Where there is no wise guidance, people fail,
but with many counselors there is victory.
Proverbs 11:14

Numbers 24-25

Numbers 24

Balaam’s Third Oracle

1 When Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go seek divination, as he had done the other times, but looked out toward the wilderness. 2  Balaam looked up and he saw Israel abiding in tents, tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.

3 He took up his parable, and said,

“A declaration from Balaam, the son of Beor:
the man whose eyes are open says;
4 who hears the words of the Lord,
who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling into a trance but having his eyes open:

5 How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
and your dwelling places, Israel!
6 As valleys they are spread out,
as gardens by the riverside,
as aloes which the Lord has planted,
as cedar trees beside the waters.

7 He shall pour the water from her buckets.
Her seed shall be by abundant waters.
Her king shall be higher than Agag.
Her kingdom shall be exalted.

8 God brought her forth out of Egypt.
His strength is like that of a wild ox.
He consumes the nations that oppose them,
and breaks their bones in pieces,
and pierces them through with his arrows.

9 Israel crouches and lies down like a lion,
and as a lioness;
who shall stir her up?
Blessed is he who blesses you.
And cursed is he who curses you.”

Balak Dismisses Balaam

10 Balak’s anger burned against Balaam, and he clapped his hands together and said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and three times, you have completely blessed them! 11 Therefore, go back home now! I wanted to promote you to great honor; but the Lord has kept you back from honor.”

12 Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also tell your messengers whom you sent to me, saying, 13 ‘Even if Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord  to do either good or bad of my own accord? But what the Lord says, that I will speak.”  14 Now, I am going to my people. Come, I will inform you what this people shall do to your people in the latter days.”

Balaam’s Fourth Oracle

15 He took up his parable, and said,

“Balaam the son of Beor says,
the man whose eyes are open says;
16 who hears the words of the Lord,
knows the knowledge of the Most High,
and who sees the vision of the Almighty,
falling into a trance but having his eyes open:
17 I see him, but not now.
I see him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob.
A scepter will rise out of Israel,
and shall strike through the corners of Moab,
and crush all the sons of Sheth.

18 Edom shall be a possession.
Seir, his enemies, also shall be a possession,
while Israel shall advance triumphantly.

19 Out of Jacob shall come a ruler,
who shall destroy the survivors that remain in the city.”

Balaam’s Final Three Oracles

20 He looked at Amalek, and took up his parable, and said,

“Amalek was the first of the nations,
but in the end he shall perish forever.”

21 He looked at the Kenite, and took up his parable, and said,
“Strong is your dwelling place.
And your nest is set in a rock.
22 Nevertheless Kain shall be wasted,
until Asshur carries you away captive.”

23 He took up his parable, and said,

“Alas, who shall live when the Lord does this?
24 But ships shall come from the coast of Kittim.
They shall invade Asshur and Eber.
and they too will come to destruction.”

25 Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place; and Balak also went his way.

Numbers 25

Baal Worship at Peor

1 While Israel was camped in Shittim; the men began to have sexual relations with the Moabite women. 2 The women invited the men to the sacrifices of their gods, and they ate with them and bowed down to their gods. 3 Israel united with Baal Peor, and the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. 4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up in broad daylight in the sight of the Lord, that his fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

5 Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Slay every one of his men who are connected with Baal Peor.”

Phinehas Kills Zimri and Cozbi

6 One of the Israelites came and brought to his brothers a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of the entire Israelite community, while they were mourning at the door of the Tent of Meeting. 7 When Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest saw it he rose up from the middle of the community, and took a spear in his hand. 8 He went after the man of Israel into the pavilion, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stopped among the Israelites. 9 Those who died by the plague were 24,000.

Phinehas’ Reward

10 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the Israelites, in that he was zealous for my sake among them, so that I did not consume the Israelites in my jealousy. 12 Therefore say, ‘I give to him my covenant of peace. 13 It shall be to him, and to his offspring after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the Israelites.’ ”

14 Now the name of the man of Israel who was slain, the one slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri, son of Salu; the head of the family from the Simeonite tribe. 15 The name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur. He was head of the people of a fathers’ house in Midian.

A Warning against the Midianites

16 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 17 “Harass the Midianites, and strike them; 18 for they harassed you with their trickery, when they deceived you in the matter of Peor, and in the incident regarding Cozbi, the daughter of the leader of Midian, their sister, who was slain on the day of the plague in the matter of Peor.”

Luke 2:1-35

The Birth of Jesus

1 And it came to pass in those days, that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the Roman world should be registered. 2 This registration was the first made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone went to enroll; each one to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David; 5 to be registered with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him, being with child.

6 And so it was, that while they were there, the day had come for her to give birth. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and Angels

8 There were shepherds in the same region abiding in the field, and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

10 The angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy
which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day, in the city of David,
a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 This shall be a sign to you:
you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
on earth peace, good will toward men.”

15 And it came to pass, as the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 And they came quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 When they had seen it, they spread word of what they had heard concerning this child. 18 All who heard it wondered at the things which the shepherds had spoken to them.

19 But Mary was treasuring all these things and pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told to them.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

21 When the eighth day had come for the circumcision of the child, he was given the name Jesus, the name which the angel had given him before he was conceived.

22 When the days of their purification, according to the law of Moses, were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to the Lord.”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

The Prophecy of Simeon

25 There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.

27 Led by the Spirit, he went into the temple. When the parents brought in the child, Jesus, to fulfill the custom of the law, 28 Simeon received him into his arms, blessed God, and said,

29 “Now let your servant depart in peace
according to your word,
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people;
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

33 Joseph and his mother marveled at the things which were spoken concerning him, 34 and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother,

“This child will be the fall and resurrection of many in Israel,
and a sign which many will oppose,
35 and the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
Indeed, a sword will also pierce through your own soul.”

Psalm 59

For the Chief Musician. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A poem by David, when Saul sent, and they watched the house to kill him.

1 Deliver me from my enemies, O my God.
Defend me from those who rise up against me.
2 Deliver me from the workers of iniquity.
Save me from bloodthirsty men.
3 For, they lie in wait for my soul.
The mighty gather themselves together against me,
not for my disobedience, nor for my sin, O Lord.
4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
Rise up and help me!
5 Therefore, you, O Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel,
awake to punish all the nations.
Do not be merciful to any wicked transgressors.

Selah.

6 They return at evening;
they go around the city,
roaring like a dog.

7 They spew with their mouth.
Swords are in their lips,
“For”, they say, “who hears?”
8 But you, O Lord, laugh at them.
You scoff at all the nations.

9 Because of his strength, I will wait for God,
for God is my defense.
10 My merciful God will go before me.
The Lord will let me look at my enemies in triumph.
11 Do not kill them, or my people may forget.
Scatter them by your power, and bring them down, Lord our shield.
12 For the sin from their mouth, and the words from their lips,
let them be caught in their pride,
for the curses and lies which they utter.
13 Consume them in wrath.
Consume them, and they will be no more.
Let them know that the Lord rules in Jacob,
to the ends of the earth.

Selah.

14 At evening let them return.
Let them go around the city, roaring like a dog.
15 Let them wander all over for food,
and endure all night, unsatisfied.

16 But I will sing of your power.
Yes, I will sing aloud of your loving kindness in the morning.
For you have been my high tower,
a refuge in my day of trouble.
17 To you, O my strength, I will sing.
For God is my defense, my merciful God.

Proverbs 11:14

14 Where there is no wise guidance, people fail,
but with many counselors there is victory.

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