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15 March 2017 Bible Reading

Zacharias’ praise at the birth of his son John acknowledges the fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy.

Numbers 22:21-23:30
21 Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. 22 God’s anger burned because he went; and Yahweh’s angel placed himself in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 The donkey saw Yahweh’s angel standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and the donkey turned aside out of the way, and went into the field. Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the way. 24 Then Yahweh’s angel stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. 25 The donkey saw Yahweh’s angel, and she thrust herself to the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. He struck her again.
26 Yahweh’s angel went further, and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 The donkey saw Yahweh’s angel, and she lay down under Balaam. Balaam’s anger burned, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
28 Yahweh opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
29 Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have mocked me, I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would have killed you.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long until today? Was I ever in the habit of doing so to you?”
He said, “No.”
31 Then Yahweh opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw Yahweh’s angel standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and he bowed his head, and fell on his face. 32 Yahweh’s angel said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me, and turned aside before me these three times. Unless she had turned aside from me, surely now I would have killed you, and saved her alive.”
34 Balaam said to Yahweh’s angel, “I have sinned; for I didn’t know that you stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases you, I will go back again.”
35 Yahweh’s angel said to Balaam, “Go with the men; but only the word that I shall speak to you, that you shall speak.”
So Balaam went with the princes of Balak. 36 When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him to the City of Moab, which is on the border of the Arnon, which is in the utmost part of the border. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Didn’t I earnestly send to you to call you? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I not able indeed to promote you to honor?”
38 Balaam said to Balak, “Behold, I have come to you. Have I now any power at all to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that shall I speak.”
39 Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes who were with him. 41 In the morning, Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal; and he saw from there part of the people.
23 Balaam said to Balak, “Build here seven altars for me, and prepare here seven bulls and seven rams for me.”
2 Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bull and a ram. 3 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand by your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps Yahweh will come to meet me. Whatever he shows me I will tell you.”
He went to a bare height. 4 God met Balaam, and he said to him, “I have prepared the seven altars, and I have offered up a bull and a ram on every altar.”
5 Yahweh put a word in Balaam’s mouth, and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.”
6 He returned to him, and behold, he was standing by his burnt offering, he, and all the princes of Moab. 7 He took up his parable, and said,
“From Aram has Balak brought me,
the king of Moab from the mountains of the East.
Come, curse Jacob for me.
Come, defy Israel.
8 How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?
How shall I defy whom Yahweh has not defied?
9 For from the top of the rocks I see him.
From the hills I see him.
Behold, it is a people that dwells alone,
and shall not be listed among the nations.
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob,
or number the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous!
Let my last end be like his!”
11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them altogether.”
12 He answered and said, “Must I not take heed to speak that which Yahweh puts in my mouth?”
13 Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place, where you may see them. You shall see just part of them, and shall not see them all. Curse them from there for me.”
14 He took him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered up a bull and a ram on every altar. 15 He said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering, while I meet over there.”
16 Yahweh met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, “Return to Balak, and say this.”
17 He came to him, and behold, he was standing by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. Balak said to him, “What has Yahweh spoken?”
18 He took up his parable, and said,
“Rise up, Balak, and hear!
Listen to me, you son of Zippor.
19 God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor the son of man, that he should repent.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not make it good?
20 Behold, I have received a command to bless.
He has blessed, and I can’t reverse it.
21 He has not seen iniquity in Jacob.
Neither has he seen perverseness in Israel.
Yahweh his God is with him.
The shout of a king is among them.
22 God brings them out of Egypt.
He has as it were the strength of the wild ox.
23 Surely there is no enchantment with Jacob;
Neither is there any divination with Israel.
Now it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel,
‘What has God done!’
24 Behold, the people rises up as a lioness.
As a lion he lifts himself up.
He shall not lie down until he eats of the prey,
and drinks the blood of the slain.”
25 Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.”
26 But Balaam answered Balak, “Didn’t I tell you, saying, ‘All that Yahweh speaks, that I must do?’”
27 Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.”
28 Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that looks down on the desert. 29 Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here.”
30 Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered up a bull and a ram on every altar.

Luke 1:57-80
57 Now the time that Elizabeth should give birth was fulfilled, and she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had magnified his mercy towards her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 On the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him Zacharias, after the name of the father. 60 His mother answered, “Not so; but he will be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 They made signs to his father, what he would have him called.
63 He asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.”
They all marveled. 64 His mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue freed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 Fear came on all who lived around them, and all these sayings were talked about throughout all the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them laid them up in their heart, saying, “What then will this child be?” The hand of the Lord was with him. 67 His father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people;
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David
70 (as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets who have been from of old),
71 salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show mercy towards our fathers,
to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath which he spoke to Abraham, our father,
74 to grant to us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies,
should serve him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
76 And you, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the dawn from on high will visit us,
79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death;
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
80 The child was growing, and becoming strong in spirit, and was in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

Psalm 58:1-11
For the Chief Musician. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” A poem by David.
58 Do you indeed speak righteousness, silent ones?
Do you judge blamelessly, you sons of men?
2 No, in your heart you plot injustice.
You measure out the violence of your hands in the earth.
3 The wicked go astray from the womb.
They are wayward as soon as they are born, speaking lies.
4 Their poison is like the poison of a snake;
like a deaf cobra that stops its ear,
5 which doesn’t listen to the voice of charmers,
no matter how skillful the charmer may be.
6 Break their teeth, God, in their mouth.
Break out the great teeth of the young lions, Yahweh.
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away.
When they draw the bow, let their arrows be made blunt.
8 Let them be like a snail which melts and passes away,
like the stillborn child, who has not seen the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns,
he will sweep away the green and the burning alike.
10 The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance.
He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked;
11 so that men shall say, “Most certainly there is a reward for the righteous.
Most certainly there is a God who judges the earth.”

Proverbs 11:12-13
12 One who despises his neighbor is void of wisdom,
but a man of understanding holds his peace.
13 One who brings gossip betrays a confidence,
but one who is of a trustworthy spirit is one who keeps a secret.

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