Deuteronomy 25-27 The Message (MSG)
25 1-3 When men have a legal dispute, let them go to court; the judges will decide between them, declaring one innocent and the other guilty. If the guilty one deserves punishment, the judge will have him prostrate himself before him and lashed as many times as his crime deserves, but not more than forty. If you hit him more than forty times, you will degrade him to something less than human.
4 Don’t muzzle an ox while it is threshing.
5-6 When brothers are living together and one of them dies without having had a son, the widow of the dead brother shall not marry a stranger from outside the family; her husband’s brother is to come to her and marry her and do the brother-in-law’s duty by her. The first son that she bears shall be named after her dead husband so his name won’t die out in Israel.
7-10 But if the brother doesn’t want to marry his sister-in-law, she is to go to the leaders at the city gate and say, “My brother-in-law refuses to keep his brother’s name alive in Israel; he won’t agree to do the brother-in-law’s duty by me.” Then the leaders will call for the brother and confront him. If he stands there defiant and says, “I don’t want her,” his sister-in-law is to pull his sandal off his foot, spit in his face, and say, “This is what happens to the man who refuses to build up the family of his brother—his name in Israel will be Family-No-Sandal.”
11-12 When two men are in a fight and the wife of the one man, trying to rescue her husband, grabs the genitals of the man hitting him, you are to cut off her hand. Show no pity.
13-16 Don’t carry around with you two weights, one heavy and the other light, and don’t keep two measures at hand, one large and the other small. Use only one weight, a true and honest weight, and one measure, a true and honest measure, so that you will live a long time on the land that God, your God, is giving you. Dishonest weights and measures are an abomination to God, your God—all this corruption in business deals!
17-19 Don’t forget what Amalek did to you on the road after you left Egypt, how he attacked you when you were tired, barely able to put one foot in front of another, mercilessly cut off your stragglers, and had no regard for God. When God, your God, gives you rest from all the enemies that surround you in the inheritance-land God, your God, is giving you to possess, you are to wipe the name of Amalek from off the Earth. Don’t forget!
26 1-5 Once you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance and take it over and settle down, you are to take some of all the firstfruits of what you grow in the land that God, your God, is giving you, put them in a basket and go to the place God, your God, sets apart for you to worship him. At that time, go to the priest who is there and say, “I announce to God, your God, today that I have entered the land that God promised our ancestors that he’d give to us.” The priest will take the basket from you and place it on the Altar of God, your God. And there in the Presence of God, your God, you will recite:
5-10 A wandering Aramean was my father,
10-11 Then place it in the Presence of God, your God. Prostrate yourselves in the Presence of God, your God. And rejoice! Celebrate all the good things that God, your God, has given you and your family; you and the Levite and the foreigner who lives with you.
12-14 Every third year, the year of the tithe, give a tenth of your produce to the Levite, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that they may eat their fill in your cities. And then, in the Presence of God, your God, say this:
I have brought the sacred share,
15 Look down from your holy house in Heaven!
16-17 This very day God, your God, commands you to follow these rules and regulations, to live them out with everything you have in you. You’ve renewed your vows today that God is your God, that you’ll live the way he shows you; do what he tells you in the rules, regulations, and commandments; and listen obediently to him.
18-19 And today God has reaffirmed that you are dearly held treasure just as he promised, a people entrusted with keeping his commandments, a people set high above all other nations that he’s made, high in praise, fame, and honor: you’re a people holy to God, your God. That’s what he has promised.
27 1-3 Moses commanded the leaders of Israel and charged the people: Keep every commandment that I command you today. On the day you cross the Jordan into the land that God, your God, is giving you, erect large stones and coat them with plaster. As soon as you cross over the river, write on the stones all the words of this Revelation so that you’ll enter the land that God, your God, is giving you, that land flowing with milk and honey that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, promised you.
4-7 So when you’ve crossed the Jordan, erect these stones on Mount Ebal. Then coat them with plaster. Build an Altar of stones for God, your God, there on the mountain. Don’t use an iron tool on the stones; build the Altar to God, your God, with uncut stones and offer your Whole-Burnt-Offerings on it to God, your God. When you sacrifice your Peace-Offerings you will also eat them there, rejoicing in the Presence of God, your God.
8 Write all the words of this Revelation on the stones. Incise them sharply.
9-10 Moses and the Levitical priests addressed all Israel: Quiet. Listen obediently, Israel. This very day you have become the people of God, your God. Listen to the Voice of God, your God. Keep his commandments and regulations that I’m commanding you today.
11-13 That day Moses commanded: After you’ve crossed the Jordan, these tribes will stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. And these will stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
14-26 The Levites, acting as spokesmen and speaking loudly, will address Israel:
God’s curse on anyone who carves or casts a god-image—an abomination to God made by a craftsman—and sets it up in secret.
Galatians 5 The Message (MSG)
The Life of Freedom
5 Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
2-3 I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.
4-6 I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.
7-10 You were running superbly! Who cut in on you, deflecting you from the true course of obedience? This detour doesn’t come from the One who called you into the race in the first place. And please don’t toss this off as insignificant. It only takes a minute amount of yeast, you know, to permeate an entire loaf of bread. Deep down, the Master has given me confidence that you will not defect. But the one who is upsetting you, whoever he is, will bear the divine judgment.
11-12 As for the rumor that I continue to preach the ways of circumcision (as I did in those pre-Damascus Road days), that is absurd. Why would I still be persecuted, then? If I were preaching that old message, no one would be offended if I mentioned the Cross now and then—it would be so watered-down it wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Why don’t these agitators, obsessive as they are about circumcision, go all the way and castrate themselves!
13-15 It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?
16-18 My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don’t you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.