2 Kings 15-16 The Message (MSG)
Azariah (Uzziah) of Judah
15 1-5 In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah became king in Judah. He was sixteen years old when he began his rule and he was king for fifty-two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jecoliah. She was from Jerusalem. He did well in the eyes of God, following in the footsteps of his father Amaziah. But he also failed to get rid of the local sex-and-religion shrines; they continued to be popular with the people. God afflicted the king with a bad skin disease until the day of his death. He lived in the palace but no longer acted as king; his son Jotham ran the government and ruled the country.
6-7 The rest of the life and times of Azariah, everything he accomplished, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Azariah died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Jotham his son was king after him.
Zechariah of Israel
8-9 In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah son of Jeroboam became king over Israel in Samaria. He lasted only six months. He lived a bad life before God, no different from his ancestors. He continued in the line of Jeroboam son of Nebat who led Israel into a life of sin.
10 Shallum son of Jabesh conspired against him, assassinated him in public view, and took over as king.
11-12 The rest of the life and times of Zechariah is written plainly in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. That completed the word of God that was given to Jehu, namely, “For four generations your sons will sit on the throne of Israel.” Zechariah was the fourth.
Shallum of Israel
13 Shallum son of Jabesh became king in the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah. He was king in Samaria for only a month.
14 Menahem son of Gadi came up from Tirzah to Samaria. He attacked Shallum son of Jabesh and killed him. He then became king.
15 The rest of the life and times of Shallum and the account of the conspiracy are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Menahem of Israel
16 Using Tirzah as his base, Menahem opened his reign by smashing Tiphsah, devastating both the town and its suburbs because they didn’t welcome him with open arms. He savagely ripped open all the pregnant women.
17-18 In the thirty-ninth year of Azariah king of Judah, Menahem son of Gadi became king over Israel. He ruled from Samaria for ten years. As far as God was concerned he lived an evil life. Sin for sin, he repeated the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.
19-20 Then Tiglath-Pileser III king of Assyria showed up and attacked the country. But Menahem made a deal with him: He bought his support by handing over about thirty-seven tons of silver. He raised the money by making every landowner in Israel pay fifty shekels to the king of Assyria. That satisfied the king of Assyria, and he left the country.
21-22 The rest of the life and times of Menahem, everything he did, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. Menahem died and joined his ancestors. His son Pekahiah became the next king.
Pekahiah of Israel
23-24 In the fiftieth year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekahiah son of Menahem became king of Israel. He ruled in Samaria for two years. In God’s eyes he lived an evil life. He stuck to the old sin tracks of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.
25 And then his military aide Pekah son of Remaliah conspired against him—killed him in cold blood while he was in his private quarters in the royal palace in Samaria. He also killed Argob and Arieh. Fifty Gadites were in on the conspiracy with him. After the murder he became the next king.
26 The rest of the life and times of Pekahiah, everything he did, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Pekah of Israel
27-28 In the fifty-second year of Azariah king of Judah, Pekah son of Remaliah became king of Israel in Samaria. He ruled for twenty years. In God’s view he lived an evil life; he didn’t deviate so much as a hair’s breadth from the path laid down by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.
29 During the reign of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser III king of Assyria invaded the country. He captured Ijon, Abel Beth Maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, Galilee—the whole country of Naphtali—and took everyone captive to Assyria.
30 But then Hoshea son of Elah mounted a conspiracy against Pekah son of Remaliah. He assassinated him and took over as king. This was in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah.
31 The rest of the life and times of Pekah, everything he did, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.
Jotham of Judah
32-35 In the second year of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah became king in Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jerusha daughter of Zadok. He acted well in God’s eyes, following in the steps of his father Uzziah. But he didn’t interfere with the traffic to the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines; they continued, as popular as ever. The construction of the High Gate to The Temple of God was his work.
36-38 The rest of the life and times of Jotham, the record of his work, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. It was during these years that God began sending Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah to attack Judah. Jotham died and joined his ancestors. They buried him in the family cemetery in the City of David. His son Ahaz was the next king.
Ahaz of Judah
16 1-4 In the seventeenth year of Pekah son of Remaliah, Ahaz son of Jotham became king of Judah. Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king and he ruled for sixteen years in Jerusalem. He didn’t behave in the eyes of his God; he wasn’t at all like his ancestor David. Instead he followed in the track of the kings of Israel. He even indulged in the outrageous practice of “passing his son through the fire”—a truly abominable act he picked up from the pagans God had earlier thrown out of the country. He also participated in the activities of the neighborhood sex-and-religion shrines that flourished all over the place.
5 Then Rezin king of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel ganged up against Jerusalem, throwing a siege around the city, but they couldn’t make further headway against Ahaz.
6 At about this same time and on another front, the king of Edom recovered the port of Elath and expelled the men of Judah. The Edomites occupied Elath and have been there ever since.
7-8 Ahaz sent envoys to Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria with this message: “I’m your servant and your son. Come and save me from the heavy-handed invasion of the king of Aram and the king of Israel. They’re attacking me right now.” Then Ahaz robbed the treasuries of the palace and The Temple of God of their gold and silver and sent them to the king of Assyria as a bribe.
9 The king of Assyria responded to him. He attacked and captured Damascus. He deported the people to Nineveh as exiles. Rezin he killed.
10-11 King Ahaz went to meet Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria in Damascus. The altar in Damascus made a great impression on him. He sent back to Uriah the priest a drawing and set of blueprints of the altar. Uriah the priest built the altar to the specifications that King Ahaz had sent from Damascus. By the time the king returned from Damascus, Uriah had completed the altar.
12-14 The minute the king saw the altar he approached it with reverence and arranged a service of worship with a full course of offerings: Whole-Burnt-Offerings with billows of smoke, Grain-Offerings, libations of Drink-Offerings, the sprinkling of blood from the Peace-Offerings—the works. But the old bronze Altar that signaled the presence of God he displaced from its central place and pushed it off to the side of his new altar.
15 Then King Ahaz ordered Uriah the priest: “From now on offer all the sacrifices on the new altar, the great altar: morning Whole-Burnt-Offerings, evening Grain-Offerings, the king’s Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Grain-Offerings, the people’s Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Grain-Offerings, and also their Drink-Offerings. Splash all the blood from the burnt offerings and sacrifices against this altar. The old bronze Altar will be for my personal use.
16 The priest Uriah followed King Ahaz’s orders to the letter.
17-18 Then King Ahaz proceeded to plunder The Temple furniture of all its bronze. He stripped the bronze from The Temple furnishings, even salvaged the four bronze oxen that supported the huge basin, The Sea, and set The Sea unceremoniously on the stone pavement. Finally, he removed any distinctive features from within The Temple that were offensive to the king of Assyria.
19-20 The rest of the life and times of Ahaz is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Ahaz died and was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. His son Hezekiah became the next king.
John 3:1-18 The Message (MSG)
Born from Above
3 1-2 There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.”
3 Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”
4 “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?”
5-6 Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation—the ‘wind-hovering-over-the-water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life—it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch—the Spirit—and becomes a living spirit.
7-8 “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”
9 Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”
10-12 Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?
13-15 “No one has ever gone up into the presence of God except the One who came down from that Presence, the Son of Man. In the same way that Moses lifted the serpent in the desert so people could have something to see and then believe, it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up—and everyone who looks up to him, trusting and expectant, will gain a real life, eternal life.
16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.