An oracle concerning Damascus: "See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins.
The cities of Aroer will be deserted and left to flocks, which will lie down, with no one to make them afraid.
The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and royal power from Damascus; the remnant of Aram will be like the glory of the Israelites," declares the LORD Almighty.
"In that day the glory of Jacob will fade; the fat of his body will waste away.
It will be as when a reaper gathers the standing grain and harvests the grain with his arm-- as when a man gleans heads of grain in the Valley of Rephaim.
Yet some gleanings will remain, as when an olive tree is beaten, leaving two or three olives on the topmost branches, four or five on the fruitful boughs," declares the LORD, the God of Israel.
In that day men will look to their Maker and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel.
They will not look to the altars, the work of their hands, and they will have no regard for the Asherah poles and the incense altars their fingers have made.
In that day their strong cities, which they left because of the Israelites, will be like places abandoned to thickets and undergrowth. And all will be desolation.
You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines,
though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.
Oh, the raging of many nations-- they rage like the raging sea! Oh, the uproar of the peoples-- they roar like the roaring of great waters!
Although the peoples roar like the roar of surging waters, when he rebukes them they flee far away, driven before the wind like chaff on the hills, like tumbleweed before a gale.
In the evening, sudden terror! Before the morning, they are gone! This is the portion of those who loot us, the lot of those who plunder us.
Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death.
They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.
When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.
"I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."
So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests picked up the coins and said, "It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money."
So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners.
That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel,
and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.
Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?"
But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge--to the great amazement of the governor.
Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.
At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.
So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?"
For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
"Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered.
"What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!"
"Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!"
All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!"
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.
They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,
and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said.
They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.
After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.
Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads
and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself ! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!"
In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.
"He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself ! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' "
In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ""Eloi, Eloi," "lama" "sabachthani?""--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"47
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.
The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.
The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"
Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs.
Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.
As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.
Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.
Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.
The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
"Sir," they said, "we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again.'
So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first."
"Take a guard," Pilate answered. "Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how."
So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.
The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.
Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened.
When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money,
telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.'
If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble."
So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Woe to the land of whirring wings along the rivers of Cush,
which sends envoys by sea in papyrus boats over the water. Go, swift messengers, to a people tall and smooth-skinned, to a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers.
All you people of the world, you who live on the earth, when a banner is raised on the mountains, you will see it, and when a trumpet sounds, you will hear it.
This is what the LORD says to me: "I will remain quiet and will look on from my dwelling place, like shimmering heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest."
For, before the harvest, when the blossom is gone and the flower becomes a ripening grape, he will cut off the shoots with pruning knives, and cut down and take away the spreading branches.
They will all be left to the mountain birds of prey and to the wild animals; the birds will feed on them all summer, the wild animals all winter.
At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers-- the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty.