Psalm 120 The Voice (VOICE)
A song for those journeying to worship.
The Songs for the Journey to Worship (Psalms 120–134) celebrate the journey to Jerusalem to worship in God’s temple. Centuries before these psalms were composed, the Lord chose to make His earthly home on Mount Zion in Jerusalem and directed David’s son to build His house. King Solomon built the first temple and dedicated it to God in an elaborate ceremony that brought Israel together on the holy mountain (1 Kings 8). Now, clearly, the wise king believed that the one True God was present everywhere in the world, but he knew that Jerusalem was a special place, a sacred space picked by God. Solomon understood what we seem to have forgotten: those created in God’s image long to encounter God in His holiness. And if we try to make every place holy, then no place is holy because holy means “set apart,” “distinct,” “special.” So we need sacredness in our lives: sacred times, places, and people in our search for wholeness, for shalom. For centuries God’s faithful people of the first and second covenants have gone on pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. Often these songs have gone with them, for they desire to draw close to God and to walk in the steps of those who have passed the faith along.
1 When I was in deep trouble, I called out to the Eternal,
3 Liars, what will be your prize?
5 Sorrow is mine, for I am a foreigner wandering in Meshech;
2 Kings 24:18-25:21 The Voice (VOICE)
18 Zedekiah was 21 years old when he was given the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. His reign in Jerusalem lasted 11 years. His mother was Hamutal (Jeremiah’s daughter) from Libnah. 19 Zedekiah committed evil in the Eternal’s eyes. He was wicked like Jehoiakim.
20 This all took place in Jerusalem and Judah because of the Eternal’s boiling anger. The Eternal One moved them out of the land and away from His presence.
Then, Zedekiah turned his back on Nebuchadnezzar.
25 On the 10th day of the 10th month, during the 9th year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon’s king) and his entire army surrounded Jerusalem. They camped outside the city and built siege ramps around it. 2 The city remained under siege until the 11th year of Zedekiah’s reign.
3 On the 9th day of the 4th month, there was a food shortage in the city, and no one had anything to eat. Everyone became afraid of starvation. 4 The city wall was breached, and all the warriors ran out during the night through the gateway between the two walls near the king’s garden, in spite of the Chaldeans surrounding the city. The warriors went on the Arabah road. 5 The Chaldean army chased after the fleeing king and caught up to him in the fields of Jericho. His army dispersed in all directions. 6 They took the king captive and escorted him to Babylon’s king at Riblah. Nebuchadnezzar decided on a punishment for the king: 7 they killed Zedekiah’s sons right in front of Zedekiah; then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes so that the slaughter of his sons was the last thing he ever saw, and they put him in bronze shackles and transported him to Babylon.
8 On the 7th day, during the 5th month of Nebuchadnezzar’s 19th year as king over Babylon, Nebuzaradan, a servant of the king and captain of Nebuchadnezzar’s guards, arrived in Jerusalem. 9 Nebuzaradan set fire to the Eternal’s temple, the palace, and every house in Jerusalem. He burned down every large house and structure in Jerusalem. 10 The entire Chaldean army, who was with Nebuzaradan, tore down Jerusalem’s walls. 11 Nebuzaradan captured everyone who was still in the city, even the renegades who had fled to Nebuchadnezzar, and he forced them into exile. 12 But Nebuzaradan spared the poorest people and left them to take care of the land as farmers and gardeners.
13 The Chaldeans took everything of value. They took the bronze pillars, stands, and the bronze sea in the Eternal’s temple; and they broke them up into pieces and took the bronze to Babylon. 14 They also took the pans, the shovels, the snuffers, the bronze objects, and every bronze cup that was used during the rituals of the temple. 15 Nebuzaradan took the coal pans and bowls and all the gold and purified silver. 16 The amount of bronze (including the two bronze pillars, the bronze sea, and the bronze stands Solomon crafted for the Eternal’s temple) was so great that it could not be weighed. 17 Each pillar was 27 feet high with a bronze capital. The capital was 54 inches high, and it was covered with bronze network and bronze pomegranates. Both pillars were exactly alike.
18 Nebuzaradan gathered Seraiah, the head priest, and Zephaniah, the second priest, along with the three doorkeepers. 19 In the city, he gathered up one officer of the army, five of the king’s counselors, the army captain’s aide for mustering the troops, and 60 other Judahite men. 20 Nebuzaradan (captain of the guard) escorted them to Babylon’s king at Riblah. 21 Nebuchadnezzar killed them all at Riblah in Hamath. Thus Judah was separated from the land and forced into exile.
1 Corinthians 15:20-34 The Voice (VOICE)
20 But the Anointed One was raised from death’s slumber and is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. 21 For since death entered this world by a man, it took another man to make the resurrection of the dead our new reality. 22 Look at it this way: through Adam all of us die, but through the Anointed One all of us can live again. 23 But this is how it will happen: the Anointed’s awakening is the firstfruits. It will be followed by the resurrection of all those who belong to Him at His coming, 24 and then the end will come. After He has conquered His enemies and shut down every rule and authority vying for power, He will hand over the Kingdom to God, the Father of all that is. 25 And He must reign as King until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last hostile power to be destroyed is death itself. 27 All this will happen to fulfill the Scripture that says, “You placed everything on earth beneath His feet.”[a] (Although it says “everything,” it is clear that this does not also pertain to God, who created everything and made it all subject to Him.) 28 Then, when all creation has taken its rightful place beneath God’s sovereign reign, the Son will follow, subject to the Father who exalted Him over all created things; then God will be God over all.
Resurrection is central to the gospel. In fact, without the bodily resurrection of Jesus there is no good news at all. For in Jesus, God personifies His redeeming work and demonstrates the scope of that redemption. He is a God who brings life from death, peace from war, prosperity from adversity, and bounty from famine. The resurrection of Jesus marks a new era of God’s dealing with the world. He intends nothing less than the total reclamation of His good creation damaged by human folly, sin, and death.
29 You have probably heard that some people are undergoing ritual cleansings of baptism[b] for the dead. Why are they doing that? If the dead are not going to be raised, then why are people being baptized for them? 30 Why are we putting our lives on the line all the time if there’s no resurrection? 31 I die every day! I swear that it’s true! That’s something you take pride in, brothers and sisters, as I do in Jesus the Anointed, our Lord. 32 But if I have fought against the wild beasts in Ephesus for some human cause, then what good has that done me? If the dead are not raised, then there’s nothing more to do than—as the saying goes—eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.[c]
33 But don’t be so naïve—there’s another saying you know well—Bad company corrupts good habits. 34 Come to your senses, live justly, and stop sinning. It’s true that some have no knowledge of God. I am saying this to shame you into better habits.
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