Psalm 122 The Voice (VOICE)
A song [of David][a] for those journeying to worship.
This is a Davidic psalm celebrating the grandeur and significance of Jerusalem and its temple. It is ironic that Jerusalem means “city of peace” since more battles have been fought over it than over any other city.
1 I was so happy when my fellow pilgrims said,
3 Jerusalem! What a magnificent city!
6 Ask heaven to grant peace to Jerusalem:
Esther 8 The Voice (VOICE)
8 On the same day, King Ahasuerus gave Queen Esther all the household of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. Then Mordecai was brought before King Ahasuerus, for Queen Esther had told the king how they were related. 2 The king took off his signet ring (the one he had taken back from Haman) and gave it to Mordecai. Then Esther put Mordecai in charge of all of Haman’s household.
3 Esther came before the king once more. This time she fell at his feet, wept, and begged the king to do something to stop the evil plan that Haman (the Agagite) had brought upon the Jews. 4 The king, as before, extended his golden scepter to Queen Esther; and she stood to her feet before him.
Queen Esther: 5 If it pleases the king, and if I am in his favor, and if the king believes it is the right and just thing to do, let there be an official decree written that will cancel out the order that Haman (son of Hammedatha, the Agagite) had written to rid all the king’s provinces of the Jews. 6 For I can’t bear to see this catastrophe brought against my people; how can I live another day if I witness the destruction of my kindred?
King Ahasuerus (to Queen Esther and Mordecai the Jew): 7 Look, I have given you, Queen Esther, Haman’s household because of his vengeful actions against your people. That is also why he hangs on the pole he had made for Mordecai. I have done all I can do; the rest is your responsibility 8 because no order that has been written in the name of the king and sealed with the king’s signet ring can be overturned. So you must write a new order to the Jews to remedy the situation; it, too, must be written in the king’s name and sealed with the king’s signet ring.
Although Haman is dead, the order to kill all the Jews in the Persian Empire is very much alive. Once the king has signed an order, it cannot be reversed. Such kings never reverse themselves; it is too risky. So a new order must be written and sent to the far reaches of the empire; and Mordecai, the Jew, is just the person to do it. Now that he has been elevated to the supreme position where he has use of the king’s signet ring, he can exercise royal power.
9 So the royal secretaries were summoned together on the 23rd day of the 3rd month (the month of Sivan). The king’s new orders were written down exactly the way Mordecai dictated them, and they were written to the Jews, the rulers, the governors, and the nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Ethiopia. The orders were written down in every script and every language spoken in the provinces, including the Jewish script and the Jewish language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed it with his signet ring. Then, these orders were dispatched to the provinces by couriers who rode on the finely bred horses sired by the royal stud. 11 The king’s new orders gave the Jews in every city the right to gather together, to protect themselves, and to kill or destroy any army of any nation or province (including their women and children) who might attack them. The orders also gave the Jews the right to take over the assets of their enemies. 12 These new orders were set to go into effect on the 13th day of the 12th month (the month of Adar). This was the same day Haman had determined by casting lots to kill the Jews. 13 An official copy of the king’s order was to be issued to every province and read publicly to all nationalities, so that the Jews would be ready to protect themselves against their enemies. 14 The couriers were quickly dispatched by order of the king, and they left the capital riding on royal steeds. Then the decree was publicly proclaimed in the citadel of Susa.
15 Mordecai went out from the king’s presence donning blue and white royal robes, a large gold crown, and a fine linen and purple cape. When the people of the city of Susa saw this, they exploded into joy. 16 For the Jews, it was a time of celebration. Darkness had turned to light. Sadness to joy. Shame to honor. 17 In every city and province, wherever the king’s law and orders were received, there was happiness and joy among the Jews. They feasted, they danced, they celebrated—and people from other nations living among the Jews professed to be Jews because they were afraid of the Jews’ sudden political power in Persia.
Revelation 2:8-11 The Voice (VOICE)
Letter to Smyrna
8 Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Smyrna. “These are the words of the First and the Last, the One who was dead and returned to life:
9 “I know [your deeds and][a] the difficult ordeal you are enduring and your poverty, although you are actually rich. I am aware of the offensive accusations preached by those who call themselves ‘Jews.’ But these people are not the Jews they pretend to be; they are actually the congregation of Satan. 10 In the face of suffering, do not fear. Watch; the devil will throw some of you into prison shortly so that you might be tested, and you will endure great affliction for 10 days. Be faithful throughout your life, until the day you die, and I will give you the victor’s wreath of life.
11 “Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will escape the second death.”
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