The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Wednesday December 7, 2022 (NIV)

Hosea 6-9

A Call to Repentance

“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”

“O Israel[a] and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—
to slaughter you with my words,
with judgments as inescapable as light.
I want you to show love,[b]
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me[c]
more than I want burnt offerings.
But like Adam,[d] you broke my covenant
and betrayed my trust.

“Gilead is a city of sinners,
tracked with footprints of blood.
Priests form bands of robbers,
waiting in ambush for their victims.
They murder travelers along the road to Shechem
and practice every kind of sin.
10 Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel:
My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods!

11 “O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you,
though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.

Israel’s Love for Wickedness

“I want to heal Israel, but its[e] sins are too great.
Samaria is filled with liars.
Thieves are on the inside
and bandits on the outside!
Its people don’t realize
that I am watching them.
Their sinful deeds are all around them,
and I see them all.

“The people entertain the king with their wickedness,
and the princes laugh at their lies.
They are all adulterers,
always aflame with lust.
They are like an oven that is kept hot
while the baker is kneading the dough.
On royal holidays, the princes get drunk with wine,
carousing with those who mock them.
Their hearts are like an oven
blazing with intrigue.
Their plot smolders[f] through the night,
and in the morning it breaks out like a raging fire.
Burning like an oven,
they consume their leaders.
They kill their kings one after another,
and no one cries to me for help.

“The people of Israel mingle with godless foreigners,
making themselves as worthless as a half-baked cake!
Worshiping foreign gods has sapped their strength,
but they don’t even know it.
Their hair is gray,
but they don’t realize they’re old and weak.
10 Their arrogance testifies against them,
yet they don’t return to the Lord their God
or even try to find him.

11 “The people of Israel have become like silly, witless doves,
first calling to Egypt, then flying to Assyria for help.
12 But as they fly about,
I will throw my net over them
and bring them down like a bird from the sky.
I will punish them for all the evil they do.[g]

13 “What sorrow awaits those who have deserted me!
Let them die, for they have rebelled against me.
I wanted to redeem them,
but they have told lies about me.
14 They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts.
Instead, they sit on their couches and wail.
They cut themselves,[h] begging foreign gods for grain and new wine,
and they turn away from me.
15 I trained them and made them strong,
yet now they plot evil against me.
16 They look everywhere except to the Most High.
They are as useless as a crooked bow.
Their leaders will be killed by their enemies
because of their insolence toward me.
Then the people of Egypt
will laugh at them.

Israel Harvests the Whirlwind

“Sound the alarm!
The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the Lord,
for they have broken my covenant
and revolted against my law.
Now Israel pleads with me,
‘Help us, for you are our God!’
But it is too late.
The people of Israel have rejected what is good,
and now their enemies will chase after them.
The people have appointed kings without my consent,
and princes without my approval.
By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold,
they have brought about their own destruction.

“O Samaria, I reject this calf—
this idol you have made.
My fury burns against you.
How long will you be incapable of innocence?
This calf you worship, O Israel,
was crafted by your own hands!
It is not God!
Therefore, it must be smashed to bits.

“They have planted the wind
and will harvest the whirlwind.
The stalks of grain wither
and produce nothing to eat.
And even if there is any grain,
foreigners will eat it.
The people of Israel have been swallowed up;
they lie among the nations like an old discarded pot.
Like a wild donkey looking for a mate,
they have gone up to Assyria.
The people of Israel[i] have sold themselves—
sold themselves to many lovers.
10 But though they have sold themselves to many allies,
I will now gather them together for judgment.
Then they will writhe
under the burden of the great king.

11 “Israel has built many altars to take away sin,
but these very altars became places for sinning!
12 Even though I gave them all my laws,
they act as if those laws don’t apply to them.
13 The people love to offer sacrifices to me,
feasting on the meat,
but I do not accept their sacrifices.
I will hold my people accountable for their sins,
and I will punish them.
They will return to Egypt.
14 Israel has forgotten its Maker and built great palaces,
and Judah has fortified its cities.
Therefore, I will send down fire on their cities
and will burn up their fortresses.”

Hosea Announces Israel’s Punishment

O people of Israel,
do not rejoice as other nations do.
For you have been unfaithful to your God,
hiring yourselves out like prostitutes,
worshiping other gods on every threshing floor.
So now your harvests will be too small to feed you.
There will be no grapes for making new wine.
You may no longer stay here in the Lord’s land.
Instead, you will return to Egypt,
and in Assyria you will eat food
that is ceremonially unclean.
There you will make no offerings of wine to the Lord.
None of your sacrifices there will please him.
They will be unclean, like food touched by a person in mourning.
All who present such sacrifices will be defiled.
They may eat this food themselves,
but they may not offer it to the Lord.
What then will you do on festival days?
How will you observe the Lord’s festivals?
Even if you escape destruction from Assyria,
Egypt will conquer you, and Memphis[j] will bury you.
Nettles will take over your treasures of silver;
thistles will invade your ruined homes.

The time of Israel’s punishment has come;
the day of payment is here.
Soon Israel will know this all too well.
Because of your great sin and hostility,
you say, “The prophets are crazy
and the inspired men are fools!”
The prophet is a watchman over Israel[k] for my God,
yet traps are laid for him wherever he goes.
He faces hostility even in the house of God.
The things my people do are as depraved
as what they did in Gibeah long ago.
God will not forget.
He will surely punish them for their sins.

10 The Lord says, “O Israel, when I first found you,
it was like finding fresh grapes in the desert.
When I saw your ancestors,
it was like seeing the first ripe figs of the season.
But then they deserted me for Baal-peor,
giving themselves to that shameful idol.
Soon they became vile,
as vile as the god they worshiped.
11 The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird,
for your children will not be born
or grow in the womb
or even be conceived.
12 Even if you do have children who grow up,
I will take them from you.
It will be a terrible day when I turn away
and leave you alone.
13 I have watched Israel become as beautiful as Tyre.
But now Israel will bring out her children for slaughter.”

14 O Lord, what should I request for your people?
I will ask for wombs that don’t give birth
and breasts that give no milk.

15 The Lord says, “All their wickedness began at Gilgal;
there I began to hate them.
I will drive them from my land
because of their evil actions.
I will love them no more
because all their leaders are rebels.
16 The people of Israel are struck down.
Their roots are dried up,
and they will bear no more fruit.
And if they give birth,
I will slaughter their beloved children.”

17 My God will reject the people of Israel
because they will not listen or obey.
They will be wanderers,
homeless among the nations.

Footnotes:

  1. 6:4 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  2. 6:6a Greek version translates this Hebrew term as to show mercy. Compare Matt 9:13; 12:7.
  3. 6:6b Hebrew to know God.
  4. 6:7 Or But at Adam.
  5. 7:1 Hebrew Ephraim’s, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; similarly in 7:8, 11.
  6. 7:6 Hebrew Their baker sleeps.
  7. 7:12 Hebrew I will punish them because of what was reported against them in the assembly.
  8. 7:14 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads They gather together.
  9. 8:9 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; also in 8:11.
  10. 9:6 Memphis was the capital of northern Egypt.
  11. 9:8 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; also in 9:11, 13, 16.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


3 John

Greetings

This letter is from John, the elder.[a]

I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. Some of the traveling teachers[b] recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.

Caring for the Lord’s Workers

Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. For they are traveling for the Lord,[c] and they accept nothing from people who are not believers.[d] So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth.

I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us. 10 When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.

11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.[e]

12 Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius, as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.

Conclusion

13 I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. 14 For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face.

15 [f]Peace be with you.

Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Greek From the elder.
  2. 3 Greek the brothers; also in verses 5 and 10.
  3. 7a Greek They went out on behalf of the Name.
  4. 7b Greek from Gentiles.
  5. 11 Greek they have not seen God.
  6. 15 Some English translations combine verses 14 and 15 into verse 14.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Psalm 126

Psalm 126

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem,[a]
it was like a dream!
We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”
Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us!
What joy!

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
as streams renew the desert.
Those who plant in tears
will harvest with shouts of joy.
They weep as they go to plant their seed,
but they sing as they return with the harvest.

Footnotes:

  1. 126:1 Hebrew Zion.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Proverbs 29:12-14

12 If a ruler pays attention to liars,
all his advisers will be wicked.

13 The poor and the oppressor have this in common—
the Lord gives sight to the eyes of both.

14 If a king judges the poor fairly,
his throne will last forever.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Tuesday December 6, 2022 (NIV)

Hosea 4-5

The Lord’s Case against Israel

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel!
The Lord has brought charges against you, saying:
“There is no faithfulness, no kindness,
no knowledge of God in your land.
You make vows and break them;
you kill and steal and commit adultery.
There is violence everywhere—
one murder after another.
That is why your land is in mourning,
and everyone is wasting away.
Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky,
and the fish of the sea are disappearing.

“Don’t point your finger at someone else
and try to pass the blame!
My complaint, you priests,
is with you.[a]
So you will stumble in broad daylight,
and your false prophets will fall with you in the night.
And I will destroy Israel, your mother.
My people are being destroyed
because they don’t know me.
Since you priests refuse to know me,
I refuse to recognize you as my priests.
Since you have forgotten the laws of your God,
I will forget to bless your children.
The more priests there are,
the more they sin against me.
They have exchanged the glory of God
for the shame of idols.[b]

“When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed.
So the priests are glad when the people sin!
‘And what the priests do, the people also do.’
So now I will punish both priests and people
for their wicked deeds.
10 They will eat and still be hungry.
They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it,
for they have deserted the Lord
11 to worship other gods.

“Wine has robbed my people
of their understanding.
12 They ask a piece of wood for advice!
They think a stick can tell them the future!
Longing after idols
has made them foolish.
They have played the prostitute,
serving other gods and deserting their God.
13 They offer sacrifices to idols on the mountaintops.
They go up into the hills to burn incense
in the pleasant shade of oaks, poplars, and terebinth trees.

“That is why your daughters turn to prostitution,
and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.
14 But why should I punish them
for their prostitution and adultery?
For your men are doing the same thing,
sinning with whores and shrine prostitutes.
O foolish people! You refuse to understand,
so you will be destroyed.

15 “Though you, Israel, are a prostitute,
may Judah not be guilty of such things.
Do not join the false worship at Gilgal or Beth-aven,[c]
and do not take oaths there in the Lord’s name.
16 Israel is stubborn,
like a stubborn heifer.
So should the Lord feed her
like a lamb in a lush pasture?
17 Leave Israel[d] alone,
because she is married to idolatry.
18 When the rulers of Israel finish their drinking,
off they go to find some prostitutes.
They love shame more than honor.[e]
19 So a mighty wind will sweep them away.
Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.

The Failure of Israel’s Leaders

“Hear this, you priests.
Pay attention, you leaders of Israel.
Listen, you members of the royal family.
Judgment has been handed down against you.
For you have led the people into a snare
by worshiping the idols at Mizpah and Tabor.
You have dug a deep pit to trap them at Acacia Grove.[f]
But I will settle with you for what you have done.
I know what you are like, O Ephraim.
You cannot hide yourself from me, O Israel.
You have left me as a prostitute leaves her husband;
you are utterly defiled.
Your deeds won’t let you return to your God.
You are a prostitute through and through,
and you do not know the Lord.

“The arrogance of Israel testifies against her;
Israel and Ephraim will stumble under their load of guilt.
Judah, too, will fall with them.
When they come with their flocks and herds
to offer sacrifices to the Lord,
they will not find him,
because he has withdrawn from them.
They have betrayed the honor of the Lord,
bearing children that are not his.
Now their false religion will devour them
along with their wealth.[g]

“Sound the alarm in Gibeah!
Blow the trumpet in Ramah!
Raise the battle cry in Beth-aven[h]!
Lead on into battle, O warriors of Benjamin!
One thing is certain, Israel[i]:
On your day of punishment,
you will become a heap of rubble.

10 “The leaders of Judah have become like thieves.[j]
So I will pour my anger on them like a waterfall.
11 The people of Israel will be crushed and broken by my judgment
because they are determined to worship idols.[k]
12 I will destroy Israel as a moth consumes wool.
I will make Judah as weak as rotten wood.

13 “When Israel and Judah saw how sick they were,
Israel turned to Assyria—
to the great king there—
but he could neither help nor cure them.
14 I will be like a lion to Israel,
like a strong young lion to Judah.
I will tear them to pieces!
I will carry them off,
and no one will be left to rescue them.
15 Then I will return to my place
until they admit their guilt and turn to me.
For as soon as trouble comes,
they will earnestly search for me.”

Footnotes:

  1. 4:4 Hebrew Your people are like those with a complaint against the priests.
  2. 4:7 As in Syriac version and an ancient Hebrew tradition; Masoretic Text reads I will turn their glory into shame.
  3. 4:15 Beth-aven means “house of wickedness”; it is being used as another name for Bethel, which means “house of God.”
  4. 4:17 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  5. 4:18 As in Greek version; the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  6. 5:2 Hebrew at Shittim. The meaning of the Hebrew for this sentence is uncertain.
  7. 5:7 The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  8. 5:8 Beth-aven means “house of wickedness”; it is being used as another name for Bethel, which means “house of God.”
  9. 5:9 Hebrew Ephraim, referring to the northern kingdom of Israel; also in 5:11, 12, 13, 14.
  10. 5:10 Hebrew like those who move a boundary marker.
  11. 5:11 Or determined to follow human commands. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


2 John

Greetings

This letter is from John, the elder.[a]

I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children,[b] whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth— because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.

Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

Live in the Truth

How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.

I am writing to remind you, dear friends,[c] that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came[d] in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we[e] have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.

10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

Conclusion

12 I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete.

13 Greetings from the children of your sister,[f] chosen by God.

Footnotes:

  1. 1a Greek From the elder.
  2. 1b Or the church God has chosen and its members.
  3. 5 Greek I urge you, lady.
  4. 7 Or will come.
  5. 8 Some manuscripts read you.
  6. 13 Or from the members of your sister church.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Psalm 125

Psalm 125

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion;
they will not be defeated but will endure forever.
Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever.
The wicked will not rule the land of the godly,
for then the godly might be tempted to do wrong.
O Lord, do good to those who are good,
whose hearts are in tune with you.
But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.
Take them away with those who do evil.

May Israel have peace!

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Proverbs 29:9-11

If a wise person takes a fool to court,
there will be ranting and ridicule but no satisfaction.

10 The bloodthirsty hate blameless people,
but the upright seek to help them.[a]

11 Fools vent their anger,
but the wise quietly hold it back.

Footnotes:

  1. 29:10 Or The bloodthirsty hate blameless people, / and they seek to kill the upright; Hebrew reads The bloodthirsty hate blameless people; / as for the upright, they seek their life.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Monday December 5, 2022 (NIV)

Hosea 1-3

The Lord gave this message to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash[a] was king of Israel.

Hosea’s Wife and Children

When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute,[b] so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”

So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. And the Lord said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”

Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah—‘Not loved’—for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the Lord their God.”

After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi—‘Not my people’—for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God.

10 [c]“Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore—too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’ 11 Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite together. They will choose one leader for themselves, and they will return from exile together. What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel[d]—when God will again plant his people in his land.

[e]“In that day you will call your brothers Ammi—‘My people.’ And you will call your sisters Ruhamah—‘The ones I love.’

Charges against an Unfaithful Wife

“But now bring charges against Israel—your mother—
for she is no longer my wife,
and I am no longer her husband.
Tell her to remove the prostitute’s makeup from her face
and the clothing that exposes her breasts.
Otherwise, I will strip her as naked
as she was on the day she was born.
I will leave her to die of thirst,
as in a dry and barren wilderness.
And I will not love her children,
for they were conceived in prostitution.
Their mother is a shameless prostitute
and became pregnant in a shameful way.
She said, ‘I’ll run after other lovers
and sell myself to them for food and water,
for clothing of wool and linen,
and for olive oil and drinks.’

“For this reason I will fence her in with thornbushes.
I will block her path with a wall
to make her lose her way.
When she runs after her lovers,
she won’t be able to catch them.
She will search for them
but not find them.
Then she will think,
‘I might as well return to my husband,
for I was better off with him than I am now.’
She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has—
the grain, the new wine, the olive oil;
I even gave her silver and gold.
But she gave all my gifts to Baal.

“But now I will take back the ripened grain and new wine
I generously provided each harvest season.
I will take away the wool and linen clothing
I gave her to cover her nakedness.
10 I will strip her naked in public,
while all her lovers look on.
No one will be able
to rescue her from my hands.
11 I will put an end to her annual festivals,
her new moon celebrations, and her Sabbath days—
all her appointed festivals.
12 I will destroy her grapevines and fig trees,
things she claims her lovers gave her.
I will let them grow into tangled thickets,
where only wild animals will eat the fruit.
13 I will punish her for all those times
when she burned incense to her images of Baal,
when she put on her earrings and jewels
and went out to look for her lovers
but forgot all about me,”
says the Lord.

The Lord’s Love for Unfaithful Israel

14 “But then I will win her back once again.
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble[f] into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’[g]
17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
and you will never mention them again.
18 On that day I will make a covenant
with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
in peace and safety.
19 I will make you my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord.

21 “In that day, I will answer,”
says the Lord.
“I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds.
And the sky will answer the earth with rain.
22 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries
of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees.
And they in turn will answer,
‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’
23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
and raise them for myself.
I will show love
to those I called ‘Not loved.’[h]
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’[i]
I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

Hosea’s Wife Is Redeemed

Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she[j] commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.[k]

So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver[l] and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.[m] Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.[n]

This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests,[o] or even idols! But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the Lord their God and to David’s descendant, their king.[p] In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the Lord and of his goodness.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:1 Hebrew Joash, a variant spelling of Jehoash.
  2. 1:2 Or a promiscuous woman.
  3. 1:10 Verses 1:10-11 are numbered 2:1-2 in Hebrew text.
  4. 1:11 Jezreel means “God plants.”
  5. 2:1 Verses 2:1-23 are numbered 2:3-25 in Hebrew text.
  6. 2:15 Hebrew valley of Achor.
  7. 2:16 Hebrew ‘my baal.’
  8. 2:23a Hebrew Lo-ruhamah; see 1:6.
  9. 2:23b Hebrew Lo-ammi; see 1:9.
  10. 3:1a Or Go and love a woman who.
  11. 3:1b Hebrew love their raisin cakes.
  12. 3:2a Hebrew 15 [shekels] of silver, about 6 ounces or 171 grams in weight.
  13. 3:2b As in Greek version, which reads a homer of barley and a wineskin full of wine; Hebrew reads a homer [5 bushels or 220 liters] of barley and a lethek [2.5 bushels or 110 liters] of barley.
  14. 3:3 Or and I will live with you.
  15. 3:4 Hebrew ephod, the vest worn by the priest.
  16. 3:5 Hebrew to David their king.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


1 John 5

Faith in the Son of God

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ[a] has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross[b]—not by water only, but by water and blood. And the Spirit, who is truth, confirms it with his testimony. So we have these three witnesses[c] the Spirit, the water, and the blood—and all three agree. Since we believe human testimony, surely we can believe the greater testimony that comes from God. And God has testified about his Son. 10 All who believe in the Son of God know in their hearts that this testimony is true. Those who don’t believe this are actually calling God a liar because they don’t believe what God has testified about his Son.

11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.

Conclusion

13 I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.

16 If you see a fellow believer[d] sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. 17 All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.

18 We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them. 19 We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God.[e] And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.[f]

Footnotes:

  1. 5:1 Or the Messiah.
  2. 5:6 Greek This is he who came by water and blood.
  3. 5:7 A few very late manuscripts add in heaven—the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And we have three witnesses on earth.
  4. 5:16 Greek a brother.
  5. 5:20 Greek the one who is true.
  6. 5:21 Greek keep yourselves from idols.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Psalm 124

Psalm 124

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
What if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.

Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Proverbs 29:5-8

To flatter friends
is to lay a trap for their feet.

Evil people are trapped by sin,
but the righteous escape, shouting for joy.

The godly care about the rights of the poor;
the wicked don’t care at all.

Mockers can get a whole town agitated,
but the wise will calm anger.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Sunday December 4, 2022 (NIV)

Daniel 11:36-12:13

36 “The king will do as he pleases, exalting himself and claiming to be greater than every god, even blaspheming the God of gods. He will succeed, but only until the time of wrath is completed. For what has been determined will surely take place. 37 He will have no respect for the gods of his ancestors, or for the god loved by women, or for any other god, for he will boast that he is greater than them all. 38 Instead of these, he will worship the god of fortresses—a god his ancestors never knew—and lavish on him gold, silver, precious stones, and expensive gifts. 39 Claiming this foreign god’s help, he will attack the strongest fortresses. He will honor those who submit to him, appointing them to positions of authority and dividing the land among them as their reward.[a]

40 “Then at the time of the end, the king of the south will attack the king of the north. The king of the north will storm out with chariots, charioteers, and a vast navy. He will invade various lands and sweep through them like a flood. 41 He will enter the glorious land of Israel,[b] and many nations will fall, but Moab, Edom, and the best part of Ammon will escape. 42 He will conquer many countries, and even Egypt will not escape. 43 He will gain control over the gold, silver, and treasures of Egypt, and the Libyans and Ethiopians[c] will be his servants.

44 “But then news from the east and the north will alarm him, and he will set out in great anger to destroy and obliterate many. 45 He will stop between the glorious holy mountain and the sea and will pitch his royal tents. But while he is there, his time will suddenly run out, and no one will help him.

The Time of the End

12 “At that time Michael, the archangel[d] who stands guard over your nation, will arise. Then there will be a time of anguish greater than any since nations first came into existence. But at that time every one of your people whose name is written in the book will be rescued. Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever. But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase.”

Then I, Daniel, looked and saw two others standing on opposite banks of the river. One of them asked the man dressed in linen, who was now standing above the river, “How long will it be until these shocking events are over?”

The man dressed in linen, who was standing above the river, raised both his hands toward heaven and took a solemn oath by the One who lives forever, saying, “It will go on for a time, times, and half a time. When the shattering of the holy people has finally come to an end, all these things will have happened.”

I heard what he said, but I did not understand what he meant. So I asked, “How will all this finally end, my lord?”

But he said, “Go now, Daniel, for what I have said is kept secret and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many will be purified, cleansed, and refined by these trials. But the wicked will continue in their wickedness, and none of them will understand. Only those who are wise will know what it means.

11 “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration[e] is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. 12 And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!

13 “As for you, go your way until the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days, you will rise again to receive the inheritance set aside for you.”

Footnotes:

  1. 11:39 Or at a price.
  2. 11:41 Hebrew the glorious land.
  3. 11:43 Hebrew Cushites.
  4. 12:1 Hebrew the great prince.
  5. 12:11 Hebrew the abomination of desolation.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


1 John 4

Discerning False Prophets

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet[a] acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.

But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.

Loving One Another

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.

13 And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. 14 Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 All who declare that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other[b] because he loved us first.

20 If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer,[c] that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21 And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their fellow believers.[d]

Footnotes:

  1. 4:2 Greek If a spirit; similarly in 4:3.
  2. 4:19 Greek We love. Other manuscripts read We love God; still others read We love him.
  3. 4:20 Greek hates his brother.
  4. 4:21 Greek The one who loves God must also love his brother.
New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Psalm 123

Psalm 123

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I lift my eyes to you,
O God, enthroned in heaven.
We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy,
just as servants keep their eyes on their master,
as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy,
for we have had our fill of contempt.
We have had more than our fill of the scoffing of the proud
and the contempt of the arrogant.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Proverbs 29:2-4

When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice.
But when the wicked are in power, they groan.

The man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father,
but if he hangs around with prostitutes, his wealth is wasted.

A just king gives stability to his nation,
but one who demands bribes destroys it.

New Living Translation (NLT)

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Saturday December 3, 2022 (NIV)

Daniel 11:2-35

Now I am here to reveal to you the truth: Three more kings will rule in Persia. After them, a fourth will arise who will be much richer than all the others. He will use his wealth to build his power and extend his influence; then he will incite the nations to fight against the kingdom of Greece. Meanwhile in Greece, a warrior king will come to power.

The Greek warrior king is Alexander the Great in the late fourth century b.c.

With great authority he will rule his lands and do as he desires. But no sooner than he rises, his kingdom will be broken up and divided to the four winds of heaven. None of his own offspring will receive any portion, nor will these kingdoms exercise the great authority he once did, for his empire will be ripped from its foundation and given to others.

A series of powerful Persian kings arises after Cyrus. Over the next century, Persian power wanes until Alexander the Great brings down the Persian Empire.

The king of the south will then grow in power and prosper. Yet in time one of his own officers will become more powerful than he and rule over an even greater empire. Several years later, the king of the north and the king of the south will form an alliance. That alliance will be established by the marriage of the daughter of the king of the south to the king of the north; however, this union will not last. The princess will not hold onto power, and the king, too, will lose his throne. She will be given up along with her royal court, her father, and those who backed her. In response, one of her relatives, a branch from her roots, will rise to take his place and become king in the south. He will take up the sword and lead an army into the fortress of the northern king. He will fight against them and in the end be victorious. He will sack their temples and carry back to Egypt their gods, cast in metal images, and take their precious vessels crafted of fine gold and silver; for several years the king of the south will resist going to war against the king of the north. But then, in later times, the king of the north will invade the provinces of the king of the south, but soon will be forced to withdraw to his own northern lands. 10 His sons will commit to war and assemble a powerful army, a force that will flood over the land, pass through the territories, and take the battle as far as the southern king’s fortress. 11 At this provocation, the enraged king of the south will rally a large force to repel the northern invaders. And though the king of the north had assembled a powerful army, it will go down in defeat. 12 When the invading army is repelled, the heart of the king of the south will be caught up in pride, and so he will execute tens of thousands of his enemies; still he will not prove to be strong. 13 For the king of the north will return after a few years, having raised a fighting force far larger and better equipped than before. 14 When this happens many people will rebel against the king of the south. Violent people from your own people, Daniel, will join the fray in order to fulfill the vision, but none will succeed. All will fall. 15 Then the king of the north will come and build a siege ramp against a fortified city and eventually take it; for the south, even with their very best warriors, will have no strength left to fight. 16 The king of the north will go where he pleases, and his army will march on unmatched and undeterred. None can resist him. One day he will stand in the beautiful lands of promise with the power to destroy it or let it be. 17 Using the might of his kingdom, the king of the north will decide to force an alliance. He will give the king of the south his daughter for a wife with the hope that she might help conquer the kingdom from within; but his plans will not succeed. 18 Afterward, the king of the north will turn his attention to the coastlands, attacking the cities there, claiming many. Eventually a commander will put a stop to the violent attacks and turn the aggression back on the invader and his army. 19 The king of the north will flee to his own land and seek the protection of his own strongholds, but he will trip and fall, never to be seen or heard of again.

After his death Alexander’s kingdom is partitioned among his four generals, two of whom figure prominently in Daniel’s prophecy. Alexander’s generals continue to fight over Israel and its citizens. Seleucus Nicator rules in the north (Syria). Ptolemy Soter rules in the south (Egypt).

Messenger: 20 Another northern king will rise to take his place. He will send out an official to exact taxes from the most glorious jewel of the kingdom, namely Jerusalem, but his tyranny will not last long. He will be cut down, though not in the heat of battle or in an angry loss of control.

21 Yet another will rise to take his place: a truly despicable person. Though royal honors were not his by right, he will come in quietly and take over with cunning and clever promises. 22 Armies will be overwhelmed and crushed before him, and the prince of the covenant will be cut down as well. 23 Though his supporters are few in number, he will grow strong by deceiving those who have made alliances with him. 24 In a time of ease and great wealth he will quietly invade the wealthiest parts of the region and do what none of his royal predecessors had ever done before; instead of hoarding the treasure, he will distribute the plunder, possessions, and property among those loyal to him. And though he will make plans to attack fortresses, these plans will not last for long.

25 But the king of the north is not finished. Once again he inspires courage and gathers a large and powerful fighting force to attack the south; but the king of the south takes notice and gathers his own large, powerful army to wage war. But he will not be able to resist the northern invader because treacherous plans will be devised against him. 26 His closest advisors, those who eat from the royal table, will betray him and bring about his downfall even as his army is swept away. Many will die in battle. 27 Both kings will sit at the same table and lie to each other, their only interest in deceiving and harming the other. But none of this will matter, for the end is yet to come at the appointed time. 28 The king of the north will eventually return to his own land with riches won from conquered peoples. With his heart set against the holy covenant, he will do whatever his evil will desires and then return to his own land.

29 At the chosen time, he will once again attempt to invade the south, but this time will be different from any time before. 30 For warships will arrive from the west[a] and confront him. Fearful of their power, he will withdraw. On his way north, he will unleash his violent fury against the holy covenant and those loyal to it. At the same time he will look with favor on those who turn their backs on it. 31 The king will command his forces to take over the city and pollute the temple fortress. After they outlaw the daily sacrifices to the one True God, they will set up the disgusting idol that will desecrate the most holy place.[b] 32 With smooth talk, he will entice people who act wickedly and break the covenant. But those who truly know their God will remain strong and work against him. 33 The truly wise among God’s people will help the many understand the need to resist; yet for quite some time they will be killed by sword and fire, or they will be imprisoned and their property taken. 34 Those who fall victim to this persecution will receive only a little help, and many will join their cause out of smooth, deceptive speech. 35 Some of the wise will fall victim and be martyred in order to be refined, purified, and made clean until the end, for the appointed time is still to come.

Footnotes:

  1. 11:30 Hebrew, Kittim
  2. 11:31 Literally, abomination of desolation; Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14
The Voice (VOICE)

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

1 John 3:7-24

Children, don’t let anyone pull one over on you. The one doing the right thing is just imitating Jesus, the Righteous One.

If you are wondering if your faith is authentic, take a look at your life. Are you doing what is right?

The one persisting in sin belongs to the diabolical one, who has been all about sin from the beginning. That is why the Son of God came into our world: to destroy the plague of destruction inflicted on the world by the diabolical one.

Everyone who has been born into God’s family avoids sin as a lifestyle because the genes of God’s children come from God Himself. Therefore, a child of God can’t live a life of persistent sin. 10 So it is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one: those who lack right standing and those who don’t show love for one another do not belong to God.

11 The central truth—the one you have heard since the beginning of your faith—is that we must love one another. 12 Please do not act like Cain, who was of the evil one. He brutally murdered his own brother.[a] Why would he do something so despicable? Because his life was devoted to evil and selfishness, and his brother chose to do what is right.

13 Brothers and sisters, don’t be shocked if the corrupt world despises you. 14 We know that we have crossed over from death to real life because we are devoted to true love for our brothers and sisters. Anyone who does not love lives among corpses.

Do you ever wonder if you are just silently sleeping through days, months, and years? There is one indicator of real life: true love for others.

15 Everyone who hates other members of God’s family is a murderer. Does a murderer possess the beautiful life that never ends? No. 16 We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters.

17 If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? 18 My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.

19-20 There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. 21 My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God. 22 Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. 23 His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded. 24 The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God. How do we know that He lives in us? By the gift of His Spirit.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:12 Genesis 4:8
The Voice (VOICE)

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

Psalm 122

Psalm 122

A song [of David][a] for those journeying to worship.

This is a Davidic psalm celebrating the grandeur and significance of Jerusalem and its temple. It is ironic that Jerusalem means “city of peace” since more battles have been fought over it than over any other city.

I was so happy when my fellow pilgrims said,
“Let’s go to the house of the Eternal!”
We have made the journey, and now we are standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem! What a magnificent city!
Buildings so close together, so compact.
God’s people belong here. Every tribe of the Eternal
makes its way to Jerusalem
Just as God decreed for Israel
to come together and give thanks to the Eternal.
In Jerusalem, justice is the order of the day because there sit the judges
and kings, the descendants of David.

Ask heaven to grant peace to Jerusalem:
“May those who love you prosper.
O Jerusalem, may His peace fill this entire city!
May this citadel be quiet and at ease!”
It’s because of people—my family, friends, and acquaintances
that I say, “May peace permeate you.”
And because the house of Eternal One, our God, is here, know this:
I will always seek your good!

Footnotes:

  1. 122:title Some manuscripts omit this portion.
The Voice (VOICE)

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

Proverbs 29:1

29 The one who remains defiant after repeated reprimands
will suddenly be shattered, and there will be no remedy for him.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Friday December 2, 2022 (NIV)

Daniel 9:1-11

Daniel: 1-2 In the first year that Darius the Mede (Ahasuerus’ son) ruled over the Babylonians, I, Daniel, was studying the word of the Eternal One according to the prophet Jeremiah and discovered in the scrolls the number of years that Jerusalem must lie desolate before it is restored, that is, seventy years.

Darius is a title and may refer to Cyrus about 539 b.c. or Artaxerxes I (Ahasuerus’ son) in 465 b.c.

After learning this, I turned to the Lord God, praying diligently, begging for His mercy, grieving and fasting in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Eternal One my God, praising His greatness and confessing our sins: Lord God, You are great and awesome! You are always faithful to the covenant You made with us. Your unfailing love extends to all who love You and keep Your commandments. But we have sinned and wronged You. We have acted wickedly in our rebellion, going so far as to disregard Your commandments and regulations. We have ignored the message given through Your servants, the prophets, who spoke on Your behalf to our kings, princes, ancestors, indeed every last person of the land. O Lord, You always do what is right. It is Your due, but we deserve nothing this day but public and open shame. The people of Judah, Jerusalem—indeed of all Israel, those who are in neighboring regions and those who are in the farthest reaches, driven into exile by You for all the treacherous acts they committed against You—we all deserve nothing but shame. Eternal One, public and open shame is our due, for we have sinned against You, all of us, our kings, princes, and ancestors. But You, O Lord our God, still show us compassion and forgiveness even though we have openly rebelled against You. 10 We have not obeyed the voice of the Eternal our God, for we have failed to live by the teachings You gave us directly through Your servants, the prophets. 11 All the people of Israel have abandoned Your teachings, deserted Your covenant, and refused to obey Your voice. This is why the curse and the oath inscribed in the law of Moses,[a] the servant of God, has been poured out on us—for we have sinned against You. 12 By unleashing on us this great calamity, You have carried out Your solemn words warning us and our leaders who led us astray. Under all of heaven, nothing like what happened to Jerusalem has ever happened before. 13 All the calamity that has befallen us fulfills the warnings written in Moses’ law; but despite our adversity, we have not sought the favor of the Eternal our God by walking away from our sins and pursuing insight into Your truth. 14 And now we have earned the misery that the Eternal has stored up for us. Truly, the Eternal our God was right to do all He has done, for we refused to obey His voice.

Daniel is just one man, yet he carries the sins of his nation to God and pleads with the Almighty to forgive and rescue His people. Their collective failures to live up to the covenant they made with God has scattered the chosen people to the four corners of the earth and have brought ruin to Jerusalem. After reading the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel knows that the calamity will not be over until God’s people come back to Him. With fasting and prayer, Daniel hopes to begin the process of restoration.

God’s covenant with Israel includes provisions for both blessings and curses. When the people follow God and keep His teaching, they can expect to live peacefully in the land God promised. But when the covenant people rebel against God and ignore His teaching, their actions—or lack of actions—bring into effect the curses. Daniel appeals to God’s own interest as the One who cares about His name and His reputation. The fate of Jerusalem and His people reflects on Him.

15 Now, Lord our God, You have made Your name great among the nations to this day by liberating Your enslaved people from the land of Egypt with powerful deeds; yet we have sinned against You, our Liberator, and we have acted wickedly. 16 Lord, the reputation of Your city Jerusalem has suffered, and Your people are mocked by those around us because we and our ancestors have done wrong. I beg You to spare Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; turn away Your burning anger and fiery wrath from Your people according to all Your covenant mercies. 17 Now, God, please hear the prayers and petitions voiced today by your servant. Shine Your face on Your destroyed and desolate sanctuary for the sake of Your name, my Lord. 18 Lend an ear, my God, and hear this prayer. Open Your eyes and see our deserted streets and witness the devastation across the city that bears Your name. We are crying to You and asking for mercy, not because we are righteous and deserve it. No, we bring these petitions to you because we know of Your great mercy. 19 Lord, hear our prayer! Lord, forgive our sins! Lord, pay attention to our plight and act without delay, not for our sake, my God, but for Yours because these people and this city bear Your name.

20 For much of the day I was pleading and praying, confessing my sin and the sins of my people Israel, presenting my case to the Eternal One my God on behalf of Jerusalem, His holy mountain. 21 About the time of the evening sacrifice, while I was still pleading and praying and almost completely exhausted, the man Gabriel, who had appeared to me in an earlier vision, appeared again and reached out to me.

Gabriel (to me): 22 Daniel, I have come for one purpose: to offer you insight and understanding into these matters. 23 When you began your pleading earlier today, a word was issued. I was instructed to come and tell you about it, for you are highly regarded by God. So pay close attention so you can understand the vision.

24 The decree has been issued: your people and your holy city have 70 sevens of time[b] to bring rebellion to a close, to put an end to sin, to wipe away guilt, to bring in a righteousness that endures, to seal up the prophet’s vision, and to anoint the most sacred place. 25 Know and understand this: from the proclamation of the word to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the arrival of the Anointed Ruler, there will be 7 weeks of time. For 62 weeks of time the community will be restored, the city rebuilt with broad streets and deep defenses, even through times of trouble. 26 After those 62 weeks of time the Anointed One will be cut down and have nothing; then the warriors[c] of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and defile the sanctuary. Its end will come swiftly as in a flood and to the end there will be war. The decree has been issued: Desolation.

27 And that prince will make a binding treaty with many people for a one-week period of time. In the middle of that one period he will put a stop to all sacrifices and offerings to the Lord. And at the height[d] of his atrocities he will set up an abominable idol that desecrates the most holy place, until the desolation decreed is finally poured out on the defiler.[e]

Although God has countless heavenly messengers, only two are named in the Bible: Gabriel and Michael. These heavenly messengers fill many functions in the Bible; for example, they are members of God’s divine council, they lead the heavenly army, and they deliver the words of God. In Daniel, Gabriel is a messenger in the most literal sense, bringing a revelation to Daniel through the explanations of a dream and of Scripture. Gabriel’s announcements about the coming Liberator do not end with Daniel. In the New Testament book of Luke, he is the one who announces the impending births of John the Baptist and Jesus to Zechariah and Mary, respectively.

10 1-2 In the third year of King Cyrus’ reign over the Persian Empire, Daniel, who had been named Belteshazzar by his Babylonian captors, received a word from God through another vision. The message proved reliable, and it had to do with a great war. Daniel understood the word and gained insight into the future through this vision. Here is his account.

These events happen around 535 b.c., when Babylonia is part of Persia.

Daniel: When I received this vision, I, Daniel, had been in mourning for three weeks. I had eaten very little, no meat and no rich foods at all. I had not enjoyed the taste of wine, nor had I used any oils to bathe or groom myself. I continued this way throughout the three full weeks. The vision came to me on the 24th day of the 1st month. As I was on the bank of the great Tigris River, I lifted my eyes and saw what seemed at first to be a man dressed in linen clothing. Around his waist was a belt made of the purest gold. His body had the appearance of yellow topaz; his face was bright like flashes of lightning; his eyes flamed like torches; his arms and legs sparkled like polished bronze; his voice sounded like thunder. I, Daniel, alone saw this man and heard his voice. Though there were others around me who did not see this sight, they were still overcome with fear and ran to hide. I did not. I was left all alone to witness this glorious sight. My strength soon left me. My face was drained of its natural color, and I was confused. I had no energy at all. Then I heard his voice and caught the sound of his words. As I did, I fell into a deep sleep—my face pressed to the ground. 10 Just then, a mighty hand touched me and lifted my trembling body onto my hands and knees.

Messenger: 11 Daniel, you are highly regarded by God. I have been sent to help you understand the destiny of your people. Stand up and listen carefully to what I have to tell you.

As he spoke, I slowly rose to my feet, though I was still shaking.

Messenger: 12 Do not be afraid, Daniel. From the very first day that you began to pursue understanding and humble yourself before your God, your words have been heard. I have been sent in response to what you’ve said. 13 I would have been here sooner; however, for the past 21 days the spirit prince of Persia opposed me and prevented my coming to you. Then Michael, one of the chief princes of heaven, came to my aid because I alone was busy dealing with the kings of Persia. 14 I have come to help you understand what will happen to your people in the last days,[f] for this vision is about a time yet to come.

15 As he was saying all this to me, I dropped my head and looked at the ground, completely quiet, unable to respond. 16 Then one who looked like the sons of men approached and touched my lips. After that I was able to open my mouth and speak again. I turned to the one standing before me.

Daniel: My lord, what I have seen has left me utterly depressed. I have no strength left. 17 How can I, your humble servant, even begin to address someone like you, my lord? My strength is gone, and I can hardly catch my breath.

18 Again the one who looked like a man reached out and touched me. With that I felt my strength begin to return.

Messenger: 19 Do not be afraid, you who are highly regarded by God. May peace rest on you and make you whole; be strong; be brave.

At his words, I grew even stronger.

Daniel: Please continue, my lord, for your words have given me strength.

Messenger: 20 Do you realize, now, the reason I have come to you? Soon I must return to continue the fight with the spirit prince of Persia. When I do go, the spirit prince of Greece will come to do battle. 21 Nevertheless, I will tell you what is inscribed in the scroll of truth. No one stands with me against the guardians except for Michael, your heavenly prince.

11 Messenger: Darius the Mede had been on the throne less than one year when I came forward to back him and strengthen him.

Footnotes:

  1. 9:11 Leviticus 26:14–45; Deuteronomy 28:15–68
  2. 9:24 Literally, weeks
  3. 9:26 Literally, people
  4. 9:27 Literally, wing
  5. 9:27 Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14
  6. 10:14 This is a reference to the end of the age, but not to the end of the world.
The Voice (VOICE)

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

1 John 2:18-3:6

18 My children, this is the final hour. You have heard that the antiChrist, the greatest enemy to His kingdom, is coming, but in fact, many antiChrists are already here. This development tells us how late it really is. 19 A group has left us, but they were not part of our family. If they were truly our brothers and sisters, they would have remained for the duration with us. When they left, they made it ever so obvious that they were not part of us.

20 You have been given an anointing, a special touch from the Holy One. You know the truth.[a] 21 I am not writing to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it. You know that no lie belongs to the truth. 22 The liar is the one who says, “Jesus is not really the Anointed One.” This is the antiChrist, the one denying both the Father and the Son. 23 Anyone who denies the Son does not know the Father. The one affirming the Son enjoys an intimate relationship with the Father as well.

24 Let the good news, the story you have heard from the beginning of your journey, live in and take hold of you. If that happens and you focus on the good news, then you will always remain in a relationship with the Son and the Father. 25 This is what He promised us: eternal life.

26 I also am writing to warn you about some who are attempting to deceive you. 27 You have an anointing. You received it from Him, and His anointing remains on you. You do not need any other teacher. But as His anointing instructs you in all the essentials (all the truth uncontaminated by darkness and lies), it teaches you this: “Remain connected to Him.”

28 So now, my little children, live in Him, so that whenever He is revealed, we will have confidence and not have to hang our heads in shame before Him when He comes. 29 If you know that He is just and faithful, then you also know that everyone who lives faithfully and acts justly has been born into a new life through Him.

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.

When we feel like we are not good enough to be loved by God, we should remember that God’s love is greater than our doubts. We must silence the sounds of condemnation so we can hear the voice of God’s loving assurance and remember that He has selected us to be part of His family.

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. All those who focus their hopes on Him and His coming seek to purify themselves just as He is pure.

Everyone who lives a life of habitual sin is living in moral anarchy. That’s what sin is. You realize that He came to eradicate sins, that there is not the slightest bit of sin in Him. The ones who live in an intimate relationship with Him do not persist in sin, but anyone who persists in sin has not seen and does not know the real Jesus.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:20 Other manuscripts read “all things.”
The Voice (VOICE)

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

Psalm 121

Psalm 121

A song for those journeying to worship.

I look up at the vast size of the mountains—
from where will my help come in times of trouble?
The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth and these mountains
will send the help I need.

He holds you firmly in place;
He will not let you fall.
He who keeps you will never take His eyes off you and never drift off to sleep.
What a relief! The One who watches over Israel
never leaves for rest or sleep.

The Eternal keeps you safe,
so close to Him that His shadow is a cooling shade to you.
Neither bright light of sun
nor dim light of moon will harm you.

The Eternal will keep you safe
from all of life’s evils,
From your first breath to the last breath you breathe,
from this day and forever.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

Proverbs 28:27-28

27 Whoever gives to the poor will have what he needs,
but the one who shuts his eyes to their plight will face curse after curse.

28 When the wicked have the upper hand, people go into hiding;
but when they perish, the good folk will begin to increase.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Thursday December 1, 2022 (NIV)

Daniel 8

Daniel awakens from these night visions shaking and pale, but he is never able to shake these thoughts. They are always on his mind.

Daniel: In the third year of Belshazzar’s reign over Babylon, I, Daniel, saw another vision.

These events most likely happen around 552 or 551 b.c.

This vision followed the first I had just a couple of years earlier. In my vision, I looked and suddenly found myself in the fortress-city of Susa in the province of Elam. I was standing next to the Ulai Canal. When I looked up, I saw a ram near me standing on the bank of the canal. The ram had two horns, both of which were long, but one was even longer than the other. I watched as the horns grew, and the longer came up after the other, the shorter horn. As I looked, the ram charged to the west, the north, and the south. It defeated all the other beasts in its path, and there was no one great enough to rescue its victims from the ram’s power. It did whatever it liked, and with each conquest, it grew stronger.

As I was trying to figure out what I was seeing, suddenly a male goat came from the west to challenge the ram. It moved so quickly across the face of the entire earth that it seemed his feet never touched the ground. On its head the goat had a prominent horn sticking out between its eyes. He approached the ram with the two horns—the same one I had seen standing by the Ulai Canal—and charged at it with a violent rage. I saw the goat in reckless fury butt the ram and shatter his two horns. The ram had no power to stand against its foe, so it was thrown to the ground and trampled to death; there was no one great enough to rescue the ram from the goat’s power. With this conquest, the male goat with the prominent horn took the place of his rival and grew more powerful. But at the height of his power, the great horn was broken off, and four prominent horns grew in its place, each one pointing toward one of the four winds of heaven.

A fifth, smaller horn grew out of one of these new horns. Its power grew, and its influence reached toward the south and toward the east and toward the beautiful lands of promise. 10 Then it grew straight up to challenge the army of heaven; it knocked some of the heavenly beings and stars to the ground and trampled them beneath it. 11 The horn grew even greater, and in its arrogance came up against the Prince of the heavenly army. It halted the daily sacrifices to Him and took control of His established sanctuary. 12 As a result of this great rebellion, the heavenly army and the daily sacrifices were handed over to the horn. For a time it cast truth to the ground and succeeded in everything it tried.

13 Then I heard two heavenly beings in conversation with each other.

Heavenly Being (to its companion): When will it all end? How long will these events—the desecrating rebellion, the perverted daily sacrifices, and the trampling of the sanctuary and heavenly army—how long will they continue?

Second Heavenly Being (to me): 14 The world will see 2,300 mornings and evenings before all this will pass. After this the trampling will cease, and the holy sanctuary will be set right.

15 As I, Daniel, was trying to understand the meaning of this vision I had seen, suddenly, someone who looked like a human stood in front of me. 16 I heard a human voice call out, coming from somewhere between the waters of the Ulai Canal.

Voice: Gabriel, explain to this man what he has seen.

17 So the one called Gabriel moved closer to me; as he did, I became very scared. I fell to the ground, my face down.

Gabriel (to Daniel): Son of man, allow me to help you understand this vision. All you have seen has to do with the time of the end.

Some Jews and Christians have read this cryptic language, “time of the end,” to refer to the end of the world; but others believe the context points to the “time of the end” of the exile of God and His people from the full and final restoration of temple worship in Jerusalem.

18 As he was speaking, I slipped into a deep sleep—my face pressed to the ground. But Gabriel touched me and helped me stand to my feet where I was before.

Gabriel: 19 I have been sent here to help you understand the things that will take place later in the final time of wrath; for everything you have seen refers to the appointed time of the end. 20 The ram you saw by the Ulai Canal, the one with the two long horns, represents the kings of Media and Persia. 21 The shaggy male goat represents the king of Greece. The great horn that stuck out between his eyes symbolizes the first king of Greece. 22 The breaking off of the first horn and its replacement by four prominent horns depicts four kingdoms that will arise from this one nation, none of which will have as much power as that first king.

23 When their reign has come to an end,
when their rebellion has run its course,
A new king will rise to power,
defiance written across his face,
expert in riddles and ruses.
24 This king will grow strong—
but not on his own power.
He will stun the world with his dreadful destruction
and succeed in everything he tries.
He will wipe out a vast circle of mighty leaders
and turn his deadly hand against the holy people of God.
25 He will use his skill and power to stir up deceit;
in the darkness of his heart he shall believe himself great.
When all seems well, he will destroy many people,
and will even stand up against the Prince of princes.
But when the time is right, he will be broken,
though not by a human hand.

26 What you have seen and heard about the 2,300 evenings and the mornings is true. It will happen, but not for a long time. So seal up this vision and keep it a secret, for now.

Daniel: 27 With this I, Daniel, was completely exhausted. I was ill for several days, unable to get out of bed. But after a time I grew stronger, got up, and resumed my service to the king. But I was very upset by the vision, for though I tried, I could never really understand it.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

1 John 2:1-17

The word “sin” has virtually disappeared from modern conversation. Afraid of sounding judgmental, we call sin something else—a mistake, an addiction, a tendency, a bad decision—and ignore it as normal and natural behavior. But John is calling the church to a radical holiness where those in the church will regularly remember their sins and seek God’s forgiveness. Each sin, small and large, injures us or someone else; it imprints on our soul, makes us imperfect, and separates us from the perfect God. If we confess our sins to God each day, then He will purify our hearts and draw us closer to Him.

You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer—Jesus the Anointed, the righteous—arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there—He died for the sins of the whole world.

John is affectionately addressing this letter to his “little children,” and he is writing to help them avoid sin and the pain and guilt that come with it. The glamour of decadent lifestyles devoid of God is often advertised as the epitome of joy and freedom. But what are often conveniently left out of these portrayals are the agonizing consequences of such destructive lifestyles. Meaningful pleasure comes not when we are enslaved by the empty promises of the world, but when we are living in loving obedience to God.

We know we have joined Him in an intimate relationship because we live out His commands. If someone claims, “I am in an intimate relationship with Him,” but this big talker doesn’t live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and a stranger to the truth. But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God’s love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him: anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk the path Jesus walked.

My loved ones, in one sense, I am not writing a new command for you. I am only reminding you of the old command. It’s a word you already know, a word that has existed from the beginning. However, in another sense, I am writing a new command for you. The new command is the truth that He lived; and now you are living it, too, because the darkness is fading and the true light is already shining among you.

Anyone who says, “I live in the light,” but hates his brother or sister is still living in the shadows. 10 Anyone who loves his brother or sister lives in the light and will not trip because his conscience is clear. 11 But anyone who hates his brother is in the darkness, stumbling around with no idea where he is going, blinded by the darkness.

We are deeply loved by God. When we turn and love those members of our faith family whom God loves, we are set apart and different from the world.

12 I am writing to you, my children, because your sins have been forgiven by the authority of His name.

13 I am writing to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him as the Creator, as the One who started everything.

I am writing to you, young people, because He has given you the power to conquer the evil one.

14 I have written to you, my children, because you have known the Father.

I have written to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him, the Creator.

I have written to you, young people, because the voice of God remains and is heard among you. Remember that you have conquered the evil one.

15 Don’t fall in love with this corrupt world or worship the things it can offer. Those who love its corrupt ways don’t have the Father’s love living within them. 16 All the things the world can offer to you—the allure of pleasure, the passion to have things, and the pompous sense of superiority—do not come from the Father. These are the rotten fruits of this world. 17 This corrupt world is already wasting away, as are its selfish desires. But the person really doing God’s will—that person will never cease to be.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

Psalm 120

Psalm 120

A song for those journeying to worship.

The Songs for the Journey to Worship (Psalms 120–134) celebrate the journey to Jerusalem to worship in God’s temple. Centuries before these psalms were composed, the Lord chose to make His earthly home on Mount Zion in Jerusalem and directed David’s son to build His house. King Solomon built the first temple and dedicated it to God in an elaborate ceremony that brought Israel together on the holy mountain (1 Kings 8). Now, clearly, the wise king believed that the one True God was present everywhere in the world, but he knew that Jerusalem was a special place, a sacred space picked by God. Solomon understood what we seem to have forgotten: those created in God’s image long to encounter God in His holiness. And if we try to make every place holy, then no place is holy because holy means “set apart,” “distinct,” “special.” So we need sacredness in our lives: sacred times, places, and people in our search for wholeness, for shalom. For centuries God’s faithful people of the first and second covenants have gone on pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Often these songs have gone with them, for they desire to draw close to God and to walk in the steps of those who have passed the faith along.

When I was in deep trouble, I called out to the Eternal,
and He answered my call.
I prayed: “Protect me, Eternal,
from lips that lie
and tongues poisoned with deceit.”

Liars, what will be your prize?
And what will come your way,
O you tongues poisoned with deceit?
Here’s what you can expect: the archers’ arrows honed sharp
as well as the red-hot coals of the broom wood.

Sorrow is mine, for I am a foreigner wandering in Meshech;
I am a stranger drifting among the tents of Kedar!
My soul has roamed much too long
among people who despise peace.
I am for peace; I ask for peace,
but even as I open my mouth,
they are ready to fight.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

Proverbs 28:25-26

25 When the greedy want more, they stir up trouble;
but when a person trusts in the Eternal, he’s sure to prosper.
26 Anyone who puts confidence only in himself is a fool,
but the person who follows wisdom will be kept safe.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Wednesday November 30, 2022 (NIV)

Daniel 7

In the first year of Belshazzar’s reign over Babylon, Daniel had a dream and saw visions as he slept in his bed. When he got up, he remembered the dream and wrote it down. This is the beginning of his record:

These events most likely take place in 554 b.c. They are a flashback to before the feast in chapter 5.

Daniel: As I dreamed that night, I saw a vision: I was looking and saw the four winds of heaven blow in from all directions and sweep across the surface of the Mediterranean Sea,[a] whipping up waves and turmoil within the deep. Four great beasts rose up from the churning waters, each one different from the other. The first to surface was like a lion. It had giant wings like an eagle’s protruding from its shoulders. I watched as suddenly its feathers were plucked and its wings removed. The great beast was lifted up from the earth so that it could stand on two feet like a human being. Then it was given human intellect. After this I looked and saw a second beast rising from the sea, this one resembling a bear. It was raised up on one of its sides, and in its mouth, gripped tightly between its teeth, were three ribs. And the bear was told to get up and devour even more flesh. After witnessing this, I continued to look and saw another beast appear from beneath the waves. This one was fierce and fast like a leopard. It had a bird’s wings like the lion, but two pairs instead of one coming out of its back. It had four heads, and men bowed to this beast, and it was permitted to rule over them. While I continued to gaze at this vision that night, a fourth beast arose. As if from a nightmare, it was terrifying, more awful and more powerful than anything I had ever seen. Its enormous iron teeth devoured and shattered its prey. Everything was crushed beneath its massive feet. And this fourth beast was unlike the previous three, having ten horns protruding from its head. As I stared at the creature and wondered about the ten horns, suddenly another horn grew out of its head, smaller than the rest. Three of the first horns were pushed up from their roots to make room for the little horn. It appeared to have eyes like a human and a mouth that boasted and bragged of its great exploits.

As I watched the vision unfold,
thrones were set in place,
And the Ancient of Days took His throne above all.
His clothes were the purest white, as white as snow,
and the hair of His head was like the finest wool.
His throne was a flaming fire,
set on wheels that blazed like the sun.
10 A stream of fire emerged and flowed from His presence.
Thousands upon thousands of heavenly beings were there to serve Him;
millions upon millions stood by to attend Him.
The heavenly court sat to hear a case,
and the books of judgment were opened.

11 I continued to look on the scene and heard the clatter of arrogant words spoken by that smaller horn. And as I watched, the verdict was given, and the sentence enacted: the fourth beast was slain, and its body was destroyed, delivered over to the consuming fire. 12 As for the other beasts, their power and position were taken away, but they were allowed to live for a little while longer.

13 I saw another spectacle in the night visions:
I looked and saw someone like a son of man
coming with the clouds of heaven.[b]
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was ushered into His presence.
14 To Him was given authority, honor, and a kingdom
so that all people of every heritage, nationality, and language might serve Him.
His dominion will last forever,
His throne will never pass away,
and His kingdom will never be destroyed.

15 As for me, Daniel, I was deeply disturbed by all that I saw; these night visions terrified me. 16 So I approached one of the heavenly beings standing before the flaming throne and asked him to explain exactly what had happened. So he did. And this is what he told me it all meant, the interpretation he gave me to all I had seen and heard:

Heavenly Being: 17 The four great beasts you saw that rose from the wind-whipped sea are four kings who will rise from the earth and come to rule vast empires. 18 But the holy ones of the Most High God will receive that kingdom which will last for all the ages to come, forever and ever.

Daniel: 19 But I wanted to know more. I wanted to understand the whole truth about the fourth beast. It was different from the other three, so fearsome with its iron teeth and bronze claws devouring and shattering its prey and trampling everything in its path beneath its massive feet.

The beasts can be identified by a careful study of history. The lion, bear, leopard, and fourth terrifying beast represent Babylon, Media, Persia, and Greece. Persia had four kings, so the leopard had four heads. The ten horns of the fourth beast with iron teeth represent the ten dominant Seleucid kings after Alexander the Great’s empire splintered into four regions. The smaller horn is Antiochus IV who put down three potential Seleucid leaders (horns) before him.

Just because a prophecy has been fulfilled once, it doesn’t mean the prophecy is no longer instructive. Daniel’s prophecies are excellent examples of this idea. Written from the perspective of the Babylonian exile, these prophecies describe the coming suffering of God’s people under foreign rule and look forward to a time when God will liberate them. During the next 300 years, the Jews watch Daniel’s prophecies unfold. The Persian Empire is conquered by a Greek, Alexander the Great, in 333 b.c. Alexander’s short reign is followed by the division of the empire into four districts governed by his politically inexperienced generals; Israel is ruled by a string of cruel men—culminating in the reign of Antiochus IV who attempts to turn Jerusalem into a Greek city, bans the Torah, and even builds an altar to Zeus in God’s temple. In the face of such pagan influence, God instigates the Maccabean Revolt of 167-165 b.c. At that time, Jerusalem’s God-fearing traditions return, and Israel is ruled by the Jews. But these historical facts are not the end of God’s message. Within Daniel’s prophecies is a description of the end of the age, a time when evil will be punished and the Liberator will reign.

Daniel: 20 I was intrigued with the 10 horns on the beast’s head and that 11th horn that grew up and uprooted the other 3 horns, that horn with eyes like human eyes and a mouth that uttered arrogant words, that horn that looked greater than the rest. 21 I looked on as that 11th horn waged war against the holy ones; for a while it seemed it might triumph over them, that is, 22 until the Ancient of Days arrived and ruled in favor of the holy ones of the Most High. Now the appointed time had come when the holy ones took possession of the eternal kingdom. 23 The heavenly being told me,

“The fourth beast, like the other three,
represents a fourth kingdom that will rule on earth.
This kingdom will be different from the rest;
it will devour the whole earth
And crush everything beneath its feet
and shatter it all to pieces.
24 The 10 horns are 10 kings
that will arise from this fourth kingdom.
After these another king will come to power
who will be very different from the kings before him,
seizing power until he subdues three kings.
25 This king will speak out against the Most High,
and try to wear down His holy ones;
He will seek to alter the sacred times and special law God gave them,
and they will be under his control
for time, times, and half a time.
26 After this, the heavenly court will sit in judgment,
his authority will be taken from him,
and his supremacy over the earth will come to a permanent end.
27 Then the great ruling authority
of the kingdoms under the heavens
Shall be handed over to the covenant people,
the holy ones of the Most High;
Their kingdom will last forever,
and all the remaining kingdoms will worship and serve Him.”

28 This is the end of his record.

Daniel: My thoughts on these matters upset me greatly. My face grew pale, but I kept it all to myself.

Footnotes:

  1. 7:2 Literally, Great Sea
  2. 7:13 Mark 13:26; 14:62; Revelation 1:7; 14:14
The Voice (VOICE)

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

1 John 1

We want to tell you about the One who was from the beginning. We have seen Him with our own eyes, heard Him with our own ears, and touched Him with our own hands. This One is the manifestation of the life-giving Voice, and He showed us real life, eternal life. We have seen it all, and we can’t keep what we witnessed quiet—we have to share it with you. We are inviting you to experience eternal life through the One who was with the Father and came down to us. What we saw and heard we pass on to you so that you, too, will be connected with us intimately and become family. Our family is united by our connection with the Father and His Son Jesus, the Anointed One; and we write all this because retelling this story fulfills our[a] joy.

What we are telling you now is the very message we heard from Him: God is pure light, undimmed by darkness of any kind. If we say we have an intimate connection with the Father but we continue stumbling around in darkness, then we are lying because we do not live according to truth. If we walk step by step in the light, where the Father is, then we are ultimately connected to each other through the sacrifice of Jesus His Son. His blood purifies us from all our sins. If we go around bragging, “We have no sin,” then we are fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth. But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” then we depict God as a liar and show that we have not let His word find its way into our hearts.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:4 Other manuscripts read “your.”
The Voice (VOICE)

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

Psalm 119:153-176

Resh

153 Give attention to my misery and rescue me
because I have not forgotten Your teaching.
154 Fight for me, and set me free;
give me life in keeping with Your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked
because they do not live in pursuit of Your precepts.
156 Your mercies are tender and great, O Eternal One;
grant me life in keeping with Your ordinances.
157 I have many oppressors and foes;
still I do not swerve from Your decrees.
158 I observe the faithless and detest them
because they turn away from Your word.
159 Reflect, O God, on how I love Your precepts;
give me life, O Eternal One, in keeping with Your unfailing love.
160 The entirety of Your word is truth,
and every one of Your right rulings will surely last forever.

Shin

161 Princes persecute me without reason,
but my heart remains true and is awed by Your words.
162 I celebrate because of Your promise,
like someone who discovers great treasure.
163 I despise and abhor lies,
but I love Your law.
164 Seven times every day I praise You
because of Your right rulings.
165 Those who love Your law have an abundance of peace,
and nothing along their paths can cause them to stumble.
166 I wait for Your salvation, O Eternal One,
and I live out Your commands.
167 My soul is faithful to Your decrees,
and my love for them is extraordinary.
168 I live according to Your precepts and decrees
because everything I do is right before Your eyes.

Tav

169 Let my cry come before You, O Eternal One.
Grant me understanding in keeping with Your word.
170 Let my plea come before You;
liberate me in keeping with Your word.
171 Praise will pour from my lips
because You help me learn what You require.
172 My tongue will sing of Your word
because every command of Yours is right.
173 Let Your hand be poised to help me
because I have chosen to live by Your precepts.
174 I long for Your salvation, O Eternal One.
Meanwhile, Your teaching brings me great joy.
175 Let my soul live on so that I may praise You,
and let Your precepts guide me.
176 I have wandered down the wrong path like a lost sheep; come find me, Your servant,
because I do not forget Your commands.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

Proverbs 28:23-24

23 A person who offers constructive criticism will, in the end, be appreciated more
than a person who engages in empty flattery.

24 One who robs his father or his mother
and says, “There’s nothing wrong with that! I had it coming!
walks in the company of murderers.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Tuesday November 29, 2022 (NIV)

Daniel 6

Belshazzar makes a promise he cannot keep. The night that he gives the order to reward Daniel for his service is his last night on earth. By sunrise a new king—even a new empire—rules Belshazzar’s kingdom. But Daniel doesn’t mind because the true King is with him. Darius, Belshazzar’s successor, will recognize Daniel’s obvious talents and one day promote him to the same rank Belshazzar promised.

Belshazzar’s story is a great reminder that people—regardless of their rank—who insult God or try to render God irrelevant are doomed to fall. They may not fall as quickly as Belshazzar, but they will fall.

Darius decided to rule by stationing 120 officers strategically over the entire empire. Over the officers he appointed 3 governors, including Daniel, and required each officer to report directly to them. This way the new king hoped not to lose any territories from his recent conquests or the revenue they provided. Because of Daniel’s exceptional abilities, it wasn’t long before he distinguished himself over the other governors and officers. So the king decided to appoint him as head over the entire realm. This appointment did not sit well with the other leaders, so the governors and officers tried to find reasons to level charges against Daniel for the way he supervised the kingdom. Though they tried, they could find no basis for charges or any corruption in his office. Daniel was loyal and attentive in his duties.

Conspirators: We will never find any credible basis for charges against Daniel for how he conducts his office. Perhaps we can uncover some suitable charge in regard to the law of his God.

The governors and officers agreed and went to the king with what they thought would be a way to entrap Daniel.

Conspirators (to the king): May King Darius live forever! All the leaders of the empire—the governors, prefects, officers, advisors, and other administrators—have consulted together and are in complete agreement that the king should issue an edict and enforce it strictly to the effect that anyone who prays to another—whether divine or human—except for you, of course, good king, for a period of 30 days, will be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, O king, we ask that you establish such an ordinance and sign it into law, so that it cannot be changed. For the laws enacted by the Medes and Persians cannot be rescinded.

After considering their proposal, King Darius signed the ordinance and made it law. 10 Even though Daniel was aware the king had signed the ordinance into law, he continued to do what he always did. He would go home, ascend the stairs to the upper room—which had windows facing toward Jerusalem—and get down on his knees three times a day and pray to his God and praise Him. 11 One day the conspirators came to his house and found Daniel on his knees praying and seeking God’s help. 12 So they went back to the king and asked to speak to him about the edict he had made.

Conspirators: O king! Did you not sign an edict expressly forbidding anyone, regardless of his nationality, to pray to another—whether divine or human—except for you, of course, good king, for a period of 30 days or else he would be thrown into the lion’s den?

Darius: Indeed. I did sign it, and I intend to enforce it according to the laws of the Medes and Persians. It cannot be rescinded. Why do you ask?

Conspirators (to the king): 13 Well, recently we found your servant, Daniel, one of the exiles from Judah, kneeling and praying at his home three times a day to his God. He is ignoring you, O king, and the edict you signed into law.

14 When the king heard the charge, he was very upset. He thought a great deal of Daniel, so he tried to figure out a way to help him. All day long until evening he looked for some loophole in the law to keep Daniel from falling victim to his edict. 15 The conspirators returned to press the matter further.

Conspirators (to the king): We have no need to remind the king that according to the law of the Medes and Persians, no edict established by the king can be revoked, changed, or ignored.

16 With his honor at stake, the king had no choice. He gave the order for Daniel to be captured. Before Daniel was thrown into the pit with the lions, the king spoke to him.

Darius: May your God, the God you have served so faithfully, rescue you!

17 Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den and a stone was brought in and placed over the opening to shut the mouth of the den. The king himself sealed it with his own signet ring and with the signets of his nobles. That way no one could tamper with the pit and nothing could happen to change Daniel’s fate. 18 The king retired to his palace and spent the night fasting. That evening he stayed to himself, turning down his regular evening musical entertainment. When he finally went to bed, he could not sleep.

19 When first light of morning finally arrived, the king got up and didn’t waste any time returning to the lions’ den.

Darius can hardly wait to see what has happened to Daniel, who has become indispensable to the king.

20 As he drew near the den, with anguish in his voice he called out to Daniel, hoping somehow he was still alive.

Darius: Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, the One you have served so faithfully, been able to rescue you from these hungry lions?

Daniel (to the king): 21 Long live the king! 22 As soon as you shut the mouth of this den, My God sent His heavenly representative to shut the mouths of these hungry lions so that they could not hurt me. He has rescued me because I am as innocent before Him as I am before you, O king. I have done you no harm.

23 The king could hardly contain his excitement and joy. He ordered that Daniel be taken up out of the lions’ den. He was removed and examined carefully, but not even a scratch was found on him—all because he put his trust in His God. 24 The king gave yet another order; this time he demanded that those who accused Daniel of wrongdoing be captured and thrown into the lions’ den—but not only them—their wives and children too. As they were being pushed into the den, before they even hit the bottom, the lions jumped on them, overpowered them, and crushed their bones in their powerful jaws.

25 Afterward King Darius sent a message to all the peoples through the world, regardless of their heritage, nationality, or language.

Message: May peace and prosperity be yours! 26 I decree that all people everywhere who live under my sovereign rule ought to tremble before and fear the God of Daniel.

For He is the living God,
and He will endure forever.
His kingdom will never be overthrown;
His reign will know no end.
27 He saves and rescues those who fear Him,
performing signs and wonders in heaven and on earth;
For He has rescued His servant Daniel
from the power of the lions.

28 With his enemies defeated, Daniel continued to thrive during the reign of Darius and into the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

2 Peter 3

This is now, my dear friends, my second letter to you. In both of them, I have tried to inspire you to a sincere and pure way of thinking by reminding you of what you already know. Remember the words spoken earlier by God’s holy prophets and the commandment that our Lord and Savior gave to you through your emissaries.[a] Above all, be sure to remember that in the last days mockers will come, following their own desires and taunting you, saying, “So what happened to the promised second coming of Jesus? For everything keeps going just the way it has since our ancestors fell asleep in death; since the beginning of creation, nothing’s changed.”

These believers face persecution every day and eagerly await the day when Jesus will return and judge their enemies. But what is taking so long?

When they make fun of you, it’s as if the scoffers are deliberately forgetting that long ago when God spoke the word, the heavens came into existence and the earth formed from water and by water. The waters later flooded and destroyed that world. By that same word, the heavens and earth we see now are being reserved for destruction by fire, preserved until the time comes for the godless on the day of judgment.

Don’t imagine, dear friends, that God’s timetable is the same as ours; as the psalm says, for with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day.[b]

Scoffers use the delay in His second coming to question if He is going to return at all. Peter responds by saying that God’s perspective on time is not like ours. What seems long from a finite, human perspective is incredibly short from an eternal one. Peter also describes how God is not slow, but patient. God wants to allow the time needed for as many sinners as possible to turn from their sinful ways. Unlike some depictions of God as vindictive and enjoying inflicting punishment on people, the God we see here desires that all be saved and not destroyed. If we had true spiritual insight, we would not be amazed by the severity of eternal judgment but by the intensity of God’s mercy.

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise—slow is how some people want to characterize it—no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God’s.[c]

10 The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night; and on that day, the sky will vanish with a roar, the elements will melt with intense heat, and the earth and all the works done on it will be seen as they truly are.[d] 11 Knowing that one day all this will come to pass, think what sort of people you ought to be—how you should be living faithful and godly lives, 12 waiting hopefully for and hastening the coming of God’s day when the heavens will vanish in flames and the elements melt away with intense heat. 13 What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns.

14 So, my friends, while we wait for the day of the Lord, work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish; 15 and look at the patience of the Lord as your salvation. Our dearly loved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, has written about this. 16 He says essentially the same in all of his letters, although uneducated and unstable readers misinterpret the difficult passages, just as they always misread Scripture, to their spiritual ruin.

17 So hear my final words, my friends. Now that I have warned you about what’s ahead, keep up your guard and don’t let unprincipled people pull you away from the sure ground of the truth with their lies and misunderstandings. 18 Instead, grow in grace and in the true knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Anointed, to whom be glory, now and until the coming of the new age. Amen.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:2 Literally, apostles
  2. 3:8 An allusion to Psalm 90:4
  3. 3:9 Literally, repent
  4. 3:10 Other manuscripts read “be burned up.”
The Voice (VOICE)

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

Psalm 119:129-152

Pe

129 Your decrees inspire wonder;
because of that, my soul desires to keep them.
130 When Your words are unveiled, light shines forth;
they bring understanding to the simple.
131 My desire for Your commands
left me waiting, open-mouthed and panting.
132 Acknowledge me and show me Your grace
as is Your habit toward all those who love Your name.
133 Guide my steps in the ways of Your word,
and do not let any sin control me.
134 Rescue me from the torment of my human oppressors
so that I may live according Your decrees.
135 Let Your face shine upon Your servant,
and help me to learn what You require.
136 My eyes shed rivers of tears
whenever people fail to keep Your teaching.

Tsadhe

137 You are good and just, O Eternal One,
and Your rulings are right.
138 You have set out Your decrees in justice,
and they can be trusted.
139 I am overwhelmed by my passion
because my enemies have forgotten Your words.
140 Your promise is tested and true;
that’s why Your servant loves it.
141 I may be insignificant to some and hated by others,
but at least I do not forget Your precepts.
142 Your righteousness will last forever,
and Your law is truth.
143 Trouble and distress have overtaken me,
but Your commandments bring me great joy.
144 Your decrees are right and true forever;
grant me understanding so that I may live.

Qoph

145 I called to You wholeheartedly: “Answer me, O Eternal One!”
I will respect, I will follow Your statutes.
146 I cried out to You: “Rescue me,
and I will live according to Your decrees.”
147 I wake before the dawn and call for help;
I hope in Your words.
148 My eyes do not shut before each watch of the night
so that I can fix my mind on Your word.
149 Listen to my voice, in keeping with Your unfailing love.
Preserve my life, O Eternal One, according to Your just rulings.
150 Those who wish me harm are moving closer to me;
they are far away from Your teaching.
151 But You are near me, O Eternal One,
and all You have commanded is true.
152 I learned a long time ago
that You established Your decrees to last forever.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

Proverbs 28:21-22

21 Showing favoritism is not good;
some will desert the truth for a measly crust of bread.

22 A greedy person is in a hurry to get rich,
but he is ignorant of the loss that is about to overtake him.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Monday November 28, 2022 (NIV)

Daniel 5

A theme found throughout Scripture is that God humbles the proud and exalts the humble. Nebuchadnezzar is stronger than anyone else, and he knows it. He willingly accepts credit for all that has happened in his life, so God moves decisively to show how insignificant Nebuchadnezzar truly is. It takes little to reduce him to an animal-like state, a wild man living at the margins of humanity, his power and prestige eroded overnight. If one of the greatest kings in history degenerates so completely, what can be done to common folks? Seven years of living as an animal go by, however, and he comes to his senses. He recognizes the truth of who he is and who God is. That realization is his salvation.

1-2 A few decades later, the king, Belshazzar, held a state banquet and invited a thousand of his officials.

The regent stands in for the king and performs his duties while King Nabonidus spends 10 years campaigning abroad, that is, fighting to expand the kingdom. In this case, the regent is Nabonidus’ son Belshazzar.

As he was tasting the wine, he ordered servants to bring in the gold and silver vessels his predecessor Nebuchadnezzar had stolen from the temple in Jerusalem many years earlier. He wanted his officials to join him, his wives, and his concubines in drinking a royal toast from them. A little later his servants returned carrying in the gold[a] vessels that had been taken from the temple, the house of the one True God in Jerusalem. The king, his officials, his wives, and his concubines began to drink from them. As they drank the wine, they offered praise to their idols crafted in gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.

Suddenly the fingers of a hand—a human hand—appeared and began to write on the plaster of one of the palace walls lit by a nearby lampstand. The king stood transfixed, watching the hand as it wrote. Then his face changed. He grew pale and began to feel sick. His thoughts frightened him: what was this strange vision? His legs felt weak and wobbly. His knees knocked together. The king cried out to his servants, ordering them to bring in the enchanters, the Chaldean wise men, and the diviners.

Belshazzar (to Babylon’s wise men): A great reward awaits the first person who can read this writing and tell me what it means. He will be clothed in purple, wear a gold chain around his neck, and ascend in rank and privilege to be the third-highest-ranking ruler in the kingdom.

All the king’s purported wise men came forward to examine the wall, but no one could read the writing or tell the king what it meant. When it became clear that none of his sages could help him, King Belshazzar became even more frightened. His face grew even paler, and his officials were dumbfounded.

10 Belshazzar’s mother, the queen, overheard some of the discussions between the king and his noble guests, so she entered the banquet hall.

Queen: Long live the king! Don’t let this strange incident frighten you or let your face grow pale. 11 Need I remind you that there is a gifted man in your kingdom who possesses the spirit of the holy gods. Years ago, in the time of your predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar, he was discovered to have insight, understanding, and wisdom like that of the gods. That is why King Nebuchadnezzar put him in charge of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldean astrologers, and diviners in his kingdom. 12 This man Daniel, whom King Nebuchadnezzar named Belteshazzar, has special abilities, knowledge, and wisdom; he is able to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve problems no one else can. Why don’t you call for Daniel? He will tell you what the writing means.

13-14 With no other options, Belshazzar gave the order, and Daniel was brought before him.

Belshazzar (to Daniel): Are you that Daniel I’ve heard so much about, one of the exiles brought here from Judah by my predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar? I have been told that you possess the spirit of the holy gods—that you have insight, understanding, and exceptional wisdom. 15 Before you arrived, I had the wise men and enchanters brought before me to see if they could read this writing on the wall and tell me what it means, and not one of them was able to tell me. 16 But it has been reported to me directly that you can offer accurate interpretations and solve problems no one else can. Now I will offer you what I offered the others: if you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple, wear a gold chain around your neck, and ascend in rank and privilege to be the third-highest-ranking ruler in the kingdom.

Daniel: 17 Keep the gifts for yourself, or else award them to another. That is up to you. Still, I will agree to read the writing on the wall and tell you what it means.

18 O king, the Most High God gave sovereignty, greatness, honor, and splendor to your predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar. 19 God made him so great and powerful that all peoples, regardless of their heritage, nationality, or language, trembled in fear before him. He did as he pleased: executing or sparing, honoring or shaming anyone as he wished. 20 But there came a point when his heart was so proud and his spirit so haughty that he acted arrogantly; he lost his royal throne and was stripped of his royal honors. 21 He was driven away from all that is human, and he took on the base instincts of an animal; he lived in the company of wild donkeys and bent over to eat grass like the oxen; every night the dew of heaven fell heavy on his body and made him wet until he learned his lesson and acknowledged that the Most High God is the true sovereign over all earthly kingdoms, and He grants authority to anyone He wishes.

22 But even though you knew all this, you, Belshazzar, his descendant, have followed in his ways and not lived humbly. 23 On the contrary, you have risen up against the true Lord of heaven. By demanding that the sacred vessels from His temple be brought before you and having you, your officials, your wives, and your concubines drink from them, you have issued a challenge you cannot win. You have made toasts and offered praise to the idols crafted in silver and gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone—idols which cannot see you, hear you, or know anything at all. And you have failed to honor in all you do the one True God who holds the breath of life in the palm of His hand and makes possible all your days. 24 He is the one who sent this hand and inscribed this message on the wall, 25 and this is what the inscription says: “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.”

The cryptic word play is short and sweet. MENE, MENE; TEKEL; PARSIN: Numbered, numbered (your days); weighed (deficiently); divided (your empire).

26 Here is what these words mean: MENE: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end; 27 TEKEL: You have been weighed on the scales and found defective; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided and handed over to the Medes and Persians.”

29 True to his word, Belshazzar gave the order and Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and the king proclaimed that he ascend in rank and privilege to be the third-highest-ranking ruler in the kingdom.

30 That very night, under the cloak of darkness, Belshazzar, the Chaldean king of Babylonia, was killed. 31 Then Darius the Mede, in his 62nd year, gained control of the kingdom.

Footnotes:

  1. 5:3 Other manuscripts add, “and silver.”
The Voice (VOICE)

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

2 Peter 2

Just as false prophets rose up in the past among God’s people, false teachers will rise up in the future among you. They will slip in with their destructive opinions, denying the very Master who bought their freedom and dooming themselves to destruction swiftly, but not before they attract others by their unbridled and immoral behavior. Because of them and their ways, others will criticize and condemn the path of truth we walk as seedy and disreputable. These false teachers will follow their greed and exploit you with their fabrications, but be assured that their judgment was pronounced long ago and their destruction does not sleep.

New Testament writers warn the church to watch out for false teachers. Peter faults them primarily for their immoral lifestyles rather than for doctrinal differences.

For God did not spare the heavenly beings who sinned, but He cast them into the dark pits[a] of hell[b] to be kept until the time of judgment; and He did not spare the ancient world, but He sent a flood swirling over the ungodly (although He did save Noah, God’s herald for what is right, with seven other members of his family); and God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to ash as a lesson of what He will do with the ungodly in the days to come 7-8 (although again He did rescue Lot, a person who did what was right in God’s eyes and who was distressed by the immorality and the lawlessness of the society around him. Day after day, the sights and sounds of their lawlessness were like daggers into that good man’s soul). If all this happened in the past, it shows clearly the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials and how to hold the wicked in punishment until the day of judgment.

Is God different in the New Testament from what He is in the First Testament? In the First Testament, God seems prone to judgment; but some feel God is more concerned about love in the New Testament. However, the central and most repeated affirmation about God’s character in the First Testament is that He is gracious and compassionate (Exodus 34:6–7). And the New Testament clearly does not ignore the idea of God’s judgment, as this text shows. His judgment will come, but it is delayed by God’s patient mercy.

10 And above all, it shows He will punish those who let the desires of their bodies rule them and who have no respect for authority. People like this are so bold and willful that they aren’t even afraid of offending heavenly beings, 11 although the heavenly messengers—in spite of the fact that they have greater strength and power—make no such accusations against these people before the Lord. 12 These people who speak ill of what they do not understand are no different from animals—without sense, operating only on their instincts, born to be captured and killed—and they will be destroyed just like those animals, 13 receiving the penalty for their evil acts. They waste their days in parties and carousing. As they feast with you, these stains and blemishes on your community are feasting on their deceptions.[c] 14 Their eyes are always looking for their next adulterous conquests; their appetites for sin cannot be satisfied. They seduce the unwary soul, and greed is the only lesson they have learned by heart. God’s curse lies upon them. 15 They have veered off the right road and gotten lost, following in the steps of Balaam, the son of Beor, the false prophet. Balaam loved the reward he could get by doing evil, 16 but he was rebuked for crossing the line into sin; his own speechless donkey scolded him in a human voice, an amazing miracle that reined in the prophet’s insanity.[d]

17 These people I’m talking about are nothing but dried-up springs, mists driven by fierce winds; the deepest darkness has been set aside for them. 18 They speak in loud voices empty and arrogant. They exploit the desires of the flesh, take advantage of sensual natures, to entangle people who have just escaped from those who live by deception. 19 They claim to offer them freedom, but they themselves are enslaved by corruption because whatever a person gives in to soon becomes his master. 20 Those who have been pulled out of the cesspool of worldly desires through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Anointed One, yet have found themselves mired in it again are worse off than they were before. 21 They would have been better off never knowing the way of righteousness than to have known it and then abandoned the sacred commandment they had previously received and dived back into the muck! 22 In their cases, the words from Proverbs hold true: “The dog goes back to his own vomit,”[e] and as the Greeks say, “The sow is washed to wallow in the mud.”

Footnotes:

  1. 2:4 Other manuscripts read “into chains of darkness.”
  2. 2:4 Literally, Tartarus
  3. 2:13 Other manuscripts read “in their love feasts.”
  4. 2:16 Numbers 22–24
  5. 2:22 Proverbs 26:11
The Voice (VOICE)

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

Psalm 119:113-128

Samekh

113 I despise those who waver back and forth,
but I love Your teachings.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield of protection;
I hope in Your word.
115 Away from me, reprobates!
I am committed to observing the commands of my God.
116 Support me in keeping with Your promise, O God, so that I may live;
do not let my hope turn into shame.
117 Help me so that I will be safe,
and I will respect Your laws continually.
118 You have rejected all those who stray from Your commands
because their fraudulent lifestyles are cunning and empty.
119 You have discarded all the wicked from the land, skimmed them off like dross;
that’s why I love Your testimonies.
120 My body shakes because of my fear of You,
and I am in awe of Your wise rulings.

Ayin

121 I have lived with fairness and integrity;
do not leave me at the mercy of my tormenters.
122 Provide security and protection for Your servant’s welfare;
do not let the proud oppress me.
123 My eyes are strained as I look for Your salvation
and for Your righteous promise to be fulfilled.
124 Treat Your servant in a manner that shows Your unfailing love,
and help me to learn Your decrees.
125 I am Your servant; impart to me understanding
so that I may fully grasp the depths of Your statutes.
126 It is time for the Eternal to step in and do something
because some have broken Your law.
127 Indeed, I love Your commands
more than gold, even more than the highest quality gold.
128 It’s true that I regard all Your guidance to be correct and good;
I despise every deceptive path.

The Voice (VOICE)

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

Proverbs 28:19-20

19 Whoever cultivates his land will have plenty of food in the harvest,
but whoever cultivates worthless ventures will have poverty in abundance.

20 A reliable person will not escape blessings,
but one who wants to get rich quick will not escape trouble.

The Voice (VOICE)

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