Day 154 – June 3
Exodus 23:1-9 – Practical wisdom and law are often combined
Don’t spread false rumors. Don’t plot with evil people to act as a lying witness. 2 Don’t take sides with important people to do wrong. When you act as a witness, don’t stretch the truth to favor important people. 3 But don’t privilege unimportant people in their lawsuits either.
4 When you happen to come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has wandered off, you should bring it back to them. 5 When you see a donkey that belongs to someone who hates you and it’s lying down under its load and you are inclined not to help set it free, you must help set it free.
6 Don’t undermine the justice that your poor deserve in their lawsuits. 7 Stay away from making a false charge. Don’t put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil. 8 Don’t take a bribe, because a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.
9 Don’t oppress an immigrant. You know what it’s like to be an immigrant, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt.
About that time King Herod moved against some of the believers 2 and killed the apostle James (John’s brother). 3 When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish leaders, he arrested Peter during the Passover celebration 4 and imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of sixteen soldiers. Herod’s intention was to deliver Peter to the Jews for execution after the Passover. 5 But earnest prayer was going up to God from the church for his safety all the time he was in prison.
6 The night before he was to be executed, he was asleep, double-chained between two soldiers with others standing guard before the prison gate, 7 when suddenly there was a light in the cell and an angel of the Lord stood beside Peter! The angel slapped him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists! 8 Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your shoes.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me!” the angel ordered.
9 So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a dream or vision and didn’t believe it was really happening. 10 They passed the first and second cell blocks and came to the iron gate to the street, and this opened to them of its own accord! So they passed through and walked along together for a block, and then the angel left him.
11 Peter finally realized what had happened! “It’s really true!” he said to himself. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jews were hoping to do to me! 12 After a little thought he went to the home of Mary, mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for a prayer meeting.
13 He knocked at the door in the gate, and a girl named Rhoda came to open it. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that she ran back inside to tell everyone that Peter was standing outside in the street. 15 They didn’t believe her. “You’re out of your mind,” they said. When she insisted they decided, “It must be his angel. They must have killed him.”
16 Meanwhile Peter continued knocking. When they finally went out and opened the door, their surprise knew no bounds. 17 He motioned for them to quiet down and told them what had happened and how the Lord had brought him out of jail. “Tell James and the others what happened,” he said—and left for safer quarters.
Comment: I love the way Rhoda leaves Peter at the gate. This is a story to remember over and over again. When things are at their worst God can and often does surprise us with an angel of mercy and deliverance. Usually we will not recognize the angel, only the deliverance.
O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
creeping things innumerable are there,
living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
27 These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
28 when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your spirit,[g] they are created;
and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works—
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke.
33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the LORD, O my soul.
Praise the LORD!
Prayer: I will run the way of Your commandments dear Lord. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Amen.