2 Chronicles 15-16 The Message (MSG)
15 1-6 Then Azariah son of Obed, moved by the Spirit of God, went out to meet Asa. He said, “Listen carefully, Asa, and listen Judah and Benjamin: God will stick with you as long as you stick with him. If you look for him he will let himself be found; but if you leave him he’ll leave you. For a long time Israel didn’t have the real God, nor did they have the help of priest or teacher or book. But when they were in trouble and got serious, and decided to seek God, the God of Israel, God let himself be found. At that time it was a dog-eat-dog world; life was constantly up for grabs—no one, regardless of country, knew what the next day might bring. Nation battered nation, city pummeled city. God let loose every kind of trouble among them.
7 “But it’s different with you: Be strong. Take heart. Payday is coming!”
8-9 Asa heard the prophecy of Azariah son of Obed, took a deep breath, then rolled up his sleeves, and went to work: He cleaned out the obscene and polluting sacred shrines from the whole country of Judah and Benjamin and from the towns he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim. He spruced up the Altar of God that was in front of The Temple porch. Then he called an assembly for all Judah and Benjamin, including those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were living there at the time (for many from Israel had left their homes and joined forces with Asa when they saw that God was on his side).
10-15 They all arrived in Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa’s reign for a great assembly of worship. From their earlier plunder they offered sacrifices of seven hundred oxen and seven thousand sheep for the worship. Then they bound themselves in a covenant to seek God, the God of their fathers, wholeheartedly, holding nothing back. And they agreed that anyone who refused to seek God, the God of Israel, should be killed, no matter who it was, young or old, man or woman. They shouted out their promise to God, a joyful sound accompanied with blasts from trumpets and rams’ horns. The whole country felt good about the covenant promise—they had given their promise joyfully from the heart. Anticipating the best, they had sought God—and he showed up, ready to be found. God gave them peace within and without—a most peaceable kingdom!
16-19 In his cleanup of the country, Asa went so far as to remove his mother, Queen Maacah, from her throne because she had built a shockingly obscene image of the sex goddess Asherah. Asa tore it down, smashed it, and burned it up in the Kidron Valley. Unfortunately he didn’t get rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines. But he was well-intentioned—his heart was in the right place, loyal to God. All the gold and silver vessels and artifacts that he and his father had consecrated for holy use he installed in The Temple of God. There wasn’t a trace of war up to the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.
16 But in the thirty-sixth year of Asa’s reign, Baasha king of Israel attacked. He started it by building a fort at Ramah and closing the border between Israel and Judah to keep Asa king of Judah from leaving or entering.
2-3 Asa took silver and gold from the treasuries of The Temple of God and the royal palace and sent it to Ben-Hadad, king of Aram who lived in Damascus, with this message: “Let’s make a treaty like the one between our fathers. I’m showing my good faith with this gift of silver and gold. Break your deal with Baasha king of Israel so he’ll quit fighting against me.”
4-5 Ben-Hadad went along with King Asa and sent his troops against the towns of Israel. They sacked Ijon, Dan, Abel Maim, and all the store-cities of Naphtali. When Baasha got the report, he quit fortifying Ramah.
6 Then King Asa issued orders to his people in Judah to haul away the logs and stones Baasha had used in the fortification of Ramah and used them himself to fortify Geba and Mizpah.
7-9 Just after that, Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said, “Because you went for help to the king of Aram and didn’t ask God for help, you’ve lost a victory over the army of the king of Aram. Didn’t the Ethiopians and Libyans come against you with superior forces, completely outclassing you with their chariots and cavalry? But you asked God for help and he gave you the victory. God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to him. You were foolish to go for human help when you could have had God’s help. Now you’re in trouble—one round of war after another.”
10 At that, Asa lost his temper. Angry, he put Hanani in the stocks. At the same time Asa started abusing some of the people.
11-14 A full account of Asa is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa came down with a severe case of foot infection. He didn’t ask God for help, but went instead to the doctors. Then Asa died; he died in the forty-first year of his reign. They buried him in a mausoleum that he had built for himself in the City of David. They laid him in a crypt full of aromatic oils and spices. Then they had a huge bonfire in his memory.
John 12:27-50 The Message (MSG)
27-28 “Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.’”
A voice came out of the sky: “I have glorified it, and I’ll glorify it again.”
29 The listening crowd said, “Thunder!”
Others said, “An angel spoke to him!”
30-33 Jesus said, “The voice didn’t come for me but for you. At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.” He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.
34 Voices from the crowd answered, “We heard from God’s Law that the Messiah lasts forever. How can it be necessary, as you put it, that the Son of Man ‘be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
35-36 Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you. Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.”
Their Eyes Are Blinded
36-40 Jesus said all this, and then went into hiding. All these God-signs he had given them and they still didn’t get it, still wouldn’t trust him. This proved that the prophet Isaiah was right:
God, who believed what we preached?
First they wouldn’t believe, then they couldn’t—again, just as Isaiah said:
Their eyes are blinded,
41 Isaiah said these things after he got a glimpse of God’s cascading brightness that would pour through the Messiah.
42-43 On the other hand, a considerable number from the ranks of the leaders did believe. But because of the Pharisees, they didn’t come out in the open with it. They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.
44-46 Jesus summed it all up when he cried out, “Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won’t have to stay any longer in the dark.
47-50 “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”