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 20:39-44 The Voice (VOICE)
39 (to the people of Israel) Go ahead and worship your idols—all of you! Eventually, you will see that what you are doing is pointless. Then you will start listening to Me and stop profaning My sacred name with your gifts and false gods. 40 There upon the high mountain of Israel, which is My holy mountain residence, all the people of Israel will worship and serve Me when they return to the land. There I will accept them. There I will expect your gifts and your firstfruit offerings, with all of your other sacred duties to Me. 41 When I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the unfamiliar lands where you have been scattered, I will accept you as a pleasant aroma. I will put My holiness on display by the way you live as all the world watches! 42 You will know that I am the Eternal One when I bring you into the land of Israel—the splendid land I solemnly promised to give your ancestors. 43 Then and there, you will remember your wrong turns and all of the wicked things you have done to degrade yourselves, and you will hate yourselves every time you see your reflection because of all the evil things you have done. 44 You will know, O people of Israel, that I am the Eternal when I deal fairly with you in order to protect My good name and reputation, and not out of My frustration toward your wickedness and mindless corruption.
So said the Eternal One.
Revelation 6:1-7:8 The Voice (VOICE)
6 Then I saw the Lamb break the first of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out with a thundering voice.
First Living Creature: Come!
2 Then I looked, and what a sight! There was a white horse carrying a rider with a bow. He wore a wreath and came riding like a conqueror, intent on complete victory.
3 The Lamb broke the second seal, and the second living creature called out.
Second Living Creature: Come!
4 Then another horse, fiery red, sped forth. Its rider was granted the power to steal peace from the earth and received a large sword so that people would slaughter each other.
5 The Lamb broke the third seal, and the third living creature called out.
Third Living Creature: Come!
Then I looked; and behold, there was a black horse! Its rider held in his hand a balance scale. 6 And I heard a voice emanating from the middle of the four living creatures.
7 And when the Lamb broke the fourth seal, the fourth living creature called out.
Fourth Living Creature: Come!
8 I looked; and behold, there was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades accompanied him. Together they were granted authority over one-fourth of the earth to kill with weapons, with famine, with disease, and with wild animals that roamed the earth.
The breaking of the seals releases the four riders and a series of disasters and plagues. Even though what follows appears to be extreme violence unleashed against the earth and its inhabitants, there is a limitation to what follows. Death and Hades have the authority to kill, but their authority extends only to one-fourth of the earth. The slaughtered souls cry out for vengeance, but they will have to wait a little longer until more martyrs are killed for their testimony.
9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the heavenly altar the souls of those murdered for holding fast to the word of God and their testimony. 10 They cried out in a great, singular voice.
Murder Victims: How much longer, O Lord, the holy One, the true One, until You pronounce judgment on the inhabitants of the earth? Until You avenge our blood?
11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest for a little while longer—soon their number would be complete. In a little while, more of their fellow servants, brothers, and sisters would be murdered as they had been.
12 When the Lamb broke the sixth seal, a great earthquake shook the earth and the sun grew dark and became black (like mourning sackcloth) and the full moon became red like blood. 13 The stars of heaven fell to earth as a fig tree drops its fruit during a winter storm. 14 The sky snapped back as a scroll when it is rolled up. Every mountain was shaken off its foundation, and every island melted into the sea. 15 The rulers of the earth, the important and the great, the generals, the wealthy and the powerful, the slave and the free person, all hid themselves in the caves and among the mountains’ rocks. 16 They pleaded with loud suicidal requests to the rocks and mountains.
People of the Earth: Fall on us. Hide us from the fierce presence of the One who sits on the throne, from the wrath of the Lamb. 17 The great day of their[c] wrath has come. Who can withstand it?
7 After this vision, I saw four heavenly messengers standing at the four corners of the earth. They were holding back the four winds so that the earth would not be overcome by violent, rushing winds blowing over the land or over the sea or blowing down any tree. 2 Then I saw a fifth messenger, coming up with the sun as it was rising in the east, carrying the seal of the living God. He called with a great and loud voice to the four messengers who had authority to harm the earth and its seas.
Fifth Messenger: 3 Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we seal the servants of our God with a mark of ownership on their foreheads.
4-8 Then I heard that 144,000 would receive the seal, that is 12,000 from every tribe of Israel: Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin.
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