Psalm 23 The Voice (VOICE)
A song of David.
Psalm 23 is the best known and most beloved psalm in the collection. Surprisingly, it casts humanity as sheep—stupid, helpless sheep. But the long-lasting appeal of Psalm 23 is a direct result of that casting because the imagery is both soothing and accessible.
When he was a boy, King David was a shepherd watching his father’s flocks in the hills around Bethlehem. In those days, too, it was common to refer to kings in the Near East as shepherds; but not all shepherd-kings cared for their sheep. Though David tried to shepherd his people well, he knew the truth: the Eternal is the true Shepherd.
In John 10:11 Jesus makes a bold claim. He declares that He is the good shepherd. Immediately His disciples detected the resonance of Psalm 23 in His words. Those of us who follow Jesus today come to know Him as that gentle but strong shepherd who guides us through life if we will follow Him.
1 The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.
4 Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
5 You spread out a table before me,
Ezekiel 11 The Voice (VOICE)
11 Then the Spirit lifted me up and transported me to the eastern gate of the Eternal’s house. I saw 25 men standing at the entrance of the gate. I recognized 2 leaders among them—Jaazaniah (Azur’s son) and Pelatiah (Benaiah’s son).
Eternal One: 2 Son of man, these are the ones concocting evil plans and pushing wicked schemes on the city. 3 They say, “This is not a good time to build houses. The city of Jerusalem is like an iron pot, and we are the meat inside it.” 4 Therefore, prophesy against them, son of man; speak My message to them.
5 Then the Spirit of the Eternal came over me and said to me:
Eternal One: Tell them this is what the Eternal has to say: Those may be your secret thoughts, people of Israel, but I know what’s going on in your minds. 6 You have murdered masses of people in this city, and you have filled the streets with dead bodies. 7 The corpses you have scattered in the streets are the meat, and this city is the pot; but I will make sure you are taken out of this city. 8 Since you fear war, that is exactly what I will bring against you.
I, the Eternal Lord, declare that. 9 After I drive you out of the city, I will give you over to the control of foreigners, and they will punish you! 10 You will die in battle, and My judgment will fall on you as you flee for the border of Israel. Then you will know I am the Eternal One. 11 This city will not be a protective pot for you, and you certainly won’t be the meat tended within it. I will execute My judgment against you all the way to the border of Israel, 12 and you will know I am the Eternal One. You have been careless with My laws and disregarded My instructions, mindlessly conforming to the standards of the nations around you.
13 As I was prophesying, Pelatiah (Benaiah’s son) died. Then I fell to the ground, face down, and exclaimed in a loud voice, “Hear me, Eternal Lord! Will You do away completely with the remnant of Israel?”
14 At this, the word of the Eternal came to me:
Eternal One: 15 Son of man, your people in exile—your own relatives, your countrymen, and the whole nation of Israel—are the ones the citizens of Jerusalem have disparaged, saying, “They have been taken far away from the Eternal. This land is ours now. It has been given to us to keep.” But they are mistaken. It is those in exile whom I will redeem. 16 Give the citizens of Jerusalem My message. “Tell them that I, the Eternal Lord, drove them far away from My temple and scattered them among other countries, but I have still been a sanctuary for them during this time in those other lands where they have gone.” 17 Then deliver My message to the exiles. “Tell them that I, the Eternal Lord, will gather you and reassemble you from the places where I scattered you, and I will return your inheritance—the land of Israel—to you because you are My true children.”
Ezekiel may seem like a prophet of doom and gloom, but like most prophets he sees beyond judgment to God’s restoration of His people. The only hope for the Judean exiles is that they be given a new heart and spirit from their Creator. The prophet receives this optimistic message again and again. Although divine punishment is severe, divine rescue will eclipse any tragedy because God will recreate His people.
Eternal One: 18 When they return home, they will demolish all the disgusting idols and remove all the shocking images from the land. 19 I will give them a new will—an undivided heart—and plant a new spirit within them; I will remove their cold, stony heart and replace it with a warm heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow My commands and uphold My laws and actually do as I say. They will be My people, and I will be their God. 21 As for those who remain dedicated to their disgusting idols and shocking images, the very things they have done will be brought down upon them as judgment.
So said the Eternal Lord.
22 Then the winged guardians[a] stretched out their wings, the wheels moved along with them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered above them. 23 The glory of the Eternal arose from the center of the city and began to move east, stopping momentarily above the mountain to its east called the Mount of Olives. 24 The Spirit snatched me up and brought me in a vision given by God’s Spirit to the exiles in the Chaldea. Then the vision left me, 25 and I told the exiles everything the Eternal had revealed to me.
Revelation 5:1-10 The Voice (VOICE)
Throughout this book of letters and visions, numbers play an important role. Numbers and their multiples are signs of great mysterious realities. The Son of Man moves among seven lampstands and holds seven stars in His right hand because the number “seven” represents perfection and completeness. Another important number is “twelve” because it represents the people of God. The children of Israel consisted of twelve tribes, and Jesus called “the twelve” to follow Him and embody the new covenant. The number “twelve” and multiples of “twelve” recur throughout the book to signify the people of God, so here the twenty-four elders (12 + 12) signify the people of God, both the old and new covenants.
5 And then I saw a scroll in the right hand of the One seated upon the throne, a scroll written both on the inside and on the outside. It had been sealed with seven seals. 2 Then a mighty heavenly messenger proclaimed with a loud voice,
Mighty Messenger: Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?
3 No creature of creation in all heaven, on all the earth, or even under the earth could open the scroll or look into its mysteries. 4 Then I began to mourn and weep bitterly because no creature of creation was found who was worthy to open the scroll or to look into its mysteries. 5 Then one of the elders consoled me.
One of the 24 Elders: Stop weeping. Look there—the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David. He has conquered and is able to break its seven seals and open the scroll.
6 I looked, and between the throne and the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders stood a Lamb who appeared to have been slaughtered. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes (the eyes are the seven Spirits of God sent out over all the earth).
John hears that the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has arrived and will open the seals to reveal the scroll’s mysteries. But when he turns to see the Lion, he sees a Lamb instead. Not everything is as it appears. The Lamb stands, even though He has been slaughtered as a sacrifice, because He has been resurrected from the dead. And now in his vision, John sees things as they truly are: the Lamb-King has seven horns and seven eyes, signifying the perfect power and perfect sight He possesses to rule the world.
7 The Lamb came and took the scroll from the right hand of the One seated upon the throne. 8 And when He took it, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell prostrate before the Lamb. They worshiped Him, and each one held a harp and golden bowls filled with incense (the prayers of God’s holy people). 9 Then they sang a new song.
Four Living Creatures and 24 Elders: You are worthy to receive the scroll,
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