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Hosea 9-11The Message (MSG)

Starved for God

1-6 Don’t waste your life in wild orgies, Israel.
    Don’t party away your life with the heathen.
You walk away from your God at the drop of a hat
    and like a whore sell yourself promiscuously
    at every sex-and-religion party on the street.
All that party food won’t fill you up.
    You’ll end up hungrier than ever.
At this rate you’ll not last long in God’s land:
    Some of you are going to end up bankrupt in Egypt.
    Some of you will be disillusioned in Assyria.
As refugees in Egypt and Assyria,
    you won’t have much chance to worship God
Sentenced to rations of bread and water,
    and your souls polluted by the spirit-dirty air.
You’ll be starved for God,
    exiled from God’s own country.
Will you be homesick for the old Holy Days?
    Will you miss festival worship of God?
Be warned! When you escape from the frying pan of disaster,
    you’ll fall into the fire of Egypt.
    Egypt will give you a fine funeral!
What use will all your god-inspired silver be then
    as you eke out a living in a field of weeds?

7-9 Time’s up. Doom’s at the doorstep.
    It’s payday!
Did Israel bluster, “The prophet is crazy!
    The ‘man of the Spirit’ is nuts!”?
Think again. Because of your great guilt,
    you’re in big trouble.
The prophet is looking out for Ephraim,
    working under God’s orders.
But everyone is trying to trip him up.
    He’s hated right in God’s house, of all places.
The people are going from bad to worse,
    rivaling that ancient and unspeakable crime at Gibeah.
God’s keeping track of their guilt.
    He’ll make them pay for their sins.

They Took to Sin Like a Pig to Filth

10-13 “Long ago when I came upon Israel,
    it was like finding grapes out in the desert.
When I found your ancestors, it was like finding
    a fig tree bearing fruit for the first time.
But when they arrived at Baal-peor, that pagan shrine,
    they took to sin like a pig to filth,
    wallowing in the mud with their newfound friends.
Ephraim is fickle and scattered, like a flock of blackbirds,
    their beauty dissipated in confusion and clamor,
Frenetic and noisy, frigid and barren,
    and nothing to show for it—neither conception nor childbirth.
Even if they did give birth, I’d declare them
    unfit parents and take away their children!
Yes indeed—a black day for them
    when I turn my back and walk off!
I see Ephraim letting his children run wild.
    He might just as well take them and kill them outright!”

14 Give it to them, God! But what?
    Give them a dried-up womb and shriveled breasts.

15-16 “All their evil came out into the open
    at the pagan shrine at Gilgal. Oh, how I hated them there!
Because of their evil practices,
    I’ll kick them off my land.
I’m wasting no more love on them.
    Their leaders are a bunch of rebellious adolescents.
Ephraim is hit hard—
    roots withered, no more fruit.
Even if by some miracle they had children,
    the dear babies wouldn’t live—I’d make sure of that!”

17 My God has washed his hands of them.
    They wouldn’t listen.
They’re doomed to be wanderers,
    vagabonds among the godless nations.

You Thought You Could Do It All on Your Own

10 1-2 Israel was once a lush vine,
    bountiful in grapes.
The more lavish the harvest,
    the more promiscuous the worship.
The more money they got,
    the more they squandered on gods-in-their-own-image.
Their sweet smiles are sheer lies.
    They’re guilty as sin.
God will smash their worship shrines,
    pulverize their god-images.

3-4 They go around saying,
    “Who needs a king?
We couldn’t care less about God,
    so why bother with a king?
    What difference would he make?”
They talk big,
    lie through their teeth,
    make deals.
But their high-sounding words
    turn out to be empty words, litter in the gutters.

5-6 The people of Samaria travel over to Crime City
    to worship the golden calf-god.
They go all out, prancing and hollering,
    taken in by their showmen priests.
They act so important around the calf-god,
    but are oblivious to the sham, the shame.
They have plans to take it to Assyria,
    present it as a gift to the great king.
And so Ephraim makes a fool of himself,
    disgraces Israel with his stupid idols.

7-8 Samaria is history. Its king
    is a dead branch floating down the river.
Israel’s favorite sin centers
    will all be torn down.
Thistles and crabgrass
    will decorate their ruined altars.
Then they’ll say to the mountains, “Bury us!”
    and to the hills, “Fall on us!”

9-10 You got your start in sin at Gibeah—
    that ancient, unspeakable, shocking sin—
And you’ve been at it ever since.
    And Gibeah will mark the end of it
    in a war to end all the sinning.
I’ll come to teach them a lesson.
    Nations will gang up on them,
Making them learn the hard way
    the sum of Gibeah plus Gibeah.

11-15 Ephraim was a trained heifer
    that loved to thresh.
Passing by and seeing her strong, sleek neck,
    I wanted to harness Ephraim,
Put Ephraim to work in the fields—
    Judah plowing, Jacob harrowing:
Sow righteousness,
    reap love.
It’s time to till the ready earth,
    it’s time to dig in with God,
Until he arrives
    with righteousness ripe for harvest.
But instead you plowed wicked ways,
    reaped a crop of evil and ate a salad of lies.
You thought you could do it all on your own,
    flush with weapons and manpower.
But the volcano of war will erupt among your people.
    All your defense posts will be leveled
As viciously as king Shalman
    leveled the town of Beth-arba,
When mothers and their babies
    were smashed on the rocks.
That’s what’s ahead for you, you so-called people of God,
    because of your off-the-charts evil.
Some morning you’re going to wake up
    and find Israel, king and kingdom, a blank—nothing.

Israel Played at Religion with Toy Gods

11 1-9 “When Israel was only a child, I loved him.
    I called out, ‘My son!’—called him out of Egypt.
But when others called him,
    he ran off and left me.
He worshiped the popular sex gods,
    he played at religion with toy gods.
Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim.
    I rescued him from human bondage,
But he never acknowledged my help,
    never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon,
That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek,
    that I bent down to feed him.
Now he wants to go back to Egypt or go over to Assyria—
    anything but return to me!
That’s why his cities are unsafe—the murder rate skyrockets
    and every plan to improve things falls to pieces.
My people are hell-bent on leaving me.
    They pray to god Baal for help.
    He doesn’t lift a finger to help them.
But how can I give up on you, Ephraim?
    How can I turn you loose, Israel?
How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah,
    devastated like luckless Zeboim?
I can’t bear to even think such thoughts.
    My insides churn in protest.
And so I’m not going to act on my anger.
    I’m not going to destroy Ephraim.
And why? Because I am God and not a human.
    I’m The Holy One and I’m here—in your very midst.

10-12 “The people will end up following God.
    I will roar like a lion—
Oh, how I’ll roar!
    My frightened children will come running from the west.
Like frightened birds they’ll come from Egypt,
    from Assyria like scared doves.
I’ll move them back into their homes.”
    God’s Word!

Soul-Destroying Lies

Ephraim tells lies right and left.
    Not a word of Israel can be trusted.
Judah, meanwhile, is no better,
    addicted to cheap gods.

The Message (MSG)

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

Revelation 3The Message (MSG)

To Sardis

Write this to Sardis, to the Angel of the church. The One holding the Seven Spirits of God in one hand, a firm grip on the Seven Stars with the other, speaks:

“I see right through your work. You have a reputation for vigor and zest, but you’re dead, stone-dead.

2-3 “Up on your feet! Take a deep breath! Maybe there’s life in you yet. But I wouldn’t know it by looking at your busywork; nothing of God’s work has been completed. Your condition is desperate. Think of the gift you once had in your hands, the Message you heard with your ears—grasp it again and turn back to God.

“If you pull the covers back over your head and sleep on, oblivious to God, I’ll return when you least expect it, break into your life like a thief in the night.

“You still have a few followers of Jesus in Sardis who haven’t ruined themselves wallowing in the muck of the world’s ways. They’ll walk with me on parade! They’ve proved their worth!

“Conquerors will march in the victory parade, their names indelible in the Book of Life. I’ll lead them up and present them by name to my Father and his Angels.

“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

To Philadelphia

Write this to Philadelphia, to the Angel of the church. The Holy, the True—David’s key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks:

“I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.

“And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they’re forced to acknowledge it’s you that I’ve loved.

10 “Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.

11 “I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.

12 “I’ll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I’ll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God’s City—the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven—and my new Name.

13 “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

To Laodicea

14 Write to Laodicea, to the Angel of the church. God’s Yes, the Faithful and Accurate Witness, the First of God’s creation, says:

15-17 “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.

18 “Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see.

19 “The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!

20-21 “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That’s my gift to the conquerors!

22 “Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”

The Message (MSG)

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

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