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12 March 2017 Bible Reading

Mark 16:18, “‘They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them . . . .” can be confusing for some. Signs and miracles did occur in the early days of the church, as confirmation of truth during the time that the written Word of God was being completed. There is no mystery in this. Other passages teach that the miraculous gifts of the spirit were to cease, fail and vanish away (1 Cor. 13:8).

Numbers 16:41-18:32
41 But on the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed Yahweh’s people!”
42 When the congregation was assembled against Moses and against Aaron, They looked toward the Tent of Meeting. Behold, the cloud covered it, and Yahweh’s glory appeared. 43 Moses and Aaron came to the front of the Tent of Meeting. 44 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment!” They fell on their faces.
46 Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, and put fire from off the altar in it, and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation, and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from Yahweh! The plague has begun.”
47 Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the middle of the assembly. Behold, the plague has begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. 49 Now those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides those who died about the matter of Korah. 50 Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and the plague was stopped.
17 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and take rods from them, one for each fathers’ house, of all their princes according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod. 3 You shall write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi; for there shall be one rod for each head of their fathers’ houses. 4 You shall lay them up in the Tent of Meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. 5 It shall happen, that the rod of the man whom I shall choose shall bud. I will make the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against you, cease from me.”
6 Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and all their princes gave him rods, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods. Aaron’s rod was among their rods. 7 Moses laid up the rods before Yahweh in the tent of the testimony.
8 On the next day, Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, Aaron’s rod for the house of Levi had sprouted, budded, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. 9 Moses brought out all the rods from before Yahweh to all the children of Israel. They looked, and each man took his rod.
10 Yahweh said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the children of rebellion; that you may make an end of their murmurings against me, that they not die.” 11 Moses did so. As Yahweh commanded him, so he did.
12 The children of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, we perish! We are undone! We are all undone! 13 Everyone who keeps approaching Yahweh’s tabernacle, dies! Will we all perish?”
18 Yahweh said to Aaron, “You and your sons and your fathers’ house with you shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary; and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood. 2 Bring your brothers also, the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, near with you, that they may be joined to you, and minister to you; but you and your sons with you shall be before the tent of the testimony. 3 They shall keep your commands, and the duty of the whole Tent; only they shall not come near to the vessels of the sanctuary and to the altar, that they not die, neither they, nor you. 4 They shall be joined to you, and keep the responsibility 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 duty of the sanctuary and the duty of the altar, that there be no more wrath on the children of Israel. 6 Behold, I myself have taken your brothers the Levites from among the children of Israel. They are a gift to you, dedicated to Yahweh, to do the service of the Tent of Meeting. 7 You and your sons with you shall keep your priesthood for everything of the altar, and for that within the veil. You shall serve. I give you the service of the priesthood as a gift. The stranger who comes near shall be put to death.”
8 Yahweh spoke to Aaron, “Behold, I myself have given you the command of my wave offerings, even all the holy things of the children of Israel. I have given them to you by reason of the anointing, and to your sons, as a portion forever. 9 This shall be yours of the most holy things from the fire: every offering of theirs, even every meal 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, even all the wave offerings of the children of Israel. 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, and all the best of the vintage, and of the grain, the first fruits of them which they give to Yahweh. 13 The first-ripe fruits of all that is in their land, which they bring to Yahweh, shall be yours. Everyone who is clean in your house shall eat of it.
14 “Everything devoted in Israel shall be yours. 15 Everything that opens the womb, of all flesh which they offer to Yahweh, 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 You shall redeem those who are to be redeemed of them from a month old, according to your estimation, for five shekels of money, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which weighs 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 Yahweh. 18 Their flesh 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 children of Israel offer to Yahweh, have I given you, and your sons and your daughters with you, as a portion forever. It is a covenant of salt forever before Yahweh to you and to your offspring with you.”
20 Yahweh 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 children of Israel.
21 “To the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they serve, even the service of the Tent of Meeting. 22 Henceforth the children of Israel 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 children of Israel, they shall have no inheritance. 24 For the tithe of the children of Israel, which they offer as a wave offering to Yahweh, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’”
25 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 26 “Moreover you shall speak to the Levites, and tell them, ‘When you take of the children of Israel the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up a wave offering of it for Yahweh, a tithe 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 Yahweh of all your tithes, which you receive of the children of Israel; and of it you shall give Yahweh’s wave offering to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all your gifts, you shall offer every wave offering of Yahweh, of all its best, even the holy part of it out 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 by reason of it, when you have heaved from it its best. You shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, that you not die.’”

Mark 16:1-20
16 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 from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 for it was very big. 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, dressed in a white robe, and they were amazed. 6 He said to them, “Don’t be amazed. You seek Jesus, the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen. He is not here. Behold, 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 trembling and astonishment had come on them. They said nothing to anyone; for they were afraid. 9 Now when he 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 disbelieved. 12 After these things he was revealed in another form to two of them, as they walked, on their way into the country. 13 They went away and told it to the rest. They didn’t believe them, either.
14 Afterward he was revealed to the eleven themselves as they sat at the table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they didn’t believe those who had seen him after he had risen. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves 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 will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
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 55:1-23
For the Chief Musician. On stringed instruments. A contemplation by David.
55 Listen to my prayer, God.
Don’t hide yourself from my supplication.
2 Attend to me, and answer me.
I am restless in my complaint, and moan,
3 Because of the voice of the enemy,
Because of the oppression of the wicked.
For they bring suffering on me.
In anger they hold a grudge against me.
4 My heart is severely pained within me.
The terrors of death have fallen on me.
5 Fearfulness and trembling have come on 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 Behold, then I would wander far off.
I would lodge in the wilderness.”
Selah.
8 “I would hurry to a shelter from the stormy wind and storm.”
9 Confuse them, Lord, and confound 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 don’t 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 in God’s house with company.
15 Let death come suddenly on them.
Let them go down alive into Sheol.
For wickedness is among them, in their dwelling.
16 As for me, I will call on God.
Yahweh 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 God, who is enthroned forever,
will hear, and answer them.
Selah.
They never change,
who don’t fear God.
20 He raises his hands against his friends.
He has violated his covenant.
21 His mouth was smooth as butter,
but his heart was war.
His words were softer than oil,
yet they were drawn swords.
22 Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you.
He will never allow the righteous to be moved.
23 But you, God, 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 a wicked man dies, hope perishes,
and expectation of power comes to nothing.

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