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2 Kings 19-21The Message (MSG)

19 1-3 When Hezekiah heard it all, he too ripped his robes apart and dressed himself in rough burlap. Then he went into The Temple of God. He sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the secretary, and the senior priests, all of them dressed in rough burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They said to him, “A message from Hezekiah: ‘This is a black day, a terrible day—doomsday!

Babies poised to be born,
No strength to birth them.

“‘Maybe God, your God, has been listening to the blasphemous speech of the Rabshakeh who was sent by the king of Assyria, his master, to humiliate the living God; maybe God, your God, won’t let him get by with such talk; and you, maybe you will lift up prayers for what’s left of these people.’”

That’s the message King Hezekiah’s servants delivered to Isaiah.

6-7 Isaiah answered them, “Tell your master, ‘God’s word: Don’t be at all concerned about what you’ve heard from the king of Assyria’s bootlicking errand boys—these outrageous blasphemies. Here’s what I’m going to do: Afflict him with self-doubt. He’s going to hear a rumor and, frightened for his life, retreat to his own country. Once there, I’ll see to it that he gets killed.’”

8-13 The Rabshakeh left and found that the king of Assyria had pulled up stakes from Lachish and was now fighting against Libnah. Then Sennacherib heard that Tirhakah king of Cush was on his way to fight against him. So he sent another envoy with orders to deliver this message to Hezekiah king of Judah: “Don’t let that god that you think so much of keep stringing you along with the line, ‘Jerusalem will never fall to the king of Assyria.’ That’s a barefaced lie. You know the track record of the kings of Assyria—country after country laid waste, devastated. And what makes you think you’ll be an exception? Take a good look at these wasted nations, destroyed by my ancestors; did their gods do them any good? Look at Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, the people of Eden at Tel Assar. Ruins. And what’s left of the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of Sepharvaim, of Hena, of Ivvah? Bones.”

14-15 Hezekiah took the letter from the envoy and read it. He went to The Temple of God and spread it out before God. And Hezekiah prayed—oh, how he prayed!

God, God of Israel, seated
    in majesty on the cherubim-throne.
You are the one and only God,
    sovereign over all kingdoms on earth,
Maker of heaven,
    maker of earth.

16 Open your ears, God, and listen,
        open your eyes and look.
    Look at this letter Sennacherib has sent,
        a brazen insult to the living God!

17 The facts are true, O God: The kings of Assyria
    have laid waste countries and kingdoms.

18 Huge bonfires they made of their gods, their
    no-gods hand-made from wood and stone.

19 But now O God, our God,
        save us from raw Assyrian power;
    Make all the kingdoms on earth know
        that you are God, the one and only God.

20-21 It wasn’t long before Isaiah son of Amoz sent word to Hezekiah:

God’s word: You’ve prayed to me regarding Sennacherib king of Assyria; I’ve heard your prayer. This is my response to him:

The Virgin Daughter of Zion
    holds you in utter contempt;
Daughter Jerusalem
    thinks you’re nothing but scum.

22 Who do you think it is you’ve insulted?
        Who do you think you’ve been bad-mouthing?
    Before whom do you suppose you’ve been strutting?
        The Holy One of Israel, that’s who!

23 You dispatched your errand boys
        to humiliate the Master.
    You bragged, “With my army of chariots
        I’ve climbed the highest mountains,
        snow-peaked alpine Lebanon mountains!
    I’ve cut down its giant cedars,
        chopped down its prize pine trees.
    I’ve traveled the world,
        visited the finest forest retreats.

24 I’ve dug wells in faraway places
        and drunk their exotic waters;
    I’ve waded and splashed barefoot
        in the rivers of Egypt.”

25 Did it never occur to you
    that I’m behind all this?
Long, long ago I drew up the plans,
    and now I’ve gone into action,
Using you as a doomsday weapon,
    reducing proud cities to piles of rubble,

26 Leaving their people dispirited,
        slumped shoulders, limp souls.
    Useless as weeds, fragile as grass,
        insubstantial as wind-blown chaff.

27 I know when you sit down, when you come
        and when you go;
    And, yes, I’ve marked every one
        of your temper tantrums against me.

28 It’s because of your temper,
        your blasphemous foul temper,
    That I’m putting my hook in your nose
        and my bit in your mouth
    And turning you back
        to where you came from.

29 And this, Hezekiah, will be for you the confirming sign:

This year you’ll eat the gleanings, next year
    whatever you can beg, borrow, or steal;
But the third year you’ll sow and harvest,
    plant vineyards and eat grapes.

30 A remnant of the family of Judah yet again
    will sink down roots and raise up fruit.

31 The remnant will come from Jerusalem,
        the survivors from Mount Zion.
    The Zeal of God
        will make it happen.

32 To sum up, this is what God says regarding the king of Assyria:

He won’t enter this city,
    nor shoot so much as a single arrow there;
Won’t brandish a shield,
    won’t even begin to set siege;

33 He’ll go home by the same road he came;
    he won’t enter this city. God’s word!

34 I’ll shield this city, I’ll save this city,
    for my sake and for David’s sake.

35 And it so happened that that very night an angel of God came and massacred 185,000 Assyrians. When the people of Jerusalem got up next morning, there it was—a whole camp of corpses!

36-37 Sennacherib king of Assyria got out of there fast, headed straight home for Nineveh, and stayed put. One day when he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer murdered him and then escaped to the land of Ararat. His son Esarhaddon became the next king.

20 Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz paid him a visit and said, “Put your affairs in order; you’re about to die—you haven’t long to live.”

2-3 Hezekiah turned from Isaiah and faced God, praying:

Remember, O God, who I am, what I’ve done!
I’ve lived an honest life before you,
My heart’s been true and steady,
I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval.

And then the tears flowed. Hezekiah wept.

4-6 Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of God stopped him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, ‘God’s word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I’ve listened to your prayer and I’ve observed your tears. I’m going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. I’ve just added fifteen years to your life; I’m saving you from the king of Assyria, and I’m covering this city with my shield—for my sake and my servant David’s sake.’”

Isaiah then said, “Prepare a plaster of figs.”

They prepared the plaster, applied it to the boil, and Hezekiah was on his way to recovery.

Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “How do I know whether this is of God and not just the fig plaster? What confirming sign is there that God is healing me and that in three days I’ll walk into The Temple of God on my own legs?”

“This will be your sign from God,” said Isaiah, “that God is doing what he said he’d do: Do you want the shadow to advance ten degrees on the sundial or go back ten degrees? You choose.”

10 Hezekiah said, “It would be easy to make the sun’s shadow advance ten degrees. Make it go back ten degrees.”

11 So Isaiah called out in prayer to God, and the shadow went back ten degrees on Ahaz’s sundial.

12-13 Shortly after this, Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan king of Babylon, having heard that the king was sick, sent a get-well card and a gift to Hezekiah. Hezekiah was pleased and showed the messengers around the place—silver, gold, spices, aromatic oils, his stockpile of weapons—a guided tour of all his prized possessions. There wasn’t a thing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah didn’t show them.

14 And then Isaiah the prophet showed up: “And just what were these men doing here? Where did they come from and why?”

Hezekiah said, “They came from far away—from Babylon.”

15 “And what did they see in your palace?”

“Everything,” said Hezekiah. “There isn’t anything I didn’t show them—I gave them the grand tour.”

16-18 Then Isaiah spoke to Hezekiah, “Listen to what God has to say about this: The day is coming when everything you own and everything your ancestors have passed down to you, right down to the last cup and saucer, will be cleaned out of here—plundered and packed off to Babylon. God’s word! Worse yet, your sons, the progeny of sons you’ve begotten, will end up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

19 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “If God says it, it must be good.” But he was thinking to himself, “It won’t happen during my lifetime—I’ll enjoy peace and security as long as I live.”

20-21 The rest of the life and times of Hezekiah, along with his projects, especially the way he engineered the Upper Pool and brought water into the city, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Hezekiah died and was buried with his ancestors. His son Manasseh became the next king.

Manasseh of Judah

21 1-6 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. In God’s judgment he was a bad king—an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. He rebuilt all the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, and he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and sex goddess Asherah, exactly what Ahaz king of Israel had done. He worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. He even built these pagan altars in The Temple of God, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God’s decree (“in Jerusalem I place my Name”) to God’s Name. And he built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God. He burned his own son in a sacrificial offering. He practiced black magic and fortunetelling. He held séances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil—in God’s judgment, a career in evil. And God was angry.

7-8 As a last straw he placed the carved image of the sex goddess Asherah in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God’s well-known statement to both David and Solomon, “In this Temple and in this city Jerusalem, my choice out of all the tribes of Israel, I place my Name—exclusively and forever. Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I gave to their ancestors. But here’s the condition: They must keep everything I’ve commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them.”

But the people didn’t listen. Manasseh led them off the beaten path into practices of evil even exceeding the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed.

10-12 God, thoroughly fed up, sent word through his servants the prophets: “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these outrageous sins, eclipsing the sin-performance of the Amorites before him, setting new records in evil, using foul idols to debase Judah into a nation of sinners, this is my judgment, God’s verdict: I, the God of Israel, will visit catastrophe on Jerusalem and Judah, a doom so terrible that when people hear of it they’ll shake their heads in disbelief, saying, ‘I can’t believe it!’

13-15 “I’ll visit the fate of Samaria on Jerusalem, a rerun of Ahab’s doom. I’ll wipe out Jerusalem as you would wipe out a dish, wiping it out and turning it over to dry. I’ll get rid of what’s left of my inheritance, dumping them on their enemies. If their enemies can salvage anything from them, they’re welcome to it. They’ve been nothing but trouble to me from the day their ancestors left Egypt until now. They pushed me to my limit; I won’t put up with their evil any longer.”

16 The final word on Manasseh was that he was an indiscriminate murderer. He drenched Jerusalem with the innocent blood of his victims. That’s on top of all the sins in which he involved his people. As far as God was concerned, he’d turned them into a nation of sinners.

17-18 The rest of the life and times of Manasseh, everything he did and his sorry record of sin, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Manasseh died and joined his ancestors. He was buried in the palace garden, the Garden of Uzza. His son Amon became the next king.

Amon of Judah

19-22 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king. He was king for two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz. She was from Jotbah. In God’s opinion he lived an evil life, just like his father Manasseh. He followed in the footsteps of his father, serving and worshiping the same foul gods his father had served. He totally deserted the God of his ancestors; he did not live God’s way.

23-24 Amon’s servants revolted and assassinated him, killing the king right in his own palace. But the people, in their turn, killed the conspirators against King Amon and then crowned Josiah, Amon’s son, as king.

25-26 The rest of the life and times of Amon is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. They buried Amon in his burial plot in the Garden of Uzza. His son Josiah became the next king.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

John 4:1-30The Message (MSG)

The Woman at the Well

1-3 Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.

4-6 To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.

7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)

The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)

10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”

11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”

13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”

16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”

17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.

“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”

19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”

21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.

23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”

26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.

28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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