God looks down from heaven on the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Psalm 53:2

Numbers 14-15

Number 14

The People Rebel

1 The entire community raised their voice and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 All the Israelites murmured against Moses and against Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “We wish that we had died in the land of Egypt, or that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why does the Lord bring us to this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will be captured or killed! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return into Egypt?” 4 They said to one another, “Let’s choose a leader, and let’s return to Egypt.”

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the congregation of the Israelites.

6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes. 7 They spoke to the whole community of the Israelites, saying, “The land, which we passed through to explore, is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us: a land which is flowing with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection has been removed from over them, and the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

10 But the entire community said to kill them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.

11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people provoke me? And how long will they not believe in me, for all the signs which I have shown among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and from you, will make a nation greater and mightier than they.”

Moses Intercedes for the People

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for you brought up this people by your might from among them.

14 They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, Lord, are among this people, that you, Lord, are seen face to face, that your cloud stands over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you killed this people as one man, then the nations which have heard of your fame will speak, saying, 16 ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness.’

17 And now, I beseech you, let the power of my Lord be great, just as you have spoken, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and disobedience, and he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation.’ 19 Pardon, I beseech you, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your mercy, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt right until now.”

God’s Forgiveness and Judgement

20 The Lord said, “I have pardoned them according to your word, 21 but as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. 22 Because of all those men who have seen my glory and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness and have tested me these ten times and have not listened to my voice, 23 surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who provoked me see it. 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him and has followed me fully, him I will bring into the land into which he went, and his offspring shall possess it. 25 Since the Amalekite and the Canaanite dwelt in the valley, tomorrow turn and go into the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.”

26 The Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall I bear with this miserable congregation which complain against me? I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites, which they complain against me. 28 Tell them, ‘As I live, says the Lord, surely as you have spoken in my ears, so I will do to you. 29 Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all who were counted among you, according to your entire count, from twenty years old and up, who have complained against me, 30 surely you shall not enter into the land which I swore that I would make you dwell, except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

31 But your little ones, which you said would be prey, these I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. 32 But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. 33 Your children shall be wanderers in the wilderness 40 years, and shall bear your infidelity, until your dead bodies are consumed in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of days you explored the land; 40 days, one year for every day, you will bear your iniquities; 40 years, and you will know my alienation.’

35 I, the Lord, have spoken. I will surely do this to this whole miserable congregation who are gathered together against me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.”

The Plague of the Ten Explorers

36 The men whom Moses sent to explore the land, who returned and caused the whole the community to murmur against him by bringing up a defamatory report against the land, 37 those men who brought the defamation upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were among the men who went to explore the land, still lived.

39 Moses recounted these words to all the Israelites, and the people mourned greatly.

Defeat by Amalekites and Canaanites

40 The people rose up early in the morning and got themselves to the top of the mountain, saying, “We are here. We have sinned, but now we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised.”

41 Moses said, “Now why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? But it will it not prosper. 42 Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, and you will be struck down before your enemies. 43 For the Amalekite and the Canaanite are there before you, and you will fall by the sword because you turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you.”

44 But they presumed to go up to the hilltop. Nevertheless, the ark of the Lord’s covenant, and Moses, did not depart from the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites that dwelt on that hill struck them and overwhelmed them, all the way to Hormah.

Numbers 15

Laws about Sacrifices

1 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you have come into the land of your domicile, which I am giving to you, 3 and when you make an offering by fire to the Lord—a burnt offering, or a sacrifice, in performing a vow, or in a free will offering, or in your appointed feasts, to make a pleasant aroma to the Lord, from the herd, or from the flock— 4 then he who brings his offering to the Lord shall bring a grain offering of two quarts of fine flour mixed with a quart of oil. 5 You shall prepare a quart of wine for the drink offering, with the burnt offering or for the sacrifice, for each lamb.

6 For a ram, you shall prepare for a grain offering, four quarts of fine flour mixed with one-third gallon of oil, 7 and for the drink offering you shall present one-third gallon of wine, for a pleasant aroma to the Lord. 8 When you prepare a bull for a burnt offering or for a sacrifice, to perform a vow, or for peace offerings to the Lord, 9 then he shall offer with the bull, a grain offering of six quarts of fine flour mixed with two quarts of oil. 10 You shall present, for the drink offering two quarts of wine, for an offering made by fire, for a pleasant aroma to the Lord.

11 This is to be done for each bull or ram, each male lamb or young goat. 12 You must do this for each one that you prepare.

13 All who are native-born shall do these things in this way, in presenting an offering made by fire, for a pleasant aroma to the Lord. 14 If a stranger lives as a foreigner with you, or whoever may be among you throughout your generations, whoever presents an offering of pleasant aroma, made by fire to the Lord, he must do as you do. 15 For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who lives as a foreigner, a permanent statute throughout your generations. As you are, so the foreigner shall be before the Lord. 16 One law and one ordinance shall be for you and for the stranger who lives as a foreigner with you.’ ”

17 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you come into the land where I am bringing you, 19 then it shall be that when you eat of the bread of the land, you shall offer up a wave offering to the Lord. 20 From the first of your dough you shall offer up a cake for a wave offering. As the wave offering of the threshing floor, so you shall heave it. 21 From the first of your dough, you shall give to the Lord a wave offering throughout your generations.

Offerings for Unintentional Sins

22 When you err, and do not observe all these commandments which the Lord has spoken to Moses— 23 all that the Lord has commanded you by Moses, from the day that the Lord gave the commandments and henceforth, throughout your generations— 24 if it was done in ignorance, without the knowledge of the community, then the entire community shall offer one young bull for a burnt offering, for a pleasant aroma to the Lord, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinance, and one male goat for a sin offering. 25 The priest shall make atonement for the entire community of the Israelites, and they shall be forgiven, for it was an error, and they have brought their offering, an offering made by fire to the Lord and their sin offering before the Lord, for their error. 26 The entire community of the Israelites shall be forgiven, as well as the stranger who lives as a foreigner among them; for with regard to all the people, it was done unwittingly.

27 If a person sins unwittingly, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest shall make atonement for the person who errs when he sins unwittingly before the Lord. He shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven. 29 You shall have one law for him who does anything in ignorance: for him who is native-born among the Israelites and for the stranger who lives as a foreigner among them.

30 But the person who pridefully transgresses, whether he is native-born or a foreigner, blasphemes the Lord. That person shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the Lord’s word and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off. His iniquity shall be held against him.’ ”

Stoning of a Sabbath-Breaker

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to the entire community. 34 They put him in custody, because it had not been declared what should be done to him.

35 The Lord said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death. The entire community shall stone him with rocks outside of the camp.” 36 The whole community brought him outside of the camp and stoned him to death with rocks, as the Lord commanded Moses.

The Law of Tassels

37 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them that they should make themselves fringes on the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put on the fringe of each border a cord of blue. 39 It shall be tassles for you to see and remember all of the Lord’s commandments, and do them; and that you do not follow your own heart and your own eyes, after which you used to play the prostitute. 40 This is so that you may remember and do all my commandments and be holy to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”

Mark 14:54-72

Jesus Before the Sanhedrin

54 Peter had followed Jesus from a distance, until he came into the court of the high priest. He was sitting with the officers and warming himself in the light of the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought witnesses against Jesus to put him to death and found none. 56 For many bore false testimony against him, but their testimonies were not consistent. 57 Some arose and gave false testimony against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another not made with hands.’ ” 59 Even so, their testimony did not agree.

60 The high priest stood up in the middle of them and asked Jesus, “Have you nothing to answer for what these men are testifying against you?” 61 But he held his peace and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 Jesus said, “I am. You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need have we of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” They all condemned him to be worthy of death. 65 Some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to beat him with fists and to tell him, “Prophesy!” The officers struck him with the palms of their hands.

Peter Denies Jesus

66 As Peter was in the courtyard below, one of the maids of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, “You were also with the Nazarene, Jesus!”

68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know, nor understand what you are saying.” He went out on the porch, and the rooster crowed.

69 The maid saw him, and began again to tell those who stood by, “This is one of them.” 70 But he again denied it. After a little while, again those who stood by said to Peter, “You truly are one of them, for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” 71 But he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak!” 72 The rooster crowed the second time. Peter remembered the words Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And when he thought on this, he wept.

Psalm 53

The Fool Says: There is No God

For the Chief Musician. To the tune of “Mahalath.” A contemplation by David.

1 The fool has said in his heart,
“There is no God.”

They are corrupt,
and have done abominable iniquity.
There is no one who does good.

2 God looks down from heaven
on the children of men,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
3 Every one of them has gone back.
They have become filthy together.
There is none that do good, no, not one.

4 Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon God?

5 There they were in great fear,
where no fear was,
for God has scattered the bones
of him who encamps against you.
You have put them to shame,
because God has rejected them.

6 Oh that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!

When God brings back his people from captivity,
then Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

Proverbs 11:4

4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.

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