Click here to learn more!
Bible Reading Plan
Daily Bible Reading
December 23 - Bible-in-a-Year
The Lord Will Be Israel's Shepherd
1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock?(a) 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock.(b) 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed(c) the sick or bound up(d) the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.(e) 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd,(f) and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals.(g) 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill.(h) They were scattered(i) over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.(j)
7 "‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord : 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord , because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered(k) and has become food for all the wild animals,(l) and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock,(m) 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord : 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against(n) the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue(o) my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them.(p)
11 "‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep(q) and look after them. 12 As a shepherd(r) looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.(s) 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather(t) them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land.(u) I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.(v) 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel(w) will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture(x) on the mountains of Israel.(y) 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down,(z) declares the Sovereign Lord .(aa) 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up(ab) the injured and strengthen the weak,(ac) but the sleek and the strong I will destroy.(ad) I will shepherd the flock with justice.(ae)
17 "‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.(af) 18 Is it not enough(ag) for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet?(ah) Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19 Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20 "‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep.(ai) 21 Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns(aj) until you have driven them away, 22 I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another.(ak) 23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend(al) them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.(am) 24 I the Lord will be their God,(an) and my servant David(ao) will be prince among them.(ap) I the Lord have spoken.(aq)
25 "‘I will make a covenant(ar) of peace(as) with them and rid the land of savage beasts(at) so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety.(au) 26 I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing.[a](av) I will send down showers in season;(aw) there will be showers of blessing.(ax) 27 The trees will yield their fruit(ay) and the ground will yield its crops;(az) the people will be secure(ba) in their land. They will know that I am the Lord , when I break the bars of their yoke(bb) and rescue them from the hands of those who enslaved them.(bc) 28 They will no longer be plundered by the nations, nor will wild animals devour them. They will live in safety,(bd) and no one will make them afraid.(be) 29 I will provide for them a land renowned(bf) for its crops, and they will no longer be victims of famine(bg) in the land or bear the scorn(bh) of the nations.(bi) 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they, the Israelites, are my people, declares the Sovereign Lord .(bj) 31 You are my sheep,(bk) the sheep of my pasture,(bl) and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord .'"
1 "Shout it aloud,(a) do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.(b)
Declare to my people their rebellion(c)
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.(d)
2 For day after day they seek(e) me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken(f) the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near(g) them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,'(h) they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled(i) ourselves,
and you have not noticed?'(j)
"Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please(k)
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,(l)
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard(m) on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast(n) I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble(o) themselves?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed(p)
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?(q)
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord ?
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting(r) I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice(s)
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed(t) free
and break every yoke?(u)
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry(v)
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter(w)—
when you see the naked, to clothe(x) them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?(y)
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,(z)
and your healing(aa) will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a](ab) will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.(ac)
9 Then you will call,(ad) and the Lord will answer;(ae)
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger(af) and malicious talk,(ag)
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,(ah)
then your light(ai) will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.(aj)
11 The Lord will guide(ak) you always;
he will satisfy your needs(al) in a sun-scorched land(am)
and will strengthen(an) your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,(ao)
like a spring(ap) whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins(aq)
and will raise up the age-old foundations;(ar)
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,(as)
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath(at)
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight(au)
and the Lord 's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,(av)
14 then you will find your joy(aw) in the Lord ,
and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights(ax) of the land
and to feast on the inheritance(ay) of your father Jacob."
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.(az)
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel(ai) to Nazareth,(aj) a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph,(ak) a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid,(al) Mary; you have found favor with God.(am) 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.(an) 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.(ao) The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,(ap) 33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom(aq) will never end."(ar)
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you,(as) and the power of the Most High(at) will overshadow you. So the holy one(au) to be born will be called[b] the Son of God.(av) 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child(aw) in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail."(ax)
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." Then the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,(ay) 40 where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.(az) 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women,(ba) and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord(bb) should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!"
46 And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord(bd)
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,(be)
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.(bf)
From now on all generations will call me blessed,(bg)
49 for the Mighty One has done great things(bh) for me—
holy is his name.(bi)
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.(bj)
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;(bk)
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.(bl)
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.(bm)
53 He has filled the hungry with good things(bn)
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful(bo)
55 to Abraham and his descendants(bp) forever,
just as he promised our ancestors."
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
the Third Sunday after Epiphany