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Numbers 8:1-9:23; Mark 13:14-37; Psalms 50:1-23; Proverbs 10:29-30 (The Voice)

Numbers 8-9

The Eternal One told Moses,

Eternal One: Tell Aaron that when he sets up the seven lamps, they should illuminate the area in front of the lampstand.

Aaron did just that, arranging the lamps so that they shed light in front of the lampstand across from the presence table, exactly as the Eternal One had instructed Moses. The lampstand itself was made entirely out of hammered gold, its stem and all the petals, in keeping with the pattern the Eternal had given to Moses.[a]

The Eternal One continued.

Eternal One (to Moses): Separate the Levites from the other Israelites, and make them ritually pure by sprinkling the cleansing water on them, making sure their entire bodies are clean-shaven and their clothes are washed. Then they’ll be appropriately pure. After that, tell them to select a bull-calf along with the prime flour-oil combination (the grain offering). You, too, select another bull-calf for use as a sin offering. Get the Levites to the congregation tent, and have them stand in front of it. Gather all the other Israelites, too, 10 so that when you present the Levites before Me, the Israelites can lay hands on them to indicate that they are the substitutes for all Israel’s firstborn. 11 At that point, Aaron shall present the Levites as an offering lifted up to Me, so that the Levites will work on behalf of all the Israelites in service to Me. 12 Next, the Levites can lay their hands on the bulls’ heads, one of which is going to be a sin offering to Me, and the other will be a burnt offering to cover the Levites, hiding their sins and protecting them from My presence. 13 Finally, make clear that the Levites are to assist Aaron and Aaron’s sons, lifting them up in front of and for Me to demonstrate that they are that kind of offering. 14 In this way, you will show how the Levites are distinct from all other Israelites. They belong directly to Me.

15 After all of this, the purification and presentation as an uplifted offering, they will be ready to do congregation tent maintenance and work. 16-17 Indeed, they are uniquely designated for Me among the Israelites. Those Levites substitute for the Israelites’ firstborn children and animals, which I am within My rights to demand since I killed all the Egyptian firstborn on My peoples’ behalf and so consecrated all Israelite firstborn as My own. 18 But see, I am willing to accept this representative group—that the Levites, from among the Israelites, will be Mine, 19 given to Aaron and his sons from the Israelite people to do whatever is required concerning the congregation tent: maintaining its service and covering Israel’s sins for them so they don’t make Me send a plague to them because they overstepped the bounds of My sanctuary.

20 Everyone did as ordered—Moses, Aaron, and all the Israelites gathered there—handling the Levites exactly as the Eternal One had instructed Moses to be sure was done: 21 the Levites washed their clothes and purified themselves, Aaron presented them as an uplifted offering in front of the Eternal, and Aaron covered them in front of Him so they would look pure. 22 From then on, they were all set to do what they were supposed to in maintenance and work on the congregation tent, under the direction and supervision of Aaron and his sons. Just as the Eternal had instructed Moses concerning the Levites, so it was done.

23 The Eternal One continued.

Just like in Leviticus 4:23, the language of 8:24 suggests that the priestly duty is associated not only with divine service but with divine war. Certain Levites of certain ages would maintain sacred space and behavior as Israel prepared to conquer the land.

Eternal One (to Moses): 24 This is how it shall be for the Levites: Those who are 25 years or older shall do whatever is necessary for the congregation tent, 25 but when they reach 50, they shall retire and leave the work to the younger ones. 26 They can still help out in the fraternity of Levites occasionally, but they shouldn’t do any of the priestly work. This is the way you should handle the matter of the Levites and their role.

On the first new moon of the second year after the people had left Egypt, there in the Sinai Wilderness, the Eternal One spoke to Moses again.

Eternal One: The Israelites should observe Passover at the time it’s supposed to happen: offering the sacrifice at evening twilight on the 14th day of this month, exactly according to the regulations we’ve already discussed.[b]

4-5 So Moses told the Israelites that they should go ahead with the Passover, offering the sacrifice at its designated evening twilight on the 14th day of this month—in the wild desert of Sinai. They did exactly as the Eternal told Moses they should. Complicating things, however, was the fact that some men had needed to handle a dead body and so were impure and couldn’t offer the sacrifice right then. They came to Aaron and Moses right away.

Men: Why should we be disallowed from offering the Eternal’s sacrifice along with the rest of the Israelites at the appropriate time, just because the disposing of a dead body made us ritually impure?

Moses: Just hold on a little while. Let me find out what the Eternal has to say about it.

The Lord provides a backup plan for those who can’t celebrate Passover properly, but it isn’t to replace normal practices.

The Eternal One told Moses,

Eternal One: 10 Tell the Israelites, if any one of you or your descendants becomes ritually impure due to the necessity of handling a dead body, he can nevertheless still celebrate My Passover a month after everyone else does. Likewise, those who are on the road, a long way from My tent, can celebrate Passover to the Eternal then too. 11 It should be observed at evening twilight on the fourteenth day of the second month, eating the lamb they sacrificed with unleavened bread and bitter greens. 12 Make certain that not one of its bones is broken[c] and the entire animal is consumed by morning, in keeping with standard procedure for this Passover festival. 13 Everyone who is present and ritually pure must observe this foundational moment. If a person fails to observe the Passover, it is a serious offense. Such a person will be ostracized from the community, guilty of not offering to the Eternal at the right time. 14 If a visiting foreigner would like to observe the Eternal’s Passover with you, he is welcome. Just make certain that he does so completely, exactly as you Israelites are supposed to do. Everyone must observe it the same way, whether foreigner or native to the land.

15 When the congregation tent was finally erected and assembled, the cloud of the presence of God covered it and the place where the terms of the covenant were kept. In the dark of night, the presence of God looked like a fire and marked the spot until morning. 16 And so it continued—cloud cover by day, and something like fiery storm clouds at night. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted up, the Israelites would pack up and move, and wherever the cloud stopped, they would settle. 18 This is how the Eternal One indicated when the Israelites should travel and where they should set up camp. As long as the cloud stayed still over the congregation tent, the Israelites also stayed at their tents. 19 When the cloud remained many days over the tent, the Israelites stayed there and served the Eternal. 20 When the cloud remained only a few days, they did the same. They always followed the command of the Eternal, whether staying or leaving. 21 Sometimes it happened that the cloud remained in place only through the night. So, in the morning, they would get going again. Day or night, in this manner they went as God directed. 22 Whether it was a couple of days or just a month or even longer, however long the cloud covered the tent, the Israelites stayed put; but when it lifted, off they went again. 23 So it was that the Israelites obeyed God’s command. When the Eternal One indicated that they stop, they stopped; when He directed them to move, they moved. They served Him exactly as God commanded them through Moses.

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Mark 13:14-37

14 You will see that which desecrates our most holy place[a] [described by Daniel the prophet][b] out of place.

Let the one who reads and hears understand.

Jesus: On the day you see it, whoever is in Judea should flee for the mountains. 15 The person on the rooftop shouldn’t reenter the house to get anything, 16 and the person working in the field shouldn’t turn back to grab his coat. 17 It will be horrible for women who are pregnant or who are nursing their children when those days come. 18 And pray that you don’t have to run for your lives in the winter. 19 When those days come, there will be suffering like nobody has seen from the beginning of the world that God created until now, and it never will be like this again. 20 And if the Lord didn’t shorten those days for the sake of the ones He has chosen, then nobody would survive them.

21 If anyone tells you in those days, “Look, there is the Anointed One!” or “Hey, that must be Him!” don’t believe them. 22 False liberators and prophets will pop up like weeds, and they will work signs and perform miracles that would entice even God’s chosen people, if that were possible. 23 So be alert, and remember how I have warned you.

24-25 As Isaiah said in the days after that great suffering,

    The sun will refuse to shine,
        and the moon will hold back its light.
    The stars in heaven will fall,
        and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[c]

26 Then you will see (as Daniel predicted) “the Son of Man coming in the clouds,”[d] clothed in power and majesty. 27 And He will send out His heavenly messengers and gather together to Himself those He has chosen from the four corners of the world, from every direction and every land.

The disciples can’t help but notice that something is in the air during this week between His entry into Jerusalem and His crucifixion. Surely the moment when Jesus is to reveal Himself as the Anointed can’t be far off. By repeatedly calling Himself the Son of Man, Jesus has told people His kingdom will be divinely instituted like the one described in Daniel 7. They are also thinking of promises about the coming Anointed One. But for Jesus, everything now is connected to His imminent death and resurrection. Even as He predicts the temple’s fall—an event that will occur about 40 years later—and speaks of His second coming, He is still thinking about His death. After all, resurrection can’t happen without death. And the old world must die before the world is made new.

Jesus: 28 Learn this lesson from the fig tree: When its branch is new and tender and begins to put forth leaves, you know that summer must be near. 29 In the same way, when you see and hear the things I’ve described to you taking place, you’ll know the time is drawing near. 30 It’s true—this generation will not pass away before all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth may pass away, but these words of Mine will never pass away.

32 Take heed: no one knows the day or hour when the end is coming. The messengers in heaven don’t know, nor does the Son. Only the Father knows.

33 So be alert. Watch for it [and pray,][e] for you never know when that time might approach.

34 This situation is like a man who went on a journey; when he departed, he left his servants in charge of the house. Each of them had his own job to do; and the man left the porter to stand at the door, watching. 35 So stay awake, because no one knows when the master of the house is coming back. It could be in the evening or at midnight or when the rooster crows or in the morning. 36 Stay awake; be alert so that when he suddenly returns, the master won’t find you sleeping.

37 The teaching I am giving the four of you now is for everyone who will follow Me: stay awake, and keep your eyes open.

Footnotes:

  1. 13:14 Literally abomination of desolation, Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11
  2. 13:14 The earliest manuscripts omit this portion.
  3. 13:24–25 Isaiah 13:10; 34:4
  4. 13:26 Daniel 7:13
  5. 13:33 Some manuscripts omit this portion.
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Psalm 50

Psalm 50

A song of Asaph.

The Mighty God, the Eternal—God of past, present, and future—
    has spoken over the world,
    calling together all things from sunrise to sunset.
From Zion, that perfectly beautiful holy place,
    shines the radiance of God.

Our God will come, and He will not enter on a whisper.
    A fire will devour the earth before Him;
    the wind will storm wildly about Him.
He calls heaven above and earth below
    to assist in bringing judgment on His people.
“Gather up those who are aligned with Me; bring them to Me;
    bring everyone who belongs to Me who have made covenant sacrifice.”
And the heavens shout of His justice,
    for He is the True God, an honest judge.

[pause][a]

“Listen, My people, I have something to say:
    O Israel, My testimony comes against you;
    I am God, your God.
I am not going to scold you because of your sacrifices;
    your burnt offerings are always before Me.
I will not accept the best bull from your fields
    or goats from your meadow,
10 For they are already Mine, just as the forest beast
    and the cattle grazing over a thousand hills are Mine.
11 Every bird flying over the mountains I know;
    every animal roaming over the fields belongs to Me.

12 I would not come to you if I were hungry,
    for the world and all it contains are Mine.
13 Do you really think I eat bull meat?
    Or drink goat’s blood?
14 Set out a sacrifice I can accept: your thankfulness.
    Be true to your word to the Most High.
15 When you are in trouble, call for Me.
    I will come and rescue you,
    and you will honor Me.”

16 But to those acting against Him, God says,
    “Who do you think you are?
    Listing off My laws,
    acting as if your life is in alignment with My ways?
17 For it’s clear that you despise My guidance;
    you throw My wise words over your shoulder.
18 You play with thieves,
    spend your time with adulterers.

19 Evil runs out of your mouth;
    your tongue is wrapped in deceit.
20 You sit back and gossip about your brother;
    you slander your mother’s son.
21 While you did these things, I kept silent;
    somehow you got the idea that I was like you.
But now My silence ends, and I am going to indict you.
    I’ll state the charge against you clearly, face-to-face.

22 All you who have forgotten Me, your God, should think about what I have said,
    or I will tear you apart and leave no one to save you.
23 Set out a sacrifice I can accept: your thankfulness.
    Do this, and you will honor Me.
    Those who straighten up their lives
    will know the saving grace of God.”

Footnotes:

  1. 50:6 Literally, selah, likely a musical direction from a Hebrew root meaning “to lift up”
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Proverbs 10:29-30

29 The way of the Eternal offers safety to those who love justice,
    but it destroys those who perpetrate evil.
30 The right-living will never have their land taken away,
    but wrongdoers will be uprooted.

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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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