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;
Jeremiah 22:11-17 The Voice (VOICE)
11 This is a word of the Eternal for Shallum (son of Josiah), who succeeded his father as king of Judah and went from this place into exile:
Eternal One: He will never return, 12 and he will die in that land of captivity, never to see this place again.
13 Woe to the one[a] who builds his palace on the proceeds of unrighteousness,
Luke 11:37-52 The Voice (VOICE)
Jesus is fearless with Pharisees and scholars. To get through to them He agrees to eat in the home of a Pharisee where a religious scholar has also been invited.
37 A Pharisee interrupted His speech with an invitation to dinner. Jesus accepted the invitation and took His place at his table. 38 The Pharisee was offended that Jesus didn’t perform the ceremonial handwashing before eating—something Pharisees were fastidious about doing.
Jesus: 39 You Pharisees are a walking contradiction. You are so concerned about external things—like someone who washes the outside of a cup and bowl but never cleans the inside, which is what counts! Beneath your fastidious exterior is a mess of extortion and filth.
40 You guys don’t get it. Did the potter make the outside but not the inside too? 41 If you were full of goodness within, you could overflow with generosity from within, and if you did that, everything would be clean for you.
42 Woe to you, Pharisees! Judgment will come on you! You are fastidious about tithing—keeping account of every little leaf of mint and herb—but you neglect what really matters: justice and the love of God! If you’d get straight on what really matters, then your fastidiousness about little things would be worth something.
43 Woe to you, Pharisees! Judgment will come on you! What you really love is having people fawn over you when you take the seat of honor in the synagogue or when you are greeted in the public market.
44 Wake up! See what you’ve become! Woe to you; you’re like a field full of unmarked graves. People walk on the field and have no idea of the corruption that’s a few inches beneath their feet.
Scholar (sitting at Jesus’ table): 45 Rabbi, if You insult the Pharisees, then You insult us too.
Jesus: 46 Well, now that you mention it, watch out, all you religious scholars! Judgment will come on you too! You load other people down with unbearable burdens of rules and regulations, but you don’t lift a finger to help others. 47-48 Woe to you; you don’t fool anybody! You seem very religious—honoring the prophets by building them elaborate memorial tombs. Come to think of it, that’s very fitting, since you’re so much like the people who killed the prophets! They killed the prophets; you build their tombs—you’re all in the same family business!
49 This is why the Wisdom of God said, “I will send these people My prophets and emissaries,[a] and these people will kill and persecute many of them.” 50 As a result, this generation will be held accountable for the blood of all the prophets shed from the very beginning of time, 51 from Abel’s blood to Zechariah’s blood, who was killed in the temple itself between the altar and the holy place. I’m serious: this generation will be held accountable.
52 So, religious scholars, judgment will come on you! You’re supposed to be teachers, unlocking the door of knowledge and guiding people through it. But the fact is, you’ve never even passed through the doorway yourselves. You’ve taken the key, left the door locked tight, and stood in the way of everyone who sought entry.
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