Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.
Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.
Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife.
But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none;
those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep;
those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs--how he can please the Lord.
But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife--
and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world--how she can please her husband.
I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.
But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin--this man also does the right thing.
So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.
A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is--and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.
Ahab said to Naboth, "Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth."
But Naboth replied, "The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers."
So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, "Why are you so sullen? Why won't you eat?"
He answered her, "Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, 'Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.' But he said, 'I will not give you my vineyard.' "
Jezebel his wife said, "Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I'll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."
So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city with him.
In those letters she wrote: "Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people.
But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them testify that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death."
So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth's city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them.
They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people.
Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, "Naboth has cursed both God and the king." So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death.
Then they sent word to Jezebel: "Naboth has been stoned and is dead."
As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, "Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead."
When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth's vineyard.
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:
"Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth's vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it.
Say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?' Then say to him, 'This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth's blood, dogs will lick up your blood--yes, yours!' "
Ahab said to Elijah, "So you have found me, my enemy!" "I have found you," he answered, "because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD.
'I am going to bring disaster on you. I will consume your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel--slave or free.
I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have provoked me to anger and have caused Israel to sin.'
"And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: 'Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.'
"Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds of the air will feed on those who die in the country."
(There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife.
He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)
When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.
Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite:
"Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son."
Hear this word, O house of Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
"Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up."
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "The city that marches out a thousand strong for Israel will have only a hundred left; the town that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left."
This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: "Seek me and live;
do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing."
Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.
You who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground
(he who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns blackness into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land-- the LORD is his name--
he flashes destruction on the stronghold and brings the fortified city to ruin),
you hate the one who reproves in court and despise him who tells the truth.
You trample on the poor and force him to give you grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
Therefore the prudent man keeps quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.
Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD God Almighty, says: "There will be wailing in all the streets and cries of anguish in every public square. The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail.
There will be wailing in all the vineyards, for I will pass through your midst," says the LORD.
Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.
Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light-- pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
"I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
"Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?
You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god-- which you made for yourselves.
Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus," says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.