December 16

Isaiah 51

1Give ear to me, you who are searching for righteousness, who are looking for the Lord: see the rock from which you were cut out, and the hole out of which you were taken.

2Let your thoughts be turned to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth: for when he was but one, my voice came to him, and I gave him my blessing, and made him a great people.

3For the Lord has given comfort to Zion: he has made glad all her broken walls; making her waste places like Eden, and changing her dry land into the garden of the Lord; joy and delight will be there, praise and the sound of melody.

4Give attention to me, O my people; and give ear to me, O my nation; for teaching will go out from me, and the knowledge of the true God will be a light to the peoples.

5Suddenly will my righteousness come near, and my salvation will be shining out like the light; the sea-lands will be waiting for me, and they will put their hope in my strong arm.

6Let your eyes be lifted up to the heavens, and turned to the earth which is under them: for the heavens will go in flight like smoke, and the earth will become old like a coat, and its people will come to destruction like insects: but my salvation will be for ever, and my righteousness will not come to an end.

7Give ear to me, you who have knowledge of righteousness, in whose heart is my law; have no fear of the evil words of men, and give no thought to their curses.

8For like a coat they will be food for the insect, the worm will make a meal of them like wool: but my righteousness will be for ever, and my salvation to all generations.

9Awake! awake! put on strength, O arm of the Lord, awake! as in the old days, in the generations long past. Was it not by you that Rahab was cut in two, and the dragon Wounded?

10Did you not make the sea dry, the waters of the great deep? did you not make the deep waters of the sea a way for the Lord’s people to go through?

11Those whom the Lord has made free will come back with songs to Zion; and on their heads will be eternal joy: delight and joy will be theirs, and sorrow and sounds of grief will be gone for ever.

12I, even I, am your comforter: are you so poor in heart as to be in fear of man who will come to an end, and of the son of man who will be like grass?

13And you have given no thought to the Lord your Maker, by whom the heavens were stretched out, and the earth placed on its base; and you went all day in fear of the wrath of the cruel one, when he was making ready for your destruction. And where is the wrath of the cruel one?

14The prisoner, bent under his chain, will quickly be made free, and will not go down into the underworld, and his bread will not come to an end.

15For I am the Lord your God, who makes the sea calm when its waves are thundering: the Lord of armies is his name.

16And I have put my words in your mouth, covering you with the shade of my hand, stretching out the heavens, and placing the earth on its base, and saying to Zion, You are my people.

17Awake! awake! up! O Jerusalem, you who have taken from the Lord’s hand the cup of his wrath; tasting in full measure the wine which overcomes.

18She has no one among all her children to be her guide; not one of the sons she has taken care of takes her by the hand.

19These two things have come on you; who will be weeping for you? wasting and destruction; death from need of food, and from the sword; how may you be comforted?

20Your sons are overcome, like a roe in a net; they are full of the wrath of the Lord, the punishment of your God.

21So now give ear to this, you who are troubled and overcome, but not with wine:

22This is the word of the Lord your master, even your God who takes up the cause of his people: See, I have taken out of your hand the cup which overcomes, even the cup of my wrath; it will not again be given to you:

23And I will put it into the hand of your cruel masters, and of those whose yoke has been hard on you; who have said to your soul, Down on your face! so that we may go over you: and you have given your backs like the earth, even like the street, for them to go over.

Ezekiel 23

1The word of the Lord came to me again, saying,

2Son of man, there were two women, daughters of one mother:

3They were acting like loose women in Egypt; when they were young their behaviour was loose: there their breasts were crushed, even the points of their young breasts were crushed.

4Their names were Oholah, the older, and Oholibah, her sister: and they became mine, and gave birth to sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem, Oholibah.

5And Oholah was untrue to me when she was mine; she was full of desire for her lovers, even for the Assyrians, her neighbours,

6Who were clothed in blue, captains and rulers, all of them young men to be desired, horsemen seated on horses.

7And she gave her unclean love to them, all of them the noblest men of Assyria: and she made herself unclean with the images of all who were desired by her.

8And she has not given up her loose ways from the time when she was in Egypt; for when she was young they were her lovers, and by them her young breasts were crushed, and they let loose on her their unclean desire.

9For this cause I gave her up into the hands of her lovers, into the hands of the Assyrians on whom her desire was fixed.

10By these her shame was uncovered: they took her sons and daughters and put her to death with the sword: and she became a cause of wonder to women; for they gave her the punishment which was right.

11And her sister Oholibah saw this, but her desire was even more unmeasured, and her loose behaviour was worse than that of her sister.

12She was full of desire for the Assyrians, captains and rulers, her neighbours, clothed in blue, horsemen going on horses, all of them young men to be desired.

13And I saw that she had become unclean; the two of them went the same way.

14And her loose behaviour became worse; for she saw men pictured on a wall, pictures of the Chaldaeans painted in bright red,

15With bands round their bodies and with head-dresses hanging round their heads, all of them looking like rulers, like the Babylonians, the land of whose birth is Chaldaea.

16And when she saw them she was full of desire for them, and sent servants to them in Chaldaea.

17And the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love, and made her unclean with their loose desire, and she became unclean with them, and her soul was turned from them.

18So her loose behaviour was clearly seen and her shame uncovered: then my soul was turned from her as it had been turned from her sister.

19But still she went on the more with her loose behaviour, keeping in mind the early days when she had been a loose woman in the land of Egypt.

20And she was full of desire for her lovers, whose flesh is like the flesh of asses and whose seed is like the seed of horses.

21And she made the memory of the loose ways of her early years come back to mind, when her young breasts were crushed by the Egyptians.

22For this cause, O Oholibah, this is what the Lord has said: See, I will make your lovers come up against you, even those from whom your soul is turned away in disgust; and I will make them come up against you on every side;

23The Babylonians and all the Chaldaeans, Pekod and Shoa and Koa, and all the Assyrians with them: young men to be desired, captains and rulers all of them, and chiefs, her neighbours, all of them on horseback.

24And they will come against you from the north on horseback, with war-carriages and a great band of peoples; they will put themselves in order against you with breastplate and body-cover and metal head-dress round about you: and I will make them your judges, and they will give their decision against you as seems right to them.

25And my bitter feeling will be working against you, and they will take you in hand with passion; they will take away your nose and your ears, and the rest of you will be put to the sword: they will take your sons and daughters, and the rest of you will be burned up in the fire.

26And they will take all your clothing off you and take away your ornaments.

27So I will put an end to your evil ways and your loose behaviour which came from the land of Egypt: and your eyes will never be lifted up to them again, and you will have no more memory of Egypt.

28For this is what the Lord has said: See, I will give you up into the hands of those who are hated by you, into the hands of those from whom your soul is turned away in disgust:

29And they will take you in hand with hate, and take away all the fruit of your work, and let you be unveiled and without clothing: and the shame of your loose behaviour will be uncovered, your evil designs and your loose ways.

30They will do these things to you because you have been untrue to me, and have gone after the nations, and have become unclean with their images.

31You have gone in the way of your sister; and I will give her cup into your hand.

32This is what the Lord has said: You will take a drink from your sister’s cup, which is deep and wide: you will be laughed at and looked down on, more than you are able to undergo.

33You will be broken and full of sorrow, with the cup of wonder and destruction, with the cup of your sister Samaria.

34And after drinking it and draining it out, you will take the last drops of it to the end, pulling off your breasts: for I have said it, says the Lord.

35So this is what the Lord has said: Because you have not kept me in your memory, and because your back has been turned to me, you will even undergo the punishment of your evil designs and your loose ways.

36Then the Lord said to me: Son of man, will you be the judge of Oholibah? then make clear to her the disgusting things she has done.

37For she has been false to me, and blood is on her hands, and with her images she has been untrue; and more than this, she made her sons, whom she had by me, go through the fire to them to be burned up.

38Further, this is what she has done to me: she has made my holy place unclean and has made my Sabbaths unclean.

39For when she had made an offering of her children to her images, she came into my holy place to make it unclean; see, this is what she has done inside my house.

40And she even sent for men to come from far away, to whom a servant was sent, and they came: for whom she was washing her body and painting her eyes and making herself fair with ornaments.

41And she took her seat on a great bed, with a table put ready before it on which she put my perfume and my oil.

42… and they put jewels on her hands and beautiful crowns on her head.

43Then I said … now she will go on with her loose ways.

44And they went in to her, as men go to a loose woman: so they went in to Oholibah, the loose woman.

45And upright men will be her judges, judging her as false wives and women who take lives are judged; because she has been untrue to me and blood is on her hands.

46For this is what the Lord has said: I will make a great meeting of the people come together against her, and will send on her shaking fear and take everything from her.

47And the meeting, after stoning her with stones, will put an end to her with their swords; they will put her sons and daughters to death and have her house burned up with fire.

48And I will put an end to evil in all the land, teaching all women not to do as you have done.

49And I will send on you the punishment of your evil ways, and you will be rewarded for your sins with your images: and you will be certain that I am the Lord.

Philippians 3

1For the rest, my brothers, be glad in the Lord. Writing the same things to you is no trouble to me, and for you it is safe.

2Be on the watch against dogs, against the workers of evil, against those of the circumcision:

3For we are the circumcision, who give worship to God and have glory in Jesus Christ, and have no faith in the flesh:

4Even though I myself might have faith in the flesh: if any other man has reason to have faith in the flesh, I have more:

5Being given circumcision on the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in relation to the law, a Pharisee:

6In bitter hate I was cruel to the church; I kept all the righteousness of the law to the last detail.

7But those things which were profit to me, I gave up for Christ.

8Yes truly, and I am ready to give up all things for the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, which is more than all: for whom I have undergone the loss of all things, and to me they are less than nothing, so that I may have Christ as my reward,

9And be seen in him, not having my righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

10That I may have knowledge of him, and of the power of his coming back from the dead, and a part with him in his pains, becoming like him in his death;

11If in any way I may have the reward of life from the dead.

12Not as if I had even now got the reward or been made complete: but I go on in the hope that I may come to the knowledge of that for which I was made the servant of Christ Jesus.

13Brothers, it is clear to me that I have not come to that knowledge; but one thing I do, letting go those things which are past, and stretching out to the things which are before,

14I go forward to the mark, even the reward of the high purpose of God in Christ Jesus.

15Then let us all, who have come to full growth, be of this mind: and if in anything you are of a different mind, even this will God make clear to you:

16Only, as far as we have got, let us be guided by the same rule.

17Brothers, take me as your example, and take note of those who are walking after the example we have given.

18For there are those, of whom I have given you word before, and do so now with sorrow, who are haters of the cross of Christ;

19Whose end is destruction, whose god is the stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, whose minds are fixed on the things of the earth.

20For our country is in heaven; from where the Saviour for whom we are waiting will come, even the Lord Jesus Christ:

21By whom this poor body of ours will be changed into the image of the body of his glory, in the measure of the working by which he is able to put all things under himself.

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