24 September 2017 Bible Reading
Ephesians tells us what it means to be a Christian—both in faith and in practice. In today’s reading, we come to the close of the first section of the letter. By inspiration, Paul has explained God’s creation of a holy community by His gift of grace in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Members of this community have been adopted as sons and daughters of God, and brought near to the Father through faith in His Son. All people with this faith—Jews and Gentiles alike—were dead in their transgressions and sins but have been made alive because of the person and work of Jesus Christ. The letter is designed to encourage the Ephesians, and other Christians, to mature in their faith.
14 Yahweh, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says: “For your sake, I have sent to Babylon, and I will bring all of them down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, in the ships of their rejoicing. 15 I am Yahweh, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.”
16 Yahweh, who makes a way in the sea,
and a path in the mighty waters says:
17 who brings out the chariot and horse,
the army and the mighty man
(they lie down together, they shall not rise;
they are extinct, they are quenched like a wick):
18 “Don’t remember the former things,
and don’t consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing.
It springs out now.
Don’t you know it?
I will even make a way in the wilderness,
and rivers in the desert.
20 The animals of the field shall honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
because I give water in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people which I formed for myself,
that they might declare my praise.
22 Yet you have not called on me, Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, Israel.
23 You have not brought me of your sheep for burnt offerings;
neither have you honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
nor wearied you with frankincense.
24 You have bought me no sweet cane with money,
nor have you filled me with the fat of your sacrifices;
but you have burdened me with your sins.
You have wearied me with your iniquities.
25 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake;
and I will not remember your sins.
26 Put me in remembrance.
Let us plead together.
Declare your case,
that you may be justified.
27 Your first father sinned,
and your teachers have transgressed against me.
28 Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary;
and I will make Jacob a curse,
and Israel an insult.”
44 Yet listen now, Jacob my servant,
and Israel, whom I have chosen.
2 This is what Yahweh who made you,
and formed you from the womb,
who will help you says:
“Don’t be afraid, Jacob my servant;
and you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
and streams on the dry ground.
I will pour my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your offspring:
4 and they will spring up among the grass,
as willows by the watercourses.
5 One will say, ‘I am Yahweh’s;’
and another will be called by the name of Jacob;
and another will write with his hand ‘to Yahweh,’
and honor the name of Israel.”
6 This is what Yahweh, the King of Israel,
and his Redeemer, Yahweh of Armies, says:
“I am the first, and I am the last;
and besides me there is no God.
7 Who is like me?
Who will call,
and will declare it,
and set it in order for me,
since I established the ancient people?
Let them declare the things that are coming,
and that will happen.
8 Don’t fear,
neither be afraid.
Haven’t I declared it to you long ago,
and shown it?
You are my witnesses.
Is there a God besides me?
Indeed, there is not.
I don’t know any other Rock.”
9 Everyone who makes an engraved image is vain.
The things that they delight in will not profit.
Their own witnesses don’t see, nor know, that they may be disappointed.
10 Who has fashioned a god,
or molds an image that is profitable for nothing?
11 Behold, all his fellows will be disappointed;
and the workmen are mere men.
Let them all be gathered together.
Let them stand up.
They will fear.
They will be put to shame together.
12 The blacksmith takes an ax,
works in the coals,
fashions it with hammers,
and works it with his strong arm.
He is hungry,
and his strength fails;
he drinks no water,
and is faint.
13 The carpenter stretches out a line.
He marks it out with a pencil.
He shapes it with planes.
He marks it out with compasses,
and shapes it like the figure of a man,
with the beauty of a man,
to reside in a house.
14 He cuts down cedars for himself,
and takes the cypress and the oak,
and strengthens for himself one among the trees of the forest.
He plants a cypress tree,
and the rain nourishes it.
15 Then it will be for a man to burn;
and he takes some of it, and warms himself.
Yes, he burns it, and bakes bread.
Yes, he makes a god, and worships it;
he makes it an engraved image, and falls down to it.
16 He burns part of it in the fire.
With part of it, he eats meat.
He roasts a roast, and is satisfied.
Yes, he warms himself,
and says, “Aha! I am warm. I have seen the fire.”
17 The rest of it he makes into a god,
even his engraved image.
He bows down to it and worships,
and prays to it, and says, “Deliver me; for you are my god!”
18 They don’t know, neither do they consider:
for he has shut their eyes, that they can’t see;
and their hearts, that they can’t understand.
19 No one thinks,
neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say,
“I have burned part of it in the fire.
Yes, I have also baked bread on its coals.
I have roasted meat and eaten it.
Shall I make the rest of it into an abomination?
Shall I bow down to a tree trunk?”
20 He feeds on ashes.
A deceived heart has turned him aside;
and he can’t deliver his soul,
nor say, “Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?”
21 Remember these things, Jacob and Israel;
for you are my servant.
I have formed you.
You are my servant.
Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.
22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions,
and, as a cloud, your sins.
Return to me, for I have redeemed you.
23 Sing, you heavens, for Yahweh has done it!
Shout, you lower parts of the earth!
Break out into singing, you mountains, O forest, all of your trees,
for Yahweh has redeemed Jacob,
and will glorify himself in Israel.
24 Yahweh, your Redeemer,
and he who formed you from the womb says:
“I am Yahweh, who makes all things;
who alone stretches out the heavens;
who spreads out the earth by myself;
25 who frustrates the signs of the liars,
and makes diviners mad;
who turns wise men backward,
and makes their knowledge foolish;
26 who confirms the word of his servant,
and performs the counsel of his messengers;
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She will be inhabited;’
and of the cities of Judah, ‘They will be built,’
and ‘I will raise up its waste places;’
27 who says to the deep, ‘Be dry,’
and ‘I will dry up your rivers;’
28 Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure,’
even saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built;’
and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’”
45 Yahweh says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him, and strip kings of their armor; to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut:
2 “I will go before you,
and make the rough places smooth.
I will break the doors of brass in pieces,
and cut apart the bars of iron.
3 I will give you the treasures of darkness,
and hidden riches of secret places,
that you may know that it is I, Yahweh, who call you by your name,
even the God of Israel.
4 For Jacob my servant’s sake,
and Israel my chosen,
I have called you by your name.
I have given you a title,
though you have not known me.
5 I am Yahweh, and there is no one else.
Besides me, there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not known me;
6 that they may know from the rising of the sun,
and from the west,
that there is no one besides me.
I am Yahweh, and there is no one else.
7 I form the light,
and create darkness.
I make peace,
and create calamity.
I am Yahweh,
who does all these things.
8 Rain, you heavens, from above,
and let the skies pour down righteousness.
Let the earth open, that it may produce salvation,
and let it cause righteousness to spring up with it.
I, Yahweh, have created it.
9 Woe to him who strives with his Maker—
a clay pot among the clay pots of the earth!
Shall the clay ask him who fashions it, ‘What are you making?’
or your work, ‘He has no hands?’
10 Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What have you become the father of?’
or to a mother, ‘To what have you given birth?’”
3 For this cause I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles, 2 if it is so that you have heard of the administration of that grace of God which was given me toward you; 3 how that by revelation the mystery was made known to me, as I wrote before in few words, 4 by which, when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; 5 which in other generations was not made known to the children of men, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News, 7 of which I was made a servant, according to the gift of that grace of God which was given me according to the working of his power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, was this grace given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all men see what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now through the assembly the manifold wisdom of God might be made known to the principalities and the powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; 12 in whom we have boldness and access in confidence through our faith in him. 13 Therefore I ask that you may not lose heart at my troubles for you, which are your glory.
14 For this cause, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that you may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be strengthened to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and height and depth, 19 and to know Christ’s love which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to him be the glory in the assembly and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
For the Chief Musician. A Psalm by David. A song.
68 Let God arise!
Let his enemies be scattered!
Let them who hate him also flee before him.
2 As smoke is driven away,
so drive them away.
As wax melts before the fire,
so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
3 But let the righteous be glad.
Let them rejoice before God.
Yes, let them rejoice with gladness.
4 Sing to God! Sing praises to his name!
Extol him who rides on the clouds:
to Yah, his name!
Rejoice before him!
5 A father of the fatherless, and a defender of the widows,
is God in his holy habitation.
6 God sets the lonely in families.
He brings out the prisoners with singing,
but the rebellious dwell in a sun-scorched land.
7 God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness…
8 The earth trembled.
The sky also poured down rain at the presence of the God of Sinai—
at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 You, God, sent a plentiful rain.
You confirmed your inheritance, when it was weary.
10 Your congregation lived therein.
You, God, prepared your goodness for the poor.
11 The Lord announced the word.
The ones who proclaim it are a great company.
12 “Kings of armies flee! They flee!”
She who waits at home divides the plunder,
13 while you sleep among the camp fires,
the wings of a dove sheathed with silver,
her feathers with shining gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered kings in her,
it snowed on Zalmon.
15 The mountains of Bashan are majestic mountains.
The mountains of Bashan are rugged.
16 Why do you look in envy, you rugged mountains,
at the mountain where God chooses to reign?
Yes, Yahweh will dwell there forever.
17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands.
The Lord is among them, from Sinai, into the sanctuary.
18 You have ascended on high.
You have led away captives.
You have received gifts among men,
yes, among the rebellious also, that Yah God might dwell there.
24 Don’t be envious of evil men;
neither desire to be with them:
2 for their hearts plot violence,
and their lips talk about mischief.