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Isaiah 37:14–38:22 (LEB)

Hezekiah’s Prayer

14 And Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers, and he read it. Then he went up to the temple of Yahweh, and Hezekiah spread it out before the presence of Yahweh. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh, saying, 16 “Yahweh of hosts, God of Israel who is enthroned on the cherubim, you are the one, God by yourself, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you are the one who made the heavens and the earth. 17 Yahweh, extend your ear and hear! Yahweh, open your eyes and see, and hear all the words of Sennacherib that he has sent to taunt the living God! 18 Truly, Yahweh, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the lands and their land, 19 to set their gods in the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of human hands, wood and stone, and they destroyed them. 20 So now, Yahweh, our God, save us from his hand so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are Yahweh, you alone!”

God’s Answer

21 And Isaiah son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says Yahweh the God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib, king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that Yahweh has spoken concerning him:

She shows contempt for you; she derides you, virgin daughter of Zion;

she shakes her head behind you, daughter of Jerusalem.

23 Whom have you taunted and blasphemed,

and against whom have you raised up your voice and lifted your eyes upward?

To the holy one of Israel!

24 By the hand of your servants you have taunted the Lord,

and you have said, “With my many chariots,

I myself have gone up the height of the mountains,

to the remote areas of Lebanon.

And I cut off its tall cedars,

the choicest of its junipers.

And I came to the height of its limit,

the forest of its orchard.

25 I myself dug and drank waters,

and I caused all the streams of Egypt to dry up by the sole of my feet.”

26 Have you not heard from a long time ago? I have made it

from days of primeval time, and I formed it.

Now I have brought it about,

and it is for fortified cities to collapse into heaps of destroyed stones.

27 And their inhabitants are weak;

they are dismayed, and they are ashamed;

they have become like plants of the field,

and like greens of grass,

like grass on the roofs

and a cultivated field before the standing grain.

28 And I know your sitting down and your going out,

and your coming in, and your raging against me.

29 Because you were enraged against me,

and your noise has come up to my ears,

I will put my hook in your nose

and my bridle on your lips,

and I will turn you back

on the way by which you came.

30 And this shall be the sign for you: the eating of volunteer plants this year, and in the second year self-seeded plants, and in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the remnant of the house of Judah that remain shall grow roots downwards and make fruit upwards.

32 For a remnant shall go out from Jerusalem

and survivors from mountain Zion.

The zeal of Yahweh of hosts will do this.’

33 Therefore thus says Yahweh concerning the king of Assyria:

‘He shall not come to this city,

and he shall not shoot an arrow there,

and he shall not meet it with a shield,

and he shall not heap a siege ramp up against her.

34 He shall return by the way that he came,

and he shall not come to this city,’

declares Yahweh.

35 ‘And I will defend this city, to save it for my sake and for the sake of David, my servant.’ ”

Sennacherib’s Defeat

36 And the angel of Yahweh set out and struck one hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When they rose in the morning, look! All of them were dead corpses. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria left, went, and returned and lived at Nineveh. 38 And this happened: he was bowing in worship in the house of Nisroch his god, and Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him with the sword. And they themselves escaped to the land of Ararat, and Esar-haddon his son reigned as king in his place.

Hezekiah’s Illness

38 In those days, Hezekiah became sick to death, and Isaiah son of Amoz, the prophet, came to him and said to him, “Thus says Yahweh: ‘Order your house, for you are about to die, and you shall not recover.’ ” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to Yahweh, and he said, “O Yahweh, please remember how I have walked before your presence in faithfulness with a whole heart, and I have done the good in your eyes!” And Hezekiah wept with great weeping.

Then the word of Yahweh came to Isaiah, saying, “Go and say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says Yahweh, the God of David your ancestor: “I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Look, I am going to add fifteen years to your days. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria, and I will defend this city.” ’

And this is the sign to you from Yahweh, that Yahweh will do this thing that he has spoken: Look! I will cause the shadow of the steps, which it had gone down on the steps of Ahaz with the sun, to turn backwards ten steps.” And the sun turned back ten steps on the steps which it had gone down.

A writing of Hezekiah, king of Judah, when he was sick and had recovered from his sickness:

10 I was the one who said, “I must go in the quiet of my days;

I am summoned through the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.”

11 I said, “I shall not see Yah! Yah in the land of the living!

I shall no more look at humankind among the inhabitants of the world.

12 My dwelling place is pulled up and removed from me like the tent of my shepherd;

I have rolled up my life like a weaver.

He cuts me off from the thrum;

from day to night you bring me to an end.

13 I lie down until morning;

like a lion, so he breaks all my bones;

from day to night you bring me to an end.

14 Like a horse or a crane, so I chirp;

I moan like a dove.

My eyes are weak toward the height.

Lord, I have oppression; lend me support!

15 What can I say? For he has spoken to me,

and he himself has done it.

I will walk slowly all my years because of the bitterness of my soul.

16 Lord, they live by them, and the life of my spirit belongs to all among them.

And restore me to health and keep me alive!

17 Look! Bitterness was bitter to me for peace.

And you were the one who loved my life from the pit of destruction,

for you have cast all my sins behind your back.

18 For Sheol cannot praise you; death cannot praise you.

Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.

19 The living, the living one praises you like me today;

a father will make your faithfulness known to children.

20 Yahweh, save me, and we will play my music on stringed instruments all the days of our lives at the temple of Yahweh.”

21 And Isaiah said, “Let them take a lump of figs, and let them rub it on the boil so that he may recover.” 22 And Hezekiah said, “What is the sign that I shall go up to the temple of Yahweh?”

Luke 13:1–35 (LEB)

Repent or Perish

13 Now at the same time some had come to tell him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And he answered and​ said to them, “Do you think that these Galileans were sinners worse than all the Galileans, because they suffered these things? No, I tell you, but unless you repent you will all perish as well! Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them—do you think that they were sinners worse than all the people who live in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!”

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

And he told this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any.​ So he said to the gardener, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and did not find any.​ Cut it down! Why should it even exhaust the soil?’ But he answered and​ said to him, ‘Sir, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put manure on it.​ And if indeed it produces fruit in the coming year, so much the better,​ but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

A Woman with a Disabling Spirit Healed

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, a woman was there​ who had a spirit that had disabled her for eighteen years, and she was bent over and not able to straighten herself up completely. 12 And when he​ saw her, Jesus summoned her​ and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability!” 13 And he placed his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, answered and​ said to the crowd, “There are six days on which it is necessary to work. Therefore come and​ be healed on them, and not on the day of the Sabbath!” 15 But the Lord answered and said to him, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you untie his ox or his​ donkey from the feeding trough on the Sabbath and lead it​ away to water it?​ 16 And this woman, who is a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan bound eighteen long years—is it not necessary that she be released from this bond on the day of the Sabbath?” 17 And when​ he said these things, all those who opposed him were humiliated, and the whole crowd was rejoicing at all the splendid things that were being done by him.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

18 Therefore he said, “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed that a man took and​ sowed in his own garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the sky nested in its branches.”

The Parable of the Yeast

20 And again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and​ hid in three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”

The Narrow Door

22 And he was going throughout towns and villages, teaching and making his journey toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, are there only a few who are saved?” And he said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able to, 25 when once the master of the house has gotten up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open the door​ for us!’ And he will answer and​ say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from!’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets!’ 27 And he will reply, saying to you, ‘I do not know where you are from! Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves thrown outside! 29 And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

The Lament over Jerusalem

31 At that same hour some Pharisees came up and​ said to him, “Go out and depart from here, because Herod wants to kill you!” 32 And he said to them, “Go and​ tell that fox, ‘Behold, I am expelling demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will complete my work.’​ 33 Nevertheless, it is necessary for me to be on the way today and tomorrow and on the next day, because it is not possible for a prophet to perish outside Jerusalem.

34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How many times I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers​ her own brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house has been left to you! And I tell you, you will never see me until the time​ will come when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”

Job 9:1–11 (LEB)

Job’s Third Speech: A Response to Bildad

9 Then Job answered and said,

“Truly I know that it is so,

but how can a human being be just before God?

If he wants to contend with him,

he cannot answer him one time in a thousand.

He is wise in heart and mighty in strength;

who has resisted him and succeeded?

He is the one who moves mountains, and they do not know how,

who overturns them in his anger.

He is the one who shakes the earth from its place,

and its pillars tremble.

He is the one who commands the sun, and it does not rise,

and he seals up the stars.

He is the one who alone stretches out the heavens

and who tramples on the waves of the sea.

He is the one who made the Bear and Orion,

the Pleiades and the constellations of the south.

10 He is the one who does great things beyond understanding

and marvelous things beyond number.

11 If he passes by me, I would not see him;

and if he should move on, I would not recognize him.

August 18: Connecting the Dots (Rebecca Van Noord)

August 18

When we don’t have all the facts, we still like to connect the dots. Questions make us uncomfortable, so we draw lines with answers that make us feel safe and that fit our worldview. But sometimes we hold too tightly to the picture that results.

Job’s friends were guilty of this error. Although they affirmed true things about God’s character, they connected the dots in unhelpful ways. For example, in Job 8, Bildad pointed to God’s justice and stated that Job’s hardship couldn’t be for nothing. Therefore, he must have sinned. Job also affirmed God’s justice, wisdom, and strength, but he didn’t buy into Bildad’s worldview. In Job 9, he acknowledged that God was beyond his understanding. Job might have suffered, but he kept his high opinion of God.

Job wanted answers, too. He longed for God to make Himself known and settle the matter (Job 9:3). Job mourned that he had no way of defending himself before God: “There is no arbiter between us that he might lay his hand on both of us. May he remove his rod from me, and let his dread not terrify me; then I would speak and not fear him, for in myself I am not fearful” (Job 9:33–35). In the end, when Job requested an answer from God—who alone could answer his questions—God silenced him. He restored Job’s prosperity, but Job still had to live without knowing why.

When we don’t have the answer, we should still affirm God’s love and goodness, acknowledging that “He is the one who does great things beyond understanding and marvelous things beyond number” (Job 9:10). And we do have one answer that quiets our fretful hearts—we know the arbiter and what He has done for us, which makes it easier to live with the unanswered questions.

How are you sharing the good news of Jesus with someone who is dealing with difficult questions?

Rebecca Van Noord is editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. She has developed content for several Bible reference products, including Lexham Bible Dictionary and Faithlife Study Bible.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.