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Exodus 19-20The Message (MSG)

Mount Sinai

19 1-2 Three months after leaving Egypt the Israelites entered the Wilderness of Sinai. They followed the route from Rephidim, arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai, and set up camp. Israel camped there facing the mountain.

3-6 As Moses went up to meet God, God called down to him from the mountain: “Speak to the House of Jacob, tell the People of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’

“This is what I want you to tell the People of Israel.”

Moses came back and called the elders of Israel together and set before them all these words which God had commanded him.

The people were unanimous in their response: “Everything God says, we will do.” Moses took the people’s answer back to God.

God said to Moses, “Get ready. I’m about to come to you in a thick cloud so that the people can listen in and trust you completely when I speak with you.” Again Moses reported the people’s answer to God.

10-13 God said to Moses, “Go to the people. For the next two days get these people ready to meet the Holy God. Have them scrub their clothes so that on the third day they’ll be fully prepared, because on the third day God will come down on Mount Sinai and make his presence known to all the people. Post boundaries for the people all around, telling them, ‘Warning! Don’t climb the mountain. Don’t even touch its edge. Whoever touches the mountain dies—a certain death. And no one is to touch that person, he’s to be stoned. That’s right—stoned. Or shot with arrows, shot to death. Animal or man, whichever—put to death.’

“A long blast from the horn will signal that it’s safe to climb the mountain.”

14-15 Moses went down the mountain to the people and prepared them for the holy meeting. They gave their clothes a good scrubbing. Then he addressed the people: “Be ready in three days. Don’t sleep with a woman.”

16 On the third day at daybreak, there were loud claps of thunder, flashes of lightning, a thick cloud covering the mountain, and an ear-piercing trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp shuddered in fear.

17 Moses led the people out of the camp to meet God. They stood at attention at the base of the mountain.

18-20 Mount Sinai was all smoke because God had come down on it as fire. Smoke poured from it like smoke from a furnace. The whole mountain shuddered in huge spasms. The trumpet blasts grew louder and louder. Moses spoke and God answered in thunder. God descended to the peak of Mount Sinai. God called Moses up to the peak and Moses climbed up.

21-22 God said to Moses, “Go down. Warn the people not to break through the barricades to get a look at God lest many of them die. And the priests also, warn them to prepare themselves for the holy meeting, lest God break out against them.”

23 Moses said to God, “But the people can’t climb Mount Sinai. You’ve already warned us well telling us: ‘Post boundaries around the mountain. Respect the holy mountain.’”

24 God told him, “Go down and then bring Aaron back up with you. But make sure that the priests and the people don’t break through and come up to God, lest he break out against them.”

25 So Moses went down to the people. He said to them:

20 1-2 God spoke all these words:

I am God, your God,
    who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
    out of a life of slavery.

No other gods, only me.

4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.

No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won’t put up with the irreverent use of his name.

8-11 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

12 Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you.

13 No murder.

14 No adultery.

15 No stealing.

16 No lies about your neighbor.

17 No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.

18-19 All the people, experiencing the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the smoking mountain, were afraid—they pulled back and stood at a distance. They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we’ll listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die.”

20 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that you won’t sin.”

21 The people kept their distance while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.

22-26 God said to Moses, “Give this Message to the People of Israel: ‘You’ve experienced firsthand how I spoke with you from Heaven. Don’t make gods of silver and gods of gold and then set them alongside me. Make me an earthen Altar. Sacrifice your Whole-Burnt-Offerings, your Peace-Offerings, your sheep, and your cattle on it. Every place where I cause my name to be honored in your worship, I’ll be there myself and bless you. If you use stones to make my Altar, don’t use dressed stones. If you use a chisel on the stones you’ll profane the Altar. Don’t use steps to climb to my Altar because that will expose your nakedness.’”

The Message (MSG)

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

Matthew 18:21-35The Message (MSG)

A Story About Forgiveness

21 At that point Peter got up the nerve to ask, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

22 Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.

23-25 “The kingdom of God is like a king who decided to square accounts with his servants. As he got under way, one servant was brought before him who had run up a debt of a hundred thousand dollars. He couldn’t pay up, so the king ordered the man, along with his wife, children, and goods, to be auctioned off at the slave market.

26-27 “The poor wretch threw himself at the king’s feet and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ Touched by his plea, the king let him off, erasing the debt.

28 “The servant was no sooner out of the room when he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him ten dollars. He seized him by the throat and demanded, ‘Pay up. Now!’

29-31 “The poor wretch threw himself down and begged, ‘Give me a chance and I’ll pay it all back.’ But he wouldn’t do it. He had him arrested and put in jail until the debt was paid. When the other servants saw this going on, they were outraged and brought a detailed report to the king.

32-35 “The king summoned the man and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy. Shouldn’t you be compelled to be merciful to your fellow servant who asked for mercy?’ The king was furious and put the screws to the man until he paid back his entire debt. And that’s exactly what my Father in heaven is going to do to each one of you who doesn’t forgive unconditionally anyone who asks for mercy.”

The Message (MSG)

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

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