Do you believe what the Bible says? Do you believe He is the one the prophets foretold of? Do you believe that He is the son of God? Do you believe that He died on the cross to pay for our sins? Do you believe that He conquered the grave and that the grave was empty when they went looking for Him? Do you believe He is who He says He is? Do you believe that He is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and me? Do you believe Jesus is the resurrection and the life? Do you believe that He is coming back one day to defeat evil for good and bring a new heaven and a new earth? Do you believe Jesus is God?
Today’s reading starts by speaking to who He is before He was even born…
Eternal Ruler from Bethlehem
1But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah— least among the clans of Judah— from you will come out to Me One to be ruler in Israel, One whose goings forth are from of old, from days of eternity. 2Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth. Then the remnant of His brothers will return to Bnei-Yisrael. 3So He will arise and tend His flock with the strength of Adonai— in the majesty of the Name of Adonai His God. And they will live securely, for then He will be great to the ends of the earth. 4This One will be shalom. When Assyria invades our land when he treads on our citadels, then we will raise up against him seven shepherds and eight human princes. 5They will devastate the land of Assyria with the sword— even Nimrod’s land with a drawn blade. He will deliver us from Assyria, when he invades our land, when he tramples on our territory.
The Remnant of Jacob
6Now the remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples, like dew from Adonai, like abundant showers on grass that does not wait for a man, nor lingers for the sons of men. 7For the remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the forest beasts, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, who, if he passed through, would trample and tear to pieces, and there would be no deliverer. 8May your hand be raised up against your adversaries, and may all your foes be cut off. 9“Now in that day” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “I will cut off your horses among you, and I will destroy your chariots. 10I will cut off the cities of your land, and throw down all your strongholds. 11I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you will have no more diviners. 12I will cut off your carved images and your sacred pillars from among you, so you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands. 13I will uproot your Asherah poles from among you, and destroy your cities. 14So I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not listened.
–from Micah 5
Do you believe your name is in the book of life? Do you believe that you will be with God forever? Do you believe that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice? Do you believe that Jesus was the only sacrifice that makes it last without having to do it over and over again? Do you believe there is good and evil? Do you believe there is right and wrong?
Adonai Pleads His Case
1Hear what Adonai is saying: “Arise! Contend with the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 2Hear, Adonai ‘s dispute, O mountains— the enduring foundations of the earth. For Adonai has a dispute with His people and He will argue His case with Israel. 3O My people, what have I done to you? Or how have I wearied you? Answer Me! 4When I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. 5O My people, remember, please: What did Balak, king of Moab, propose? What did Balaam son of Beor answer him? From Shittim as far as Gilgal, so that you might acknowledge the righteous acts of Adonai.”
What Is Adonai Seeking From You?
6With what shall I come before Adonai? With what shall I bow myself before God on high? Shall I present Him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves? 7Will Adonai be pleased with thousands of rams, with hordes of rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my belly for the sin of my soul? 8He has told you, humanity, what is good, and what Adonai is seeking from you: Only to practice justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. 9The voice of Adonai calls to the city— it is wisdom to fear Your Name— “Pay attention to the rod and to the One who appointed it.” 10Does the house of the wicked still have treasures of wickedness? Or is an undersized ephah denounced? 11Can I be pure with wicked balances? Or with a bag of deceptive weights? 12For the rich of the city are full of violence and its inhabitants speak lies. Their tongue in their mouth is deceit. 13So also I will strike you severely, desolating you because of your sins. 14You will eat but not be satisfied, and emptiness will be within you. You will try to escape, but you will not reach safety. Whatever you make safe, I will give to the sword. 15You will sow but not reap; You will tread olives but not anoint yourself with oil, and grapes but not drink wine. 16Now, you observe the statutes of Omri and every practice of the house of Ahab, and you walk in their counsels. Therefore I will make you a horror, and her inhabitants a hissing, so you will bear the scorn of My people.
–from Micah 6
Do you believe that God is good? Do you believe what you are doing is good? Do you believe that there is evil? Do you believe that we need Jesus because we all slip up or mess up or miss the mark at some point in our lives? Do you believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that nobody goes to the Father except through Him? Do you believe in truth? Do you believe that the truth will set you free? Do you believe there is a battle between good and evil? Do you believe there is a spiritual battle taking place around you? Do you believe God forgives? Do you believe Jesus was the ultimate source of sacrifice to provide forgiveness? Do you believe that if as a people we will humble ourselves and pray, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways, that God will hear from heaven and heal our land?
None Upright Among Mankind
1Woe is me! For I am like gatherings of produce in summer, like gleanings of a vineyard. There is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that I crave. 2The pious have perished from the land, there is none upright among mankind. All of them lie in wait for blood. A man hunts his brother with a net. 3Both hands are diligent at doing evil. The official and the judge ask for a bribe. The distinguished man utters a desire of his soul. Thus they weave it together. 4The best of them is like a prickly bush, the most upright like a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen— of your visitation—is coming. Then their confusion will occur. 5Do not trust in a friend. Do not trust in a close companion. Guard the openings of your mouth from her who lies on your breast. 6For son treats father with contempt; daughter rises up against mother; daughter-in-law against mother-in-law: a man’s enemies are the people of his own house.
7But I—I will watch for Adonai. I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. 8Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I have fallen—I will arise. Though I sit in darkness, Adonai is my light. 9I will bear the indignation of Adonai, because I have sinned against Him, until He pleads my cause, and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light, and I will behold His righteousness. 10Then my enemy will see it, and shame will cover her— she who said to me: “Where is Adonai, your God?” My eyes will gaze at her— now she will be trampled like mud in streets. 11A day to rebuild your walls— a day the boundary will be far off, 12a day when they will come to you from Assyria to the cities of Egypt, from Egypt to the River, from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain. 13Yet the land will become a wasteland because of her inhabitants, because of the fruit of their misdeeds. 14Tend Your people with Your staff, the flock of Your inheritance, dwelling alone, in a forest in the midst of a fertile garden. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. 15As in the days of your coming out from the land of Egypt I will show him wonders. 16Nations will see and be put to shame despite all their might. They will put a hand on their mouth, their ears will be deaf. 17They will lick dust like a snake. Like crawling things of the land, they will come trembling out of their hiding places. To Adonai Eloheinu they will submit in awe—in awe of You.
He Will Again Have Compassion
18Who is a God like You pardoning iniquity, overlooking transgression, for the remnant of His heritage? He will not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. 19He will again have compassion on us. He will subdue our iniquities, and You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20You will extend truth to Jacob, mercy to Abraham, that You swore to our ancestors from the days of old.
–from Micah 7
Do you believe that Jesus was at the creation? Do you believe that Jesus will be at the end? Do you believe that Jesus created everything? Do you believe that nothing was created without Him? Do you believe that Jesus is light and there is no darkness in Him? Do you believe that through Jesus we can become children of God? Do you believe it is important to be baptized? Jesus did! Do you believe Jesus is the one?
The Word Becomes Flesh
1In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. 4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. 6There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that through him everyone might believe. 8He was not the light, but he came to bear witness concerning the light. 9The true light, coming into the world, gives light to every man. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him; but the world did not know Him. 11He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. 12But whoever did receive Him, those trusting in His name, to these He gave the right to become children of God. 13They were born not of a bloodline, nor of human desire, nor of man’s will, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15John testifies about Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, ‘The One who comes after me is above me, because He existed before me.’” 16Out of His fullness, we have all received grace on top of grace. 17Torah was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah. 18No one has ever seen God; but the one and only God, in the Father’s embrace, has made Him known.
John’s Witness to Israel’s Leaders
19This is John’s testimony, when the Judean leaders sent kohanim and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He openly admitted and did not deny; he admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” 21“What then? Are you Elijah?” they asked him. “I am not,” said John. “Are you the Prophet?” “No,” he answered. 22So they said to him, “Who are you? Give us an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said, “I am ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of Adonai,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”24Now those sent were from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “If you’re not the Messiah, Elijah, or the Prophet, why then are you immersing?” 26“I immerse in water,” John answered. “Among you stands One you do not know, 27coming after me, whose sandals I’m not worthy to untie.” 28These things happened in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was immersing.
Behold, the Lamb of God
29The next day, John sees Yeshua coming to him and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the One about whom I told you, ‘He who comes after me is above me, because He was before me.’ 31I didn’t know Him, but I came immersing with water so that He might be revealed to Israel.” 32Then John testified, “I have seen the Ruach coming down like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on Him. 33I did not know Him; but the One who sent me to immerse in water said to me, ‘The One on whom you see the Ruach coming down and remaining, this is the One who immerses in the Ruach ha-Kodesh.’ 34And I have seen and testified that this is Ben-Elohim.”
Yeshua’s First Disciples
35Again the next day, John was standing with two of his disciples 36and watched Yeshua walking by. He said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Yeshua. 38Yeshua turned around and saw them following. He said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is translated Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39“Come and see,” Yeshua tells them. So they came and saw where He was staying, and they spent that day with Him. It was about the tenth hour. 40Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John speak and followed Yeshua. 41First he finds his own brother Simon and tells him, “We’ve found the Messiah!” (which is translated Anointed One). 42Andrew brought Simon to Yeshua. Yeshua looked at him and said, “You are Simon, son of John. You shall be called Kefa (which is translated Peter).”
Disciples Offer Witness
43The next day, Yeshua decided to go to the Galilee. He finds Philip and says to him, “Follow Me!” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the same town as Andrew and Peter. 45Philip finds Nathanael and tells him, “We’ve found the One that Moses in the Torah, and also the prophets, wrote about—Yeshua of Natzeret, the son of Joseph!” 46“Natzeret!” Nathanael answered. “Can anything good come from there?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47Yeshua saw Nathanael coming toward Him. He said, “Look, a true Israelite! There’s nothing false in him.” 48Nathanael said to Him, “How do you know me?” Yeshua answered, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49“Rabbi,” Nathanael answered, “You are Ben-Elohim! You are the King of Israel!” 50“Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, you believe?” Yeshua replied to him. “You will see greater things than that!” 51And He said, “Amen, amen I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God going up and coming down on the Son of Man!”
–from John 1