Psalm 115 The Voice (VOICE)
1 Not for us, O Eternal One; this glory is not for us—but for Your name
3 Our God is in heaven
9 O Israel, put your trust in the Eternal.
12 The Eternal has remembered us, and He will bless us.
14 May the Eternal prosper your family,
16 The heavens above belong to the Eternal,
Isaiah 8:1-15 The Voice (VOICE)
8 The Eternal told me to take a large tablet and write—“Swift the Spoils of War and Speedy Comes the Attacker”— 2 and to get believable witnesses, both the priest Uriah and Zechariah (Jeberechiah’s son), to watch me do it. 3 I approached the prophetess—a woman who, like me, speaks for God—and she became pregnant and had a son, whom the Eternal said I should name Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Swift-the-Spoils-of-War-and-Speedy-Comes-the-Attacker); 4 because before he is old enough to say “My father” or “My mother” the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carted off to become the property of their enemy, the king of Assyria.
Prophets like Isaiah not only speak their messages, but they sometimes act them out. Isaiah is a master of both prophetic speech and prophetic acts. It is common for God to ask prophets to expose important aspects of their families’ lives to demonstrate a message He wants to convey. Perhaps it is because the prophet speaks for God and Israel is God’s family. In this case, God tells Isaiah to embed His message into the name of his child. And what is that message? “Ahaz, the two countries currently threatening you will soon be conquered by a greater power—Assyria. It will attack quickly, defeat soundly, and carry off the spoils of war from Damascus and Samaria. So there is no need to fear them; instead, trust in your God.”
5 The Eternal One explained to me,
6 Eternal One: This disaster will happen because this people have rejected the stream of Shiloah
God, be with us.
9 Go ahead, make your alliances, you peoples, yet you’ll be crushed.
No one wants to believe that God would use foreign power to wreak destruction on other lands and peoples. Yet, as God is holy, so God’s place must be holy. He simply cannot dwell where holiness is not. He cannot make a larger-than-life Zion out of an earthly Jerusalem, unless that place (and its people, of course) are right. At best, these people seem to think that paying lip service to God is enough; at worst, they don’t even care about God. A simple explanation is the people must be clean and holy. And this condition of rightness, holiness, and cleanliness is a product of how they are—in relation not only to God, but also to each other and the very land itself; these things are inseparable. The consequences of their failure to ensure the holiness of this sacred place by being right with God, land, and others are dire indeed. God must cleanse His people and place because He determines to be represented within and by them. So, better days will come again, and His covenant people will be set right and be happy and prosperous again.
11 See, this is what the Eternal told me. God leaned in close—His strong hand on me—to keep me from following these people.
12 Eternal One: Don’t call for an alliance, like all the rest of this people do.
Luke 5:27-32 The Voice (VOICE)
27 Some time later, Jesus walked along the street and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting in his tax office.
Jesus: Follow Me.
28 And Levi did. He got up from his desk, left everything (just as the fishermen had), and followed Jesus.
29 Shortly after this, Levi invited his many friends and associates, including many tax collectors, to his home for a large feast in Jesus’ honor. Everyone sat at a table together.
The Pharisees are back again, and they stay through the rest of the story. Pharisaism is a religious movement, consisting of lay people (not clergy) who share a deep commitment to the Hebrew Scriptures and traditions. They believe the Jewish people have not yet been freed from the Romans because of the Jews’ tolerance of sin. There are too many drunks, prostitutes, and gluttons. “If we could just get these sinners to change their ways,” they feel, “then God would send the One who will free us.” How angry they are at Jesus not just for forgiving sins but also for eating with sinners! After all, to eat with people means to accept them. The kind of Rescuer they expect will judge and destroy sinners, not forgive them and enjoy their company!
30 The Pharisees and their associates, the religious scholars, got the attention of some of Jesus’ disciples.
Pharisees (in low voices): What’s wrong with you? Why are you eating and drinking with tax collectors and other immoral people?
Jesus (answering for the disciples): 31 Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. 32 I haven’t come for the pure and upstanding; I’ve come to call notorious sinners to rethink their lives and turn to God.
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