Exodus 7-8The Message (MSG)
7 1-5 God told Moses, “Look at me. I’ll make you as a god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron will tell it to Pharaoh. Then he will release the Israelites from his land. At the same time I am going to put Pharaoh’s back up and follow it up by filling Egypt with signs and wonders. Pharaoh is not going to listen to you, but I will have my way against Egypt and bring out my soldiers, my people the Israelites, from Egypt by mighty acts of judgment. The Egyptians will realize that I am God when I step in and take the Israelites out of their country.”
6-7 Moses and Aaron did exactly what God commanded. Moses was eighty and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
8-9 Then God spoke to Moses and Aaron. He said, “When Pharaoh speaks to you and says, ‘Prove yourselves. Perform a miracle,’ then tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down in front of Pharaoh: It will turn into a snake.’”
10 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did what God commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his servants, and it turned into a snake.
11-12 Pharaoh called in his wise men and sorcerers. The magicians of Egypt did the same thing by their incantations: each man threw down his staff and they all turned into snakes. But then Aaron’s staff swallowed their staffs.
13 Yet Pharaoh was as stubborn as ever—he wouldn’t listen to them, just as God had said.
Strike One: Blood
14-18 God said to Moses: “Pharaoh is a stubborn man. He refuses to release the people. First thing in the morning, go and meet Pharaoh as he goes down to the river. At the shore of the Nile take the staff that turned into a snake and say to him, ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you with this message, “Release my people so that they can worship me in the wilderness.” So far you haven’t listened. This is how you’ll know that I am God. I am going to take this staff that I’m holding and strike this Nile River water: The water will turn to blood; the fish in the Nile will die; the Nile will stink; and the Egyptians won’t be able to drink the Nile water.’”
19 God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and wave it over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its canals, its ponds, all its bodies of water—so that they turn to blood.’ There’ll be blood everywhere in Egypt—even in the pots and pans.”
20-21 Moses and Aaron did exactly as God commanded them. Aaron raised his staff and hit the water in the Nile with Pharaoh and his servants watching. All the water in the Nile turned into blood. The fish in the Nile died; the Nile stank; and the Egyptians couldn’t drink the Nile water. The blood was everywhere in Egypt.
22-25 But the magicians of Egypt did the same thing with their incantations. Still Pharaoh remained stubborn. He wouldn’t listen to them as God had said. He turned on his heel and went home, never giving it a second thought. But all the Egyptians had to dig inland from the river for water because they couldn’t drink the Nile water.
Seven days went by after God had struck the Nile.
Strike Two: Frogs
8 1-4 God said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘God’s Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you refuse to release them, I’m warning you, I’ll hit the whole country with frogs. The Nile will swarm with frogs—they’ll come up into your houses, into your bedrooms and into your beds, into your servants’ quarters, among the people, into your ovens and pots and pans. They’ll be all over you, all over everyone—frogs everywhere, on and in everything!’”
5 God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Wave your staff over the rivers and canals and ponds. Bring up frogs on the land of Egypt.’”
6 Aaron stretched his staff over the waters of Egypt and a mob of frogs came up and covered the country.
7 But again the magicians did the same thing using their incantations—they also produced frogs in Egypt.
8 Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to God to rid us of these frogs. I’ll release the people so that they can make their sacrifices and worship God.”
9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “Certainly. Set the time. When do you want the frogs out of here, away from your servants and people and out of your houses? You’ll be rid of frogs except for those in the Nile.”
10-11 “Make it tomorrow.”
Moses said, “Tomorrow it is—so you’ll realize that there is no God like our God. The frogs will be gone. You and your houses and your servants and your people, free of frogs. The only frogs left will be the ones in the Nile.”
12-14 Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, and Moses prayed to God about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. God responded to Moses’ prayer: The frogs died off—houses, courtyards, fields, all free of frogs. They piled the frogs in heaps. The country reeked of dead frogs.
15 But when Pharaoh saw that he had some breathing room, he got stubborn again and wouldn’t listen to Moses and Aaron. Just as God had said.
Strike Three: Gnats
16 God said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and strike the dust. The dust will turn into gnats all over Egypt.’”
17 He did it. Aaron grabbed his staff and struck the dust of the Earth; it turned into gnats, gnats all over people and animals. All the dust of the Earth turned into gnats, gnats everywhere in Egypt.
18 The magicians tried to produce gnats with their incantations but this time they couldn’t do it. There were gnats everywhere, all over people and animals.
19 The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is God’s doing.” But Pharaoh was stubborn and wouldn’t listen. Just as God had said.
Strike Four: Flies
20-23 God said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes down to the water. Tell him, ‘God’s Message: Release my people so they can worship me. If you don’t release my people, I’ll release swarms of flies on you, your servants, your people, and your homes. The houses of the Egyptians and even the ground under their feet will be thick with flies. But when it happens, I’ll set Goshen where my people live aside as a sanctuary—no flies in Goshen. That will show you that I am God in this land. I’ll make a sharp distinction between your people and mine. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”
24 And God did just that. Thick swarms of flies in Pharaoh’s palace and the houses of his servants. All over Egypt, the country ruined by flies.
25 Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron and said, “Go ahead. Sacrifice to your God—but do it here in this country.”
26-27 Moses said, “That would not be wise. What we sacrifice to our God would give great offense to Egyptians. If we openly sacrifice what is so deeply offensive to Egyptians, they’ll kill us. Let us go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to our God, just as he instructed us.”
28 Pharaoh said, “All right. I’ll release you to go and sacrifice to your God in the wilderness. Only don’t go too far. Now pray for me.”
29 Moses said, “As soon as I leave here, I will pray to God that tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh, his servants, and his people. But don’t play games with us and change your mind about releasing us to sacrifice to God.”
30-32 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to God. God did what Moses asked. He got rid of the flies from Pharaoh and his servants and his people. There wasn’t a fly left. But Pharaoh became stubborn once again and wouldn’t release the people.
Matthew 15:1-20The Message (MSG)
What Pollutes Your Life
15 1-2 After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?”
3-9 But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules. Frauds! Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye:
These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
10-11 He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”
12 Later his disciples came and told him, “Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?”
13-14 Jesus shrugged it off. “Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”
15 Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”
16-20 Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”