Bible Reading Plan (Day 23)

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DAY TWENTY-THREE — Genesis 24, Matthew 23

Gen 24

Issac needs a wife, and it must not be a Caananite. The other viable option is someone from the family.

Abraham’s servent prays that God will choose the wife.

The person Abraham’s servent finds turns out to be none other than Issac’s cousin.

Abraham’s servent retells the story and the author (God via Moses) allows us to hear it again. He then kindly asks that he know her response, otherwise he must continue his search.

It is clear in this case what the will of the Lord is.

After the death of Sarah, Issac recieves his wife in what is, obviously, a case of love at first sight.

Questions to Ponder:

* Why the repetition of the story of Abaraham’s servent’s travel?

* Explain Abraham’s reason for ensuring that Issac’s wife is of the same family.

Mt 23

As a nice little treat (or torture) here’s a little something I’ve been working on in regards to this chapter. I’ll be posting this instead of my notes. Feel free to comment!

Rebuke to the Religious: This Calls for a Wilhelm Scream

Matthew 23

 

Intro

If you are not a Christian, you will find what I am about to say just foolish. If you are a professing Christian, you will hate what I am about to say. If you are really a Christian, you will hear what I have to say, and will search yourself and pray that by God’s grace none of it applies to you. Let me assure you friends that what follows is not what a “this Scripture means to me.” This is what Scripture says. I pray have done to the best of the ability which God has given me to show what is going on in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew’s Gospel and how it applies to us here and now. This chapter is not one where Jesus passes out hot cocoa with mini-marshmallows and gives warm-fuzzies to his disciples. This chapter is one where Jesus confronts the established religious system, calls it on the carpet, and tears it to shreds. It is Jesus’ last time of teaching at the Temple grounds, and it will be obvious why just three verses in. He’s just astounded the crowds with parables and confounded the Pharisees and Sadducees with his responses to their questions. Our Lord looks at the zealous Pharisees, his disciples, the masses. He takes a deep breath and unleashes a jeremiad to echo throughout eternity. He unleashes seven woes against the Pharisaical system, wherein we can see a harsh rebuke by proxy. Let us then humbly listen to God’s Word, that it may melt hearts of stone and pierce hearts of flesh. Heed now the Good Shepherd’s prodding! Listen now to the Lord’s rebuke against the Pharisees; against Visible Religion, Rules Religion, Works Religion, and Self-Righteous Religion.

 

Point 1–Mt 23:1-12 Rebuking Visible Religion

The first rebuke the Lord gives is one against VISIBLE RELIGION, externalities, religious showmanship. That system of values that creates un-Scriptural, unobtainable standards with the goal of being “holier than thou” and becomes, in a very real way, a status symbol.

 

*Creating un-Scriptural, unobtainable standards.

Of course both true religion and false religions have standards. We have such in Christianity. A Christian should show love, joy, peace, patience, etc. These things take time yet can be seen in ever increasing amounts in a Christian’s life. Now, the danger is becoming like the Pharisees. They would create standards that were not found in the Torah and were even MORE unobtainable. A modern-day counterpart would be the Church of Rome and the seven sacraments (only two of which, baptism and communion, are actually ordered by Christ.) But, oh, do not forget your extreme unction (last rights) before you die, and your confession to a priest for your sins! Such burdens are why Jesus spoke in Matthew 11:28-30 “28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Peter, in Acts 15:10, emphasizes the point: “10 Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?”

 

*Looking Holier than thou as the goal.

If you are going to have this outward, visible display of Religion with all the man-made rules, you who are in the religion must follow those rules to look holier than thou. Yet doing so creates a false sense of pride. Paul wrote from experience in the book of Romans 2:17-23 – “17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18 and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19 and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law.”

Paul is talking here about hypocrisy. The end of holiness for the Pharisee is not for God’s glory as it must be, but for self-gratification. To do what ought not to be done while all the time remaining a pious, self-satisfied, hypocrite. You have religion and wear it like a members’ jacket at an exclusive country club. You wear it as a status symbol.

 

*Religion as status symbol.

Paul, once known as the zealous Pharisee Saul, knew status very well. He had it, and here’s what he thought of it:

Philippians 3:4-8 “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…” You catch that? Every bit of status is rubbish compared to Christ. What is your place in the world worth, really? No doubt in these uncertain times God has allowed that many foundations be shaken. Those of you in real estate, banking, many in the casino and entertainment industries have seen a down-turn. So think for a moment. Put any politics and blame aside. Ask, what is, or was, my job worth? You could perhaps get your way to the front of the line or a guaranteed reservation at a restaurant. Perhaps a healthy income with good social networking opportunities. All things that are in some way beneficial. But now… what is your VISIBLE RELIGION worth? You have young Christians (in age and in spiritual growth) look up to you. But you say, “Well… your have to read your Bible and fast twice a week and pray A LOT like I do… and note my humility! That’s how I get to be this holy. Perhaps one day, you can be as holy as I am.” “But how do I do all those things?” “Well… just figure it out. I have to get along now!” RUBBISH! Such a religion and such a person are RUBBISH! On that last day, you who take pride in your religious show, what will be your fate? You shall be humbled, you shall be brought low. The knee bowed for show will be broken so that you may bow in awe of the one who makes the air you breathe. Your show is canceled and all and tapes thrown into the trash, and the trash into the incinerator.

 

Point 2–Mt 23:13-22 Rebuking Rules-Religion

If one has such rubbish as a visible religion, there must be the wretched foundation of a rules religion. With a rules religion one creates and teaches un-Scriptural or non-Scriptural rules that cannot rightly be followed. For those rules that ARE right (even a blind squirrel finds an occasional nut) wrong distinctions are made in how to follow them. All this results in a misunderstanding of personal holiness and leads to something disgustingly insipid.

First, creating and teaching un-Scriptural or non-scriptural rules which cannot rightly be followed.

Let’s compare v 15 with Galatians 3:24 (NASB) “24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.”

The Pharisees used rules and regulations that were un-Scriptural or non-Scriptural to draw people not to everlasting hope, but it drew them to everlasting damnation. How? By making a religion out of rules. This, my friends is called “legalism.” Law has never been made for Salvation, but to point us to the NEED for salvation. There was no salvation possible in the books of Leviticus or Deuteronomy. It just listed what to do and what not to do. The Pharisees had even MORE do’s and don’ts in addition to these. all the way down to how many steps you can take on a Sabbath. This legalism leads to…

 

*Wrong distinctions in right rules.

An example from the scripture here shows us: The right rule is not to lie, but you place wrong distinctions the rule itself becomes worthless.

-Numbers 30:2 “If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

-Deuteronomy 23:21-23 21″If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. 23 You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.”

God’s rule is “Keep your word always.” Attach wrong distinctions to that, and you create sons of hell by enforcing and spreading legalism. The Pharisees did that clearly when they made distinctions in when a lie is not really a lie.

Let’s do two quick modern examples: I’m not going to doubt that most if not all in this room would wear the label, “Charismatic.” That’s just fine, I wear it myself. But there are some who say that in order to even be saved, one must speak in tongues. That is not fine. That is legalism. There is no Scripture that says anything about the necessity of speaking in tongues for salvation. Another example: The Bible makes it very clear that we should not get drunk. Proverbs 20:1, Ephesians 5:18 are key to this dogma. There’s a little joke: What’s the difference between a Baptist and a Presbyterian? A Presbyterian will say “Hi.” to you in the liquor store. This isn’t a poke in the eye to the Baptist or the Presbyterian. This is a gut-punch to the belief that rules not found in Scripture have ANY merit! So you abstain from alcohol, praise God. Do not call the man or woman who has a glass of wine with supper a hypocrite. Call the “Christian” man or woman sloshed at Blue Martini on Friday and wasted at Rain on Saturday a hypocrite and let them face discipline! They are blaspheming the Lord! Treating a flagrant hypocrite the same as one who exercises Christian liberty wisely shows a gross misunderstanding of holiness.

 

*Misunderstanding of holiness.

Holiness is that intrinsic quality of God (Is 6:4) which makes him completely set apart. In fact, the very name of God as we see in Exodus 3:14 “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “‘I AM  has sent me to you.”‘” To what can God point on creation and say, “That is like me.” Could he point to Moses and say, “I am like you.” Well… Moses was a sinful murderer. God could not say he was like Moses. He could not say he was like the heartless Pharaoh. Besides, all these things are CREATED! God is not created. God is left with no choice to say, “I am like me. I am holy. I cannot sin nor can I look upon it. I cannot lie. I am not created. I am not dependant on anything or anyone. I do not need praise or worship or honor thanksgiving though I am worthy of all for the very reason I AM.” It is also a quality which believers are called to exhibit. Like justification (getting saved), holiness is not something we can obtain on our own (1 Peter 2:23), it is something that must be catalyzed (Phil 1:6) and brought about by God in us. Yet unlike justification, we work that holiness out in our lives (Phil 2:12-13). There’s a fancy Christian word for that which every Christian should know to make the walk easier. That word is “sanctification!” Yet the rules religion twists that concept of holiness and sanctification and makes it into something very ugly…

 

*Leads to… Works Religion

If you have a long list of rules: of do’s and don’ts. Then you are set up for the vilest form of religion, Works Religion, to which we now turn out attention.

 

Point 3–Mt 23:23-28 Rebuking Works Religion

Works religion is hideous to the sight of God. It says, “To be saved you must work for it!” I hope you could see this coming on the slippery slope we’ve been sliding down. The Pharisees did not. The could not even see the point of God’s Law, could not understand what it meant to be clean, and could not understand how disgusting what they were doing was in God’s sight.

*Misses the point (23-24)

The idea of works religion is a complete missing the point of there being external aspects to religion and rules aspects to religion and this is one of the greatest and most dire symptoms of something wrong. Deuteronomy 31:25-29. The point of the law and the rules was to be, “You can’t follow this perfectly, and you need a savior!” Galatians 3:24 again. Pharisees looked so much to the letter, they missed the message. What’s the message? “God is high, holy, and perfect. You have sinned against him in thought, deed, and word. Left to yourself the only possible fate for you is eternity in hell. God in his mercy will provide a Savior. Watch for him!” There is the Old Testament in a few sentences. From all that was in the Law and Prophets the Pharisees saw, “God is high, holy, and perfect. You have sinned against him in thought, deed, and word. You must now work to make up for that by following all these Laws perfectly or you will end up in hell.” That misses the point by a million miles! One sin threw the universe into chaos. One sin introduced death, suffering, and despair into the human experience. How many have you committed today? This week? This month? Can you count that high? I cannot. No amount of works that Adam and Eve could do could make up for that ONE SIN. How much less could we make up for all of ours? I love this phrase and pray it be burned into my mind with the fire of the Holy Spirit. The great preacher, George Whitefield said this while preaching his last sermon: “Works! Works! A man get to heaven by works! I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand.” The Pharisees cared so much for minutia that they missed the justice and mercy and faithfulness of God that would come in the Messiah they were poised to crucify.

 

*Thinks cleaning is outside in. (25-26)

The Pharisees and every other subsequent group who followed (Mormons, Roman Catholics, Seventh-Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and even some respectable people inside main-line Christianity) use external works to atone for inward guilt over sins. They look good on the outside. Mormons are renowned for their friendliness and Roman Catholics for charity, etc. But those things cannot in any possible way forgive sins. It cannot bring the necessary new birth that John 3:3 calls for. Paying a speeding ticket does not make it so our speeding hasn’t happened but makes it so that we are made right under the law. We are still guilty of speeding, but the fine has been paid. But not any work can make us right it must be a specific work as prescribed by law. All else is a bribe, and a bribe of the most disgusting and vile type.

 

*Disgusting (27-28)

Jesus calls the Pharisees on the carpet. He’s been dealing with them on the outside but now goes right to their heart! The Pharisees who pride themselves on being holy ones are called, “unclean.” Unholy. Disgusting. Why? They base everything on works! They base their salvation on works!

How does God view that? The Incarnate God is looking them in eyes and calling them disgusting! How disgusting? Look at Isaiah 64:6. Polluted garments, some of your translations may use the phrase “filthy rags.” The Hebrew words there are pointing us to the concept of used maxi pads. Put this together, your attempt to work for your salvation is like offering the judge of the universe a bribe of used maxi pads if He will set you free.

It doesn’t matter, if you are all weepy that you changed your life. If you do not repent of your sins and trust Jesus ALONE for salvation you will die and go to hell. Your act of cleaning yourself means nothing. You, you who hear my voice now, you can work yourself out of drug addictions, pornography, anonymous or promiscuous sex. O heed these words spoken by the Lord Christ Himself in Mt 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” You cannot work your way into heaven. The Lord of the universe will not allow such blasphemy against His Holy name. Blasphemy!? How is such a thing blasphemous? Again, and again, and again in the Old Testament we see clearly that salvation is God’s. Jonah 2:9, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!”, and take that with the Lord Himself says in Isaiah 48:9-11, “9 For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. 10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. 11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” God will not let you take HIS glory for saving you. He did it. Not you. And if you have bought the lie that you can work for your salvation and believe that you are saved on your works, you are lost. You are now self-righteous. And as Jesus ends these woes, that is addressed.

 

Point 4–Mt 23:29-36 Rebuking Self-Righteous Religion

*Being holier than thou as ‘fact’

The wanting to look holier than thou becomes fully believed that one IS holier than thou. This is where the Pharisees stood. They WERE holier than the common folk. They knew it and thanked God for it! Look at Luke 18:9-12, “9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'” What do you pray? “Dear Lord, I thank you that I am not a sinner?” You are. To say otherwise is to deny scripture. Yes, to say that is very evil. The Pharisees proclaimed their own righteousness as virtue of being children of Abraham. In John 8:43-45 we see part of Jesus’ response, “43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” Are you so self-righteous as to not listen? I pray you have not gotten to a point of no return.

 

*Point of no return

Is there a point of no return? Is there a place where God will just say, “I’m done. I will not save you.” Lets see what Romans 11:6-10 says of those who think it is all of works and self righteousness, “6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

   7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8 as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.’

   9 And David says, ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 10 let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever.'”

Willful fist-shaking against God is not tolerated forever. To refuse repeated offers of grace is to harden one’s heart and to ask God to do the same to you. The only thing left, is, as the text has it, eyes to be darkened so that light, the light of Christ, cannot be seen and a back bent under the yoke of a slavery to sin forever.

 

*Fully hardened

What I’m going to say is not pretty. You will not like it. But it is true. There could come a point in someone’s life, perhaps even your own, where your heart has passed the point of no return and is fully-hardened. I do not understand HOW this works, and I’m not alone. Many of the great divine through history are puzzled at how this can be. How can we read this “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” and “Pharaoh hardened his heart” in the same narrative is not crystal clear. What is clear, our hearts can be hardened. Experientially, this hardening happens when we hear something the Bible says and willfully ignore it. That’s what these Pharisees have done. These wise and learned men are just like the Gentiles to whom Paul refers in Ephesians 4:18, “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” This is a terrifying thought. Why? Romans 2:5 shows us why exactly, “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Do you hear this? Alienated from God!? Storing up wrath!? We all know the verse, “If God is for us who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31), but the opposite is also true. If God is against us, who can be for us? Could the prophets? No, they speak for God, yet those same prophets the people killed. Listen to what one of those prophets, Zechariah, said: Zechariah 7:12-13 “12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. 13  “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts,…”

Above this hardening sits one very important fact. Righteousness comes not from us, but from God.

– Pro 28:14

 

*YHWH-Tsidkenu (Jer 23:6)

-We are not righteous on our own it must come from God! This was not a concept that was hidden from the Pharisees, it was written flat out in the book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 23:6 “In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.'” That phrase is, in Hebrew, YHWH-Tisdkenu. Hear well and do not be like those of the Emergent church who say, “Hath God indeed said?” Then twist the words of Scripture to mean things utterly foreign to all of orthodox church history. Hear well and do not be like the new-age Oprahites who say, “I can be like God! In fact, I am a god.” Then devour every book by Eckhart Tolle and Depack Chopra. Those are the first two lies ever told and they are told again and again and again. Hear well and do not be like the self-righteous Pharisee. Scripture is clear and plain: There is only one God and He is righteous. Only He can be righteousness for you.

 

Conclusion

So what can we conclude about the Pharisees? We could rightly say that they are “having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 Tim 3:5). They are willfully ignorant of the plain truths of Scripture because their self-righteousness would fall apart, their works would be futile, their rules would be worthless, and their show would be for naught. They would be left with nothing. So to with you. If you are honest you will see your self-righteousness is anything but. Your works are an abomination to the Lord. Your rules and legalism are red herrings off on a rabbit trail to perdition. Your show of being religious is just that, a show. And while the folks may be fooled, your REAL audience is not amused.

 

Epilogue–Mt 23:37-39 Lamenting Religion

Jesus rebukes, he scolds, and he fires off imprecatory phrases and down right makes fun of the religious Pharisees. Then, he looks at them all, Pharisees, Sadducees, Sinners, plain folk, rich, poor, all of them. He knows their fate better than they do. He sees who are his and who are

not his. Sadly, most of them are not his. For that he laments… But something is about to happen. I have tip-toed around this point, but now I must come to it, take it by the hand and dance. There is little doubt in my mind that when Jesus said, “See, your house is left to you desolate.” He had in mind 1 Samuel 4:21, “She named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured…” More than the glory was about to leave, God in the flesh! They are left without Christ. As J. C. Ryle said, “It is bad enough to be without money or without health or without home or without friends. But it is far worse to be without Christ.”  My friend, listen. If you would come to Jesus, if you would have glory, then understand you have no power to obtain Him or it. Why? You are dead. You are dead in sins the same way Adam was dead after he tasted the fruit in the garden. “But I have committed no large sum of sin! There are plenty worse than I!” I am not talking about others, I’m talking about you. How many lies have you told? Honestly… Proverbs 12:22 tells us, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD.” Telling lies also makes one a liar. … Have you ever stolen something? Value is irrelevant. To take something not yours is to be a thief. The commandment says, “You shall not steal.” … Have you ever killed anyone? Little doubt is in my mind that a majority in this room have not. But keep in mind that Jesus tells us to hate someone is to be guilty of murder of the heart. … Have you ever used God’s name in vain? Said ‘Oh my …!’ That is blasphemy and the commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”… Have you ever committed adultery? You say, “No! What ideas you kids get nowadays!” But remember, Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Yes sir, your web history will testify against you. Yes ma’am, your wandering eye at the gym will testify against you. … So then, are you a lying, theiving, blasphemous, murderous, adulterer? What will happen when you die? God is just. You have violated his commandments. You are a sinner worthy of hell. You will go there without delay if you, while still in your sins, were to die. You have not one ounce of righteousness. A thousand eternities would not be enough to do enough good works to even make a dent. You are without hope that on your own power you can escape the wrath to come. But, O!, there is hope. There is hope in Jesus the Christ. You see, the punishment that you deserve, he took. But there is even more, the righteousness he has is given to you so that not only are you forgiven, you are viewed as righteous just as he is! What does it take? How then can I be saved? Repent! Turn from sin, hate sin. Believe! Cling to Christ for saving as you would cling to a parachute as you jumped out of a burning airplane. Do you see? There on the hill, Jesus who left the temple is crucified! The just wrath of God satisfied. The merciful love of God displayed. Do not make a show, submit to the Director. Do not invent rules, follow God’s call. Do not lean upon your works. Lean upon his. They are the only ones worth it. Do not show your own righteousness. You have none. Instead, come you pitiful, poor, naked, blind, wretch! Come to the foot of the cross! God will not take the proud and haughty. He will only take the lowly and humble. Recall the prayer of the Pharisee in Luke 18? See now the prayer of the tax collector, “13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Stay in this room until you are justified. Call out to the one who is mighty to save until He does! Weep, wail, and mourn for your sins and as Joel 2:12-13 says, “12 ‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.'”

 

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