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Acts 15:1-21; Joshua 23; Joshua 24; Job 32

Acts 15:1-21

Dispute in Antioch

1 Some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers: "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom prescribed by Moses, you cannot be saved!" 2 But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, they arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy. 3 When they had been sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, explaining in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they created great joy among all the brothers. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!"

The Jerusalem Council

6 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them: "Brothers, you are aware that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the gospel message and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us. 9 He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Why, then, are you now testing God by putting on the disciples' necks a yoke that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way they are." 12 Then the whole assembly fell silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul describing all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they stopped speaking, James responded: "Brothers, listen to me! 14 Simeon has reported how God first intervened to take from the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 And the words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written: 16 After these things I will return and will rebuild David's tent, which has fallen down. I will rebuild its ruins and will set it up again, 17 so that those who are left of mankind may seek the Lord- even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says the Lord who does these things, 18 which have been known from long ago. 19 Therefore, in my judgment, we should not cause difficulties for those who turn to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but instead we should write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For since ancient times, Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, and he is read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath day."

Joshua 23

Joshua's Farewell Address

1 A long time after the Lord had given Israel rest from all the enemies around them, Joshua was old, getting on in years. 2 So Joshua summoned all Israel, including its elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and said to them, "I am old, getting on in years, 3 and you have seen for yourselves everything the Lord your God did to all these nations on your account, because it was the Lord your God who was fighting for you. 4 See, I have allotted these remaining nations to you as an inheritance for your tribes, including all the nations I have destroyed, from the Jordan westward to the Mediterranean Sea 5 The Lord your God will force them back on your account and drive them out before you, so that you can take possession of their land, as the Lord your God promised you. 6 "Be very strong, and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left 7 and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not worship them or bow down to them. 8 Instead, remain faithful to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day. 9 "The Lord has driven out great and powerful nations before you, and no one has been able to stand against you to this day. 10 One of you routed a thousand, because the Lord your God was fighting for you, as He promised. 11 So be very diligent to love the Lord your God for your own well-being. 12 For if you turn away and cling to the rest of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry or associate with them and they with you, 13 know for certain that the Lord your God will not continue to drive these nations out before you. They will become a snare and a trap for you, a scourge for your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you disappear from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 14 "I am now going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed 15 Since every good thing the Lord your God promised you has come about, so He will bring on you every bad thing until He has annihilated you from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and worship other gods, and bow down to them, the Lord's anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land He has given you."

Joshua 24

Review of Israel's History

1 Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem and summoned Israel's elders, leaders, judges, and officers, and they presented themselves before God. 2 Joshua said to all the people, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: 'Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the region beyond the Euphrates River, led him throughout the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I gave the hill country of Seir to Esau as a possession, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. 5 " 'Then I sent Moses and Aaron, I plagued Egypt by what I did there, and afterwards I brought you out. 6 When I brought your fathers out of Egypt and you reached the Red Sea, the Egyptians pursued your fathers with chariots and horsemen as far as the sea. 7 Your fathers cried out to the Lord, so He put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea over them, engulfing them. Your own eyes saw what I did to Egypt. After that, you lived in the wilderness a long time. 8 " 'Later, I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived beyond the Jordan. They fought against you, but I handed them over to you. You possessed their land, and I annihilated them before you. 9 Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, set out to fight against Israel. He sent for Balaam son of Beor to curse you, 10 but I would not listen to Balaam. Instead, he repeatedly blessed you, and I delivered you from his hand. 11 " 'You then crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The people of Jericho-as well as the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites-fought against you, but I handed them over to you. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, and it drove out the two Amorite kings before you. It was not by your sword or bow. 13 I gave you a land you did not labor for, and cities you did not build, though you live in them; you are eating from vineyards and olive groves you did not plant.'

The Covenant Renewal

14 "Therefore, fear the Lord and worship Him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and worship the Lord. 15 But if it doesn't please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord." 16 The people replied, "We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods! 17 For the Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, the place of slavery and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through. 18 The Lord drove out before us all the peoples, including the Amorites who lived in the land. We too will worship the Lord, because He is our God." 19 But Joshua told the people, "You will not be able to worship the Lord, because He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not remove your transgressions and sins. 20 If you abandon the Lord and worship foreign gods, He will turn against [you], harm you, and completely destroy you, after He has been good to you." 21 "No!" the people answered Joshua. "We will worship the Lord." 22 Joshua then told the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship the Lord." "We are witnesses," they said. 23 "Then get rid of the foreign gods that are among you and offer your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel." 24 So the people said to Joshua, "We will worship the Lord our God and obey Him." 25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people at Shechem and established a statute and ordinance for them. 26 Joshua recorded these things in the book of the law of God; he also took a large stone and set it up there under the oak next to the sanctuary of the Lord. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, "You see this stone-it will be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words the Lord said to us, and it will be a witness against you, so that you will not deny your God." 28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance.

Burial of Three Leaders

29 After these things, the Lord's servant, Joshua son of Nun, died at the age of 110. 30 They buried him in his allotted territory at Timnath-serah, in the hill country of Ephraim north of Mount Gaash. 31 Israel worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua's lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua, and who had experienced all the works the Lord had done for Israel. 32 Joseph's bones, which the Israelites had brought up from Egypt, were buried at Shechem in the parcel of land Jacob had purchased from the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, for 100 qesitahs.It was an inheritance for Joseph's descendants. 33 And Eleazar son of Aaron died, and they buried him at Gibeah, which had been given to his son Phinehas in the hill country of Ephraim.

Job 32

Elihu's Angry Response

1 So these three men quit answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. 2 Then Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite from the family of Ram became angry. He was angry at Job because he had justified himself rather than God. 3 He was also angry at Job's three friends because they had failed to refute [him], and yet had condemned him. 4 Now Elihu had waited to speak to Job because they were [all] older than he. 5 But when he saw that the three men could not answer Job, he became angry. 6 So Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite replied: I am young in years, while you are old; therefore I was timid and afraid to tell you what I know. 7 I thought that age should speak and maturity should teach wisdom. 8 But it is a spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty that give him understanding. 9 It is not [only] the old who are wise or the elderly who understand how to judge. 10 Therefore I say, "Listen to me. I too will declare what I know." 11 Look, I waited for your conclusions; I listened to your insights as you sought for words. 12 I paid close attention to you. Yet no one proved Job wrong; not one of you refuted his arguments. 13 So do not claim, "We have found wisdom; let God deal with him, not man." 14 But Job has not directed his argument to me, and I will not respond to him with your arguments. 15 Job's friends are dismayed and can no longer answer; words have left them. 16 Should I continue to wait now that they are silent, now that they stand [there] and no longer answer? 17 I too will answer; yes, I will tell what I know. 18 For I am full of words, and my spirit compels me [to speak]. 19 My heart is like unvented wine; it is about to burst like new wineskins. 20 I must speak so that I can find relief; I must open my lips and respond. 21 I will be partial to no one, and I will not give anyone an [undeserved] title. 22 For I do not know how to give [such] titles; otherwise, my Maker would remove me in an instant.
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