Num 22-25; Luke 1
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The following text is from the Common English Bible. Occasionally we will rotate the translations just to have some variety.
Balak summons Balaam to curse the Israelites
22 The Israelites marched and camped in the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho. 2 Balak, Zippor’s son, saw everything that the Israelites did to the Amorites. 3 The Moabites greatly feared the people, for they were so numerous. The Moabites were terrified of the Israelites.4 The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “Now this assembly will devour everything around us, as an ox eats up the grass in the field.”
Balak, Zippor’s son, was king of Moab at that time. 5 He sent messengers to Balaam, Beor’s son, at Pethor, which is by the river in the land of his people,[a] to summon him: “A people has come out of Egypt, and they have now covered the land. They have settled next to me. 6 Now please come and curse this people for me because they are stronger than I am. Perhaps I’ll be able to destroy them and drive them from the land, for I know that whomever you bless is blessed and whomever you curse is cursed.”
7 So the elders of Moab and Midian went with the payment for divination in their hands. They came to Balaam and told him Balak’s words. 8 He said to them, “Spend the night here and I’ll bring back to you a word exactly as the Lord speaks to me.” So the officials of Moab stayed with Balaam.
9 God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?”
10 Balaam said to God, “Moab’s King Balak, Zippor’s son, sent them to me with the message, 11 ‘A people has come out of Egypt and covered the land. Now come and curse them for me. Perhaps I’ll be able to fight against them and drive them out.’”
12 God said to Balaam, “Don’t go with them. Don’t curse the people, because they are blessed.”
13 Then Balaam arose in the morning and said to Balak’s officials, “Go to your land, for the Lord has refused to allow me to go with you.”
14 The officials of Moab arose, they went to Balak, and they said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”
15 Balak continued to send other officials more numerous and important than these. 16 They came to Balaam and said to him, “This is what Balak, Zippor’s son, says: ‘Please let nothing hold you back from coming to me,17 for I’ll greatly honor you and I’ll do anything you ask of me. Please come and curse this people for me.’”
18 Balaam answered and said to Balak’s servants, “If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I wouldn’t be able to do anything, small or great, to break the command of the Lord my God. 19 Now you also must remain the night here so that I may know what else the Lord may say to me.”
20 God came to Balaam in the night and said to him, “If the men have come to summon you, arise and go with them. But you must do only what I tell you to do.” 21 So Balaam arose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the officials of Moab.
Balaam and the Lord’s messenger
22 Then God became angry because he went. So while he was riding on his donkey accompanied by his two servants, the Lord’s messenger stood in the road as his adversary. 23 The donkey saw the Lord’s messenger standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand, so the donkey turned from the road and went into the field. Balaam struck the donkey in order to turn him back onto the road. 24 Then the Lord’s messenger stood in the narrow path between vineyards with a stone wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the Lord’s messenger, it leaned against the wall and squeezed Balaam’s foot against the wall, so he continued to beat it. 26 The Lord’s messenger persisted and crossed over and stood in a narrow place, where it wasn’t possible to turn either right or left. 27 The donkey saw the Lord’s messenger and lay down underneath Balaam. Balaam became angry and beat the donkey with the rod. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you’ve beaten me these three times?”
29 Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you’ve tormented me. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now.”
30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on whom you’ve often ridden to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”
Balaam said, “No.”
31 Then the Lord uncovered Balaam’s eyes, and Balaam saw the Lord’s messenger standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand. Then he bowed low and worshipped. 32 The Lord’s messenger said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I’ve come out here as an adversary, because you took the road recklessly in front of me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it hadn’t turned away from me, I would just now have killed you and let it live.”
34 Balaam said to the Lord’s messenger, “I’ve sinned, because I didn’t know that you were standing against me in the road. Now, if you think it’s wrong, I’ll go back.”
35 The Lord’s messenger said to Balaam, “Go with the men. But don’t say anything. Say only that which I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.
Balaam and Balak meet
36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at Ir-moab, which is on the border of the Arnon at the farthest point of the border. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Didn’t I send urgently and summon you? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I really not able to honor you?”
38 Balaam said to Balak, “I’ve now come to you. But I’m only able to speak whatever word God gives me to say. That is what I will speak.”
Balaam’s first blessing of the Israelites
39 Then Balaam went with Balak and they came to Kiriath-huzoth.40 Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep and sent them to Balaam and the officials who were with him. 41 In the morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, where he could see part of the people.
23 Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams.” 2 Balak did as Balaam had said. Then Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay by your entirely burned offering. I will go and perhaps the Lord will grant me an appearance and speak. Whatever he shows me, I will tell you.” Then he went off to a high outlook.
4 God granted Balaam an appearance. Balaam said to him, “I have arranged seven altars and I have sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar.”
5 The Lord gave Balaam something to say, and said to him, “Return to Balak and say this.”
6 Balaam returned to him, while he and all the officials of Moab were standing next to his entirely burned offering. 7 Then he raised his voice and made his address:
“From Aram Balak led me,
11 Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemy. But now you’ve blessed him.”
12 He answered and said, “Don’t I have to take care to speak whatever the Lord gives me to say?”
Balaam’s second blessing of the Israelites
13 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come with me, please, to another place where you’ll see them. You’ll see only part of them. You won’t see all of them. Then curse them for me from there.” 14 He took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah. He built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
15 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your entirely burned offering, while I seek an appearance over there.”
16 The Lord granted Balaam an appearance and gave him a message. He said, “Return to Balak and say this.”
17 Balaam approached Balak, who was standing by his entirely burned offering with the officials of Moab. Balak said to him, “What did the Lord say?”
18 Then Balaam raised his voice and made his address:
“Arise, Balak, and listen;
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Don’t curse them or bless them.”
26 But Balaam answered and said to Balak, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘I’ll do whatever the Lord tells me to’?”
Balaam’s third blessing of the Israelites
27 Balak said to Balaam, “Please come and I’ll take you to another place. Perhaps God will prefer it, so that you could curse him for me from there.”
28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks Jeshimon.[b]29 Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 Balak did just as Balaam said. He offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
24 Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless the Israelites, so he didn’t go as the other times to seek omens. Instead, he turned toward the desert. 2 Balaam looked up and saw Israel camping by tribes. Then God’s spirit came on him. 3 He raised his voice and made his address:
“The oracle of Balaam, Beor’s son;
10 Balak was angry with Balaam. He pounded his fists. Balak said to Balaam, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but now you’ve given a blessing these three times. 11 Now get out of here and go home. I told you I’d greatly honor you, but the Lord has denied you any honor.”
Balaam predicts Moab’s destruction
12 Balaam said to Balak, “Didn’t I tell your messengers, whom you sent to me, 13 ‘If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I wouldn’t be able to break the Lord’s command for good or ill by my own will. I’ll say whatever the Lord says’? 14 So now I’m going to my people. Let me advise you what this people will do to your people in the days to come.” 15 He raised his voice and made his address:
“The oracle of Balaam, Beor’s son,
25 Then Balaam arose, set out, and returned home. Balak also went on his way.
Israelites and Moabites intermarry
25 When the Israelites lived at Shittim, the people made themselves impure by having illicit sex with Moabite women. 2 The Moabite women invited the people to the sacrifices for their god. So the people ate a meal, and they worshipped their god. 3 Israel became attached to the Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry at the Israelites. 4 The Lord said to Moses: Take all the leaders of the people and kill them on behalf of the Lord in broad daylight, so that the Lord’s anger turns away from Israel.
5 Then Moses said to Israel’s officials, “Each of you: kill your men who are attached to the Baal of Peor.”
Israelites and Midianites intermarry
6 An Israelite man brought a Midianite woman to his brothers in the sight of Moses and the entire Israelite community, who were weeping at the entrance of the meeting tent. 7 When Phinehas (Eleazar’s son and Aaron the priest’s grandson) saw this, he arose in the middle of the community, took a spear in his hand, 8 went after the Israelite man into the chamber, and stabbed the two of them, the Israelite man and the woman, through the stomach. Then the plague stopped spreading among the Israelites. 9 Yet those who died by the plague numbered twenty-four thousand.
10 The Lord spoke to Moses: 11 Phinehas (Eleazar’s son and Aaron the priest’s grandson) has turned back my rage toward the Israelites. Because he was jealous for me among you, I didn’t consume the Israelites due to my jealousy. 12 Therefore, say: I’m now giving him my covenant of well-being. 13 It will be for him and his descendants a covenant of permanent priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and sought reconciliation for the Israelites.
14 The name of the slain Israelite man who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of Simeon’s household. 15 The name of the slain Midianite woman was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, a tribal leader of a Midianite household. 16 The Lord spoke to Moses: 17 Go after the Midianites and destroy them 18 because they went after you by the deception they devised for you at Peor with Cozbi, the Midianite chief’s daughter and their sister, who was killed on the same day as the plague during the events at Peor.
1 Many people have already applied themselves to the task of compiling an account of the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used what the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed down to us. 3 Now, after having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, I have also decided to write a carefully ordered account for you, most honorable Theophilus. 4 I want you to have confidence in the soundness of the instruction you have received.
John the Baptist’s birth foretold
5 During the rule of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. 6 They were both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to become pregnant and they both were very old. 8 One day Zechariah was serving as a priest before God because his priestly division was on duty.9 Following the customs of priestly service, he was chosen by lottery to go into the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense. 10 All the people who gathered to worship were praying outside during this hour of incense offering. 11 An angel from the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear.
13 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes. He must not drink wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. 16 He will bring many Israelites back to the Lord their God.17 He will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of fathers[a] back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking. He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”
19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in God’s presence. I was sent to speak to you and to bring this good news to you. 20 Know this: What I have spoken will come true at the proper time. But because you didn’t believe, you will remain silent, unable to speak until the day when these things happen.”
21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered why he was in the sanctuary for such a long time. 22 When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he gestured to them and couldn’t speak. 23 When he completed the days of his priestly service, he returned home.24 Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months, saying, 25 “This is the Lord’s doing. He has shown his favor to me by removing my disgrace among other people.”
Jesus’ birth foretold
26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.”
38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Mary visits Elizabeth
39 Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands. 40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women, and he has blessed the child you carry.43 Why do I have this honor, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.”
Mary praises God
46 Mary said,
“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months, and then returned to her home.
57 When the time came for Elizabeth to have her child, she gave birth to a boy. 58 Her neighbors and relatives celebrated with her because they had heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy. 59 On the eighth day, it came time to circumcise the child. They wanted to name him Zechariah because that was his father’s name. 60 But his mother replied, “No, his name will be John.”
61 They said to her, “None of your relatives have that name.” 62 Then they began gesturing to his father to see what he wanted to call him.
63 After asking for a tablet, he surprised everyone by writing, “His name is John.” 64 At that moment, Zechariah was able to speak again, and he began praising God.
65 All their neighbors were filled with awe, and everyone throughout the Judean highlands talked about what had happened. 66 All who heard about this considered it carefully. They said, “What then will this child be?” Indeed, the Lord’s power was with him.
67 John’s father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,
68 “Bless the Lord God of Israel
80 The child grew up, becoming strong in character. He was in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.
The reading plan I’ve chosen is from Bible Class Material and it’s a 5 day plan, with weekend days to catch up or get ahead or just take a break!