Psalm 97; Numbers 8:5–26; Luke 15:11–32

The Lord Reigns

97  xThe Lord reigns, ylet the earth rejoice;

let the many zcoastlands be glad!

aClouds and thick darkness are all around him;

brighteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

cFire goes before him

and burns up his adversaries all around.

His dlightnings light up the world;

the earth sees and etrembles.

The mountains fmelt like gwax before the Lord,

before hthe Lord of all the earth.

iThe heavens proclaim his righteousness,

and all jthe peoples see his glory.

All worshipers of images are kput to shame,

who make their boast in lworthless idols;

mworship him, all you gods!

Zion hears and nis glad,

and the daughters of Judah rejoice,

because of your judgments, O Lord.

For you, O Lord, are omost high over all the earth;

you are exalted far above pall gods.

10  O you who love the Lord, qhate evil!

He rpreserves the lives of his ssaints;

he tdelivers them from the hand of the wicked.

11  uLight vis sown1 for the righteous,

and joy for the upright in heart.

12  wRejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,

and xgive thanks to his holy name!


Cleansing of the Levites

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the jwater of purification upon them, and klet them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves. Then let them take a bull from the herd and lits grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, mand you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering. nAnd you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting oand assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel. 10 When you bring the Levites before the Lord, the people of Israel pshall lay their hands on the Levites, 11 and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the Lord. 12 Then the Levites qshall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer rthe one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the Lord to make atonement for the Levites. 13 And you shall set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and shall offer them as sa wave offering to the Lord.

14 Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and tthe Levites shall be mine. 15 And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a swave offering. 16 For they are uwholly given to me from among the people of Israel. vInstead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. 17 wFor all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, 18 and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel. 19 uAnd I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and xto make atonement for the people of Israel, ythat there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary.

20 Thus did Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the people of Israel to the Levites. According to all that the Lord commanded Moses concerning the Levites, the people of Israel did to them. 21 And zthe Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and aAaron offered them as a wave offering before the Lord, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. 22 And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.

Retirement of the Levites

23 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 This applies to the Levites: bfrom twenty-five years old and upward they1 shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. 25 And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. 26 They minister2 to their brothers in the tent of meeting cby keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.


The Parable of the Prodigal Son

11 And he said, There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me mthe share of property that is coming to me. And he divided nhis property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in oreckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to1 one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he pwas longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 But qwhen he rcame to himself, he said, How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, sI have sinned against theaven and before you. 19 uI am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants. 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and vran and wembraced him and xkissed him. 21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. uI am no longer worthy to be called your son.2 22 But the father said to his servants,3 Bring quickly ythe best robe, and put it on him, and put za ring on his hand, and ashoes on his feet. 23 And bring bthe fattened calf and kill it, and clet us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son dwas dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to celebrate.

25 Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound. 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might ecelebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, fwho has devoured gyour property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him! 31 And he said to him, Son, hyou are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting eto celebrate and be glad, for this your brother iwas dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.