1 1-6 At the end of twenty years, Solomon had quite a list of accomplishments. He had:
built The Temple of God and his own palace;
rebuilt the cities that Hiram had given him and colonized them with Israelites;
marched on Hamath Zobah and took it;
fortified Tadmor in the desert and all the store-cities he had founded in Hamath;
built the fortress cities Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon, complete with walls, gates, and bars;
built Baalath and store-cities;
built chariot-cities for his horses.
Solomon built impulsively and extravagantly—whenever a whim took him. And in Jerusalem, in Lebanon—wherever he fancied.
7-10 The remnants from the original inhabitants of the land (Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites—all non-Israelites), survivors of the holy wars, were rounded up by Solomon for his gangs of slave labor. The policy is in effect today. But true Israelites were not treated this way; they were used in his army and administration—government leaders and commanders of his chariots and charioteers. They were also the project managers responsible for Solomon’s building operations—250 in all in charge of the workforce.
11 Solomon brought Pharaoh’s daughter from the City of David to a house built especially for her, “Because,” he said, “my wife cannot live in the house of David king of Israel, for the areas in which the Chest of God has entered are sacred.”
12-13 Then Solomon offered Whole-Burnt-Offerings to God on the Altar of God that he had built in front of The Temple porch. He kept to the regular schedule of worship set down by Moses: Sabbaths, New Moons, and the three annual feasts of Unraised Bread (Passover), Weeks (Pentecost), and Booths.
14-15 He followed the practice of his father David in setting up groups of priests carrying out the work of worship, with the Levites assigned to lead the sacred music for praising God and to assist the priests in the daily worship; he assigned security guards to be on duty at each gate—that’s what David the man of God had ordered. The king’s directions to the priests and Levites and financial stewards were kept right down to the fine print—no innovations—including the treasuries.
16 All that Solomon set out to do, from the groundbreaking of The Temple of God to its finish, was now complete.
17-18 Then Solomon went to Ezion Geber and Elath on the coast of Edom. Hiram sent him ships and with them veteran sailors. Joined by Solomon’s men they sailed to Ophir (in east Africa), loaded on fifteen tons of gold, and brought it back to King Solomon.
* * *
1-4 The Pastor, to my good friend Gaius: How truly I love you! We’re the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health—that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul! I was most happy when some friends arrived and brought the news that you persist in following the way of Truth. Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!
5-8 Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible. They’ve made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It’s good work you’re doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself! They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers. So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.
9-10 Earlier I wrote something along this line to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves being in charge, denigrates my counsel. If I come, you can be sure I’ll hold him to account for spreading vicious rumors about us.
As if that weren’t bad enough, he not only refuses hospitality to traveling Christians but tries to stop others from welcoming them. Worse yet, instead of inviting them in he throws them out.
11 Friend, don’t go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God’s work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn’t know the first thing about God.
12 Everyone has a good word for Demetrius—the Truth itself stands up for Demetrius! We concur, and you know we don’t hand out endorsements lightly.
13-14 I have a lot more things to tell you, but I’d rather not use pen and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk.
Peace to you. The friends here say hello. Greet our friends there by name.
1 1-2 A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk, with orchestra:
God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you,
and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
* * *
3-7 God’s on his way again,
retracing the old salvation route,
Coming up from the south through Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
Skies are blazing with his splendor,
his praises sounding through the earth,
His cloud-brightness like dawn, exploding, spreading,
forked-lightning shooting from his hand—
what power hidden in that fist!
Plague marches before him,
pestilence at his heels!
He stops. He shakes Earth.
He looks around. Nations tremble.
The age-old mountains fall to pieces;
ancient hills collapse like a spent balloon.
The paths God takes are older
than the oldest mountains and hills.
I saw everyone worried, in a panic:
Old wilderness adversaries,
Cushan and Midian, were terrified,
hoping he wouldn’t notice them.
* * *
8-16 God, is it River you’re mad at?
Angry at old River?
Were you raging at Sea when you rode
horse and chariot through to salvation?
You unfurled your bow
and let loose a volley of arrows.
You split Earth with rivers.
Mountains saw what was coming.
They twisted in pain.
Flood Waters poured in.
Ocean roared and reared huge waves.
Sun and Moon stopped in their tracks.
Your flashing arrows stopped them,
your lightning-strike spears impaled them.
Angry, you stomped through Earth.
Furious, you crushed the godless nations.
You were out to save your people,
to save your specially chosen people.
You beat the stuffing
out of King Wicked,
Stripped him naked
from head to toe,
Set his severed head on his own spear
and blew away his army.
Scattered they were to the four winds—
and ended up food for the sharks!
You galloped through the Sea on your horses,
racing on the crest of the waves.
When I heard it, my stomach did flips.
I stammered and stuttered.
My bones turned to water.
I staggered and stumbled.
I sit back and wait for Doomsday
to descend on our attackers.
* * *
17-19 Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
(For congregational use, with a full orchestra.)
1 1-2 The Feast of Unleavened Bread, also called Passover, drew near. The high priests and religion scholars were looking for a way to do away with Jesus but, fearful of the people, they were also looking for a way to cover their tracks.
3-6 That’s when Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot. He was one of the Twelve. Leaving the others, he conferred with the high priests and the Temple guards about how he might betray Jesus to them. They couldn’t believe their good luck and agreed to pay him well. He gave them his word and started looking for a way to betray Jesus, but out of sight of the crowd.
7-8 The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, “Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together.”
9 They said, “Where do you want us to do this?”
10-12 He said, “Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there.”
13 They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal.
14-16 When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”
17-18 Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”
19 Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”
20 He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.
21-22 “Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? It’s true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out—no surprises there. But for the one who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man, this is doomsday.”
23 They immediately became suspicious of each other and began quizzing one another, wondering who might be about to do this.
24-26 Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.
27-30 “Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people.
31-32 “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”
33 Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!”
34 Jesus said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me.”
35 Then Jesus said, “When I sent you out and told you to travel light, to take only the bare necessities, did you get along all right?”
“Certainly,” they said, “we got along just fine.”
36-37 He said, “This is different. Get ready for trouble. Look to what you’ll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword. What was written in Scripture, ‘He was lumped in with the criminals,’ gets its final meaning in me. Everything written about me is now coming to a conclusion.”
38 They said, “Look, Master, two swords!”
But he said, “Enough of that; no more sword talk!”
39-40 Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”
41-44 He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
45-46 He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, “What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won’t give in to temptation.”
47-48 No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, “Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49-50 When those with him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.
51 Jesus said, “Let them be. Even in this.” Then, touching the servant’s ear, he healed him.
52-53 Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: “What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I’ve been with you in the Temple and you’ve not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it’s a dark night, a dark hour.”
54-56 Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest. Peter followed, but at a safe distance. In the middle of the courtyard some people had started a fire and were sitting around it, trying to keep warm. One of the serving maids sitting at the fire noticed him, then took a second look and said, “This man was with him!”
57 He denied it, “Woman, I don’t even know him.”
58 A short time later, someone else noticed him and said, “You’re one of them.”
But Peter denied it: “Man, I am not.”
59 About an hour later, someone else spoke up, really adamant: “He’s got to have been with him! He’s got ‘Galilean’ written all over him.”
60-62 Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” At that very moment, the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed. Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter. Peter remembered what the Master had said to him: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” He went out and cried and cried and cried.
63-65 The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun at him, slapping him around. They put a blindfold on him and taunted, “Who hit you that time?” They were having a grand time with him.
66-67 When it was morning, the religious leaders of the people and the high priests and scholars all got together and brought him before their High Council. They said, “Are you the Messiah?”
67-69 He answered, “If I said yes, you wouldn’t believe me. If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn’t answer me. So here’s what I have to say: From here on the Son of Man takes his place at God’s right hand, the place of power.”
70 They all said, “So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?”
“You’re the ones who keep saying it,” he said.
71 But they had made up their minds, “Why do we need any more evidence? We’ve all heard him as good as say it himself.”