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3 May 2017 Bible Reading

In today’s reading from John, we are introduced to Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus appears three times in the Gospel of John. Here, in John 3, he visits Jesus to ask about His teachings. In John 7:50-51, Nicodemus reminds the other members of the Sanhedrin that the Law requires that a person be heard before being judged. In John 19:39-42, he provides embalming spices and helps Joseph of Arimathea prepare the body of Jesus for burial.

Pharisees were a political party that competed with the other main Jewish political party, the Sadducees. At the time of the gospel histories, the primary political difference between the two was in their approach to Roman occupation. The Pharisees believed an overthrow was possible and sought influence and power among the people. The Sadducees drew among the elite of society and actively sought the favor of their Roman occupiers. With Roman backing, the Sadducees were able to dominate positions of power in the Sanhedrin and the High Priesthood.

Judges 17-18:31
17 There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. 2 He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and also spoke it in my ears, behold, the silver is with me. I took it.”
His mother said, “May Yahweh bless my son!”
3 He restored the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother, then his mother said, “I most certainly dedicate the silver to Yahweh from my hand for my son, to make an engraved image and a molten image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.”
4 When he restored the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave them to a silversmith, who made an engraved image and a molten image out of it. It was in the house of Micah.
5 The man Micah had a house of gods, and he made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did that which was right in his own eyes. 7 There was a young man out of Bethlehem Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite; and he lived there. 8 The man departed out of the city, out of Bethlehem Judah, to live where he could find a place, and he came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, as he traveled. 9 Micah said to him, “Where did you come from?”
He said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem Judah, and I am looking for a place to live.” 10 Micah said to him, “Dwell with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver per year, a suit of clothing, and your food.” So the Levite went in. 11 The Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was to him as one of his sons. 12 Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now know I that Yahweh will do good to me, since I have a Levite as my priest.”
18 In those days there was no king in Israel. In those days the tribe of the Danites sought an inheritance to dwell in; for to that day, their inheritance had not fallen to them among the tribes of Israel. 2 The children of Dan sent five men of their family from their whole number, men of valor, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it. They said to them, “Go, explore the land!”
They came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah, and lodged there. 3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite; so they turned aside there, and said to him, “Who brought you here? What do you do in this place? What do you have here?”
4 He said to them, “Thus and thus has Micah dealt with me, and he has hired me, and I am become his priest.”
5 They said to him, “Please ask counsel of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.”
6 The priest said to them, “Go in peace. Your way in which you go is before Yahweh.”
7 Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people who were there, how they lived in safety, in the way of the Sidonians, quiet and secure; for there was no one in the land, possessing authority, that might put them to shame in anything, and they were far from the Sidonians, and had no dealings with anyone else. 8 They came to their brothers at Zorah and Eshtaol; and their brothers asked them, “What do you say?”
9 They said, “Arise, and let us go up against them; for we have seen the land, and behold, it is very good. Do you stand still? Don’t be slothful to go and to enter in to possess the land. 10 When you go, you will come to an unsuspecting people, and the land is large; for God has given it into your hand, a place where there is no lack of anything that is in the earth.”
11 The family of the Danites set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, with six hundred men armed with weapons of war. 12 They went up and encamped in Kiriath Jearim, in Judah. Therefore they called that place Mahaneh Dan, to this day. Behold, it is behind Kiriath Jearim. 13 They passed from there to the hill country of Ephraim, and came to the house of Micah.
14 Then the five men who went to spy out the country of Laish answered, and said to their brothers, “Do you know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim, and an engraved image, and a molten image? Now therefore consider what you have to do.” 15 They turned aside there, and came to the house of the young Levite man, even to the house of Micah, and asked him how he was doing. 16 The six hundred men armed with their weapons of war, who were of the children of Dan, stood by the entrance of the gate. 17 The five men who went to spy out the land went up, and came in there, and took the engraved image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image; and the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.
18 When these went into Micah’s house, and took the engraved image, the ephod, the teraphim, and the molten image, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”
19 They said to him, “Hold your peace, put your hand on your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?”
20 The priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, the teraphim, and the engraved image, and went with the people. 21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones, the livestock, and the goods before them. 22 When they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men who were in the houses near Micah’s house gathered together and overtook the children of Dan. 23 As they cried to the children of Dan, they turned their faces, and said to Micah, “What ails you, that you come with such a company?”
24 He said, “You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away! What more do I have? How can you ask me, ‘What ails you?’”
25 The children of Dan said to him, “Don’t let your voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows fall on you, and you lose your life, with the lives of your household.”
26 The children of Dan went their way; and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back to his house. 27 They took that which Micah had made, and the priest whom he had, and came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting, and struck them with the edge of the sword; then they burned the city with fire. 28 There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no dealings with anyone else; and it was in the valley that lies by Beth Rehob. They built the city, and lived in it. 29 They called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel; however the name of the city used to be Laish. 30 The children of Dan set up for themselves the engraved image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. 31 So they set up for themselves Micah’s engraved image which he made, and it remained all the time that God’s house was in Shiloh.

John 3:1-21
3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 The same came to him by night, and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.”
3 Jesus answered him, “Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can’t see God’s Kingdom.”
4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
5 Jesus answered, “Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can’t enter into God’s Kingdom! 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Don’t marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.’ 8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don’t know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus answered him, “How can these things be?”
10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and don’t understand these things? 11 Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don’t receive our witness. 12 If I told you earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn’t believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn’t come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.”

Psalm 104:1-23
104 Bless Yahweh, my soul.
Yahweh, my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty.
2 He covers himself with light as with a garment.
He stretches out the heavens like a curtain.
3 He lays the beams of his rooms in the waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot.
He walks on the wings of the wind.
4 He makes his messengers winds;
his servants flames of fire.
5 He laid the foundations of the earth,
that it should not be moved forever.
6 You covered it with the deep as with a cloak.
The waters stood above the mountains.
7 At your rebuke they fled.
At the voice of your thunder they hurried away.
8 The mountains rose,
the valleys sank down,
to the place which you had assigned to them.
9 You have set a boundary that they may not pass over;
that they don’t turn again to cover the earth.
10 He sends springs into the valleys.
They run among the mountains.
11 They give drink to every animal of the field.
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by them.
They sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his rooms.
The earth is filled with the fruit of your works.
14 He causes the grass to grow for the livestock,
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may produce food out of the earth:
15 wine that makes glad the heart of man,
oil to make his face to shine,
and bread that strengthens man’s heart.
16 Yahweh’s trees are well watered,
the cedars of Lebanon, which he has planted;
17 where the birds make their nests.
The stork makes its home in the cypress trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats.
The rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.
19 He appointed the moon for seasons.
The sun knows when to set.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
in which all the animals of the forest prowl.
21 The young lions roar after their prey,
and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away,
and lay down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work,
to his labor until the evening.

Proverbs 14:20-21
20 The poor person is shunned even by his own neighbor,
but the rich person has many friends.
21 He who despises his neighbor sins,
but blessed is he who has pity on the poor.

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