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Leviticus 19:1-20:21; Mark 8:11-38; Psalms 42:1-11; Proverbs 10:17 (The Voice)

Leviticus 19:1-20:21

People and their land are connected. When people engage in disgusting practices, it affects the land, pollutes it, and makes it sick. But when people live by God’s rules, the land is well.

19 The Eternal One spoke to Moses.

Eternal One: Go, talk with the community of Israel, and tell them that they are to be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy.[a] I want all of you to honor your mothers and fathers and keep My Sabbaths, for I am the Eternal your God. Do not turn from Me to follow useless idols or cast metal images of other gods, for I am the Eternal your God.

When you sacrifice a peace offering to Me, present it correctly so you are accepted. Your peace offering should be consumed the same day you present it or the day after. But you must burn any of the offering that is still left on the third day. If any of it is eaten on the third day, your offering will not be accepted; by then it has become foul. Anyone who consumes the peace offering on the third day will bear his guilt and suffer the consequences, for he has desecrated what has been set apart for Me. That person must be cut off from his people.

When you harvest the crops of your land, do not gather the grain all the way to the edges of your fields or pick up what was overlooked during the first round of harvesting. 10 Likewise do not strip the vines bare in your vineyard or gather the fallen grapes. Leave the fallen fruit and some grapes on the vine for the poor and strangers living among you; for I am the Eternal your God.

God’s care for the poor is clearly reflected and codified in these verses. Those who have are to leave something for those who have not. No one is charged to make them care for the poor; God’s covenant people are to do this in obedience to His commands. But the poor have a responsibility as well. They are to go and gather the grain left in the fields and collect the clusters left in the vineyard. In this way, they join with the landowners and farmers in caring for themselves and the earth.

Eternal One: 11 Do not take what is not yours or conduct business dishonestly or lie to each other. 12 Do not swear to a lie in My name. If you do, My name is profaned. I am the Eternal One.

13 Do not mistreat your neighbor or steal from him. Do not keep the payment of a hired hand overnight, but compensate him for work at the end of the day. 14 Do not mock the disabled by shouting a curse at a deaf person or putting something in the way to trip up the blind. Instead, honor and fear your God; I am the Eternal One.

15 In a court of law, do what is just, not unjust. Do not favor one side or the other, the poor or the wealthy; instead, judge your neighbor fairly. 16 Do not go around spreading malicious lies about other people. Do not take a stand that would endanger your neighbor’s life. I am the Eternal One.

17 Do not harbor a deep hatred for any of your relatives. If your neighbor is doing something wrong, correct him or else you could be held responsible for his sin.[b] 18 Do not seek revenge or hold a grudge against any of your people. Instead, love your neighbor as you love yourself,[c] for I am the Eternal One.

19 Honor My decrees. Do not breed two different species. Do not plant two different sorts of seed in your fields. Do not wear clothing made from two different kinds of material.

20 If a man has sexual relations with a slave woman who is promised to another man but has not yet been redeemed or freed, then they will face an inquiry. Neither the man nor the woman will be put to death because she was a slave and not a free woman when the offense took place. 21 The man must present to Me a ram as his guilt offering at the entrance of the congregation tent. 22 The priest is to sacrifice the ram of the guilt offering before Me to cover the man’s guilt; then the guilty man’s sin will be forgiven.

23 When you go into the land and plant fruit-bearing trees, you are not to eat the fruit right away. It’s off-limits for three years.[d] 24 When the fourth year arrives, all the fruit of those trees must be regarded as sacred, a praise offering to Me. 25 When the fifth year arrives, you are finally allowed to eat the fruits of those trees. If you demonstrate your faith by following this procedure, these trees will be even more productive. I am the Eternal One, your God.

26 Do not consume any meat while the blood is still in it. Do not practice divination or fortune-telling. 27 Do not cut the hair at your temples or trim your beard. 28 Do not make cuts in your body for the dead or mark yourselves with tattoos. I am the Eternal One.

29 Do not defile your daughter by forcing her into prostitution. If you do, you not only corrupt her but you also infect the land with prostitution and wickedness. 30 Keep My Sabbaths and respect My sanctuary. I am the Eternal One.

31 Do not turn to mediums or consult with those who communicate with the spirits of the dead. Do not go near them, or else you will defile yourselves. I am the Eternal your God.

32 You are to stand in respect for the older people in your community. You must fear your God. I am the Eternal One.

33 Don’t take advantage of any stranger who lives in your land. 34 You must treat the outsider as one of your native-born people—as a full citizen—and you are to love him in the same way you love yourself; for remember, you were once strangers living in Egypt. I am the Eternal One, your God.

35 In business dealings, be fair and do not cheat. Measure accurately length, weight, and volume. 36 Your scales are to be accurate, your weights true, and your containers standard. I am the Eternal your God, who led you out of Egypt.

37 You are to keep all My directives and all of My rules, and do as I have instructed. I am the Eternal One.

Genuine faith manifests itself in the way God’s people treat others. While some may dishonor aliens or take advantage of outsiders, God’s own must live differently. The law of love guides them to treat others as they wish to be treated and to extend hospitality to those who look and sound like they are far from home. God reminds them: you were once strangers and outsiders, too, in Egypt. You of all people should know what it is like to be aliens in a foreign land. Likewise genuine faith shows up in the marketplace. True believers conduct business with integrity. Whether they are buying or selling, they insist on proper weights and measures, hard work, and honesty.

20 The Eternal One spoke to Moses.

Eternal One: Tell the people of Israel that if any of them or any outsiders living among them present their children as human sacrifices to Molech, they will be put to death. The entire community must see to it that he is stoned to death. I will turn against that man and cut him off from his community because he presented one of his children to Molech; he has desecrated My sanctuary and My sacred reputation. If the people in the community fail to handle the situation and do not execute him after he presents his children to Molech, then I will take the matter into My own hands and turn against the man and his family. I will cut him and all those who prostitute themselves with Molech off from their community.

Since God has pledged Himself to Israel as a husband to his bride, marriage becomes a powerful symbol of the loving, faithful relationship between God and His covenant people. Marital infidelity then—both adultery and prostitution—signify what happens when His people go after other gods.

Eternal One: I will turn against any individual who prostitutes himself by turning to mediums and consulting with those who communicate with the spirits of the dead. I will cut him off from his community. Dedicate yourselves exclusively to the one True God and become holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy.[e] Keep My directives and practice My commands, for I am the Eternal who sanctifies you.

Anyone who utters a curse on his father or mother must be put to death,[f] for he has dishonored them, and their blood is on him.

10 If a man commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, both offenders must be put to death. 11 If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he might as well have violated his father; both offenders must be put to death, for their blood is on them. 12 If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both offenders must be put to death; for they have engaged in a disgusting act and their blood is on them. 13 If a man has sexual relations with another man, they have participated in a detestable act. Both men are to be put to death, for their blood is on them. 14 Any man who marries a woman and her mother commits a depraved act. He and both women are to be burned to death so that such depravity will not exist in the community. 15 Any man who engages in a sexual act with an animal is to be put to death along with the animal. 16 Any woman who approaches an animal to engage in some sexual act must be put to death along with the animal, for their blood is on them.

Sexuality is a powerful force for good in humanity. But perversion brings impurity into the world; it defiles the moral and natural order of creation.

17 It is a shameful and dishonorable act for any man to marry his sister and have sexual relations with her; it doesn’t matter whether she is his father’s daughter or mother’s daughter. Both of them must be cut off from their community. Any man who has sexual relations with his sister will bear his guilt and suffer the consequences. 18 If a man has sexual relations with a woman who is menstruating, he has uncovered the source of her flow and she has exposed it to him; both the man and the woman must be cut off from the community. 19 Do not have sexual relations with your aunt, whether she is the sister of your mother or father. Any man who does such a thing has disgraced his relative. Both offenders are guilty and must suffer the consequences. 20 If a man has sexual relations with his uncle’s wife, he might as well have violated his uncle. Both offenders will suffer the consequences of their sin; they will die childless. 21 If a man has sexual relations with his brother’s wife, he has committed a disgraceful, dishonorable act;[g] He might as well have violated his brother; they will die childless.

Footnotes:

  1. 19:2 1 Peter 1:16
  2. 19:17 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  3. 19:18 Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; James 2:8
  4. 19:23 The Hebrew idiom is that the trees are “uncircumcised” for three years.
  5. 20:7 1 Peter 1:16
  6. 20:9 Matthew 15:4; Mark 7:10
  7. 20:21 Mark 6:18
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Mark 8:11-38

11 they were met by Pharisees—ready with their questions and tests—seeking some sign from heaven that His teaching was from God.

Jesus (sighing with disappointment): 12 Why does this generation ask for a sign before they will believe? Believe Me when I say that you will not see one.

13 He left the Pharisees and sailed across to the other shore.

14 The disciples had forgotten to buy provisions, so they had only one round of flatbread among them. 15 Jesus took this moment to warn them.

Jesus: Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.

The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about and discussed it among themselves.

Some Disciples: 16 What?

Other Disciples: He’s saying this because we have run out of bread.

Jesus (overhearing them): 17-19 Why are you focusing on bread? Don’t you see yet? Don’t you understand? You have eyes—why don’t you see? You have ears—why don’t you hear? Are you so hard-hearted?

Don’t you remember when I broke the five rounds of flatbread among the 5,000? Tell Me, how many baskets of scraps were left over?

Disciples: Twelve.

Jesus: 20 And how many were left when I fed the 4,000 with seven rounds?

Disciples: Seven.

Jesus: 21 And still you don’t understand?

22 When they came into Bethsaida, a group brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged Him to touch the man and heal him. 23 So Jesus guided the man out of the village, away from the crowd; and He spat on the man’s eyes and touched them.

Jesus: What do you see?

Blind Man (opening his eyes): 24 I see people, but they look like trees—walking trees.

25 Jesus touched his eyes again; and when the man looked up, he could see everything clearly.

26 Jesus sent him away to his house.

Jesus (to the healed man): Don’t go into town yet. [And don’t tell anybody in town what happened here.][a]

Bethsaida is the hometown of at least three of Jesus’ emissaries—Peter, Andrew, and Philip—and possibly James and John as well. Jesus performs many miracles there, most notably the feeding of the 5,000. However, this miracle—the healing of the blind man—is the only miracle in all the Gospels that is done in stages instead of instantly.

Of course, there’s no way to know for sure why Jesus chooses to heal this man partly before He heals him entirely. Jesus frequently links faith, or lack of faith, with the healings. Bethsaida is a town He criticizes for its lack of faith (Matthew 11:21–22). So it’s likely He wants to demonstrate to His disciples that their inability to see His purpose can be healed, too, even if it takes time.

27 As He traveled with His disciples into the villages of Caesarea Philippi, He posed an important question to them.

Jesus: Who do the people say that I am?

28 They told Him about the great speculation concerning His identity.

Disciples: Some of them say You are John the Baptist,[b] others say Elijah, while others say one of the prophets of old.

Jesus (pressing the question): 29 And who do you say that I am?

Peter: You are God’s Anointed, the Liberating King.

Jesus: 30 Don’t tell anyone. It is not yet time.

31 And He went on to teach them many things about Himself: how the Son of Man would suffer; how He would be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes; how He would be killed; and how, after three days, God would raise Him from the dead.

32 He said all these things in front of them all, but Peter took Jesus aside to rebuke Him.

Peter represents the best and worst in humanity. One day, Peter drops everything to become a follower of Jesus; the next, he’s busy putting his foot in his mouth. Peter is always responding to Jesus, frequently making mistakes, but never drifting far from Jesus’ side. In this passage, Peter verbalizes God’s word and Satan’s temptation—almost in the same breath. Peter thinks he understands who Jesus is, but he still has a lot to learn about what Jesus has come to do.

Jesus (seeing His disciples surrounding them): 33 Get behind Me, you tempter! You’re thinking only of human things, not of the things God has planned.

34 He gathered the crowd and His disciples alike.

Jesus: If any one of you wants to follow Me, you will have to give yourself up to God’s plan, take up your cross, and do as I do. 35 For any one of you who wants to be rescued will lose your life, but any one of you who loses your life for My sake and for the sake of this good news will be liberated. 36 Really, what profit is there for you to gain the whole world and lose yourself in the process? 37 What can you give in exchange for your life? 38 If you are ashamed of Me and of what I came to teach to this adulterous and sinful generation, then the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when He comes in the glory of His Father along with the holy messengers at the final judgment.

Footnotes:

  1. 8:26 Some manuscripts omit this portion.
  2. 8:28 Literally, John who immersed, to show repentance
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Psalm 42

Book Two

This second book of psalms (Psalms 42–72) has a few unique features. First, it is the only book of the five that contains psalms ascribed to the sons of Korah, a group of Levite temple singers. Second, it uses two rather obscure Hebrew terms in the superscriptions of almost half of these psalms. Maskil, which may be related to contemplation, is translated “contemplative poem” or “song” (42; 44–45; 52–55) and miktam, whose meaning is unclear, is translated “a prayer” (56–60). Third, in referring to God this second book shows a preference for the word “God” over the name “the Eternal One” that appears as “YHWH” in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Throughout the Bible, the creator and covenant God is referred to in many ways. Generally speaking, the names and titles used indicate something of His character and nature. The title “God” implies His unique majesty and power; no one is like Him. The name, translated “The Eternal One” and also “The Eternal,” is God’s covenant name revealed uniquely to Israel. As the translation suggests, the divine name implies that the one True God transcends time and yet He is “with” His people.

Psalm 42[a]

For the worship leader. A contemplative song[b] of the sons of Korah.

My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God,
    as a deer thirsts for water.
I long for the True God who lives.
    When can I stand before Him and feel His comfort?
Right now I’m overwhelmed by my sorrow and pain;
    I can’t stop feasting on my tears.
People crowd around me and say,
    “Where is your True God whom you claim will save?

With a broken heart,
    I remember times before
When I was with Your people. Those were better days.
    I used to lead them happily into the True God’s house,
Singing with joy, shouting thanksgivings with abandon,
    joining the congregation in the celebration.
Why am I so overwrought?
    Why am I so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God?
    Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One
    who saves me and is my life.
My God, my soul is so traumatized;
    the only help is remembering You wherever I may be;
From the land of the Jordan to Hermon’s high place
    to Mount Mizar.
In the roar of Your waterfalls,
    ancient depths surge, calling out to the deep.
All Your waves break over me;
    am I drowning?
Yet in the light of day, the Eternal shows me His love.
    When night settles in and all is dark, He keeps me company—
    His soothing song, a prayerful melody to the True God of my life.

Even still, I will say to the True God, my rock and strength:
    “Why have You forgotten me?
Why must I live my life so depressed, crying endlessly
    while my enemies have the upper hand?”
10 My enemies taunt me.
    They shatter my soul the way a sword shatters a man’s bones.
They keep taunting all the day long,
    “Where is He, your True God?”

11 Why am I so overwrought,
    Why am I so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God?
    Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One
    who saves me, my God.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 42 Psalms 42–43 are a single poem in many Hebrew manuscripts.
  2. 42:title Hebrew, maskil
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Proverbs 10:17

17 Those who accept instruction are travelers on the road to a meaningful life,
    but those who refuse correction wander off and pave a path to ruin.

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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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