Day 287 October 14
5 At the time of the evening sacrifice, I ended my penitential acts. While still wearing[b] my torn clothes and cloak, I fell upon my knees, spread out my hands to the Lord my God, 6 and said,
“My God, I’m too ashamed to lift up my face to you. Our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown to the heavens.
7 “From the days of our ancestors to this day, we’ve been deep in guilt. On account of our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been handed over to the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as is now the case.
8 “But now, for a brief while the Lord our God has shown favor in leaving us survivors and in giving us a stake in his holy place. Our God cheered us[c] and revived us for a little while in our slavery. 9 Even though we are slaves, our God hasn’t abandoned us in our slavery. Instead, he’s shown us his graciousness before Persia’s kings by reviving us to set up our God’s house, to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judea and Jerusalem.
10 “And now, our God, what will we say after this? We have abandoned your commandments, 11 which you commanded through your servants the prophets, saying: ‘The land which you are about to enter to possess is a land polluted by the impurity of the neighboring peoples.[d] Their detestable practices have filled it with uncleanness from end to end. 12 So now, do not give your daughters to their sons in marriage, do not take their sons for your daughters to marry, and never seek their peace or prosperity. This is so you may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’
13 “After all that has happened to us because of our evil deeds and our great guilt—although you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserve and have allowed us to survive as we do— 14 will we once again break your commandments and intermarry with the peoples who practice these detestable things? Would you not be so angry with us that you leave us without remnant or survivor? 15 Lord, God of Israel, you are righteous, for we have survived and a few remain until now. Here we are before you in our guilt, though no one can face you because of this guilt.”
11 And because Jesus was nearing Jerusalem, he told a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away.
12 “A nobleman living in a certain province was called away to the distant capital of the empire to be crowned king of his province. 13 Before he left he called together ten assistants and gave them each $2,000 to invest while he was gone. 14 But some of his people hated him and sent him their declaration of independence, stating that they had rebelled and would not acknowledge him as their king.
15 “Upon his return he called in the men to whom he had given the money, to find out what they had done with it, and what their profits were. 16 “The first man reported a tremendous gain—ten times as much as the original amount! 17 “‘Fine!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good man. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, and as your reward, you shall be governor of ten cities.’
18 “The next man also reported a splendid gain—five times the original amount. 19 “‘All right!’ his master said. ‘You can be governor over five cities.’
20 “But the third man brought back only the money he had started with. ‘I’ve kept it safe,’ he said, 21 ‘because I was afraid you would demand my profits, for you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and even confiscating the crops that others plant.’ 22 ‘You vile and wicked slave,’ the king roared. ‘Hard, am I? That’s exactly how I’ll be toward you! If you knew so much about me and how tough I am, 23 then why didn’t you deposit the money in the bank so that I could at least get some interest on it?’
24 “Then turning to the others standing by he ordered, ‘Take the money away from him and give it to the man who earned the most.’ 25 “‘But, sir,’ they said, ‘he has enough already!’
26 “‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘but it is always true that those who have, get more, and those who have little, soon lose even that. 27 And now about these enemies of mine who revolted—bring them in and execute them before me.’”
Comment: what do we do when Jesus’ words are so harsh? The same Lord who loved through resistance tells this story that sounds so harsh and unforgiving.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.[a] 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”[b]
And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” 5 And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”
6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
Prayer: open our eyes to welcome the unfamiliar today. Amen.