His Blood Cries Out (January 6, 2020)

What did you do? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. You are now cursed from the ground that opened its mouth to take your brother’s blood from your hand. When you farm the fertile land, it will no longer grow anything for you, and you will become a roving nomad on the earth. I get no pleasure from the blood. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.

His Blood Cries Out (January 6, 2020)

Genesis 4:1–7:24, CEB

The man Adam knew his wife Eve intimately. She became pregnant and gave birth to Cain, and said, “I have given life to a man with the Lord’s help.” She gave birth a second time to Cain’s brother Abel. Abel cared for the flocks, and Cain farmed the fertile land.

Some time later, Cain presented an offering to the Lord from the land’s crops while Abel presented his flock’s oldest offspring with their fat. The Lord looked favorably on Abel and his sacrifice but didn’t look favorably on Cain and his sacrifice. Cain became very angry and looked resentful. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why do you look so resentful? If you do the right thing, won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do the right thing, sin will be waiting at the door ready to strike! It will entice you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

The Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

Cain said, “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s guardian?”

The Lord said, “What did you do? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. You are now cursed from the ground that opened its mouth to take your brother’s blood from your hand. When you farm the fertile land, it will no longer grow anything for you, and you will become a roving nomad on the earth.”

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Now that you’ve driven me away from the fertile land and I am hidden from your presence, I’m about to become a roving nomad on the earth, and anyone who finds me will kill me.”

The Lord said to him, “It won’t happen; anyone who kills Cain will be paid back seven times.” The Lord put a sign on Cain so that no one who found him would assault him. Cain left the Lord’s presence, and he settled down in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Cain knew his wife intimately. She became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain built a city and named the city after his son Enoch.

Irad was born to Enoch. Irad fathered Mehujael, Mehujael fathered Methushael, and Methushael fathered Lamech. Lamech took two wives, the first named Adah and the second Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and own livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of those who play stringed and wind instruments. Zillah also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the ancestor of blacksmiths and all artisans of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain’s sister was Naamah.

Lamech said to his wives,

“Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice;

wives of Lamech,

pay attention to my words:

I killed a man for wounding me,

a boy for striking me;

so Cain will be paid back seven times

and Lamech seventy-seven times.”

Adam knew his wife intimately again, and she gave birth to a son. She named him Seth “because God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed.” Seth also fathered a son and named him Enosh. At that time, people began to worship in the Lord’s name.

This is the record of Adam’s descendants. On the day God created humanity, he made them to resemble God and created them male and female. He blessed them and called them humanity on the day they were created. When Adam was 130 years old, he became the father of a son in his image, resembling him, and named him Seth. After Seth’s birth, Adam lived 800 years; he had other sons and daughters. In all, Adam lived 930 years, and he died.

When Seth was 105 years old, he became the father of Enosh. After the birth of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Seth lived 912 years, and he died.

When Enosh was 90 years old, he became the father of Kenan. After Kenan’s birth, Enosh lived 815 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Enosh lived 905 years, and he died.

When Kenan was 70 years old, he became the father of Mahalalel. After the birth of Mahalalel, Kenan lived 840 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Kenan lived 910 years, and he died.

When Mahalalel was 65 years old, he became the father of Jared. After Jared’s birth, Mahalalel lived 830 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Mahalalel lived 895 years, and he died.

When Jared was 162 years old, he became the father of Enoch. After Enoch’s birth, Jared lived 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Jared lived 962 years, and he died.

When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. Enoch walked with God. After Methuselah’s birth, Enoch lived 300 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God and disappeared because God took him.

When Methuselah was 187 years old, he became the father of Lamech. After Lamech’s birth, Methuselah lived 782 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Methuselah lived 969 years, and he died.

When Lamech was 182 years old, he became the father of a son and named him Noah, saying, “This one will give us relief from our hard work, from the pain in our hands, because of the fertile land that the Lord cursed.” After Noah’s birth, Lamech lived 595 years; and he had other sons and daughters. In all, Lamech lived 777 years, and he died.

When Noah was 500 years old, Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

When the number of people started to increase throughout the fertile land, daughters were born to them. The divine beings saw how beautiful these human women were, so they married the ones they chose. The Lord said, “My breath will not remain in humans forever, because they are flesh. They will live one hundred twenty years.” In those days, giants lived on the earth and also afterward, when divine beings and human daughters had sexual relations and gave birth to children. These were the ancient heroes, famous men.

The Lord saw that humanity had become thoroughly evil on the earth and that every idea their minds thought up was always completely evil. The Lord regretted making human beings on the earth, and he was heartbroken. So the Lord said, “I will wipe off of the land the human race that I’ve created: from human beings to livestock to the crawling things to the birds in the skies, because I regret I ever made them.” But as for Noah, the Lord approved of him.

These are Noah’s descendants. In his generation, Noah was a moral and exemplary man; he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In God’s sight, the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. God saw that the earth was corrupt, because all creatures behaved corruptly on the earth.

God said to Noah, “The end has come for all creatures, since they have filled the earth with violence. I am now about to destroy them along with the earth, so make a wooden ark. Make the ark with nesting places and cover it inside and out with tar. This is how you should make it: four hundred fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high. Make a roof for the ark and complete it one foot from the top. Put a door in its side. In the hold below, make the second and third decks.

“I am now bringing the floodwaters over the earth to destroy everything under the sky that breathes. Everything on earth is about to take its last breath. But I will set up my covenant with you. You will go into the ark together with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives. From all living things—from all creatures—you are to bring a pair, male and female, into the ark with you to keep them alive. From each kind of bird, from each kind of livestock, and from each kind of everything that crawls on the ground—a pair from each will go in with you to stay alive. Take some from every kind of food and stow it as food for you and for the animals.”

Noah did everything exactly as God commanded him.

The Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark with your whole household, because among this generation I’ve seen that you are a moral man. From every clean animal, take seven pairs, a male and his mate; and from every unclean animal, take one pair, a male and his mate; and from the birds in the sky as well, take seven pairs, male and female, so that their offspring will survive throughout the earth. In seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights. I will wipe off from the fertile land every living thing that I have made.”

Noah did everything the Lord commanded him.

Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters arrived on earth. Noah, his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives with him entered the ark to escape the floodwaters. From the clean and unclean animals, from the birds and everything crawling on the ground, two of each, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, just as God commanded Noah. After seven days, the floodwaters arrived on the earth. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day—on that day all the springs of the deep sea erupted, and the windows in the skies opened. It rained on the earth forty days and forty nights. That same day Noah, with his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth, Noah’s wife, and his sons’ three wives, went into the ark. They and every kind of animal—every kind of livestock, every kind that crawls on the ground, every kind of bird—they came to Noah and entered the ark, two of every creature that breathes. Male and female of every creature went in, just as God had commanded him. Then the Lord closed the door behind them.

The flood remained on the earth for forty days. The waters rose, lifted the ark, and it rode high above the earth. The waters rose and spread out over the earth. The ark floated on the surface of the waters. The waters rose even higher over the earth; they covered all of the highest mountains under the sky. The waters rose twenty-three feet high, covering the mountains. Every creature took its last breath: the things crawling on the ground, birds, livestock, wild animals, everything swarming on the ground, and every human being. Everything on dry land with life’s breath in its nostrils died. God wiped away every living thing that was on the fertile land—from human beings to livestock to crawling things to birds in the sky. They were wiped off the earth. Only Noah and those with him in the ark were left. The waters rose over the earth for one hundred fifty days.

Job 1:6–12, MEV

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Adversary also came among them. And the Lord said to the Adversary, “From where have you come?”

Then the Adversary answered the Lord, saying, “From roaming on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”

And the Lord said to the Adversary, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and an upright man, who fears God, and avoids evil?”

Then the Adversary answered the Lord, saying, “Has Job feared God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.”

The Lord said to the Adversary, “Look, all that he has is in your power; only do not stretch out your hand against his person.”

So the Adversary departed from the presence of the Lord.

Isaiah 1:10–31, NLT

Listen to the Lord, you leaders of “Sodom.”

Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.”

“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?”

says the Lord.

“I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams

and the fat of fattened cattle.

I get no pleasure from the blood

of bulls and lambs and goats.

When you come to worship me,

who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony?

Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts;

the incense of your offerings disgusts me!

As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath

and your special days for fasting—

they are all sinful and false.

I want no more of your pious meetings.

I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals.

They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them!

When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look.

Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen,

for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims.

Wash yourselves and be clean!

Get your sins out of my sight.

Give up your evil ways.

Learn to do good.

Seek justice.

Help the oppressed.

Defend the cause of orphans.

Fight for the rights of widows.

“Come now, let’s settle this,”

says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,

I will make them as white as snow.

Though they are red like crimson,

I will make them as white as wool.

If you will only obey me,

you will have plenty to eat.

But if you turn away and refuse to listen,

you will be devoured by the sword of your enemies.

I, the Lord, have spoken!”

See how Jerusalem, once so faithful,

has become a prostitute.

Once the home of justice and righteousness,

she is now filled with murderers.

Once like pure silver,

you have become like worthless slag.

Once so pure,

you are now like watered-down wine.

Your leaders are rebels,

the companions of thieves.

All of them love bribes

and demand payoffs,

but they refuse to defend the cause of orphans

or fight for the rights of widows.

Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

the Mighty One of Israel, says,

“I will take revenge on my enemies

and pay back my foes!

I will raise my fist against you.

I will melt you down and skim off your slag.

I will remove all your impurities.

Then I will give you good judges again

and wise counselors like you used to have.

Then Jerusalem will again be called the Home of Justice

and the Faithful City.”

Zion will be restored by justice;

those who repent will be revived by righteousness.

But rebels and sinners will be completely destroyed,

and those who desert the Lord will be consumed.

You will be ashamed of your idol worship

in groves of sacred oaks.

You will blush because you worshiped

in gardens dedicated to idols.

You will be like a great tree with withered leaves,

like a garden without water.

The strongest among you will disappear like straw;

their evil deeds will be the spark that sets it on fire.

They and their evil works will burn up together,

and no one will be able to put out the fire.

Matthew 2:13–3:12, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation

After the Magi had gone, suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.

‘Get up,’ he said, ‘and take the child, and his mother, and hurry off to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to hunt for the child, to kill him.’

So he got up and took the child and his mother by night, and went off to Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod. This happened to fulfil what the Lord said through the prophet:

Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the Magi, he flew into a towering rage. He dispatched people to kill all the boys in Bethlehem, and in all its surrounding districts, from two years old and under, according to the time the Magi had told him. That was when the word that came through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:

There was heard a voice in Rama,

crying and loud lamentation.

Rachel is weeping for her children,

and will not let anyone comfort her,

because they are no more.

After the death of Herod, suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.

‘Get up,’ he said, ‘and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who wanted to kill the child are dead.’

So he got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel.

But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling Judaea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go back there. After being advised in a dream, he went off to the region of Galilee. When he got there, he settled in a town called Nazareth. This was to fulfil what the prophet had spoken:

He shall be called a Nazorean.

In those days John the Baptist appeared. He was preaching in the Judaean wilderness.

‘Repent!’ he was saying. ‘The kingdom of heaven is coming!’

John, you see, is the person spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, when he said,

The voice of someone shouting in the desert: ‘Prepare the route that the Lord will take, straighten out his paths!’

John himself had clothing made from camel’s hair, and a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and the whole area around the Jordan, were going off to him. They were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

He saw several Pharisees and Sadducees coming to be baptized by him.

‘You brood of vipers!’ he said to them. ‘Who warned you to escape from the coming wrath? You’d better prove your repentance by bearing the right sort of fruit! And you needn’t start thinking to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” Let me tell you, God is quite capable of raising up children for Abraham from these stones! The axe is already taking aim at the root of the tree. Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire.’

‘I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,’ John continued. ‘But the one who is coming behind me is more powerful than me! I’m not even worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy spirit and fire! He’s got his shovel in his hand, ready to clear out his barn, and gather all his corn into the granary. But he’ll burn up the chaff with a fire that will never go out.’

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