Numbers 18-19

Numbers 18

Duties of Priests and Levites

1 The Lord said to Aaron, “You and your sons and your ancestral tribe shall bear the iniquity relative to  the sanctuary; and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity relative to your priesthood. 2 Bring your brothers (the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father) with you also, that they may join you, and minister to you when you and your sons minister before the Tent of the Testimony. 3 They shall keep your charge and the charge of all the tabernacle; only they shall not come near to the sacred vessels of the sanctuary and the altar, so that neither they nor you die. 4 They shall join you and keep charge of the Tent of Meeting, for all the service of the Tent. A stranger shall not come near to you.

5 “You shall perform the duties of the sanctuary and the duties of the altar, that there be no more wrath on the Israelites. 6 I myself have taken your brothers, the Levites from among the Israelites. They are a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord, to do the service of the Tent of Meeting. 7 You and your sons with you shall keep your office of priesthood for everything connected to the altar and within the veil. You shall serve. I have given you the office of the priesthood as a gift. The stranger who comes near shall be put to death.”

The Priests’ Portion

8 The Lord spoke to Aaron, “I myself have given you charge of my wave offerings, and all the holy things of the Israelites. To you, I have given them by the anointing, and to your sons, through a perpetual ordinance. 9 This shall be yours of the most holy things from the fire: every offering of theirs; every grain offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render to me, shall be most holy for you and for your sons. 10 You shall eat of it like the most holy things. Every male shall eat of it. It shall be holy to you.

11 “This is yours, too: the wave offering of their gift, all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I have given them to you, and to your sons and to your daughters with you, as a portion forever. Everyone who is clean in your house shall eat of it.

12 “I have given to you all the best of the oil, all the best of the vintage, and of the grain, the first fruits of those who give to the Lord. 13 The first-ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which the Israelites bring to the Lord, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house shall eat of it.

14 “Everything in Israel that is devoted to the Lord shall be yours. 15 Everything that opens the womb, of all flesh which they offer to the Lord, both of man and animal, shall be yours. Nevertheless, you shall surely redeem the firstborn of man, and you shall redeem the firstborn of unclean animals. 16 And those who are to be redeemed, from a month old, you shall redeem them, according to your estimation, for five  shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.

17 “But you shall not redeem the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat. They are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar, and shall burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a pleasant aroma to the Lord.

18 Their meat shall be yours, as the wave offering breast and as the right thigh, it shall be yours. 19 All the wave offerings of the holy things which the Israelites offer to the Lord, I have given you and your sons and your daughters with you, as a portion forever. It is a covenant of salt forever before the Lord to you and to your offspring with you.”

20 The Lord said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites.

The Levites’ Portion

21 “To the children of Levi, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for the work which they do in the service of the Tent of Meeting. 22 Henceforth, the Israelites shall not come near the Tent of Meeting, lest they bear sin, and die. 23 But the Levites shall do the service of the Tent of Meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. Among the Israelites, they shall have no inheritance. 24 For the tithe of the Israelites, which they offer as a wave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the Israelites they shall have no inheritance.’ ”

The Heave Offering

25 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 26 “Moreover you shall speak to the Levites, and tell them, ‘When you take of the Israelites the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up a wave offering of it for the Lord, a tenth of the tithe. 27 Your wave offering shall be credited to you, as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the wine press. 28 Thus you also shall offer a wave offering to the Lord of all your tithes, which you receive from the Israelites; and of it you shall give the Lord’s wave offering to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all your gifts, you shall offer every wave offering to the Lord, of all its best parts, even the holy part of it.’

30 “Therefore you shall tell them, ‘When you heave its best from it, then it shall be credited to the Levites as the increase of the threshing floor, and as the increase of the wine press. 31 You may eat it anywhere, you and your households, for it is your reward in return for your service in the Tent of Meeting. 32 You shall bear no sin because of it, when you have heaved from it its best. You shall not profane the holy things of the Israelites, that you not die.’ ”

Numbers 19

Ashes of the Red Heifer

1 The Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2 “This is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded. Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without blemish, in which there is no defect, and which was never yoked. 3 You shall give her to Eleazar the priest, and she shall be brought outside of the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4 Eleazar the priest shall take some of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle her blood toward the front of the Tent of Meeting seven times.

5 And the heifer shall be burned in his sight; her skin, and her meat, and her blood, with her dung, he shall burn. 6 The priest shall take cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the middle of the burning of the heifer. 7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the evening. 8 He who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the evening.

9 “Someone who is ceremonially clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer, and lay them up outside of the camp in a clean place; and it shall be kept for the congregation of the Israelites for use in water for cleansing impurity. It is a sin offering. 10 He who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the evening. This shall be, to the Israelites, and to the stranger who lives as a foreigner among them, a statute forever.

Purification of the Unclean

11 “He who touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days. 12 He shall purify himself with water on the third day, and on the seventh day he shall be clean; but if he does not purify himself the third day, then the seventh day he shall not be clean. 13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of a man who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the Lord’s tabernacle; and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.

14 “This is the law when a man dies in a tent: everyone who comes into the tent, and everyone who is in the tent, shall be unclean seven days. 15 Every open vessel, which has no covering bound on it, is unclean.

16 “Whoever, in the open field, touches someone who is slain with a sword, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days.

17 “For the unclean, they shall take of the ashes from the burnt sin offering; and pour running water over them inside a vessel. 18 A clean person shall take hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent, on all the vessels, on the persons who were there, and on him who touched the bone, or the slain, or the dead, or the grave. 19 The clean person shall sprinkle on the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day. On the seventh day, he shall purify him. He shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at evening.

20 But the man who shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him. He is unclean. 21 It shall be a perpetual statute to them. He who sprinkles the water for impurity shall wash his clothes, and he who touches the water for impurity shall be unclean until evening.

22 “Whatever the unclean person touches shall become unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.”

Mark 16

The Resurrection

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 They were saying among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” 4 for it was very great. Looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back.

5 Entering into the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long, white garment, and they were frightened. 6 He said to them, “Don’t be frightened. You seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen. He is not here in the place where they laid him! 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He goes before you into Galilee. There you will see him, as he said to you.’ ”

8 They went out, and fled from the tomb, for the were frightened and trembling. None of them said anything to anyone for they were afraid.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

9 Now when Jesus had risen early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept.

11 When they heard that he was alive, and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

Jesus Appears to Two Disciples

12 After that, he appeared in another form to two of them, as they walked and went into the country. 13 They went away and told it to the rest. They did not believe them either.

The Great Commission

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen him after he had risen. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

17 These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new languages; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The Ascension

19 So then the Lord, after he had spoken to them, was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.

20 They went out, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen.

Psalm 55

For the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A contemplation by David.

1 Listen to my prayer, O Lord.
Do not hide yourself from my supplication.
2 Attend to me, and answer me.
as I mourn and murmur in my complaint.
3 because of the voice of the enemy,
because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they bring suffering on me.
In wrath they hate me.

4 My heart is severely pained within me.
The terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me.
Horror has overwhelmed me.

6 I said, “Oh that I had wings like a dove!
Then I would fly away, and be at rest.
7 Then I would wander far off.
I would lodge in the wilderness.”

Selah.

8 “I would hasten my escape from the raging, violent windstorm.”
9 Destroy, O Lord, and divide their language,
for I have seen violence and strife in the city.
10 Day and night they prowl around on its walls.
Malice and abuse are also within her.
11 Destructive forces are within her.
Threats and lies do not depart from her streets.

12 For it was not an enemy who insulted me,
then I could have endured it.
Neither was it he who hated me who raised himself up against me,
then I would have hidden myself from him.
13 But it was you, a man like me,
my companion, and my familiar friend.

14 We took sweet fellowship together.
We walked to the house of God in the throng.
15 Let death come suddenly on them.
Let them go down alive into the pit.
For wickedness is among them, in their dwelling.

16 As for me, I will call on the Lord.
The Lord will save me.
17 Evening, morning, and at noon, I will cry out in distress.
He will hear my voice.
18 He has redeemed my soul in peace from the battle that was against me,
although there are many who oppose me.
19 The Lord, who is enthroned forever,
will hear and answer them.

Selah.

They never change,
who do not fear the Lord.
20 He raises his hands against his friends.
He has violated his covenant.
21 Smoother than butter, were the words of his mouth,
but his heart was at war.
Softer than oil were his words,
yet they were drawn swords.

22 Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.
He will never allow the righteous to be moved.
23 But you, O Lord, will bring them down into the pit of destruction.
Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days,
but I will trust in you.

Proverbs 11:7

7 When the wicked die, hope dies with them;
the hope of the unjust perishes.

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