Deuteronomy 19-21 The Message (MSG)
19 1-3 When God, your God, throws the nations out of the country that God, your God, is giving you and you settle down in their cities and houses, you are to set aside three easily accessible cities in the land that God, your God, is giving you as your very own. Divide your land into thirds, this land that God, your God, is giving you to possess, and build roads to the towns so that anyone who accidentally kills another can flee there.
4-7 This is the guideline for the murderer who flees there to take refuge: He has to have killed his neighbor without premeditation and with no history of bad blood between them. For instance, a man goes with his neighbor into the woods to cut a tree; he swings the ax, the head slips off the handle and hits his neighbor, killing him. He may then flee to one of these cities and save his life. If the city is too far away, the avenger of blood racing in hot-blooded pursuit might catch him since it’s such a long distance, and kill him even though he didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t his fault. There was no history of hatred between them. Therefore I command you: Set aside the three cities for yourselves.
8-10 When God, your God, enlarges your land, extending its borders as he solemnly promised your ancestors, by giving you the whole land he promised them because you are diligently living the way I’m commanding you today, namely, to love God, your God, and do what he tells you all your life; and when that happens, then add three more to these three cities so that there is no chance of innocent blood being spilled in your land. God, your God, is giving you this land as an inheritance—you don’t want to pollute it with innocent blood and bring bloodguilt upon yourselves.
11-13 On the other hand, if a man with a history of hatred toward his neighbor waits in ambush, then jumps him, mauls and kills him, and then runs to one of these cities, that’s a different story. The elders of his own city are to send for him and have him brought back. They are to hand him over to the avenger of blood for execution. Don’t feel sorry for him. Clean out the pollution of wrongful murder from Israel so that you’ll be able to live well and breathe clean air.
14 Don’t move your neighbor’s boundary markers, the longstanding landmarks set up by your pioneer ancestors defining their property.
15 You cannot convict anyone of a crime or sin on the word of one witness. You need two or three witnesses to make a case.
16-21 If a hostile witness stands to accuse someone of a wrong, then both parties involved in the quarrel must stand in the Presence of God before the priests and judges who are in office at that time. The judges must conduct a careful investigation; if the witness turns out to be a false witness and has lied against his fellow Israelite, give him the same medicine he intended for the other party. Clean the polluting evil from your company. People will hear of what you’ve done and be impressed; that will put a stop to this kind of evil among you. Don’t feel sorry for the person: It’s life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
20 1-4 When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He’ll say, “Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.”
5-7 Then let the officers step up and speak to the troops: “Is there a man here who has built a new house but hasn’t yet dedicated it? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man dedicate it. And is there a man here who has planted a vineyard but hasn’t yet enjoyed the grapes? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man enjoy the grapes. Is there a man here engaged to marry who hasn’t yet taken his wife? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man take her.”
8 The officers will then continue, “And is there a man here who is wavering in resolve and afraid? Let him go home right now so that he doesn’t infect his fellows with his timidity and cowardly spirit.”
9 When the officers have finished speaking to the troops, let them appoint commanders of the troops who shall muster them by units.
10-15 When you come up against a city to attack it, call out, “Peace?” If they answer, “Yes, peace!” and open the city to you, then everyone found there will be conscripted as forced laborers and work for you. But if they don’t settle for peace and insist on war, then go ahead and attack. God, your God, will give them to you. Kill all the men with your swords. But don’t kill the women and children and animals. Everything inside the town you can take as plunder for you to use and eat—God, your God, gives it to you. This is the way you deal with the distant towns, the towns that don’t belong to the nations at hand.
16-18 But with the towns of the people that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, it’s different: don’t leave anyone alive. Consign them to holy destruction: the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, obeying the command of God, your God. This is so there won’t be any of them left to teach you to practice the abominations that they engage in with their gods and you end up sinning against God, your God.
19-20 When you mount an attack on a town and the siege goes on a long time, don’t start cutting down the trees, swinging your axes against them. Those trees are your future food; don’t cut them down. Are trees soldiers who come against you with weapons? The exception can be those trees which don’t produce food; you can chop them down and use the timbers to build siege engines against the town that is resisting you until it falls.
21 1-8 If a dead body is found on the ground, this ground that God, your God, has given you, lying out in the open, and no one knows who killed him, your leaders and judges are to go out and measure the distance from the body to the nearest cities. The leaders and judges of the city that is nearest the corpse will then take a heifer that has never been used for work, never had a yoke on it. The leaders will take the heifer to a valley with a stream, a valley that has never been plowed or planted, and there break the neck of the heifer. The Levitical priests will then step up. God has chosen them to serve him in these matters by settling legal disputes and violent crimes and by pronouncing blessings in God’s name. Finally, all the leaders of that town that is nearest the body will wash their hands over the heifer that had its neck broken at the stream and say, “We didn’t kill this man and we didn’t see who did it. Purify your people Israel whom you redeemed, O God. Clear your people Israel from any guilt in this murder.”
8-9 That will clear them from any responsibility in the murder. By following these procedures you will have absolved yourselves of any part in the murder because you will have done what is right in God’s sight.
10-14 When you go to war against your enemies and God, your God, gives you victory and you take prisoners, and then you notice among the prisoners of war a good-looking woman whom you find attractive and would like to marry, this is what you do: Take her home; have her trim her hair, cut her nails, and discard the clothes she was wearing when captured. She is then to stay in your home for a full month, mourning her father and mother. Then you may go to bed with her as husband and wife. If it turns out you don’t like her, you must let her go and live wherever she wishes. But you can’t sell her or use her as a slave since you’ve humiliated her.
15-17 When a man has two wives, one loved and the other hated, and they both give him sons, but the firstborn is from the hated wife, at the time he divides the inheritance with his sons he must not treat the son of the loved wife as the firstborn, cutting out the son of the hated wife, who is the actual firstborn. No, he must acknowledge the inheritance rights of the real firstborn, the son of the hated wife, by giving him a double share of the inheritance: that son is the first proof of his virility; the rights of the firstborn belong to him.
18-20 When a man has a stubborn son, a real rebel who won’t do a thing his mother and father tell him, and even though they discipline him he still won’t obey, his father and mother shall forcibly bring him before the leaders at the city gate and say to the city fathers, “This son of ours is a stubborn rebel; he won’t listen to a thing we say. He’s a glutton and a drunk.”
21 Then all the men of the town are to throw rocks at him until he’s dead. You will have purged the evil pollution from among you. All Israel will hear what’s happened and be in awe.
22-23 When a man has committed a capital crime, been given the death sentence, executed and hung from a tree, don’t leave his dead body hanging overnight from the tree. Give him a decent burial that same day so that you don’t desecrate your God-given land—a hanged man is an insult to God.
Mark 13:21-37 The Message (MSG)
No One Knows the Day or Hour
21-23 “If anyone tries to flag you down, calling out, ‘Here’s the Messiah!’ or points, ‘There he is!’ don’t fall for it. Fake Messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. So watch out. I’ve given you fair warning.
24-25 “Following those hard times,
Sun will fade out,
26-27 “And then they’ll see the Son of Man enter in grand style, his Arrival filling the sky—no one will miss it! He’ll dispatch the angels; they will pull in the chosen from the four winds, from pole to pole.
28-31 “Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. And so it is with you. When you see all these things, you know he is at the door. Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for this one, too—these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.
32-37 “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don’t know the timetable. It’s like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don’t want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I’m saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch.”