Today's SoulFood Reading

for Saturday, Jan 23

Isaiah 17–21 ()

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17:1 An oracle concerning Damascus.

  Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city
    and will become a heap of ruins.
  The cities of Aroer are deserted;
    they will be for flocks,
    which will lie down, and none will make them afraid.
  The fortress will disappear from Ephraim,
    and the kingdom from Damascus;
  and the remnant of Syria will be
    like the glory of the children of Israel,
      declares the LORD of hosts.
  And in that day the glory of Jacob will be brought low,
    and the fat of his flesh will grow lean.
  And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain
    and his arm harvests the ears,
  and as when one gleans the ears of grain
    in the Valley of Rephaim.
  Gleanings will be left in it,
    as when an olive tree is beaten—
  two or three berries
    in the top of the highest bough,
  four or five
    on the branches of a fruit tree,
      declares the LORD God of Israel.

In that day man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will look on the Holy One of Israel. He will not look to the altars, the work of his hands, and he will not look on what his own fingers have made, either the Asherim or the altars of incense.

In that day their strong cities will be like the deserted places of the wooded heights and the hilltops, which they deserted because of the children of Israel, and there will be desolation.

10   For you have forgotten the God of your salvation
    and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge;
  therefore, though you plant pleasant plants
    and sow the vine-branch of a stranger,
11   though you make them grow on the day that you plant them,
    and make them blossom in the morning that you sow,
  yet the harvest will flee away
    in a day of grief and incurable pain.
12   Ah, the thunder of many peoples;
    they thunder like the thundering of the sea!
  Ah, the roar of nations;
    they roar like the roaring of mighty waters!
13   The nations roar like the roaring of many waters,
    but he will rebuke them, and they will flee far away,
  chased like chaff on the mountains before the wind
    and whirling dust before the storm.
14   At evening time, behold, terror!
    Before morning, they are no more!
  This is the portion of those who loot us,
    and the lot of those who plunder us.

18:1   Ah, land of whirring wings
    that is beyond the rivers of Cush,
  which sends ambassadors by the sea,
    in vessels of papyrus on the waters!
  Go, you swift messengers,
    to a nation tall and smooth,
  to a people feared near and far,
    a nation mighty and conquering,
    whose land the rivers divide.
  All you inhabitants of the world,
    you who dwell on the earth,
  when a signal is raised on the mountains, look!
    When a trumpet is blown, hear!
  For thus the LORD said to me:
  “I will quietly look from my dwelling
    like clear heat in sunshine,
    like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.”
  For before the harvest, when the blossom is over,
    and the flower becomes a ripening grape,
  he cuts off the shoots with pruning hooks,
    and the spreading branches he lops off and clears away.
  They shall all of them be left
    to the birds of prey of the mountains
    and to the beasts of the earth.
  And the birds of prey will summer on them,
    and all the beasts of the earth will winter on them.

At that time tribute will be brought to the LORD of hosts

  from a people tall and smooth,
    from a people feared near and far,
  a nation mighty and conquering,
    whose land the rivers divide,

to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the LORD of hosts.

19:1 An oracle concerning Egypt.

  Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
    and comes to Egypt;
  and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
    and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.
  And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians,
    and they will fight, each against another
    and each against his neighbor,
    city against city, kingdom against kingdom;
  and the spirit of the Egyptians within them will be emptied out,
    and I will confound their counsel;
  and they will inquire of the idols and the sorcerers,
    and the mediums and the necromancers;
  and I will give over the Egyptians
    into the hand of a hard master,
  and a fierce king will rule over them,
    declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
  And the waters of the sea will be dried up,
    and the river will be dry and parched,
  and its canals will become foul,
    and the branches of Egypt’s Nile will diminish and dry up,
    reeds and rushes will rot away.
  There will be bare places by the Nile,
    on the brink of the Nile,
  and all that is sown by the Nile will be parched,
    will be driven away, and will be no more.
  The fishermen will mourn and lament,
    all who cast a hook in the Nile;
  and they will languish
    who spread nets on the water.
  The workers in combed flax will be in despair,
    and the weavers of white cotton.
10   Those who are the pillars of the land will be crushed,
    and all who work for pay will be grieved.
11   The princes of Zoan are utterly foolish;
    the wisest counselors of Pharaoh give stupid counsel.
  How can you say to Pharaoh,
    “I am a son of the wise,
    a son of ancient kings”?
12   Where then are your wise men?
    Let them tell you
    that they might know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
13   The princes of Zoan have become fools,
    and the princes of Memphis are deluded;
  those who are the cornerstones of her tribes
    have made Egypt stagger.
14   The LORD has mingled within her a spirit of confusion,
  and they will make Egypt stagger in all its deeds,
    as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
15   And there will be nothing for Egypt
    that head or tail, palm branch or reed, may do.

16 In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the LORD of hosts shakes over them. 17 And the land of Judah will become a terror to the Egyptians. Everyone to whom it is mentioned will fear because of the purpose that the LORD of hosts has purposed against them.

18 In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan and swear allegiance to the LORD of hosts. One of these will be called the City of Destruction.

19 In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the LORD at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt. When they cry to the LORD because of oppressors, he will send them a savior and defender, and deliver them. 21 And the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the LORD and perform them. 22 And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them.

23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.

24 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”

20:1 In the year that the commander in chief, who was sent by Sargon the king of Assyria, came to Ashdod and fought against it and captured it—at that time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

Then the LORD said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptian captives and the Cushite exiles, both the young and the old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, the nakedness of Egypt. Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and of Egypt their boast. And the inhabitants of this coastland will say in that day, ‘Behold, this is what has happened to those in whom we hoped and to whom we fled for help to be delivered from the king of Assyria! And we, how shall we escape?’”

21:1 The oracle concerning the wilderness of the sea.

  As whirlwinds in the Negeb sweep on,
    it comes from the wilderness,
    from a terrible land.
  A stern vision is told to me;
    the traitor betrays,
    and the destroyer destroys.
  Go up, O Elam;
    lay siege, O Media;
  all the sighing she has caused
    I bring to an end.
  Therefore my loins are filled with anguish;
    pangs have seized me,
    like the pangs of a woman in labor;
  I am bowed down so that I cannot hear;
    I am dismayed so that I cannot see.
  My heart staggers; horror has appalled me;
    the twilight I longed for
    has been turned for me into trembling.
  They prepare the table,
    they spread the rugs,
    they eat, they drink.
  Arise, O princes;
    oil the shield!
  For thus the Lord said to me:
  “Go, set a watchman;
    let him announce what he sees.
  When he sees riders, horsemen in pairs,
    riders on donkeys, riders on camels,
  let him listen diligently,
    very diligently.”
  Then he who saw cried out:
  “Upon a watchtower I stand, O Lord,
    continually by day,
  and at my post I am stationed
    whole nights.
  And behold, here come riders,
    horsemen in pairs!”
  And he answered,
    “Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
  and all the carved images of her gods
    he has shattered to the ground.”
10   O my threshed and winnowed one,
    what I have heard from the LORD of hosts,
    the God of Israel, I announce to you.

11 The oracle concerning Dumah.

  One is calling to me from Seir,
    “Watchman, what time of the night?
    Watchman, what time of the night?”
12   The watchman says:
  “Morning comes, and also the night.
    If you will inquire, inquire;
    come back again.”

13 The oracle concerning Arabia.

  In the thickets in Arabia you will lodge,
    O caravans of Dedanites.
14   To the thirsty bring water;
    meet the fugitive with bread,
    O inhabitants of the land of Tema.
15   For they have fled from the swords,
    from the drawn sword,
  from the bent bow,
    and from the press of battle.

16 For thus the Lord said to me, “Within a year, according to the years of a hired worker, all the glory of Kedar will come to an end. 17 And the remainder of the archers of the mighty men of the sons of Kedar will be few, for the LORD, the God of Israel, has spoken.”

Matthew 9:27–38 ()

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27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Psalm 96 ()

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96:1   Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
    sing to the LORD, all the earth!
  Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
  Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!
  For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
    he is to be feared above all gods.
  For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
    but the LORD made the heavens.
  Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
  Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
  Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts!
  Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth!
10   Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
    Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11   Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12     let the field exult, and everything in it!
  Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13     before the LORD, for he comes,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
  He will judge the world in righteousness,
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Proverbs 3:5–6 ()

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  Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
  In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

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