Isaiah 34; Isaiah 35; Isaiah 36; Colossians 2

1 Come, people of all nations! Gather around and listen. Let the whole earth and everyone living on it come here and listen. 2 The Lord is angry with all the nations and all their armies. He has condemned them to destruction. 3 Their corpses will not be buried, but will lie there rotting and stinking; and the mountains will be red with blood. 4 The sun, moon, and stars will crumble to dust. The sky will disappear like a scroll being rolled up, and the stars will fall like leaves dropping from a vine or a fig tree. 5 The Lord has prepared his sword in heaven, and now it will strike Edom, those people whom he has condemned to destruction. 6 His sword will be covered with their blood and fat, like the blood and fat of lambs and goats that are sacrificed. The Lord will offer this sacrifice in the city of Bozrah; he will make this a great slaughter in the land of Edom. 7 The people will fall like wild oxen and young bulls, and the earth will be red with blood and covered with fat. 8 This is the time when the Lord will rescue Zion and take vengeance on her enemies. 9 The rivers of Edom will turn into tar, and the soil will turn into sulfur. The whole country will burn like tar. 10 It will burn day and night, and smoke will rise from it forever. The land will lie waste age after age, and no one will ever travel through it again. 11 Owls and ravens will take over the land. The Lord will make it a barren waste again, as it was before the creation. 12 There will be no king to rule the country, and the leaders will all be gone. 13 Thorns and thistles will grow up in all the palaces and walled towns, and jackals and owls will live in them. 14 Wild animals will roam there, and demons will call to each other. The night monster will come there looking for a place to rest. 15 Owls will build their nests, lay eggs, hatch their young, and care for them there. Vultures will gather there, one after another. 16 Search in the Lord's book of living creatures and read what it says. Not one of these creatures will be missing, and not one will be without its mate. The Lord has commanded it to be so; he himself will bring them together. 17 It is the Lord who will divide the land among them and give each of them a share. They will live in the land age after age, and it will belong to them forever.
1 The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands. 2 The desert will sing and shout for joy; it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon. Everyone will see the Lord's splendor, see his greatness and power. 3 Give strength to hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness. 4 Tell everyone who is discouraged, "Be strong and don't be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your enemies." 5 The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear. 6 The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy. Streams of water will flow through the desert; 7 the burning sand will become a lake, and dry land will be filled with springs. Where jackals used to live, marsh grass and reeds will grow. 8 There will be a highway there, called "The Road of Holiness." No sinner will ever travel that road; no fools will mislead those who follow it. 9 No lions will be there; no fierce animals will pass that way. Those whom the Lord has rescued will travel home by that road. 10 They will reach Jerusalem with gladness, singing and shouting for joy. They will be happy forever, forever free from sorrow and grief.
1 In the fourteenth year that Hezekiah was king of Judah, Sennacherib, the emperor of Assyria, attacked the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 2 Then he ordered his chief official to go from Lachish to Jerusalem with a large military force to demand that King Hezekiah surrender. The official occupied the road where the cloth makers work, by the ditch that brings water from the upper pool. 3 Three Judeans came out to meet him: the official in charge of the palace, Eliakim son of Hilkiah; the court secretary, Shebna; and the official in charge of the records, Joah son of Asaph. 4 The Assyrian official told them that the emperor wanted to know what made King Hezekiah so confident. 5 He demanded, "Do you think that words can take the place of military skill and might? Who do you think will help you rebel against Assyria? 6 You are expecting Egypt to help you, but that would be like using a reed as a walking stick - it would break and would jab your hand. That is what the king of Egypt is like when anyone relies on him." 7 The Assyrian official went on, "Or will you tell me that you are relying on the Lord your God? It was the Lord's shrines and altars that Hezekiah destroyed when he told the people of Judah and Jerusalem to worship at one altar only. 8 I will make a bargain with you in the name of the emperor. I will give you two thousand horses if you can find that many riders. 9 You are no match for even the lowest ranking Assyrian official, and yet you expect the Egyptians to send you chariots and horsemen. 10 Do you think I have attacked your country and destroyed it without the Lord's help? The Lord himself told me to attack it and destroy it." 11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah told the official, "Speak Aramaic to us. We understand it. Don't speak Hebrew; all the people on the wall are listening." 12 He replied, "Do you think you and the king are the only ones the emperor sent me to say all these things to? No, I am also talking to the people who are sitting on the wall, who will have to eat their excrement and drink their urine, just as you will." 13 Then the official stood up and shouted in Hebrew, "Listen to what the emperor of Assyria is telling you. 14 He warns you not to let Hezekiah deceive you. Hezekiah can't save you. 15 And don't let him persuade you to rely on the Lord. Don't think that the Lord will save you and that he will stop our Assyrian army from capturing your city. 16 Don't listen to Hezekiah! The emperor of Assyria commands you to come out of the city and surrender. You will all be allowed to eat grapes from your own vines and figs from your own trees, and to drink water from your own wells - 17 until the emperor resettles you in a country much like your own, where there are vineyards to give wine and there is grain for making bread. 18 Don't let Hezekiah fool you into thinking that the Lord will rescue you. Did the gods of any other nations save their countries from the emperor of Assyria? 19 Where are they now, the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Did anyone save Samaria? 20 When did any of the gods of all these countries ever save their country from our emperor? Then what makes you think the Lord can save Jerusalem?" 21 The people kept quiet, just as King Hezekiah had told them to; they did not say a word. 22 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah tore their clothes in grief and went and reported to the king what the Assyrian official had said.
1 Let me tell you how hard I have worked for you and for the people in Laodicea and for all others who do not know me personally. 2 I do this in order that they may be filled with courage and may be drawn together in love, and so have the full wealth of assurance which true understanding brings. In this way they will know God's secret, which is Christ himself. 3 He is the key that opens all the hidden treasures of God's wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you, then, do not let anyone deceive you with false arguments, no matter how good they seem to be. 5 For even though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I am glad as I see the resolute firmness with which you stand together in your faith in Christ. 6 Since you have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord, live in union with him. 7 Keep your roots deep in him, build your lives on him, and become stronger in your faith, as you were taught. And be filled with thanksgiving. 8 See to it, then, that no one enslaves you by means of the worthless deceit of human wisdom, which comes from the teachings handed down by human beings and from the ruling spirits of the universe, and not from Christ. 9 For the full content of divine nature lives in Christ, in his humanity, 10 and you have been given full life in union with him. He is supreme over every spiritual ruler and authority. 11 In union with Christ you were circumcised, not with the circumcision that is made by human beings, but with the circumcision made by Christ, which consists of being freed from the power of this sinful self. 12 For when you were baptized, you were buried with Christ, and in baptism you were also raised with Christ through your faith in the active power of God, who raised him from death. 13 You were at one time spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were Gentiles without the Law. But God has now brought you to life with Christ. God forgave us all our sins; 14 he canceled the unfavorable record of our debts with its binding rules and did away with it completely by nailing it to the cross. 15 And on that cross Christ freed himself from the power of the spiritual rulers and authorities; he made a public spectacle of them by leading them as captives in his victory procession. 16 So let no one make rules about what you eat or drink or about holy days or the New Moon Festival or the Sabbath. 17 All such things are only a shadow of things in the future; the reality is Christ. 18 Do not allow yourselves to be condemned by anyone who claims to be superior because of special visions and who insists on false humility and the worship of angels. For no reason at all, such people are all puffed up by their human way of thinking 19 and have stopped holding on to Christ, who is the head of the body. Under Christ's control the whole body is nourished and held together by its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God wants it to grow. 20 You have died with Christ and are set free from the ruling spirits of the universe. Why, then, do you live as though you belonged to this world? Why do you obey such rules as 21 "Don't handle this," "Don't taste that," "Don't touch the other"? 22 All these refer to things which become useless once they are used; they are only human rules and teachings. 23 Of course such rules appear to be based on wisdom in their forced worship of angels, and false humility, and severe treatment of the body; but they have no real value in controlling physical passions.
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