Psalm 72:1-7 The Voice (VOICE)
A song of Solomon.
1 True God, bestow Your honest judgments upon the king
5 [May the people fear You][a] for as long as the sun shines,
Isaiah 4:2-6 The Voice (VOICE)
The prophet warns of a time when only a few of God’s people will be left. The shredded fabric of families will leave the most vulnerable exposed and desperate. Women, who in this ancient Israelite society depend on relationships to men for social and financial security, will resort to doing whatever they can to survive beyond the deaths of their fathers, brothers, and husbands. Although the framework of their culture will seem to have crumbled, the story will move forward as the God of Israel remembers His own. There will always be a remnant of those who follow the Lord. Utter despair gives way to hope.
2 Then, oh then, a tiny shoot cultivated and nurtured by the Eternal will emerge new and green, promising beauty and glory. Everything that comes from the earth will offer itself, lovely and magnificent, to those who escaped Israel’s demise. 3 Those who survived in precious Zion, all who remain in that special city, Jerusalem, will be called holy. They are destined to be alive, these remaining few, in Jerusalem. 4 Then the Lord will wash away the filth that clung to the daughters of Zion and clean up the blood that stained Jerusalem’s streets with a spirit of justice and the breath of fire. 5 And the Eternal will create wonders over the whole of Mount Zion and those who gather there—cloud and smoke to dim the day, bright shining fire to light the night, all billowing over Zion’s glory like a satin canopy. 6 And it will be a resting place, protected from the heat of the day, a place of shelter and retreat amid storms and rain.
Acts 1:12-17 The Voice (VOICE)
12 Then the disciples returned to Jerusalem—their short journey from the Mount of Olives was an acceptable Sabbath Day’s walk.
13-14 Back in the city, they went to the room where they were staying—a second-floor room. This whole group devoted themselves to constant prayer with one accord: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), Judas (son of James), a number of women including Mary (Jesus’ mother), and some of Jesus’ brothers.
15 As the disciples prayed, Peter stood among the group of about 120 people and made this proposal:
The Creator of heaven and earth is orchestrating a redemptive story that will radically change the course of history. The most significant supernatural event in the history of this newly formed church will be the filling of the Holy Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit, God will direct the church’s growth. But how does the early church make important decisions before the Holy Spirit descends on them?
The company of disciples turns to the practice of “drawing lots,” a practice used by saints for centuries to discover God’s providential leading. After much prayer, Joseph and Matthias most likely write their names on scraps; then someone draws the replacement’s name out of a bag. What seems like a 50/50 chance is, in fact, God’s way of imparting His will. The disciples aren’t putting their faith in “chance”; they are putting their faith in a God who lives. This living God isn’t distant; He is a player in their lives, active when His people seek Him and His will. They know God directs the process, start to finish, and determines whose name is drawn to join the eleven.
Peter: 16-17 My friends, everything in the Hebrew Scriptures had to be fulfilled, including what the Holy Spirit foretold through David about Judas. As you know, Judas was one of us and participated in our ministry until he guided the authorities to arrest Jesus.
Acts 1:21-26 The Voice (VOICE)
21 So we need to determine his replacement from among the men who have been with us during all of the Lord Jesus’ travels among us— 22 from His baptism[a] by John until His ascension. We need someone to join us as a witness of Jesus’ resurrection.
23 The group put forward two men: Joseph (who was also known as Barsabbas or Justus) and Matthias.
Disciples: 24 Lord, You know everyone’s heart. Make it clear to us which of these two is Your choice 25 to take on this ministry as Your apostle, replacing Judas who went his own way to his own destination.
26 Then they drew lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, so he was added to the eleven apostles to reconstitute the twelve.