Deuteronomy 10-12 The Message (MSG)
10 1-2 God responded. He said, “Shape two slabs of stone similar to the first ones. Climb the mountain and meet me. Also make yourself a wooden chest. I will engrave the stone slabs with the words that were on the first ones, the ones you smashed. Then you will put them in the Chest.”
3-5 So I made a chest out of acacia wood, shaped two slabs of stone, just like the first ones, and climbed the mountain with the two slabs in my arms. He engraved the stone slabs the same as he had the first ones, the Ten Words that he addressed to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the assembly. Then God gave them to me. I turned around and came down the mountain. I put the stone slabs in the Chest that I made and they’ve been there ever since, just as God commanded me.
6-7 The People of Israel went from the wells of the Jaakanites to Moserah. Aaron died there and was buried. His son Eleazar succeeded him as priest. From there they went to Gudgodah, and then to Jotbathah, a land of streams of water.
8-9 That’s when God set apart the tribe of Levi to carry God’s Covenant Chest, to be on duty in the Presence of God, to serve him, and to bless in his name, as they continue to do today. And that’s why Levites don’t have a piece of inherited land as their kinsmen do. God is their inheritance, as God, your God, promised them.
10 I stayed there on the mountain forty days and nights, just as I did the first time. And God listened to me, just as he did the first time: God decided not to destroy you.
11 God told me, “Now get going. Lead your people as they resume the journey to take possession of the land that I promised their ancestors that I’d give to them.”
12-13 So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I’m commanding you today—live a good life.
14-18 Look around you: Everything you see is God’s—the heavens above and beyond, the Earth, and everything on it. But it was your ancestors who God fell in love with; he picked their children—that’s you!—out of all the other peoples. That’s where we are right now. So cut away the thick calluses from your heart and stop being so willfully hardheaded. God, your God, is the God of all gods, he’s the Master of all masters, a God immense and powerful and awesome. He doesn’t play favorites, takes no bribes, makes sure orphans and widows are treated fairly, takes loving care of foreigners by seeing that they get food and clothing.
19-21 You must treat foreigners with the same loving care—
22 When your ancestors entered Egypt, they numbered a mere seventy souls. And now look at you—you look more like the stars in the night skies in number. And your God did it.
11 So love God, your God;
2-7 Today it’s very clear that it isn’t your children who are front and center here: They weren’t in on what God did, didn’t see the acts, didn’t experience the discipline, didn’t marvel at his greatness, the way he displayed his power in the miracle-signs and deeds that he let loose in Egypt on Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land, the way he took care of the Egyptian army, its horses and chariots, burying them in the waters of the Red Sea as they pursued you. God drowned them. And you’re standing here today alive. Nor was it your children who saw how God took care of you in the wilderness up until the time you arrived here, what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab son of Reuben, how the Earth opened its jaws and swallowed them with their families—their tents, and everything around them—right out of the middle of Israel. Yes, it was you—your eyes—that saw every great thing that God did.
8-9 So it’s you who are in charge of keeping the entire commandment that I command you today so that you’ll have the strength to invade and possess the land that you are crossing the river to make your own. Your obedience will give you a long life on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors and their children, a land flowing with milk and honey.
10-12 The land you are entering to take up ownership isn’t like Egypt, the land you left, where you had to plant your own seed and water it yourselves as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are about to cross the river and take for your own is a land of mountains and valleys; it drinks water that rains from the sky. It’s a land that God, your God, personally tends—he’s the gardener—he alone keeps his eye on it all year long.
13-15 From now on if you listen obediently to the commandments that I am commanding you today, love God, your God, and serve him with everything you have within you, he’ll take charge of sending the rain at the right time, both autumn and spring rains, so that you’ll be able to harvest your grain, your grapes, your olives. He’ll make sure there’s plenty of grass for your animals. You’ll have plenty to eat.
16-17 But be vigilant, lest you be seduced away and end up serving and worshiping other gods and God erupts in anger and shuts down Heaven so there’s no rain and nothing grows in the fields, and in no time at all you’re starved out—not a trace of you left on the good land that God is giving you.
18-21 Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you’ll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth.
22-25 That’s right. If you diligently keep all this commandment that I command you to obey—love God, your God, do what he tells you, stick close to him—God on his part will drive out all these nations that stand in your way. Yes, he’ll drive out nations much bigger and stronger than you. Every square inch on which you place your foot will be yours. Your borders will stretch from the wilderness to the mountains of Lebanon, from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand in your way. Everywhere you go, God-sent fear and trembling will precede you, just as he promised.
26 I’ve brought you today to the crossroads of Blessing and Curse.
27 The Blessing: if you listen obediently to the commandments of God, your God, which I command you today.
28 The Curse: if you don’t pay attention to the commandments of God, your God, but leave the road that I command you today, following other gods of which you know nothing.
29-30 Here’s what comes next: When God, your God, brings you into the land you are going into to make your own, you are to give out the Blessing from Mount Gerizim and the Curse from Mount Ebal. After you cross the Jordan River, follow the road to the west through Canaanite settlements in the valley near Gilgal and the Oaks of Moreh.
31-32 You are crossing the Jordan River to invade and take the land that God, your God, is giving you. Be vigilant. Observe all the regulations and rules I am setting before you today.
12 These are the rules and regulations that you must diligently observe for as long as you live in this country that God, the God-of-Your-Fathers, has given you to possess.
2-3 Ruthlessly demolish all the sacred shrines where the nations that you’re driving out worship their gods—wherever you find them, on hills and mountains or in groves of green trees. Tear apart their altars. Smash their phallic pillars. Burn their sex-and-religion Asherah shrines. Break up their carved gods. Obliterate the names of those god sites.
4 Stay clear of those places—don’t let what went on there contaminate the worship of God, your God.
5-7 Instead find the site that God, your God, will choose and mark it with his name as a common center for all the tribes of Israel. Assemble there. Bring to that place your Absolution-Offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and Tribute-Offerings, your Vow-Offerings, your Freewill-Offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. Feast there in the Presence of God, your God. Celebrate everything that you and your families have accomplished under the blessing of God, your God.
8-10 Don’t continue doing things the way we’re doing them at present, each of us doing as we wish. Until now you haven’t arrived at the goal, the resting place, the inheritance that God, your God, is giving you. But the minute you cross the Jordan River and settle into the land God, your God, is enabling you to inherit, he’ll give you rest from all your surrounding enemies. You’ll be able to settle down and live in safety.
11-12 From then on, at the place that God, your God, chooses to mark with his name as the place where you can meet him, bring everything that I command you: your Absolution-Offerings and sacrifices, tithes and Tribute-Offerings, and the best of your Vow-Offerings that you vow to God. Celebrate there in the Presence of God, your God, you and your sons and daughters, your servants and maids, including the Levite living in your neighborhood because he has no place of his own in your inheritance.
13-14 Be extra careful: Don’t offer your Absolution-Offerings just any place that strikes your fancy. Offer your Absolution-Offerings only in the place that God chooses in one of your tribal regions. There and only there are you to bring all that I command you.
15 It’s permissible to slaughter your nonsacrificial animals like gazelle and deer in your towns and eat all you want from them with the blessing of God, your God. Both the ritually clean and unclean may eat.
16-18 But you may not eat the blood. Pour the blood out on the ground like water. Nor may you eat there the tithe of your grain, new wine, or olive oil; nor the firstborn of your herds and flocks; nor any of the Vow-Offerings that you vow; nor your Freewill-Offerings and Tribute-Offerings. All these you must eat in the Presence of God, your God, in the place God, your God, chooses—you, your son and daughter, your servant and maid, and the Levite who lives in your neighborhood. You are to celebrate in the Presence of God, your God, all the things you’ve been able to accomplish.
19 And make sure that for as long as you live on your land you never, never neglect the Levite.
20-22 When God, your God, expands your territory as he promised he would do, and you say, “I’m hungry for meat,” because you happen to be craving meat at the time, go ahead and eat as much meat as you want. If you’re too far away from the place that God, your God, has marked with his name, it’s all right to slaughter animals from your herds and flocks that God has given you, as I’ve commanded you. In your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. Just as the nonsacrificial animals like the gazelle and deer are eaten, you may eat them; the ritually unclean and clean may eat them at the same table.
23-25 Only this: Absolutely no blood. Don’t eat the blood. Blood is life; don’t eat the life with the meat. Don’t eat it; pour it out on the ground like water. Don’t eat it; then you’ll have a good life, you and your children after you. By all means, do the right thing in God’s eyes.
26-27 And this: Lift high your Holy-Offerings and your Vow-Offerings and bring them to the place God designates. Sacrifice your Absolution-Offerings, the meat and blood, on the Altar of God, your God; pour out the blood of the Absolution-Offering on the Altar of God, your God; then you can go ahead and eat the meat.
28 Be vigilant, listen obediently to these words that I command you so that you’ll have a good life, you and your children, for a long, long time, doing what is good and right in the eyes of God, your God.
29-31 When God, your God, cuts off the nations whose land you are invading, shoves them out of your way so that you displace them and settle in their land, be careful that you don’t get curious about them after they’ve been destroyed before you. Don’t get fascinated with their gods, thinking, “I wonder what it was like for them, worshiping their gods. I’d like to try that myself.” Don’t do this to God, your God. They commit every imaginable abomination with their gods. God hates it all with a passion. Why, they even set their children on fire as offerings to their gods!
32 Diligently do everything I command you, the way I command you: don’t add to it; don’t subtract from it.
Mark 12:1-27 The Message (MSG)
The Story About a Vineyard
12 1-2 Then Jesus started telling them stories. “A man planted a vineyard. He fenced it, dug a winepress, erected a watchtower, turned it over to the farmhands, and went off on a trip. At the time for harvest, he sent a servant back to the farmhands to collect his profits.
3-5 “They grabbed him, beat him up, and sent him off empty-handed. So he sent another servant. That one they tarred and feathered. He sent another and that one they killed. And on and on, many others. Some they beat up, some they killed.
6 “Finally there was only one left: a beloved son. In a last-ditch effort, he sent him, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’
7-8 “But those farmhands saw their chance. They rubbed their hands together in greed and said, ‘This is the heir! Let’s kill him and have it all for ourselves.’ They grabbed him, killed him, and threw him over the fence.
9-11 “What do you think the owner of the vineyard will do? Right. He’ll come and clean house. Then he’ll assign the care of the vineyard to others. Read it for yourselves in Scripture:
That stone the masons threw out
12 They wanted to lynch him then and there but, intimidated by public opinion, held back. They knew the story was about them. They got away from there as fast as they could.
Paying Taxes to Caesar
13-14 They sent some Pharisees and followers of Herod to bait him, hoping to catch him saying something incriminating. They came up and said, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, that you are indifferent to public opinion, don’t pander to your students, and teach the way of God accurately. Tell us: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
15-16 He knew it was a trick question, and said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” They handed him one.
“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”
“Caesar,” they said.
17 Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”
Their mouths hung open, speechless.
Our Intimacies Will Be with God
18-23 Some Sadducees, the party that denies any possibility of resurrection, came up and asked, “Teacher, Moses wrote that if a man dies and leaves a wife but no child, his brother is obligated to marry the widow and have children. Well, there once were seven brothers. The first took a wife. He died childless. The second married her. He died, and still no child. The same with the third. All seven took their turn, but no child. Finally the wife died. When they are raised at the resurrection, whose wife is she? All seven were her husband.”
24-27 Jesus said, “You’re way off base, and here’s why: One, you don’t know your Bibles; two, you don’t know how God works. After the dead are raised up, we’re past the marriage business. As it is with angels now, all our ecstasies and intimacies then will be with God. And regarding the dead, whether or not they are raised, don’t you ever read the Bible? How God at the bush said to Moses, ‘I am—not was—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? The living God is God of the living, not the dead. You’re way, way off base.”