Monday, October 31, 2016

DBRP_306 EZK.38 EZK.39 ISA.15 HEB.10.12-39

EZEKIEL 38-39:
Yesterday we heard the famous ‘dry bones’ chapter of Ezekiel. Again the prophecy is that David will rule over the nation of Israel, which is like a nation of bones brought back to life. The references to David of course point to his heir, Christ.

Starting in this chapter we hear of the kingdoms of Gog and Magog. These names point to future kingdoms in the north (in Turkey or farther north). Like Ezekiel’s prophecies against the kings of Tyre and Babylon, Gog and Magog point to spiritual entities beyond this world, and we will hear those names coming up again in Revelation. I doubt that these names pointed to a specific kingdom in Ezekiel’s day, but if they did, the knowledge about that is lost.
Yesterday’s reading in Isaiah started out like Ezekiel, talking of Israel’s return from exile and slavery. Then we heard another portion where the king of Babylon is clearly portraying Satan. That section starts with these words (in the NLT):

12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O shining star, son of the morning!
You have been thrown down to the earth,
you who destroyed the nations of the world.
13 For you said to yourself,
‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. …

In the first part of chapter 10, the writer is still speaking of the advantages and greater glory of the new covenant, proving this with a reference to Psalm 40 and returning to the extended quote from Jeremiah 31.

Translation notes:
22 So let us come near to God with a sincere heart[, with full belief, and// and a sure faith,] with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water
39 We are not people who turn back and are lost. Instead, we [are those people who keep or believing//have faith] and are saved.

Check out this episode!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

DBRP_305 EZK.36 EZK.37 ISA.14 HEB.10.1-22

EZEKIEL 36-37:
In chapter 34, we heard the passage that many Jews would have thought of when they heard Jesus say, “I am the good shepherd. I give my life for the sheep.” The Lord promised to take away corrupt shepherds and to shepherd the flock himself.

Like we heard in Ezekiel and in Isaiah, and will hear in Revelation, Babylon will be judged. That kingdom was God’s tool to execute judgment, but they themselves will feel God’s judgment.

In chapter 9 of Hebrews, details about rituals under the first covenant were given. The writer was showing by contrast how Jesus entered a greater, permanent, holy, divinely made Most Holy Place with the one-time-only sacrifice of his own blood. In our time, I think the details also show us the impossibility of our ever rebuilding a system like the Mosaic covenant. I take this opportunity to share my opinion— which I recognize will not be shared by all listeners. But here it is: Those who want to add old covenant observances to our Christian faith just add accretions of man-made ritual. It is better to study and understand how much better the new covenant is, rather than to add empty and powerless ritual and symbolism from the old to the new.

Translation note:
22 So let us come near to God with a sincere heart[, with full belief, and// and a sure faith,] with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016


Hi there!

It feels great to be home. Thanks to all of you who prayed for me and Gale while I was in Indonesia for seven weeks.
In my news podcast before I left for Jakarta, I told about how I wanted to change the face of our non-profit organization into this:

Albata is a network of friends who pray that the understanding of God’s Word will increase everywhere in Indonesia.

I was unhappy that the business of running Albata (our organization) had taken our focus away from one of our main spiritual founding principles: We were supposed to be basing everything we were doing on prayer. Instead, forgetting to pray, we were spending our time thinking about adding personnel or programs and wondering how we would pay for them.

I am thankful that the Lord has given me four key men in Indonesia that God used
  • To keep me from tearing down things that didn’t need to be done away with,
  • To modify my impractical ideas into practical ones appropriate to Indonesian people,
  • To recognize that some people were kind of idolizing me and to avoid building anything on that,
  • To help me mentor Daniel, formerly our operations manager, to become our prayer and communications coordinator.
When I left for Indonesia, I was really frustrated with our operations manager, Daniel, because I blamed him for things that were probably my own fault in not leading effectively. Prayer really does change everything. Daniel helped me figure out that our new prayer emphasis needed someone to shepherd it. He was right. We changed his job description, and I have seen a transformation in him. Before, he was a capable manager. Now he is showing new talents in networking with people in multiple provinces to encourage and coordinate a spiritual ministry: the increase of the understanding of God’s Word all over Indonesia. Some of the things that he has encouraged are seen in the pictures I will share at the Digging Deeper Facebook Group. (below) One can see the results of his work popping up at the Friends of Albata Group. They include a man writing short devotional texts using our TSI New Testament, a weekly radio program quoting from our translation, and new groups praying that the Plain Indonesian Old Testament will all be drafted by 2020. Volunteers are spreading news about our translation and prayer requests, and all this is a huge answer to prayer.

One thing I asked prayer for is that 30 people would join our online Bible translation course by the end of September. We didn’t get even close on that. Right now there are 17 members in the course. Unless things change, I anticipate than only 4-5 will finish and be able to help our team. I praise the Lord that one of the students is taking our course, not to work with Albata’s team, but because she is working in an ethnic language translation project.

Albata and our publishing partner have agreed that starting in January, our second edition TSI New Testament will be sold all over Indonesia for a subsidized price of $3. Please pray that this special price being available at all bookstores will move Indonesian believers to give copies to friends. Pray also that some people will moved by the Lord to distribute copies to rural people groups. Giving a discounted price means that we will need to come up with the subsidy of $2.25 per copy, and that mounts up when we’re talking about 10,000 New Testaments! That means that I took the step of faith that the Lord would provide $22,500. Praise the Lord that He has already brought one donor who will help with this project.

Our translation coordinator and I are busily working on revisions to the TSI New Testament. We’re especially trying to improve verses where the phrasing is odd or hard to read. We need to have the revisions all done by the end of November, so that typesetting can be done in time for printing in January. Please pray for us in making very exacting decisions, and I especially ask you to pray for my accuracy in typing in changes. I don’t want to add any errors.

Perhaps some of you are wondering what I will be doing with the DBRP for 2017. I am planning to continue with my on-one-year off-one-year schedule. This means that I do not plan to re-record the whole Bible again next year. If the Lord wills, I do plan to make another set of recordings in 2018. Here is what I am planning for 2017: I will publish a new blog post every day with links to both the NLT set and the GNT set of readings. I’m doing this as a service to any new people who find the DBRP and want to start their reading plan in the first week of the new year. I won’t actually have to work at this every day, since the blog posts can be scheduled in advance. I plan to make another news podcast in December where I will give you recommendations for other Bible reading podcasts that you can listen to in 2017. One year listening to me is plenty.

May the Lord bless you ‘real good’!

Check out this episode!

DBRP_304 EZK.34 EZK.35 ISA.13 HEB.9

EZEKIEL 34-35:
In Ezekiel yesterday, we heard of how Pharaoh was to be mocked in the world of the dead. Then we heard of God’s justice, which he showed by the illustration of Ezekiel as a watchman for a city.


Yesterday’s reading in Isaiah was a psalm of praise including these poetic lines (which I am quoting from the NLT):

The LORD GOD is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.”
3 With joy you will drink deeply
from the fountain of salvation!

Tell the nations what he has done.
Let them know how mighty he is!

Important conclusions from yesterday’s reading include:

6 But now, Jesus has been given priestly work which is superior to theirs, just as the covenant which he arranged between God and his people is a better one, because it is based on promises of better things.
13 By speaking of a new covenant, God has made the first one old; and anything that becomes old and worn out will soon disappear.


Check out this episode!

Friday, October 28, 2016

DBRP_303 EZK.32 EZK.33 ISA.12 HEB.8

EZEKIEL 32-33:
Again, as seen in the messages to Tyre and to Egypt, God was not just speaking to one king or about one kingdom, but was also speaking against the kingdom/city of Man or the world system under the rulership of Satan.

In yesterday’s reading we again heard of the righteous Branch, a shoot growing from David’s root. And we heard these famous words which I give here from the NLT:

2 And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 He will delight in obeying the LORD.
He will not judge by appearance
nor make a decision based on hearsay.
4 He will give justice to the poor
and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
5 He will wear righteousness like a belt
and truth like an undergarment.

In yesterday’s reading, the writer of Hebrews showed many similarities between Melchizedek and Christ, including that they are kings of righteousness and peace, they live forever, and are higher in position and better than Abraham and Moses. Christ is also better than the Levitical priests because he received his priesthood by an oath from God and because he holds his office as priest forever. These things are amazingly confirmed by that prophetic verse in Psalm 110. And very significantly, Jesus thus being our High Priest signifies a change in the Law— something that the original Jewish audience would have found surprising and controversial. Note how skillfully the writer wove in that controversial topic— which he brings to a conclusion in today’s chapter.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

DBRP_302 EZK.30 EZK.31 ISA.11 HEB.7

EZEKIEL 30-31:
As the Lord was pronouncing doom upon the Prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, did you notice how the language shifted to talking about things that the human prince could not have done. The spirit-world ruler behind the prince of Tyre is really in mind— that is, Satan. The tirade against the King of Egypt could also be similarly interpreted.

Isaiah recorded in yesterday’s portion that Assyria’s army would come to Judah, but that Judah would be different from the other nations that Assyria conquered. And it did indeed happen like that!

Yesterday the author of Hebrews reminded us of Abraham and Melchizedek. We ought to have great confidence in our hope, because the God— who cannot lie, has given us both a promise and an oath. The last verse of Hebrews 6 introduces again the topic of Melchizedek:

20 On our behalf Jesus has gone in there before us (that is, into the heavenly sanctuary) and has become a high priest forever, in the priestly order of Melchizedek.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

DBRP_301 EZK.28 EZK.29 ISA.10 HEB.6

EZEKIEL 28-29:
So why were there two whole chapters against the city-state of Tyre in yesterday’s reading, plus one more today?! I think we see the answer in Revelation. Tyre is very like the picture of Babylon (which in that book is a picture of Rome). All the way through the Bible— starting with the Tower of Babel, we see a contrast between the ‘city of man’ and the ‘city of God’. The world powers will be utterly defeated, along with all the wealth of commerce that supports them now.

Yesterday’s reading included wonderful prophecies concerning Jesus that are quoted in the Gospels and in Handel’s Messiah:

2 The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (NLT)

Jesus is our High Priest, not in the order of Aaron, but Melchizedek. This chapter picks up where the last left off. Yesterday’s chapter ended with the call for spiritual maturity:

12b NLT “You are like babies who need milk and cannot [yet] eat solid food.”

Translation notes:
1 NLT [So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and [believing in God//placing our faith in God].//Let us go forward, then, to mature teaching and leave behind us the first lessons of the Christian message. We should not lay again the foundation of turning away from useless works and believing in God;]

4 For how can those who abandon their [beliefs//faith] be brought back to repent again? They were once in God's light; they tasted heaven's gift and received their share of the Holy Spirit;
6 And then they abandoned their [beliefs//faith]! It is impossible to bring them back to repent again, because they are again crucifying the Son of God and exposing him to public shame.
10 God is not unfair. He will not forget the work you did or the love you showed for him in the help you gave and are still giving to other [of God’s holy people//believers//Christians].

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

DBRP_300 EZK.26 EZK.27 ISA.8.21-22 ISA.9 HEB.5

EZEKIEL 26-27:
Yesterday we heard a second word picture of Jerusalem as a cooking pot. This was not good news. Then Ezekiel received word that his treasure— his wife, would die. And he was commanded not to mourn as a sign of what the people would do when they heard about the slaughter in Jerusalem. Then there were messages of punishment for the nations of Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia.

In yesterday’s reading, God gave Isaiah the name of his son, which pictures the conquest of Judah by the Assyrian army. Then there was a wonderful and often quoted part that in the New Testament identifies Jesus as the stumbling stone:

12 “Do not join in the schemes of the people and do not be afraid of the things that they fear. 13 Remember that I, the Lord Almighty, am holy; I am the one you must fear. 14 Because of my awesome holiness I am like a stone that people stumble over; I am like a trap that will catch the people of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel and the people of Jerusalem. 15 Many will stumble; they will fall and be crushed. They will be caught in a trap.”

Chapter 4 contains the wonderful verse about God’s word being living and active, and the encouragement to come boldly with our prayers before the throne of God.

The Greek for 4:9 literally says, “There remains a sabatismos for the people of God.” GNT translated that word as “‘a rest like God's resting on the seventh day.” Sabatismos— a word evidently coined by the writer, could mean God resting on the 7th day or the Sabbath day observance, or both. Here is verse 9 in our PET translation, which shows how we made the concept of a ‘place/land of rest’ clear in Indonesian:

9 So this shows that there is still an opportunity for us— the people of God, to enter God’s ‘land of rest’— which is a spiritual calmness that can be pictured as like stopping work on the Sabbath Day.

Check out this episode!

Monday, October 24, 2016

DBRP_299 EZK.24 EZK.25 ISA.8 HEB.4

EZEKIEL 24-25:
Yesterday in Ezekiel we heard the shockingly graphic story of the two adulterous sisters, which were really the cities of Samaria and Jerusalem.

In yesterday’s reading, Isaiah was sent to Ahaz, and the message to the king contains a prophecy that probably had two fulfillments— one in King Ahaz’ time and another at Jesus’ birth: “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” Had the New Testament not explicitly stated that Jesus’ birth was a fulfillment of this verse, the similarity would be considered just an interesting coincidence.

In chapter 3 we read about God promising another day for the fulfillment of giving Israel a place of rest. And that other day is called ‘today’!

Translation notes:
2 For we have heard the Good News, just as they did. They heard the message, but it did them no good, because when they heard it, they did not [fully believe it//accept it with faith].

[In our Plain English Translation, we gave the full meaning of the coined word ‘sabatismos’ found in verse 9.  The word is coined by the writer from the word for Sabbath. Here is verse 9 in our PET translation, which shows how we made this concept clear in Indonesian:]
9 So this shows that there is still an opportunity for us— the people of God, to enter God’s ‘land of rest’— which is a spiritual calmness that can be pictured as like stopping work on the Sabbath Day.
11 Let us, then, do our best to receive that rest, so that no one of us will fail as they did because of their lack of [belief//faith].

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

DBRP_298 EZK.23 ISA.7 HEB.3

In yesterday’s reading, we heard the Lord promise that he would refine Israel as purifying silver in a crucible. And then we heard the famous and poignant words:

30 GNT I looked for someone who could build a wall, who could stand in the places where the walls have crumbled and defend the land when my anger is about to destroy it, but I could find no one. //NLT “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.

Yesterday we heard the story of Isaiah’s vision of the glory of the Lord in the temple. Isaiah’s lips were purified with a coal from the altar. Then after hearing the Lord’s call, he said the famous words, “Here I am. Send me!” And the Lord revealed that his messages would not be received.

Translation notes:
3 The Lord said to [me//Isaiah], “Take your son Shear Jashub, and go to meet King Ahaz. You will find him on the road where the cloth makers work, at the end of the ditch that brings water from the upper pool.
13 To that [I//Isaiah] replied, “Listen, now, descendants of King David. It's bad enough for you to wear out the patience of people—do you have to wear out God's patience too?

Rereading HEBREWS 3:
Yesterday we heard the quote from Ps. 95 that forms the basis for this section. It is because I want the quoted content of this chapter firmly in our minds that I scheduled this chapter to be read twice. The failure of the Israelites was their refusal to believe in the Lord and what He told them. Believing is a volitional act.

Translation notes:
1 My [dear fellow believers//Christian friends], who also have been called by God! Think of Jesus, whom God sent [as his representative, and whom we profess as our High Priest// to be the High Priest of the faith we profess].
7 So then, as the Holy Spirit says, “[When//If] you hear [the Lord’s//God's] voice today,
8 do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were when they rebelled against [me//God], as they were that day in the desert when they put [me//him] to the test.
19 We see, then, that they were not able to enter the land, because they [refused to//did not] believe.


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Saturday, October 22, 2016

DBRP_297 EZK.22 ISA.6 HEB.3

Yesterday we heard of the sword of the Lord, which was to come to Jerusalem, actually in the form of the army of the king of Babylon. And there would be punishment also for the Ammonites.

In yesterday’s reading, we heard one of the famous chapters that relate to Israel as the Lord’s vine. This would have been in the minds of those who listened to Jesus when he gave his teaching about the vine bearing fruit in John 15. God said yesterday, “They will go into exile because they do not know me.”

In Hebrews 2 we heard the first of the writer’s warnings. The writer’s increasingly strong warnings are a persistent theme in this book. And for the first time we heard that Jesus is our perfect High Priest. Jesus is perfect for that position because he fully shared our human existence, and he suffered and defeated the devil’s power over death.

Translation note:
1 My [dear fellow believers//Christian friends], who also have been called by God! Think of Jesus, whom God sent [as his representative, and whom we profess as our High Priest// to be the High Priest of the faith we profess].
7 So then, as the Holy Spirit says [quoting God’s words], “If you hear [my//God's] voice today,
8 do not be stubborn, as your ancestors were when they rebelled against [me//God], as they were that day in the desert when they put [me//him] to the test.
19 We see, then, that they were not able to enter the land, because they [refused to//did not] believe.


Check out this episode!

Friday, October 21, 2016

DBRP_296 EZK.21 ISA.5 HEB.2

Yesterday we saw that the Lord was quite offended when unrighteous leaders of Israel came to ask for a message from the Lord! And Ezekiel begged to not have to give a highly figurative message because the people complained that he was always speaking in riddles.

Yesterday there was a temporary break in the clouds in Isaiah, and we heard the first hint about the Righteous Branch who was to come.

Yesterday we heard the amazing prologue in the first chapter of Hebrews. Angels are nowhere approaching the majesty of Jesus. And Jesus was given many glorious promises.

Translation notes:[Chapter 2:5 is one of the most frequently misunderstood verses in this book! (To show the misunderstanding, I use the NLT below. The GNT fixes the problem for both readers and listeners.) People are so used to understanding the title ‘the Son of Man’ as referring to Jesus, that they they don’t realize that that is NOT the meaning here! I believe that this is the only place in the New Testament where the main Hebrew meaning of ‘son of man’ is used— which simply means ‘an ordinary human’ (or ‘mortal man’ as God calls Ezekiel in the GNT). In this chapter, the author was highlighting the difference between us and angelic beings.]

NLT 5 And furthermore, it is not angels who will control the future world we are talking about. 6 For in one place the Scriptures say,
“What are mere mortals that you should think about them,
or a son of man [— an ordinary human,] that you should care for him?
[Note that NLT has ‘son of man’ without capitals. But only one actually viewing the text can see the capitals. Listeners can’t see them.]
7 Yet you made them [— humans,] only a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.
8 You gave them authority over all things…”
Now when it says “all things,” it means nothing is left out. But we have not yet seen all things put under [the authority of mankind//their authority].


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Thursday, October 20, 2016

DBRP_295 EZK.20 ISA.3.24-26 ISA.4 HEB.1

In yesterday’s reading in Ezekiel, the Lord refuted the saying that the Israelite’s were using, “The parents have eaten sour grapes, but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.” And then Ezekiel conveyed two poems about the kings of Judah, spoken of symbolically as two lion cubs and like a vine.

ISAIAH 3:24—4:
Isaiah, like Ezekiel, also spoke of Israel like a vine, and in yesterday’s reading the Lord and Isaiah characterized Israel as a pampered, vain, and spoiled woman.

In heaven, I hope to find out who it was who wrote the book of Hebrews. The book doesn’t show signs of Pauline authorship. Important in this, there is no salutation like in all of Paul’s letters. Also, the writer does not claim to have been an eyewitness of Christ (2:3), as Paul claimed. The letter was probably written somewhat before AD 70, because even though the author talks much of the temple, he never mentions its destruction.

Mears points out that the word ‘better’ occurs 10 times, signalling a theme that Christians have been given a better way. In the first chapter the theme is that Christ is supreme and far superior to angels.

For many years I wondered why the writer did not return to his theme of our ‘place of rest’, which he gives in chapters 3-4. Now I think that he does in fact return to that theme! See if you can find it as we read through! And here’s a hint: Note that Israel’s ancestors failed to enter the place of rest because of their refusal to believe God. Hebrews 11 (which is called the Faith Chapter) shows that we enter that place of rest through fully believing God. (That is what faith is!)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

DBRP_294 EZK.18 EZK.19 ISA.3 JUD.1

EZEKIEL 18-19:
Yesterday in Ezekiel we read the riddle of the two eagles, portraying Israel’s king breaking his sworn covenant with Babylon. There is a lesson here for us. Normally Babylon would be considered the enemy, and getting free from the enemy would be considered a good thing. But NOT SO if the country has made a promise of loyalty sealed by a vow taken in God’s name! Faithfulness to oaths and promises in God’s name take precedence over ‘business as usual’.

These famous words from yesterday’s chapter in Isaiah bear repeating today:

2 In days to come
the mountain where the Temple stands
will be the highest one of all,
towering above all the hills.
Many nations will come streaming to it,
3 and their people will say,
“Let us go up the hill of the Lord,
to the Temple of Israel's God.
He will teach us what he wants us to do;
we will walk in the paths he has chosen.
For the Lord's teaching comes from Jerusalem;
from Zion he speaks to his people.”
4 He will settle disputes among great nations.
They will hammer their swords into plows
and their spears into pruning knives.
Nations will never again go to war,
never prepare for battle again.

We come today to the little epistle from Jude, the brother of Jesus. But, significantly, he doesn’t call himself Jesus’ half-brother. He calls himself the Slave of Christ Jesus. Jude wrote his letter around the same time as 2 Peter, sometime around AD 60-80. I think that Peter borrowed material from Jude, rather than the other way around. One thing that makes me think this is that Jude uses more material from extra-biblical sources than Peter does in 2 Peter 2. Jude and Peter were writing in a very difficult time for Christians, and Jude calls us to contend for the ‘faith’— the teachings that God has given to us to fully believe.

Translation notes:
3 My dear friends, I was doing my best to write to you about the salvation we share in common, when I felt the need of writing at once to encourage you to fight on for [our beliefs— the true teachings//the faith] which once and for all God has given to his people.
20 [PET But my beloved Brothers and Sisters, each of you should strengthen one another so that you continue to fully believe in the holy teachings you have received. Keep on praying with the help of the Holy Spirit.//GNT But you, my friends, keep on building yourselves up on your most sacred [beliefs//faith]. Pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,]


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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

DBRP_293 EZK.17 ISA.2 MAT.28

Yesterday’s chapter graphically portrayed how God considers idolatry like the adultery of a faithless wife. Jerusalem (as Judah’s capital) was compared— in a very unflattering way, to her two sister cities, Samaria and Sodom.

In the first chapter of Isaiah, we heard the Lord compare Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah. And we heard how the Lord hates false religious rituals, including the sacrifices that were specified in the Law. If these are done without a corresponding attempt to live in God’s will, they are a stench to Him.

Yesterday’s reading ended with Jesus’s body wrapped in a shroud and laid in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb. The tomb was sealed and Roman soldiers were standing guard.

Translation note:
1 After the Sabbath, as Sunday morning was dawning, Mary[— the one from the village of Magdalene//Magdalene] and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

DBRP_292 EZK.16 ISA.1 MAT.27.35-66

This book should make modern day ‘prophets’ reconsider what they do in the Lord’s name. In this book we have heard again and again that the Lord will punish those who prophesy falsely. And in the part about the wood of a vine being useless in yesterday’s reading, there is only one useful thing a grape vine does, and this is bear grapes. And God was saying that since Israel did not bear the proper fruit, He would judge them, and do this without delay. The complaints become even more graphic in today’s reading.

Translation note:
The Sovereign Lord [says//said], “You are doomed! Doomed! You did all that evil, and then

For a number of years now, Isaiah has marked the end of my year. We will be reading Isaiah in our poetry portions until day number 365. Since I start my readings anew every January 1st, I always enjoy the preparation Isaiah gives for Christmas, and also the correspondences with Revelation in the New Testament, which we also will read at the end of our reading calendar.

Isaiah was written between 739 and 681 BC. I am of the opinion that the break in material at chapter 40 does not signal a different author. Isaiah simply was older and the Lord gave him different messages at the end of his life. Isaiah was a man of royal blood and of high standing.

In the New Testament, Isaiah is the most frequently quoted OT book. Isaiah has 66 chapters and the Bible has 66 books. Further, Isaiah dIvides just where the testaments break, with 40 corresponding to Matthew in the NT. The first part of Isaiah deals with God’s judgment on Judah and on other nations. The senselessness of idolatry is preached against all the way through Isaiah. In Isaiah we can also see two comings for Christ, with Isaiah giving the wonderful 53rd chapter about the suffering Servant (Christ), and his coming in power is spoken about in chapter 34.

Today we hear the second half of the crucifixion events.

Translation note:
“You were going to tear down the Temple and build it back up in three days! [Go on and] Save yourself if you are God's Son! Come on down from the cross!”
56 Among them were Mary
 [from the village of Magdala//Magdalene], Mary the mother of James and Joseph ([who were Jesus’ half-brothers//0]), and the wife of Zebedee.


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Sunday, October 16, 2016

DBRP_291 EZK.14 EZK.15 SNG.8 MAT.27.1-44

EZEKIEL 14-15:
The title that the Lord calls Ezekiel is ‘son of man’, which the Lord is using in the normal sense, meaning ‘ordinary human’. The title for Jesus— ‘Son of Man’, is a special usage. For that, check out Daniel 7.

Note in yesterday’s reading when Ezekiel acted out how King Zedekiah would go into exile, Ezekiel covered his eyes. It was revealed to Ezekiel that Zedekiah would go to Babylon but not see it. This was fulfilled since Zedekiah had his eyes blinded after watching his sons’ deaths. This also fulfilled the prophecy against his sons.

Yesterday we heard more passionate expressions of love, and today is the final chapter of Solomon’s Song.

I imagine that as the high priest tore his clothes and shouted ‘blasphemy’ that his expression was not one of grief, but of triumph. And Peter recognized that Jesus was to be sentenced to death when he denied Christ.

Translation note:
34 There they offered [to] Jesus wine mixed with a bitter substance; but after tasting it, he would not drink it.


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Saturday, October 15, 2016

DBRP_290 EZK.12 EZK.13 SNG.7 MAT.26.31-75

EZEKIEL 12-13:
In yesterday’s reading, the vision of the glory of the Lord left the temple. Then God disagreed with what the leaders of the Israelites were saying, that they were safe in the ‘pot’ of Jerusalem.

As we heard yesterday, the bride is captivating in beauty, and so radiant that she is compared to the sun and moon.

In yesterday’s reading we heard about these events: the plot to kill Jesus, Jesus being anointed at Bethany, the Last Supper, and Peter vowing that he would never deny Jesus.

Translation notes:
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for [me,] the Son of Man[,] to be handed over to the power of sinners.
64 Jesus answered him, “So you say. But I tell all of you: from this time on you will see [me,] the Son of Man[,] sitting at the right side of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of heaven!”

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Friday, October 14, 2016

DBRP_289 EZK.10 EZK.11 SNG.6 MAT.26.1-35

EZEKIEL 10-11:
Yesterday in chapters 8-9 we heard the story of Ezekiel’s being transported to Jerusalem and his awesome vision of our glorious God revealing the idolatry of Israel happening right at the temple. Some of the locations shown are literal, and some are to be taken figuratively. One clearly sees that God has every right to be highly offended. Note that the people sharing God’s grief at this idolatrous situation received a mark on their foreheads.

Yesterday in chapter 5, we heard the young woman relating her dream.

Yesterday we heard Jesus’ direct and clear teaching about the final judgment. This was no parable. And note the words, “eternal punishment.”

Translation note:
14 Then one of the twelve disciples— [Judas, the one from the village of Karioth//the one named Judas Iscariot] —went to the chief priests
24 [I,] The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say [I//he] will, but how terrible for that man who will betray [me//the Son of Man]! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!”

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

DBRP_288 EZK.8 EZK.9 SNG.5 MAT.25.14-46

Terrible destruction is prophesied against Judah and Jerusalem. The trumpet will sound the battle call, but no one will get ready, because they are under God’s wrath.

Yesterday the young man extolled the perfection of his bride.

Yesterday in Matthew 25, we heard two parables that speak about being ready for Christ’s return. Something that is repeated in the parables on this topic is that, “outside there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus is by that teaching an important idea: That the punishment in hell will be conscious punishment (shown by the weeping), and it will be painful (as shown by the gnashing of teeth).

Translation notes:
[As in other places, I change from verse 31 on, so that Jesus talks about himself in the first person instead of the third person. Jesus’ audience by now knew that he was referring to himself as “the Son of Man”. By the way, in Ezekiel the Lord often calls Ezekiel in Hebrew “son of man,” but GNT translates that as “Mortal Man.” God was using the term in the normal sense, as it is used in Daniel 7. But Jesus was using it in a special sense, in effect saying, “I am the One Daniel saw.”]

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DBRP_287 EZK.6 EZK.7 SNG.4 MAT.25.1-30

In yesterday’s reading Ezekiel portrayed the punishment of Israel and the siege on Jerusalem for a total of 430 days. Then he took a razor and cut his hair and divided it into three parts with a little left over. This was used as a demonstration that a third of the people would die in the city from disease and famine. A third will be killed by the enemy outside the city, and the last third will be scattered by the sword. A small remnant will be saved.

Yesterday the woman had an extended speech. Today it is the man’s turn.

Yesterday was Jesus’ extended teaching about the end times and His own return, and the parables about our Being READY to receive our Master. And at the beginning of this chapter, we have one of my favorite parables.

Translation note:
13 And Jesus concluded, “Watch out, then, because you do not know the day or the hour [of my return].

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

DBRP_286 EZK.4 EZK.5 SNG.3 MAT.24.23-51

In Ezekiel 2-3 God commissioned Ezekiel to speak for God to the rebellious people of Israel. God fed Ezekiel a scroll. This tasted sweet, but afterwards I think he would tell us that it produced “bitterness”— as we will see with John who eats a similar scroll in Revelation. God gave these important words to Ezekiel in yesterday’s reading:

3:10 …“Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. (NLT)

As we have seen, this Song of Songs is high poetry. The woman’s stories— such as what we hear today, are better taken as poetic expressions of her deep love than as true narratives.

Jesus said, “Immediately after those days, the sun will be darkened and the moon will give no light.” Here is a story from 2014, the first year I was recording these podcasts. I wrote: Just three days ago, in the evening, I was with the Orya people at an open-air youth retreat. The pastor pointed out that the Bible says the moon will turn into blood (or be the color of blood). He had come from town and is not an Orya speaker. He told the people that he had seen that morning on the Internet that on that very night there would be a “blood moon”— or a lunar eclipse where the moon would turn red like blood. And while he was speaking about that and other end-times signs, sure enough, it happened! Nothing like God managing a visual presentation for you! I have never seen a more moving sight.

Translation notes:
15 “You will see ‘The Awful Horror’ of which the prophet Daniel spoke. It will be standing in the holy place.” ([May the one who reads out loud note this and explain it to those who listen!//Note to the reader: understand what this means!])
27 For [when I,] the Son of Man, [come, it will be//will come] like the lightning which flashes across the whole sky from the east to the west.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man [(my sign)] will appear in the sky; and all the peoples of earth will weep as they see [me//the Son of Man] coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 The great trumpet will sound, and [I//he] will send out [my//his] angels to the four corners of the earth, and they will gather [my//his] chosen people from one end of the world to the other.
37 [My//The] coming [as//of] the Son of Man will be like what happened in the time of Noah.
yet they did not realize what was happening until the flood came and swept them all away.
39 That is how it will be when [I,] the Son of Man[, come// comes].
44 So then, you also must always be ready, because [my coming as] the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting [me//him].

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Monday, October 10, 2016

DBRP_285 EZK.2 EZK.3 SNG.2 MAT.24.1-31

Yesterday Ezekiel described his vision of the four cherubim, and the chapter ended just as Ezekiel started hearing a Voice. The last verse ends of chapter 1 says:

When I saw this, I fell face downward on the ground. Then I heard a voice

Song of Solomon has many speaking parts for the woman, the man, and the chorus parts for people of Jerusalem or the other young women.

After a full chapter (chapter 23) of Jesus’ stern and harsh criticism and warning to his enemies, the Pharisees and teachers of religious law, Jesus teaches his disciples about what will happen in the future. Some of these warnings are about what will happen to Jerusalem 40 years after Jesus was crucified. But will those prophecies be the kind that will be re-fulfilled at the end times?

Translation notes:
10 Many will [stop believing in Me//give up their faith] at that time; they will betray one another and hate one another.
15 “You will see ‘The Awful Horror’ of which the prophet Daniel spoke. It will be standing in the holy place.” ([May the one who reads out loud note this and explain it to those who listen!//Note to the reader: understand what this means!])
27 For [when I,] the Son of Man, [come, it will be//will come] like the lightning which flashes across the whole sky from the east to the west.
30 Then the sign of the Son of Man [(my sign)] will appear in the sky; and all the peoples of earth will weep as they see [me//the Son of Man] coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 The great trumpet will sound, and [I//he] will send out [my//his] angels to the four corners of the earth, and they will gather [my//his] chosen people from one end of the world to the other.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

DBRP_284 EZK.1 SNG.1 MAT.23.13-39

Yesterday in the last chapter of 2nd Chronicles, we heard of the quick succession of the kings of Judah at the very end before the exile to Babylon: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. And after the fall of Jerusalem, chapter 36 also told of the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy about Cyrus, who gave the decree to rebuild the Temple of God. While Jeremiah prophesied about the fall of Babylon and specified the 70 year duration of the exile, it was Isaiah who mentioned King Cyrus by name— one of the most stunning of all prophecies.

Ezekiel was not only a prophet, but also a priest. When he was 25 years old, he was carried into exile in Babylon along with the upper class of people in 597 BC. Ezekiel was no doubt a pupil of Jeremiah before Ezekiel was taken into exile. The 48 chapters of this book are divided right in the middle.

*1-24 Pre-siege, prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem.
*The second half can also be divided into two parts: Chapters 25-32 talk about after the fall of Jerusalem, prophecies dealing with the punishment of Judah’s enemies.
*33-48 Prophecies about the restoration of Judah.

Ezekiel is a book that is highly important for understanding the book of Revelation in the New Testament, because things that Ezekiel saw, John also saw.

In this book Solomon extols how wonderful love is. This may be a series of wedding songs. (And Solomon needed such songs frequently!) The main question is: Is this book merely a series of songs calling for sexual faithfulness to one’s spouse? The well-known allegorical interpretation goes back at least to the Puritan period, but probably much farther to the church fathers. However, it usually seems to me that making this about Christ and the church is a bit forced. I don’t think Solomon had Christ and the church in mind. However I think Jesus may have been inspiring things that Solomon did not know.

Yesterday we heard the first part of Jesus’ invective against the Pharisees and teachers of religious law. Jesus told the truth. In a way, it was a loving act— to warn them. He already knew that these were the very men who would crucify him.


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Saturday, October 8, 2016

DBRP_283 2CH.36 ECC.12 MAT.23.1-28

Josiah’s Passover celebration showed wonderful ability to get everyone to work together and great organizational talent. It is the capstone of the revival that he led. Unfortunately, he was stubborn about going to war with Pharaoh Neco, which cost him both his own life and his son’s life.

Yesterday’s short chapter recorded proverbial advice to young and old, and that theme continues in today’s reading.

Translation note:
8 Useless, useless, [says I,//said] the Philosopher. It is all useless.
9 But because [I,] the Philosopher [have been//was] wise, [I//he] kept on teaching the people what [I know//he knew]. [I//He] studied proverbs and honestly tested their truth.
10 [I have//The Philosopher] tried to find comforting words, but the words [I have written are at least//he wrote were] honest.

In yesterday’s reading Jesus roundly defeated the Sadducees, telling them that they did not know the Scriptures or the power of God. He answered the question about the most important Law, and he asked the question no one could answer.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

DBRP_282 2CH.35 ECC.11 MAT.22.23-46

It is simply amazing that we have books like Deuteronomy, since we see that it (or perhaps Leviticus) was almost lost. And it shows how far Judah had slipped that they didn’t know of any copies. Josiah sincerely repented after hearing God’s Word.

Translation note:
15 [NET The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, manned their posts, as prescribed by [King] David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s prophet.// GNT The following musicians of the Levite clan of Asaph were in the places assigned to them by King David's instructions: Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, the king's prophet.] The guards at the Temple gates did not need to leave their posts, because the other Levites prepared the Passover for them.

Yesterday’s chapter of Ecclesiastes was mainly separate proverbs. As an example I quote verse 3, which I like in the NLT:

3 You can identify fools just by the way they walk down the street!

Translation note:
3 GNT Their stupidity will be evident even to strangers they meet along the way; they let everyone know that they are fools.
[One can be sure that ESV is overly literal with the last phrase, “he says to everyone that he is a fool.” I’ve met plenty of fools, and such a person doesn’t actually “let everyone know” (GNT) that he/she is a fool. CEV is probably right that ‘walking’ also is to be taken in its other more general meaning of ‘live’.]
3 CEV Fools show their stupidity by the way they live; it’s easy to see they have no sense.

Jesus told a pointed parable yesterday in the one about the King’s wedding feast for his son. And the people sent by the Pharisees with friends of King Herod failed miserably to trap Jesus. And why did the man at the wedding feast get thrown out for not wearing wedding clothes? If you don’t know the answer, there’s a golden treasure there waiting for you to find it.

Translation note:
1 NLT That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees— [who are] religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question:// GNT That same day some Sadducees came to Jesus and claimed that people will not rise from death.]
45 If, then, David called him ‘[my] Lord,’ how can the Messiah [just] be David's descendant?”

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

DBRP_281 2CH.34 ECC.10 MAT.22.1-22

We are definitely in the back-and-forth pendulum period of Judah. After one fantastic king, the next two were terrible. And now Josiah is again like David.

Here is a highlight from yesterday’s reading:

11 I realized another thing, that in this world fast runners do not always win the races, and the brave do not always win the battles. The wise do not always earn a living, intelligent people do not always get rich, and capable people do not always rise to high positions. Bad luck happens to everyone.

With the parable of the two sons and the parable of the evil farmers, we are in the portion of Jesus’ teaching where he both warns and confronts his enemies, showing divine wisdom that none can refute.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

DBRP_280 2CH.33 ECC.9 MAT.21.23-46

The account in 2 Chronicles of Hezekiah’s victory through prayer over the vast Assyrian army is summarized. It is much more dramatically related in 2nd Kings. Hezekiah’s experience with the envoys from Babylon can also be used as a spiritual parable for us. We need to be careful what we just accept as fate, without asking God for something better.

A nugget of exceptional wisdom from Solomon was in yesterday’s reading, and it brings with it a problem in translation. I like how GNT made the overall pessimistic meaning clear by including quote marks in 12-13. NLT does not interpret that part as an argumentative quote and casts the meaning in an optimistic light.

11 Why do people commit crimes so readily? Because crime is not punished quickly enough.
12 A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and still live. Oh yes, I know what they say: “If you obey God, everything will be all right,
13 but it will not go well for the wicked. Their life is like a shadow and they will die young, because they do not obey God.”
14 But this is nonsense. Look at what happens in the world: sometimes the righteous get the punishment of the wicked, and the wicked get the reward of the righteous. I say it is useless.

In yesterday’s reading in chapter 21, we heard of the triumphant entry, Jesus cleansing the Temple and cursing the fig tree, and the question about what right he had to do such a thing like cleansing the Temple.

Translation note:
32 [NLT 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw [that miraculous thing//this] happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.//For John the Baptist came to you showing you the right [way to live//path to take], and you would not believe him; but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. Even when you saw [that miraculous thing//this], you [refused to believe him and repent did not later change your minds and believe him.]

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

DBRP_279 2CH.32 ECC.8 MAT.21.1-27

Following that special Passover, the people went home and destroyed all the pagan shrines. And a good summary of chapter 31 is the last verse:

21 He was successful, because everything he did for the Temple or in observance of the Law, he did in a spirit of complete loyalty and devotion to his God.

Yesterday’s chapter of Ecclesiastes included quite a variety of Solomon’s proverbs, including:

5 It is better to have wise people reprimand you than to have stupid people sing your praises.
20 There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake.

The first will be last, the last first. I think we will be amazed at the justice of God’s rewards. And in some sense, we all will receive “a fair day’s pay.” The meaning of that parable was matched and furthered by the story of the mother of James and John and what Jesus said to them.

Translation note:
1 As Jesus and his disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives. There Jesus sent two of [us//the] disciples on ahead
16 So they asked Jesus, “Do you hear what they are saying?” “Indeed I do,” answered Jesus. “Haven't you ever read this scripture [when the writer said to God]? ‘You have trained children and babies to offer perfect praise.’”

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Monday, October 3, 2016

DBRP_278 2CH.31 ECC.7 MAT.20

A sign of how far Judah and Israel had wandered from the Lord was that even the Passover was not celebrated. When Hezekiah reinstituted the Passover celebration, it was the start of a real revival.

I find it interesting that Solomon would say that everything has been decided beforehand. GNT certainly implied Who it was who decided beforehand, but NLT makes that explicit:

10 Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.

Not about the issue of destiny, but about another key point presented in chapter 6, I think that Solomon would have taken back some of his words if he could have listened to what Jesus taught in yesterday’s reading in Matthew.

In yesterday’s reading, Jesus taught how evil divorce is, He blessed children (because they are so close to the kingdom of God), and He taught about the difficulty for rich people in this world to enter the Kingdom of God. And at the end of chapter 19, he gave that promise that all missionaries love, the one about the eternal rewards that will be given to those who leave their families and possessions for the Kingdom of God.

Translation notes:
7 ‘No one hired us,’ they answered. ‘Well, then, you go and work in [my//the] vineyard,’ he told them.
16 And Jesus concluded, “[Even so, at the end//So] those who are [now] last will be first, and those who are first will be last.”
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took [us,] the twelve disciples[,] aside and spoke to [us//them] privately, as [we//they] walked along.
18 “Listen,” he told [us//them], “we are going up to Jerusalem, where [I,] the Son of Man[,] will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn [me//him] to death
19 and then hand [me//him] over to the Gentiles, who will make fun of [me//him], whip [me//him], and crucify [me//him]; but three days later [I//he] will be raised to life.”
22 “You don't know what you are asking for,” Jesus answered the [two] sons. “Can you drink the cup of suffering that I am about to drink?” “We can,” they answered.
28 [For even [I,] the Son of Man,//like the Son of Man, who] did not come to be served, but to serve and to give [my//his] life to redeem many people.”
32 Jesus stopped and called [to] them [to come and then asked them,//.] “What do you want me to do for you?” [0//he asked them.]


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Sunday, October 2, 2016

DBRP_277 2CH.30 ECC.6 MAT.19

Hezekiah led a wonderful spiritual revival which included the reopening and cleansing of the temple and the resumption of sacrifices. And he wasted no time in doing those things.

Solomon gave wonderful conclusions about happiness in yesterday’s reading. And he also observed that we leave the world as naked and empty-handed as when we came into the world.

Yesterday’s portion of Matthew 18 included the important parable about the king and the forgiven servant who did not forgive the debt of his fellow servant.

Translation notes:
13 Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and to pray for them, but [we//the] disciples scolded the people.
25 When [we//the] disciples heard this, [we//they] were completely amazed [and asked]. “Who, then, can be saved?” [0//they asked.]  
26 Jesus looked straight at [us//them] and answered, “This is impossible for human beings, but for God everything is possible.”
28 Jesus said to [us//them], “You can be sure that when [I,//the] Son of Man [sit on my//sits on his] glorious throne in the New Age, then you twelve followers of mine will also sit on thrones, to rule the twelve tribes of Israel.

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

DBRP_276 2CH.29 ECC.5 MAT.18.15-35

Ahaz’s rule was one of the darkest chapters in Judah’s history. The people didn’t even bury him in the royal cemetery. He closed the temple and put up places to worship Baal all over the country. Even when under severe punishment from the Lord, he never turned to the Lord for help.

In yesterday’s chapter, I really like the passages that talk of having the companionship of 2 (or perhaps 3) people. And that idea was echoed by Jesus’ teaching about 2-3 gathered to promote Jesus’ cause.

Translation note:
6 Don't let your own words lead you into sin, so that you have to tell God's priest that you didn't mean [something//it]. Why make God angry with you? Why let him destroy what you have worked for?
9 Even [the//a] king depends on the harvest.

Yesterday we heard the passage that deals with following Jesus with child-like faith. And we heard instructions for restoring broken relationships, and what to do if reconciliation is not achieved.

Translation note:
20 For where two or three [of you] come together [because you want to glorify Me//in my name], I am there with [you//them].”


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