Wednesday

July 6, 2022

Section 1 of 4

Joshua 8

About 4.7 Minutes

Now the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed (intimidated). Take all the men of war with you and set out, go up to Ai; see, I have given the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land into your hand. You shall do [the same] to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king; [except that] you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set up an ambush for the city behind it [on the west side].”

So Joshua set out with all the people of war to go up against Ai; then Joshua chose thirty thousand valiant men, and sent them out at night. He commanded them, saying, “Listen closely, you are going to lie in wait and ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far away from the city, but all of you be ready. Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us [for battle] as [they did] the first time, we will run away from them. They will come out after us until we have lured them away from the city, because they will say, ‘They are running from us as [they did] before.’ So we will run from them. Then you will emerge from the ambush and take possession of the city, for the Lord your God will hand it over to you. When you have taken the city, you shall set it on fire; you shall do [exactly] as the Lord commanded. See, I have commanded you.” So Joshua sent them off, and they went to the place for the ambush and stayed [hidden] between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people [in Gilgal].

10 Now Joshua got up early in the morning and assembled the people, and went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai. 11 Then all the fighting men who were with him went up and advanced and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a ravine between them and Ai. 12 And Joshua took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13 So they stationed the people, all the army—the main encampment that was north of the city, and their rear guard on the west side of the city—and Joshua spent that night in the valley. 14 Now when the king [and the people] of Ai saw it, the men of the city hurried and got up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, the king and all his people at the appointed [time and] place before the desert plain (the Arabah). But he did not know that there was an ambush against him [waiting] behind the city [on the west side]. 15 So Joshua and all Israel pretended to be defeated by them, and ran toward the wilderness. 16 Then all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were lured away from the city. 17 Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel; so they left the city open and unguarded and they pursued Israel.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Reach out with the spear that is in your hand [and point it] toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua reached out with the spear in his hand [and pointed it] toward the city. 19 The [men in] ambush emerged quickly from their [hiding] place, and when Joshua stretched out his hand they ran and entered the city and captured it, and quickly set the city on fire. 20 When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold, the smoke of the city was ascending toward the sky, and they had no opportunity to run this way or that way. Then the people who had been running to the wilderness turned back toward the pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the [men in] ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city was ascending, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the others came out of the city to confront the men of Ai [as they returned], so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; then Israel struck them until none of them survived or escaped. 23 But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field in the wilderness where they pursued them, and they had all fallen by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed, then all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25 And all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand, all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the spear until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Israel took only the livestock and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He had commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a rubbish heap forever, a desolation until this day. 29 He hanged [the body of] the king of Ai on a tree [leaving it there] until evening; at sunset Joshua gave a command and they took the body down from the tree and dumped it at the entrance of the city gate, and piled a great heap of stones over it that stands to this day.

30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no one has wielded an iron tool; and they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the sons of Israel, Joshua wrote on the stones a copy of the Law of Moses which Moses had written. 33 All Israel, the stranger as well as the native born [among them], with their elders and officers and their judges, stood on either side of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded at first to bless the people of Israel. 34 Then afterward Joshua read all the words of the law, the blessing and curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and the children and the foreigners who were living among them.

Section 2 of 4

Psalms 139

About 3.2 Minutes

139 O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me.

You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do];
You understand my thought from afar.

You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways.

Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken],
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

You have enclosed me behind and before,
And [You have] placed Your hand upon me.

Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.


Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will take hold of me.
11 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,
And the night will be the only light around me,”
12 
Even the darkness is not dark to You and conceals nothing from You,
But the night shines as bright as the day;
Darkness and light are alike to You.

13 
For You formed my innermost parts;
You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb.
14 
I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was being formed in secret,
And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were appointed for me,
When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape].

17 
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 
If I could count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.

19 
O that You would kill the wicked, O God;
Go away from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20 
For they speak against You wickedly,
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 
I hate them with perfect and utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.

23 
Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart;
Test me and know my anxious thoughts;
24 
And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Section 3 of 4

Jeremiah 2

About 8.1 Minutes

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord,

“I remember [earnestly] the lovingkindness and devotion of your youth,
Your time of betrothal [like that of a bride during the early years in Egypt and again at Sinai],
When you followed Me in the wilderness,
Through a land not sown.

“Israel was holy [something set apart from ordinary purposes, consecrated] to the Lord,
The first fruits of His harvest [in which no outsider was allowed to share].
All who ate of it [injuring Israel] became guilty;
Evil came on them,” says the Lord.’”

Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord,

“What injustice or unrighteousness did your fathers find in Me,
That they have wandered far from Me
And [habitually] walked after emptiness and futility and became empty?

“They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord
Who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
Through a land of deserts and of pits,
Through a land of drought and of the deep darkness [of the shadow of death],
Through a land that no man passed through
And where no man lived?’

“I brought you into a plentiful land
To eat its fruit and [enjoy] its good things.
But you came and defiled My land
And you made My inheritance repulsive.

“[Even] the priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
And those who deal with the law [given to Moses] did not know Me.
The rulers and shepherds also transgressed against Me,
And the prophets prophesied by [the authority and in the name of] Baal
And walked after [idolatrous] things that did not benefit [them].


“Therefore I will still contend (struggle) with you [by bringing judgment on you],” says the Lord,
“And I will contend with your children’s children.”
10 
“For cross over to the coasts of Kittim (Cyprus) [to the west] and see,
Send also to Kedar (Arabia) [to the east] and carefully observe and consider
And see whether there has been such [a thing] as this!
11 
“Has a nation [ever] changed gods
Even though they were not gods [but merely man-made objects]?
But My people have exchanged their Glory (the true God)
For that [man-made idol] which does not benefit [them].
12 
“Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
Be shocked and shudder with horror [at the behavior of the people],” says the Lord.
13 
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have abandoned (rejected) Me,
The fountain of living water,
And they have carved out their own cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That cannot hold water.

14 
“Is Israel a servant? Is he a slave by birth?
Why has he become a captive and a prey?
15 
“The young lions have roared at him,
They have made their voices heard and roared loudly.
And they have made his land a waste;
His cities have been destroyed and are burned ruins, without inhabitant.
16 
“Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes [as powerful enemies]
Have shaved the crown of your head [to degrade you].
17 
“Have you not brought this on yourself
By abandoning (rejecting) the Lord your God
When He led you in the way?
18 
“Now what are you doing by going to Egypt [in search of an ally],
To drink the [muddy] waters of the Nile?
Or what are you doing by going to Assyria [in search of an ally],
To drink the [muddy] waters of the Euphrates?
19 
“Your own wickedness will discipline you,
And your desertion of the faith will punish you.
Know therefore that it is an evil and bitter thing
For you to abandon (reject) the Lord your God,
And for you to be indifferent to Me and dismiss the [reverent] fear of Me,” says the Lord God of hosts.

20 
“For long ago you broke your yoke [in deliberate disobedience]
And tore off your bonds [of the law that I gave you];
You said, ‘I will not serve and obey You!’
For on every high hill
And under every green tree
You have lain down [in idolatrous worship] like a [compliant] prostitute.
21 
“Yet I had planted you [O house of Israel as] a choice vine,
A completely faithful seed.
How then have you turned against Me
Into degenerate shoots of a foreign and wild vine [alien to Me]?
22 
“For though you wash yourself with lye
And use much soap,
The stain of your guilt is [still] before Me [and you are soiled and dirty],” says the Lord God.
23 
“How can you say, ‘I am not defiled,
I have not gone after [man-made gods like] the Baals’?
Look at your way in the valley;
Know [without any doubt] what you have done!
You are a swift and restless young [female] camel [in the heat of her passion] running here and there,
24 
Or [you have the untamed and reckless nature of] a wild donkey accustomed to the wilderness,
That sniffs the wind in her passion [for the scent of a mate].
In her mating season who can restrain her?
No males seeking her need to weary themselves;
In her month they will find her [looking for them].
25 
“[Cease your mad running after idols to]
Keep your feet from becoming bare
And your throat from becoming dry;
But you said, ‘It is hopeless!
For I have loved strangers and foreign gods,
And I will walk after them.’

26 
“As the thief is shamed when he is caught,
So the house of Israel is shamed—
They, their kings, their leaders,
Their priests, and their prophets—
27 
Who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
For they have turned their backs to Me,
And not their faces;
But in the time of their trouble they will say,
‘Arise [O Lord] and save us.’
28 
“But where are your gods
Which you made for yourself?
Let them get up, if they can save you
In the time of your trouble!
For [as many as] the number of your cities
Are your gods, O Judah. [Why do not your many man-made idols run to help you?]

29 
“Why do you complain and contend with Me?
You have all rebelled (transgressed) against Me,” says the Lord.
30 
“In vain I have punished your people [with the consequences of their disobedience];
They received no insight from correction [and refused to change].
Your [own] sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.
31 
“O generation [that you are], consider and regard carefully the word of the Lord.
Have I been a wilderness to Israel [like a land without food],
A land of thick and deep darkness [like a path without light]?
Why do My people say, ‘We [have broken loose and we] are free to roam [at will];
We will no longer come to You’?
32 
“Can a virgin forget [to wear] her ornaments,
Or a bride her attire [that identifies her as a married woman]?
Yet My people have forgotten Me
Days without number.
33 
“How well you prepare your path
To seek and obtain [adulterous] love!
Even the most wicked of women
Have learned [indecent] ways from you.
34 
“Also on your skirts is found
The lifeblood of the innocent poor;
You did not find them breaking in [a house].
But in spite of all these things [your disobedience, your love of idolatry, your lack of compassion]—
35 
Yet you keep saying, ‘I am innocent;
Surely His anger has turned away from me.’
Behold (listen very carefully), I will bring you to judgment and will plead my case against you
Because you say, ‘I have not sinned.’
36 
“Why do you go around and wander so much
Changing your way?
Also, you will be shamed by Egypt
As you were shamed by Assyria.
37 
“From Egypt also you will come away [as captives]
With your hands on your head;
For the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust (confide),
And you will not be successful with them.”

Section 4 of 4

Matthew 16

About 3.5 Minutes

16 Now the Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus [to get something to use against Him], they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven [which would support His divine authority]. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and has a threatening look.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but cannot interpret the signs of the times? An evil and [morally] unfaithful generation craves a [miraculous] sign; but no sign will be given to it, except the sign of [the prophet] Jonah.” Then He left them and went away.

When the disciples reached the other side of the sea, they realized that they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch out and be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, “He said that because we did not bring bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you still not understand or remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you picked up? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many large baskets you picked up? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the [false] teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

13 Now when Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah, or [just] one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of the living God.” 17 Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ]. 19 I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth will have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He gave the disciples strict orders to tell no one that He was the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed).

21 From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples [clearly] that He must go to Jerusalem, and endure many things at the hands of the elders and the chief priests and scribes (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), and be killed, and be raised [from death to life] on the third day. 22 Peter took Him aside [to speak to Him privately] and began to reprimand Him, saying, “May God forbid it! This will never happen to You.” 23 But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on things of God, but on things of man.”

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity]. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world [wealth, fame, success], but forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory and majesty of His Father with His angels, and then He will repay each one in accordance with what he has done.

28 “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”


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