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2 Kings 4-6The Message (MSG)

One day the wife of a man from the guild of prophets called out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead. You well know what a good man he was, devoted to God. And now the man to whom he was in debt is on his way to collect by taking my two children as slaves.”

Elisha said, “I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.”

3-4 “Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.”

5-6 She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.”

He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.”

Then the oil stopped.

She went and told the story to the man of God. He said, “Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what’s left.”

One day Elisha passed through Shunem. A leading lady of the town talked him into stopping for a meal. And then it became his custom: Whenever he passed through, he stopped by for a meal.

9-10 “I’m certain,” said the woman to her husband, “that this man who stops by with us all the time is a holy man of God. Why don’t we add on a small room upstairs and furnish it with a bed and desk, chair and lamp, so that when he comes by he can stay with us?”

11 And so it happened that the next time Elisha came by he went to the room and lay down for a nap.

12 Then he said to his servant Gehazi, “Tell the Shunammite woman I want to see her.” He called her and she came to him.

13 Through Gehazi Elisha said, “You’ve gone far beyond the call of duty in taking care of us; what can we do for you? Do you have a request we can bring to the king or to the commander of the army?”

She replied, “Nothing. I’m secure and satisfied in my family.”

14 Elisha conferred with Gehazi: “There’s got to be something we can do for her. But what?”

Gehazi said, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man.”

15 “Call her in,” said Elisha. He called her and she stood at the open door.

16 Elisha said to her, “This time next year you’re going to be nursing an infant son.”

“O my master, O Holy Man,” she said, “don’t play games with me, teasing me with such fantasies!”

17 The woman conceived. A year later, just as Elisha had said, she had a son.

18-19 The child grew up. One day he went to his father, who was working with the harvest hands, complaining, “My head, my head!”

His father ordered a servant, “Carry him to his mother.”

20 The servant took him in his arms and carried him to his mother. He lay on her lap until noon and died.

21 She took him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut him in alone, and left.

22 She then called her husband, “Get me a servant and a donkey so I can go to the Holy Man; I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

23 “But why today? This isn’t a holy day—it’s neither New Moon nor Sabbath.”

She said, “Don’t ask questions; I need to go right now. Trust me.”

24-25 She went ahead and saddled the donkey, ordering her servant, “Take the lead—and go as fast as you can; I’ll tell you if you’re going too fast.” And so off she went. She came to the Holy Man at Mount Carmel.

25-26 The Holy Man, spotting her while she was still a long way off, said to his servant Gehazi, “Look out there; why, it’s the Shunammite woman! Quickly now. Ask her, ‘Is something wrong? Are you all right? Your husband? Your child?’”

She said, “Everything’s fine.”

27 But when she reached the Holy Man at the mountain, she threw herself at his feet and held tightly to him.

Gehazi came up to pull her away, but the Holy Man said, “Leave her alone—can’t you see that she’s in distress? But God hasn’t let me in on why; I’m completely in the dark.”

28 Then she spoke up: “Did I ask for a son, master? Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t tease me with false hopes’?”

29 He ordered Gehazi, “Don’t lose a minute—grab my staff and run as fast as you can. If you meet anyone, don’t even take time to greet him, and if anyone greets you, don’t even answer. Lay my staff across the boy’s face.”

30 The boy’s mother said, “As sure as God lives and you live, you’re not leaving me behind.” And so Gehazi let her take the lead, and followed behind.

31 But Gehazi arrived first and laid the staff across the boy’s face. But there was no sound—no sign of life. Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and said, “The boy hasn’t stirred.”

32-35 Elisha entered the house and found the boy stretched out on the bed dead. He went into the room and locked the door—just the two of them in the room—and prayed to God. He then got into bed with the boy and covered him with his body, mouth on mouth, eyes on eyes, hands on hands. As he was stretched out over him like that, the boy’s body became warm. Elisha got up and paced back and forth in the room. Then he went back and stretched himself upon the boy again. The boy started sneezing—seven times he sneezed!—and opened his eyes.

36 He called Gehazi and said, “Get the Shunammite woman in here!” He called her and she came in.

Elisha said, “Embrace your son!”

37 She fell at Elisha’s feet, face to the ground in reverent awe. Then she embraced her son and went out with him.

38 Elisha went back down to Gilgal. There was a famine there. While he was consulting with the guild of prophets, he told his servant, “Put a large pot on the fire and cook up some stew for the prophets.”

39-40 One of the men went out into the field to get some herbs; he came across a wild vine and picked gourds from it, filling his gunnysack. He brought them back, sliced them up, and put them in the stew, even though no one knew what kind of plant it was. The stew was then served up for the men to eat. They started to eat, and then exclaimed, “Death in the pot, O man of God! Death in the pot!” Nobody could eat it.

Elisha ordered, “Get me some meal.” Then he sprinkled it into the stew pot.

41 “Now serve it up to the men,” he said. They ate it, and it was just fine—nothing wrong with that stew!

42 One day a man arrived from Baal Shalishah. He brought the man of God twenty loaves of fresh-baked bread from the early harvest, along with a few apples from the orchard.

Elisha said, “Pass it around to the people to eat.”

43 His servant said, “For a hundred men? There’s not nearly enough!”

Elisha said, “Just go ahead and do it. God says there’s plenty.”

44 And sure enough, there was. He passed around what he had—they not only ate, but had leftovers.

1-3 Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that God had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease. It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife. One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.”

Naaman went straight to his master and reported what the girl from Israel had said.

“Well then, go,” said the king of Aram. “And I’ll send a letter of introduction to the king of Israel.”

So he went off, taking with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes.

Naaman delivered the letter to the king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his skin disease.”

When the king of Israel read the letter, he was terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He said, “Am I a god with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What’s going on here? That king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”

Elisha the man of God heard what had happened, that the king of Israel was so distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds. He sent word to the king, “Why are you so upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door.

10 Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”

11-12 Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet.

13 But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”

14 So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.

15 He then went back to the Holy Man, he and his entourage, stood before him, and said, “I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God anywhere on earth other than the God of Israel. In gratitude let me give you a gift.”

16 “As God lives,” Elisha replied, “the God whom I serve, I’ll take nothing from you.” Naaman tried his best to get him to take something, but he wouldn’t do it.

17-18 “If you won’t take anything,” said Naaman, “let me ask you for something: Give me a load of dirt, as much as a team of donkeys can carry, because I’m never again going to worship any god other than God. But there’s one thing for which I need God’s pardon: When my master, leaning on my arm, enters the shrine of Rimmon and worships there, and I’m with him there, worshiping Rimmon, may you see to it that God forgive me for this.”

19-21 Elisha said, “Everything will be all right. Go in peace.”

But he hadn’t gone far when Gehazi, servant to Elisha the Holy Man, said to himself, “My master has let this Aramean Naaman slip through his fingers without so much as a thank-you. By the living God, I’m going after him to get something or other from him!” And Gehazi took off after Naaman.

Naaman saw him running after him and jumped down from his chariot to greet him, “Is something wrong?”

22 “Nothing’s wrong, but something’s come up. My master sent me to tell you: ‘Two young men just showed up from the hill country of Ephraim, brothers from the guild of the prophets. Supply their needs with a gift of 75 pounds of silver and a couple of sets of clothes.’”

23 Naaman said, “Of course, how about a 150 pounds?” Naaman insisted. He tied up the money in two sacks and gave him the two sets of clothes; he even gave him two servants to carry the gifts back with him.

24 When they got to the fort on the hill, Gehazi took the gifts from the servants, stored them inside, then sent the servants back.

25 He returned and stood before his master. Elisha said, “So what have you been up to, Gehazi?”

“Nothing much,” he said.

26-27 Elisha said, “Didn’t you know I was with you in spirit when that man stepped down from his chariot to greet you? Tell me, is this a time to look after yourself, lining your pockets with gifts? Naaman’s skin disease will now infect you and your family, with no relief in sight.”

Gehazi walked away, his skin flaky and white like snow.

1-2 One day the guild of prophets came to Elisha and said, “You can see that this place where we’re living under your leadership is getting cramped—we have no elbow room. Give us permission to go down to the Jordan where each of us will get a log. We’ll build a roomier place.”

Elisha said, “Go ahead.”

One of them then said, “Please! Come along with us!”

He said, “Certainly.”

4-5 He went with them. They came to the Jordan and started chopping down trees. As one of them was felling a timber, his axhead flew off and sank in the river.

“Oh no, master!” he cried out. “And it was borrowed!”

The Holy Man said, “Where did it sink?”

The man showed him the place.

He cut off a branch and tossed it at the spot. The axhead floated up.

“Grab it,” he said. The man reached out and took it.

One time when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, after consulting with his officers, he said, “At such and such a place I want an ambush set.”

The Holy Man sent a message to the king of Israel: “Watch out when you’re passing this place, because Aram has set an ambush there.”

10 So the king of Israel sent word concerning the place of which the Holy Man had warned him.

This kind of thing happened all the time.

11 The king of Aram was furious over all this. He called his officers together and said, “Tell me, who is leaking information to the king of Israel? Who is the spy in our ranks?”

12 But one of his men said, “No, my master, dear king. It’s not any of us. It’s Elisha the prophet in Israel. He tells the king of Israel everything you say, even what you whisper in your bedroom.”

13 The king said, “Go and find out where he is. I’ll send someone and capture him.”

The report came back, “He’s in Dothan.”

14 Then he dispatched horses and chariots, an impressive fighting force. They came by night and surrounded the city.

15 Early in the morning a servant of the Holy Man got up and went out. Surprise! Horses and chariots surrounding the city! The young man exclaimed, “Oh, master! What shall we do?”

16 He said, “Don’t worry about it—there are more on our side than on their side.”

17 Then Elisha prayed, “O God, open his eyes and let him see.”

The eyes of the young man were opened and he saw. A wonder! The whole mountainside full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha!

18 When the Arameans attacked, Elisha prayed to God, “Strike these people blind!” And God struck them blind, just as Elisha said.

19 Then Elisha called out to them, “Not that way! Not this city! Follow me and I’ll lead you to the man you’re looking for.” And he led them into Samaria.

20 As they entered the city, Elisha prayed, “O God, open their eyes so they can see where they are.” God opened their eyes. They looked around—they were trapped in Samaria!

21 When the king of Israel saw them, he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I massacre the lot?”

22 “Not on your life!” said Elisha. “You didn’t lift a hand to capture them, and now you’re going to kill them? No sir, make a feast for them and send them back to their master.”

23 So he prepared a huge feast for them. After they ate and drank their fill he dismissed them. Then they returned home to their master. The raiding bands of Aram didn’t bother Israel anymore.

24-25 At a later time, this: Ben-Hadad king of Aram pulled together his troops and launched a siege on Samaria. This brought on a terrible famine, so bad that food prices soared astronomically. Eighty shekels for a donkey’s head! Five shekels for a bowl of field greens!

26 One day the king of Israel was walking along the city wall. A woman cried out, “Help! Your majesty!”

27 He answered, “If God won’t help you, where on earth can I go for help? To the granary? To the dairy?”

28-29 The king continued, “Tell me your story.”

She said, “This woman came to me and said, ‘Give up your son and we’ll have him for today’s supper; tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I told her, ‘Your turn—bring your son so we can have him for supper.’ But she had hidden her son away.”

30-31 When the king heard the woman’s story he ripped apart his robe. Since he was walking on the city wall, everyone saw that next to his skin he was wearing coarse burlap. And he called out, “God do his worst to me—and more—if Elisha son of Shaphat still has a head on his shoulders at this day’s end.”

32 Elisha was sitting at home, the elders sitting with him. The king had already dispatched an executioner, but before the man arrived Elisha spoke to the elders: “Do you know that this murderer has just now sent a man to take off my head? Look, when the executioner arrives, shut the door and lock it. Don’t I even now hear the footsteps of his master behind him?”

33 While he was giving his instructions, the king showed up, accusing, “This trouble is directly from God! And what’s next? I’m fed up with God!”

The Message (MSG)

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

Luke 24:36-53The Message (MSG)

36-41 While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, “Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.

41-43 He asked, “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.

You’re the Witnesses

44 Then he said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”

45-49 He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.”

50-51 He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.

52-53 And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.

The Message (MSG)

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

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