from Hazor." God's Decree.
"Find a safe place to hide.
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
has plans to wipe you out,
to go after you with a vengeance:
'After them,' he says. 'Go after these relaxed nomads
who live free and easy in the desert,
Who live in the open with no doors to lock,
who live off by themselves.'
Their camels are there for the taking,
their herds and flocks, easy picking.
I'll scatter them to the four winds,
these defenseless nomads on the fringes of the desert.
I'll bring terror from every direction.
They won't know what hit them." God's Decree.
"Jackals will take over the camps of Hazor,
camps abandoned to wind and sand.
No one will live there,
no mortal soul move in there."
The Winds Will Blow Away Elam34-39God's Message to the prophet Jeremiah on Elam at the outset of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah. This is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies says: "Watch this! I'll break Elam's bow,
her weapon of choice, across my knee.
Then I'll let four winds loose on Elam,
winds from the four corners of earth.
I'll blow them away in all directions,
landing homeless Elamites in every country on earth.
They'll live in constant fear and terror
among enemies who want to kill them.
I'll bring doom on them,
my anger-fueled doom.
I'll set murderous hounds on their heels
until there's nothing left of them.
And then I'll set up my throne in Elam,
having thrown out the king and his henchmen.
But the time will come when I make
everything right for Elam again." God's Decree.
Get Out of Babylon as Fast as You Can1-3 The Message of God through the prophet Jeremiah on Babylon, land of the Chaldeans: "Get the word out to the nations! Preach it!
Go public with this, broadcast it far and wide:
Babylon taken, god-Bel hanging his head in shame,
god-Marduk exposed as a fraud.
All her god-idols shuffling in shame,
all her play-gods exposed as cheap frauds.
For a nation will come out of the north to attack her,
reduce her cities to rubble.
Empty of life—no animals, no people—
not a sound, not a movement, not a breath.
4-5"In those days, at that time"—God's Decree—
"the people of Israel will come,
And the people of Judah with them.
Walking and weeping, they'll seek me, their God.
They'll ask directions to Zion
and set their faces toward Zion.
They'll come and hold tight to God,
bound in a covenant eternal they'll never forget.
6-7"My people were lost sheep.
Their shepherds led them astray.
They abandoned them in the mountains
where they wandered aimless through the hills.
They lost track of home,
couldn't remember where they came from.
Everyone who met them took advantage of them.
Their enemies had no qualms:
'Fair game,' they said. 'They walked out on God.
They abandoned the True Pasture, the hope of their parents.'
8-10"But now, get out of Babylon as fast as you can.
Be rid of that Babylonian country.
On your way. Good sheepdogs lead, but don't you be led.
Lead the way home!
Do you see what I'm doing?
I'm rallying a host of nations against Babylon.
They'll come out of the north,
attack and take her.
Oh, they know how to fight, these armies.
They never come home empty-handed.
Babylon is ripe for picking!
All her plunderers will fill their bellies!" God's Decree.
11-16"You Babylonians had a good time while it lasted, didn't you?
You lived it up, exploiting and using my people,
Frisky calves romping in lush pastures,
wild stallions out having a good time!
Well, your mother would hardly be proud of you.
The woman who bore you wouldn't be pleased.
Look at what's come of you! A nothing nation!
Rubble and garbage and weeds!
Emptied of life by my holy anger,
a desert of death and emptiness.
Travelers who pass by Babylon will gasp, appalled,
shaking their heads at such a comedown.
Gang up on Babylon! Pin her down!
Throw everything you have against her.
Hold nothing back. Knock her flat.
She's sinned—oh, how she's sinned, against me!
Shout battle cries from every direction.
All the fight has gone out of her.
Her defenses have been flattened,
her walls smashed.
'Operation God's Vengeance.'
Pile on the vengeance!
Do to her as she has done.
Give her a good dose of her own medicine!
Destroy her farms and farmers,
ravage her fields, empty her barns.
And you captives, while the destruction rages,
get out while the getting's good,
get out fast and run for home.
17"Israel is a scattered flock,
hunted down by lions.
The king of Assyria started the carnage.
The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar,
Has completed the job,
gnawing the bones clean."
18-20And now this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
the God of Israel, has to say:
"Just watch! I'm bringing doom on the king of Babylon and his land,
the same doom I brought on the king of Assyria.
But Israel I'll bring home to good pastures.
He'll graze on the hills of Carmel and Bashan,
On the slopes of Ephraim and Gilead.
He will eat to his heart's content.
In those days and at that time"—God's Decree—
"they'll look high and low for a sign of Israel's guilt—nothing;
Search nook and cranny for a trace of Judah's sin—nothing.
These people that I've saved will start out with a clean slate.
21"Attack Merathaim, land of rebels!
Go after Pekod, country of doom!
Hunt them down. Make a clean sweep." God's Decree.
"These are my orders. Do what I tell you.
22-24"The thunderclap of battle
shakes the foundations!
The Hammer has been hammered,
smashed and splintered,
I set out a trap and you were caught in it.
O Babylon, you never knew what hit you,
Caught and held in the steel grip of that trap!
That's what you get for taking on God.
25-28"I, God, opened my arsenal.
I brought out my weapons of wrath.
The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
has a job to do in Babylon.
Come at her from all sides!
Break into her granaries!
Shovel her into piles and burn her up.
Leave nothing! Leave no one!
Kill all her young turks.
Send them to their doom!
Doom to them! Yes, Doomsday!
The clock has finally run out on them.
And here's a surprise:
Runaways and escapees from Babylon
Show up in Zion reporting the news of God's vengeance,
taking vengeance for my own Temple.
29-30"Call in the troops against Babylon,
anyone who can shoot straight!
Tighten the noose!
Leave no loopholes!
Give her back as good as she gave,
a dose of her own medicine!
Her brazen insolence is an outrage
against God, The Holy of Israel.
And now she pays: her young strewn dead in the streets,
her soldiers dead, silent forever." God's Decree.
31-32"Do you get it, Mister Pride? I'm your enemy!"
Decree of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
"Time's run out on you:
That's right: It's Doomsday.
Mister Pride will fall flat on his face.
No one will offer him a hand.
I'll set his towns on fire.
The fire will spread wild through the country."
33-34And here's more from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
"The people of Israel are beaten down,
the people of Judah along with them.
Their oppressors have them in a grip of steel.
They won't let go.
But the Rescuer is strong:
Yes, I will take their side,
I'll come to their rescue.
I'll soothe their land,
but rough up the people of Babylon.
35-40"It's all-out war in Babylon"—God's Decree—
"total war against people, leaders, and the wise!
War to the death on her boasting pretenders, fools one and all!
War to the death on her soldiers, cowards to a man!
War to the death on her hired killers, gutless wonders!
War to the death on her banks—looted!
War to the death on her water supply—drained dry!
A land of make-believe gods gone crazy—hobgoblins!
The place will be haunted with jackals and scorpions,
night-owls and vampire bats.
No one will ever live there again.
The land will reek with the stench of death.
It will join Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,
the cities I did away with." God's Decree.
"No one will live there again.
No one will again draw breath in that land, ever.
41-43"And now, watch this! People pouring
out of the north, hordes of people,
A mob of kings stirred up
from far-off places.
Flourishing deadly weapons,
barbarians they are, cruel and pitiless.
Roaring and relentless, like ocean breakers,
they come riding fierce stallions,
In battle formation, ready to fight
you, Daughter Babylon!
Babylon's king hears them coming.
He goes white as a ghost, limp as a dishrag.
Terror-stricken, he doubles up in pain, helpless to fight,
like a woman giving birth to a baby.
44"And now watch this: Like a lion coming up
from the thick jungle of the Jordan,
Looking for prey in the mountain pastures,
I'll take over and pounce.
I'll take my pick of the flock—and who's to stop me?
All the so-called shepherds are helpless before me."
45-46So, listen to this plan that God has worked out against Babylon, the blueprint of what he's prepared for dealing with Chaldea:
Believe it or not, the young,
the vulnerable—mere lambs and kids—will be dragged off.
Believe it or not, the flock
in shock, helpless to help, watches it happen.
When the shout goes up, "Babylon's down!"
the very earth will shudder at the sound.
The news will be heard all over the world.
Titus 1:1-6 (The Message)
Titus 11-4I, Paul, am God's slave and Christ's agent for promoting the faith among God's chosen people, getting out the accurate word on God and how to respond rightly to it. My aim is to raise hopes by pointing the way to life without end. This is the life God promised long ago—and he doesn't break promises! And then when the time was ripe, he went public with his truth. I've been entrusted to proclaim this Message by order of our Savior, God himself. Dear Titus, legitimate son in the faith: Receive everything God our Father and Jesus our Savior give you!
A Good Grip on the Message5-9I left you in charge in Crete so you could complete what I left half-done. Appoint leaders in every town according to my instructions. As you select them, ask, "Is this man well-thought-of? Is he committed to his wife? Are his children believers? Do they respect him and stay out of trouble?" It's important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs in God's house, be looked up to—not pushy, not short-tempered, not a drunk, not a bully, not money-hungry. He must welcome people, be helpful, wise, fair, reverent, have a good grip on himself, and have a good grip on the Message, knowing how to use the truth to either spur people on in knowledge or stop them in their tracks if they oppose it.
Psalm 97-98:9 (The Message)
2 Bright clouds and storm clouds circle 'round him;
Right and justice anchor his rule.
3 Fire blazes out before him,
Flaming high up the craggy mountains.
4 His lightnings light up the world;
Earth, wide-eyed, trembles in fear.
5 The mountains take one look at God
And melt, melt like wax before earth's Lord.
6 The heavens announce that he'll set everything right,
And everyone will see it happen—glorious!
7-8 All who serve handcrafted gods will be sorry—
And they were so proud of their ragamuffin gods! On your knees, all you gods—worship him!
And Zion, you listen and take heart!
Daughters of Zion, sing your hearts out:
God has done it all, has set everything right.
9 You, God, are High God of the cosmos,
Far, far higher than any of the gods.
10 God loves all who hate evil,
And those who love him he keeps safe,
Snatches them from the grip of the wicked.
11 Light-seeds are planted in the souls of God's people,
Joy-seeds are planted in good heart-soil.
12 So, God's people, shout praise to God,
Give thanks to our Holy God!
He set things right.
2 God made history with salvation,
He showed the world what he could do.
3 He remembered to love us, a bonus
To his dear family, Israel—indefatigable love.
The whole earth comes to attention.
Look—God's work of salvation!
4 Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!
5 Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add on a hundred-voice choir.
6 Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.
7 Let the sea and its fish give a round of applause,
With everything living on earth joining in.
8 Let ocean breakers call out, "Encore!"
And mountains harmonize the finale—
9 A tribute to God when he comes,
When he comes to set the earth right.
He'll straighten out the whole world,
He'll put the world right, and everyone in it.
Proverbs 26:13-16 (The Message)
13 Loafers say, "It's dangerous out there!
Tigers are prowling the streets!"
and then pull the covers back over their heads.
14 Just as a door turns on its hinges,
so a lazybones turns back over in bed.
15 A shiftless sluggard puts his fork in the pie,
but is too lazy to lift it to his mouth.
Like Glaze on Cracked Pottery16 Dreamers fantasize their self-importance;
they think they are smarter
than a whole college faculty.
Verse of the Day
Thought for the Day
American journalist and humorist who for more than a quarter century was "one of the leading purveyors of village nostalgia" from his home in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, Robert Quillen wrote, “There are glimpses of heaven to us in every act, or thought, or word, that raises us above ourselves.”