Read the Bible | September 30th
An Oracle Concerning Cush
 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. (ESV)
An Oracle Concerning Egypt
 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.
 Those who are the pillars of the land will be crushed,
and all who work for pay will be grieved.
 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”?
 Where then are your wise men?
Let them tell you
that they might know what the LORD of hosts has purposed against Egypt.
 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.
 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.
 And there will be nothing for Egypt
that head or tail, palm branch or reed, may do.
Egypt, Assyria, Israel Blessed
 In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the LORD of hosts shakes over them.  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.
 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.
 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.  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.  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.  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.
 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.
 In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth,  whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” (ESV)
A Sign Against Egypt and Cush
 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?’” (ESV)
Unity in the Body of Christ
 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?  He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,  to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
The New Life
 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  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.  They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.  But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.  Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,  and give no opportunity to the devil.  Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)