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Acts 21:37-40; Acts 22:1-29; Judges 17; Judges 18; Psalm 43

Acts 21:37-40

Paul's Defense before the Jerusalem Mob

37 As he was about to be brought into the barracks, Paul said to the commander, "Am I allowed to say something to you?" He replied, "Do you know Greek? 38 Aren't you the Egyptian who raised a rebellion some time ago and led 4,000 Assassins, a Lat loanword from sica , dagger; compare "cut-throats" or daggermen. into the desert?" 39 Paul said, "I am a Jewish man from Tarsus of Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. Now I ask you, let me speak to the people." 40 After he had given permission, Paul stood on the steps and motioned with his hand to the people. When there was a great hush, he addressed them in the Hebrew language:

Acts 22:1-29

1 "Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense before you." 2 When they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even quieter. 3 He continued, "I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and educated according to the strict view of our patriarchal law. Being zealous for God, just as all of you are today, 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and putting both men and women in jail, 5 as both the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. Having received letters from them to the brothers, I was traveling to Damascus to bring those who were prisoners there to be punished in Jerusalem.

Paul's Testimony

6 "As I was traveling and near Damascus, about noon an intense light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' 8 "I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' "He said to me, 'I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting!' 9 Now those who were with me saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of the One who was speaking to me. 10 "Then I said, 'What should I do, Lord?' "And the Lord told me, 'Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything that is assigned for you to do.' 11 "Since I couldn't see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 12 Someone named Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good reputation with all the Jews residing there, 13 came to me, stood by me, and said, 'Brother Saul, regain your sight.' And in that very hour I looked up and saw him. 14 Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of His voice. 15 For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now, why delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins by calling on His name.' 17 "After I came back to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple complex, I went into a visionary state 18 and saw Him telling me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me!' 19 "But I said, 'Lord, they know that in synagogue after synagogue I had those who believed in You imprisoned and beaten. 20 And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving, and I guarded the clothes of those who killed him.' 21 "Then He said to me, 'Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "

Paul's Roman Protection

22 They listened to him up to this word. Then they raised their voices, shouting, "Wipe this person off the earth-it's a disgrace for him to live!" 23 As they were yelling and flinging aside their robes and throwing dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, directing that he be examined with the scourge, so he could discover the reason they were shouting against him like this. 25 As they stretched him out for the lash, Paul said to the centurion standing by, "Is it legal for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen and is uncondemned?" 26 When the centurion heard this, he went and reported to the commander, saying, "What are you going to do? For this man is a Roman citizen." 27 The commander came and said to him, "Tell me-are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes," he said. 28 The commander replied, "I bought this citizenship for a large amount of money." "But I myself was born a citizen," Paul said. 29 Therefore, those who were about to examine him withdrew from him at once. The commander too was alarmed when he realized Paul was a Roman citizen and he had bound him.

Judges 17

Micah's Priest

1 There was a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Micah. 2 He said to his mother, "The 1,100 pieces of silver taken from you, and that I heard you utter a curse about-here, I have the silver with me. I took it. So now I return it to you." Then his mother said, "My son, you are blessed by the Lord!" 3 He returned the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother, and his mother said, "I personally consecrate the silver to the Lord for my son's benefit to make a carved image overlaid with silver." 4 So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took five pounds of silver and gave it to a silversmith. He made it into a carved image overlaid with silver, and it was in Micah's house. 5 This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and household idols, and installed one of his sons to be his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever he wanted. 7 There was a young man, a Levite, from Bethlehem in Judah, who resided within the clan of Judah. 8 The man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah to settle wherever he could find a place. On his way he came to Micah's home in the hill country of Ephraim. 9 "Where do you come from?" Micah asked him. He answered him, "I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I'm going to settle wherever I can find a place. 10 Micah replied, "Stay with me and be my father and priest, and I will give you four ounces of silver a year, along with your clothing and provisions." So the Levite went in 11 and agreed to stay with the man, and the young man became like one of his sons. 12 Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in Micah's house. 13 Then Micah said, "Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, because a Levite has become my priest."

Judges 18

Dan's Invasion and Idolatry

1 In those days, there was no king in Israel, and the Danite tribe was looking for territory to occupy. Up to that time no territory had been captured [by them] among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the Danites sent out five brave men from all their clans, from Zorah and Eshtaol, to spy out the land and explore it. They told them, "Go and explore the land." They came to the hill country of Ephraim as far as the home of Micah and spent the night there. 3 While they were near Micah's home, they recognized the speech of the young Levite. So they went over to him and asked, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? What is keeping you here?" 4 He told them what Micah had done for him and that he had hired him as his priest. 5 Then they said to him, "Please inquire of God so we will know if we will have a successful journey." 6 The priest told them, "Go in peace. The Lord is watching over the journey you are going on." 7 The five men left and came to Laish. They saw that the people who were there were living securely, in the same way as the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting. There was nothing lacking in the land and no oppressive ruler. They were far from the Sidonians, having no alliance with anyone. 8 When the men went back to their clans at Zorah and Eshtaol, their people asked them, "What did you find out?" 9 They answered, "Come on, let's go up against them, for we have seen the land, and it is very good. Why wait? Don't hesitate to go and invade and take possession of the land! 10 When you get there, you will come to an unsuspecting people and a wide-open land, for God has handed it over to you. It is a place where nothing on earth is lacking." 11 Six hundred Danites departed from Zorah and Eshtaol armed with weapons of war. 12 They went up and camped at Kiriath-jearim in Judah. This is why the place is called the Camp of Dan to this day; it is west of Kiriath-jearim. 13 From there they traveled to the hill country of Ephraim and arrived at Micah's house. 14 The five men who had gone to spy out the land of Laish told their brothers, "Did you know that there are an ephod, household gods, and a carved image overlaid with silver in these houses? Now think about what you should do." 15 So they detoured there and went to the house of the young Levite at the home of Micah and greeted him. 16 The 600 Danite men were standing by the entrance of the gate, armed with their weapons of war. 17 Then the five men who had gone to spy out the land went in and took the carved image overlaid with silver, the ephod, and the household idols, while the priest was standing by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war. 18 When they entered Micah's house and took the carved image overlaid with silver, the ephod, and the household idols, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?" 19 They told him, "Be quiet. Keep your mouth shut. Come with us and be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest for the house of one person or for you to be a priest for a tribe and family in Israel?" 20 So the priest was pleased and took his ephod, household idols, and carved image, and went with the people. 21 They prepared to leave, putting their small children, livestock, and possessions in front of them. 22 After they were some distance from Micah's house, the men who were in the houses near it mobilized and caught up with the Danites. 23 They called to the Danites, who turned to face them, and said to Micah, "What's the matter with you that you mobilized [the men]?" 24 He said, "You took the gods I had made and the priest, and went away. What do I have left? How can you say to me, 'What's the matter with you?' " 25 The Danites said to him, "Don't raise your voice against us, or angry men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives." 26 The Danites went on their way, and Micah turned to go back home, because he saw that they were stronger than he was. 27 After they had taken the gods Micah had made and the priest that belonged to him, they went to Laish, to a quiet and unsuspecting people. They killed them with their swords and burned down the city. 28 There was no one to save them, because it was far from Sidon and they had no alliance with anyone. It was in a valley that belonged to Beth-rehob. They rebuilt the city and lived in it. 29 They named the city Dan, after the name of their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel. The city was formerly named Laish. 30 The Danites set up the carved image for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the Danite tribe until the time of the exile from the land. 31 So they set up for themselves Micah's carved image that he had made, [and it was there] as long as the house of God was in Shiloh.

Psalm 43

1 Vindicate me, God, and defend my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from the deceitful and unjust man. 2 For You are the God of my refuge. Why have You rejected me? Why must I go about in sorrow because of the enemy's oppression? 3 Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to Your dwelling place. 4 Then I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy. I will praise You with the lyre, God, my God. 5 Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.
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