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Psalm 72:1-7 The Voice (VOICE)

Psalm 72

A song of Solomon.

True God, bestow Your honest judgments upon the king
    and anoint the king’s son with Your righteousness.
May he be honest and fair in his judgments over Your people
    and offer justice to the burdened and suffering.
Under his reign, may this land of mountains and hills know peace
    and experience justice for all the people.
May the king offer justice to the burdened and suffering,
    rescue the poor and needy,
    and demolish the oppressor!

[May the people fear You][a] for as long as the sun shines,
    as long as the moon rises in the night sky, throughout the generations.
May the king be like the refreshing rains, which fall upon fields of freshly mown grass—
    like showers that cool and nourish the earth.
May good and honest people flourish for as long as he reigns,
    and may peace fill the land until the moon no longer rises.

Footnotes:

  1. 72:5 Greek manuscripts read, “He will endure.”
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Psalm 72:18-19 The Voice (VOICE)

18 May the Eternal God, the God of Israel, be blessed,
    for He alone works miracles and wonders!
19 May His glorious name be blessed forever
    and the whole earth be filled with His eternal glory!
Amen. Amen.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Isaiah 40:1-11 The Voice (VOICE)

40 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.
    “With gentle words, tender and kind,
Assure Jerusalem, this chosen city from long ago,
    that her battles are over.
    The terror, the bloodshed, the horror of My punishing work is done.
This place has paid for its guilt; iniquity is pardoned;
    its term of incarceration is complete.
It has endured double the punishment it was due.”

A voice is wailing, “In the wilderness, get it ready! Prepare the way;
    make it a straight shot. The Eternal would have it so.
Straighten the way in the wandering desert
    to make the crooked road wide and straight for our God.[a]
Where there are steep valleys, treacherous descents,
    raise the highway; lift it up;
    bring down the dizzying heights.
Fill in the potholes and gullies, the rough places.
    Iron out the shoulders flat and wide.
The Lord will be, really be, among us.
    The radiant glory of the Lord will be revealed.
All flesh together will take it in. Believe it.
    None other than God, the Eternal, has spoken.”[b]

During the time of Jesus, John the Baptist wanders around Israel in the tradition of the Hebrew prophets warning the people that they need to correct their attitudes and behaviors, to bring them better in line with what God expects and desires. He declares (warns, actually) that God is coming and will set things right. During the circumstances of exile, the people don’t fully understand who or what this voice in the wilderness will be; centuries later, as the early Christian community looks back over the life of Jesus and John, they recognize the anonymous voice.

A voice says, “Declare!”
    But what shall I declare?
    All life is like the grass.
All of its grace and beauty fades like the wild flowers in a field.

The grass withers, the flower fades
    as the breath of the Eternal One blows away.
People are no different from grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
    nothing lasts except the word of our God.
It will stand forever.[c]

Isaiah’s message is not just doom and gloom. God determines that His people may return home to rebuild their lives! God uses the new king, Cyrus of Persia, to accomplish this glorious restoration. God does not allow His punishment to last forever.

Now, in this new time, God smoothes the rocky way between Mesopotamia and all Israel; He makes the deserts between the present place of exile and their home just east of the Mediterranean Sea burst with sweet water and bloom with beauty and good things to eat. Treacherous roads and threatening beasts yield to God’s desire that they return safely.

In chapters 40–55, for the most part, the message is one of comfort and encouragement to God’s downtrodden and discouraged people. Many centuries later, these words will be understood in light of the Anointed One.

Ascend a high mountain,
    you herald of good tidings, O Zion;
With a clear, strong voice make known to everyone
    the joy that belongs to God’s chosen place,
O, Jerusalem, You herald of good tidings!
    Make the news ring out! Don’t be afraid!
Say to these cities, this Judah: “Behold your God!”
10 The Lord, the Eternal, comes with power, with unstoppable might;
    He will take control without question or delay.
He will see to it that wages are paid,
    repairs are made, and all is set right again.
11 He will feed His fold like a shepherd;
    He will gather together His lambs—the weak and the wobbly ones—into His arms.
He will carry them close to His bosom,
    and tenderly lead like a shepherd the mother of her lambs.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

John 1:19-27 The Voice (VOICE)

Before Jesus comes along, many wonder whether John the Baptist might be the Anointed One sent by God. But when Jesus appears in the wilderness, John points others to Him. John knows his place in God’s redemptive plan: he speaks God’s message, but Jesus is the Word of God. John rejects any messianic claim outright. Jesus, though, accepts it with a smile, but only from a few devoted followers—at least at first. Of course John is crucial to the unfolding drama, but he isn’t the long awaited One sent to free His people. He preaches repentance and tells everybody to get ready for One greater to come along. The One who comes will cleanse humanity in fire and power, he says. John even urges some of his followers to leave him and go follow Jesus.

19 The reputation of John was growing; and many had questions, including Jewish religious leaders from Jerusalem. 28 So some priests and Levites approached John in Bethany just beyond the Jordan River while he was baptizing and bombarded him with questions:[a]

Religious Leaders: Who are you?

John the Baptist: 20 I’m not the Anointed One, if that is what you are asking.

Religious Leaders: 21 Your words sound familiar, like a prophet’s. Is that how we should address you? Are you the Prophet Elijah?

John the Baptist: No, I am not Elijah.

Religious Leaders: Are you the Prophet Moses told us would come?

John the Baptist: No.

Religious Leaders: 22 Then tell us who you are and what you are about because everyone is asking us, especially the Pharisees, and we must prepare an answer.

23 John replied with the words of Isaiah the prophet:

John the Baptist: Listen! I am a voice calling out in the wilderness.
        Straighten out the road for the Lord. He’s on His way.[b]

24-25 Then some of those sent by the Pharisees questioned him again.

Religious Leaders: How can you travel the countryside baptizing[c] people if you are not the Anointed One or Elijah or the Prophet?

John the Baptist: 26 Baptizing with water is what I do; but the One whom I speak of, whom we all await, is standing among you; and you have no idea who He is. 27 Though He comes after me, I am not even worthy to unlace His sandals.[d]

Footnotes:

  1. 1:28 Verse 28 has been inserted here to help retain the continuity of events.
  2. 1:23 Isaiah 40:3
  3. 1:24-25 Literally, immersing, to show repentance
  4. 1:27 Verse 28 has been moved before verse 20 to retain the continuity of events.
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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