Hebrew Scripture: Isaiah 29:1-12
Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped!
Add year to year;
let the festivals run their round.
Yet I will distress Ariel,
and there shall be moaning and lamentation,
and Jerusalem shall be to me like an Ariel.
And like David I will encamp against you;
I will besiege you with towers
and raise siegeworks against you.
Then deep from the earth you shall speak,
from low in the dust your words shall come;
your voice shall come from the ground
like the voice of a ghost,
and your speech shall whisper out of the dust.
But the multitude of your foes shall be like small dust,
and the multitude of tyrants like flying chaff.
And in an instant, suddenly,
you will be visited by the Lord of hosts
with thunder and earthquake and great noise,
with whirlwind and tempest,
and the flame of a devouring fire.
And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel,
all that fight against her and her stronghold,
and who distress her, shall be like a dream,
a vision of the night.
Just as when a hungry person dreams of eating
and wakes up still hungry,
or a thirsty person dreams of drinking
and wakes up faint, still thirsty,
so shall the multitude of all the nations be
that fight against Mount Zion.
Stupefy yourselves and be in a stupor,
blind yourselves and be blind!
Be drunk, but not from wine;
stagger, but not from strong drink!
For the Lord has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep;
he has closed your eyes, you prophets,
and covered your heads, you seers.
The vision of all this has become for you like the words of a sealed document. If it is given to those who can read, with the command, “Read this,” they say, “We cannot, for it is sealed.” And if it is given to those who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” they say, “We cannot read.”
Ariel stands for Jerusalem. The word means “altar hearth.” The empty religious ritual will lead to the sacrifice of the residents themselves. Oxford Dictionary of the Bible, p.25
Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord,
who greatly delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses,
and their righteousness endures forever.
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright;
they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend,
who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved;
they will be remembered forever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings;
their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid;
in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely,
they have given to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever;
their horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked see it and are angry;
they gnash their teeth and melt away;
the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.
New Testament Epistle Lesson: James 3:13-18
Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
Year A Epiphany 5 Friday
Bible verses from The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All right reserved.
Selections from Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright 1985 by the Consultation on Common Texts.
Image Credit: Summer: The Harvesters by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, via Wikimedia Commons. This is a public domain image.