Through the Bible – Day 170

Bible text(s)

Ezra reads God's law to the people, and they celebrate the Festival of Shelters

Ezra reads God's Law to the people

1-2On the first day of the seventh month, the people came together in the open area in front of the Water Gate. Then they asked Ezra, who was a teacher of the Law of Moses, to read to them from this Law that the LORD had given his people. Ezra the priest came with the Law and stood before the crowd of men, women, and the children who were old enough to understand. 3From early morning till midday, he read the Law of Moses to them, and they listened carefully. 4Ezra stood on a high wooden platform that had been built for this occasion. Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah were standing to his right, while Pedaiah, Mishael, Malchijah, Hashum, Hash Baddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam were standing to his left.

5Ezra was up on the high platform, where he could be seen by everyone, and when he opened the book, they all stood up. 6Ezra praised the great LORD God, and the people shouted, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed with their faces to the ground and worshipped the LORD.

7-8After this, the Levites Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah went among the people, explaining the meaning of what Ezra had read.

9The people started crying when God's Law was read to them. Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher, and the Levites who had been teaching the people all said, “This is a special day for the LORD your God. So don't be sad and don't cry!”

10Nehemiah told the people, “Enjoy your good food and wine and share some with those who didn't have anything to bring. Don't be sad! This is a special day for the LORD, and he will make you happy and strong.”

11The Levites encouraged the people by saying, “This is a sacred day, so don't worry or mourn!” 12When the people returned to their homes, they celebrated by eating and drinking and by sharing their food with those in need, because they had understood what had been read to them.

Celebrating the Festival of Shelters

13On the second day of the seventh month, the leaders of all the family groups came together with the priests and the Levites, so Ezra could teach them the Law 14that the LORD had given to Moses. They learnt from the Law that the people of Israel were to live in shelters when they celebrated the festival in the seventh month of the year. 15They also learnt that they were to go into the woods and gather branches of leafy trees such as olives, myrtles, and palms for making these shelters.

16So the people gathered branches and made shelters on the flat roofs of their houses, in their yards, in the courtyard of the temple, and in the open areas around the Water Gate and Ephraim Gate. 17Everyone who had returned from Babylonia built shelters. They lived in them and joyfully celebrated the Festival of Shelters for the first time since the days of Joshua son of Nun. 18On each of the first seven days of the festival, Ezra read to the people from God's Law. Then on the eighth day, everyone gathered for worship, just as the Law had said they must.

The people confess their sins

1On the twenty-fourth day of the seventh month, the people of Israel went without eating, and they dressed in sackcloth and threw dust on their heads to show their sorrow. 2They refused to let foreigners join them, as they met to confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors. 3For three hours they stood and listened to the Law of the LORD their God, and then for the next three hours they confessed their sins and worshipped the LORD.

4Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani stood on the special platform for the Levites and prayed aloud to the LORD their God. 5Then the Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said:

“Stand and shout praises

to your LORD,

the eternal God!

Praise his wonderful name,

though he is greater

than words can express.”

The people pray

6You alone are the LORD,

Creator of the heavens

and all the stars,

Creator of the earth

and those who live on it,

Creator of the ocean

and all its creatures.

You are the source of life,

praised by the stars

that fill the heavens.

7You are the LORD our God,

the one who chose Abram—

you brought him from Ur

in Babylonia

and named him Abraham.

8Because he was faithful,

you made an agreement

to give his descendants

the land of the Canaanites

and Hittites,

of the Amorites and Perizzites,

and of the Jebusites

and Girgashites.

Now you have kept your promise,

just as you always do.

9When our ancestors

were in Egypt,

you saw their suffering;

when they were at the Red Sea,

you heard their cry for help.

10You knew that the King of Egypt

and his officials and his nation

had ill-treated your people.

So you worked fearsome miracles

against the Egyptians

and earned a reputation

that still remains.

11You divided the deep sea,

and your people walked through

on dry land.

But you tossed their enemies in,

and they sank down

like a heavy stone.

12Each day you led your people

with a thick cloud,

and at night you showed the way

with a flaming fire.

13At Sinai you came down

from heaven,

and you gave your people

good laws and teachings

that are fair and honest.

14You commanded them to respect

your holy Sabbath,

and you instructed

your servant Moses

to teach them your laws.

15When they were hungry,

you sent bread from heaven,

and when they were thirsty,

you let water flow

from a rock.

Then you commanded them

to capture the land

that you had solemnly promised.

16-17Our stubborn ancestors

refused to obey—

they forgot about the miracles

you had worked for them,

and they were determined

to return to Egypt

and become slaves again.

But, our God, you are merciful

and quick to forgive;

you are loving, kind,

and very patient.

So you never turned away

from them—

18not even when they made

an idol shaped like a calf

and insulted you by claiming,

“This is the god who rescued us

from Egypt.”

19Because of your great mercy,

you never abandoned them

in the desert.

And you always guided them

with a cloud by day

and a fire at night.

20Your gentle Spirit

instructed them,

and you gave them manna to eat

and water to drink.

21You took good care of them,

and for forty years

they never lacked a thing.

Their shoes didn't wear out,

and their feet were never swollen.

22You let them conquer kings

and take their land,

including King Sihon of Heshbon

and King Og of Bashan.

23You brought them into the land

that you had promised

their ancestors,

and you blessed their nation

with people who outnumbered

the stars in the sky.

24Then their descendants

conquered the land.

You helped them defeat

the kings and nations

and treat their enemies

however they wished.

25They captured strong cities

and rich farmland;

they took furnished houses,

as well as cisterns,

vineyards, olive orchards,

and numerous fruit trees.

They ate till they were satisfied,

and they celebrated

your abundant blessings.

26In spite of this, they rebelled

and disobeyed your laws.

They killed your prophets,

who warned them

to turn back to you,

and they cursed your name.

27So you handed them over

to their enemies,

who treated them terribly.

But in their sufferings,

they begged you to help.

From heaven you listened

to their prayers

and because of your great mercy,

you sent leaders to rescue them.

28But when they were at peace,

they would turn against you,

and you would hand them over

to their enemies.

Then they would beg for help,

and because you are merciful,

you rescued them

over and over again.

29You warned them to turn back

and discover true life

by obeying your laws.

But they stubbornly refused

and continued to sin.

30For years, you were patient,

and your Spirit warned them

with messages spoken

by your prophets.

Still they refused to listen,

and you handed them over

to their enemies.

31But you are merciful and kind,

and so you never forgot them

or let them be destroyed.

32Our God, you are powerful,

fearsome, and faithful,

always true to your word.

So please keep in mind

the terrible sufferings

of our people, kings, leaders,

priests, and prophets,

from the time Assyria ruled

until this very day.

33You have always been fair

when you punished us

for our sins.

34Our kings, leaders, and priests

have never obeyed your commands

or heeded your warnings.

35You blessed them with a kingdom

and with an abundance

of rich, fertile land,

but they refused to worship you

or turn from their evil.

36Now we are slaves

in this fruitful land

you gave to our ancestors.

37Its plentiful harvest is taken

by kings you placed over us

because of our sins.

Our suffering is unbearable,

because they do as they wish

to us and our livestock.

Nehemiah 8:1-9:37CEVOpen in Bible reader

Peter and John are brought in front of the council

1The apostles were still talking to the people, when some priests, the captain of the temple guard, and some Sadducees arrived. 2These men were angry because the apostles were teaching the people that the dead would be raised from death, just as Jesus had been raised from death. 3It was already late in the afternoon, and they arrested Peter and John and put them in jail for the night. 4But a lot of people who had heard the message believed it. So by now there were about five thousand followers of the Lord.

5The next morning the leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met in Jerusalem. 6The high priest Annas was there, as well as Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the high priest's family. 7They brought in Peter and John and made them stand in the middle while they questioned them. They asked, “By what power and in whose name have you done this?”

8Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation's leaders and the elders:

9You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 11He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.

13The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. 14But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles.

15The officials commanded them to leave the council room. Then the officials said to each other, 16“What can we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem knows about this miracle, and we cannot say it didn't happen. 17But to keep this thing from spreading, we will warn them never again to speak to anyone about the name of Jesus.” 18So they called the two apostles back in and told them that they must never, for any reason, teach anything about the name of Jesus.

19Peter and John answered, “Do you think God wants us to obey you or to obey him? 20We cannot keep quiet about what we have seen and heard.”

21-22The officials could not find any reason to punish Peter and John. So they threatened them and let them go. The man who was healed by this miracle was more than forty years old, and everyone was praising God for what had happened.

Acts 4:1-22CEVOpen in Bible reader
Canadian Bible Societyv.4.21.9
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