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Isaiah 50-52The Message (MSG)

Who Out There Fears God?

50 1-3 God says:

“Can you produce your mother’s divorce papers
    proving I got rid of her?
Can you produce a receipt
    proving I sold you?
Of course you can’t.
    It’s your sins that put you here,
    your wrongs that got you shipped out.
So why didn’t anyone come when I knocked?
    Why didn’t anyone answer when I called?
Do you think I’ve forgotten how to help?
    Am I so decrepit that I can’t deliver?
I’m as powerful as ever,
    and can reverse what I once did:
I can dry up the sea with a word,
    turn river water into desert sand,
And leave the fish stinking in the sun,
    stranded on dry land . . .
Turn all the lights out in the sky
    and pull down the curtain.”

4-9 The Master, God, has given me
    a well-taught tongue,
So I know how to encourage tired people.
    He wakes me up in the morning,
Wakes me up, opens my ears
    to listen as one ready to take orders.
The Master, God, opened my ears,
    and I didn’t go back to sleep,
    didn’t pull the covers back over my head.
I followed orders,
    stood there and took it while they beat me,
    held steady while they pulled out my beard,
Didn’t dodge their insults,
    faced them as they spit in my face.
And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me,
    so I’m not disgraced.
Therefore I set my face like flint,
    confident that I’ll never regret this.
My champion is right here.
    Let’s take our stand together!
Who dares bring suit against me?
    Let him try!
Look! the Master, God, is right here.
    Who would dare call me guilty?
Look! My accusers are a clothes bin of threadbare
    socks and shirts, fodder for moths!

10-11 Who out there fears God,
    actually listens to the voice of his servant?
For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going,
    anyone groping in the dark,
Here’s what: Trust in God.
    Lean on your God!
But if all you’re after is making trouble,
    playing with fire,

Go ahead and see where it gets you.
    Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames,
But don’t expect me to just stand there and watch.
    I’ll hold your feet to those flames.

Committed to Seeking God

51 1-3 “Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living
    and committed to seeking God.
Ponder the rock from which you were cut,
    the quarry from which you were dug.
Yes, ponder Abraham, your father,
    and Sarah, who bore you.
Think of it! One solitary man when I called him,
    but once I blessed him, he multiplied.
Likewise I, God, will comfort Zion,
    comfort all her mounds of ruins.
I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden,
    her moonscape into the garden of God,
A place filled with exuberance and laughter,
    thankful voices and melodic songs.

4-6 “Pay attention, my people.
    Listen to me, nations.
Revelation flows from me.
    My decisions light up the world.
My deliverance arrives on the run,
    my salvation right on time.
    I’ll bring justice to the peoples.
Even faraway islands will look to me
    and take hope in my saving power.
Look up at the skies,
    ponder the earth under your feet.
The skies will fade out like smoke,
    the earth will wear out like work pants,
    and the people will die off like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
    my setting-things-right will never be obsolete.

7-8 “Listen now, you who know right from wrong,
    you who hold my teaching inside you:
Pay no attention to insults, and when mocked
    don’t let it get you down.
Those insults and mockeries are moth-eaten,
    from brains that are termite-ridden,
But my setting-things-right lasts,
    my salvation goes on and on and on.”

9-11 Wake up, wake up, flex your muscles, God!
    Wake up as in the old days, in the long ago.
Didn’t you once make mincemeat of Rahab,
    dispatch the old chaos-dragon?
And didn’t you once dry up the sea,
    the powerful waters of the deep,
And then made the bottom of the ocean a road
    for the redeemed to walk across?
In the same way God’s ransomed will come back,
    come back to Zion cheering, shouting,
Joy eternal wreathing their heads,
    exuberant ecstasies transporting them—
    and not a sign of moans or groans.

What Are You Afraid of—or Who?

12-16 “I, I’m the One comforting you.
    What are you afraid of—or who?
Some man or woman who’ll soon be dead?
    Some poor wretch destined for dust?
You’ve forgotten me, God, who made you,
    who unfurled the skies, who founded the earth.
And here you are, quaking like an aspen
    before the tantrums of a tyrant
    who thinks he can kick down the world.
But what will come of the tantrums?
    The victims will be released before you know it.
They’re not going to die.
    They’re not even going to go hungry.
For I am God, your very own God,
    who stirs up the sea and whips up the waves,
    named God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
I teach you how to talk, word by word,
    and personally watch over you,
Even while I’m unfurling the skies,
    setting earth on solid foundations,
    and greeting Zion: ‘Welcome, my people!’”

17-20 So wake up! Rub the sleep from your eyes!
    Up on your feet, Jerusalem!
You’ve drunk the cup God handed you,
    the strong drink of his anger.
You drank it down to the last drop,
    staggered and collapsed, dead-drunk.
And nobody to help you home,
    no one among your friends or children
    to take you by the hand and put you in bed.
You’ve been hit with a double dose of trouble
    —does anyone care?
Assault and battery, hunger and death
    —will anyone comfort?
Your sons and daughters have passed out,
    strewn in the streets like stunned rabbits,
Sleeping off the strong drink of God’s anger,
    the rage of your God.

21-23 Therefore listen, please,
    you with your splitting headaches,
You who are nursing the hangovers
    that didn’t come from drinking wine.
Your Master, your God, has something to say,
    your God has taken up his people’s case:
“Look, I’ve taken back the drink that sent you reeling.
    No more drinking from that jug of my anger!
I’ve passed it over to your abusers to drink, those who ordered you,
    ‘Down on the ground so we can walk all over you!’
And you had to do it. Flat on the ground,
    you were the dirt under their feet.”

God Is Leading You Out of Here

52 1-2 Wake up, wake up! Pull on your boots, Zion!
    Dress up in your Sunday best, Jerusalem, holy city!
Those who want no part of God have been culled out.
    They won’t be coming along.
Brush off the dust and get to your feet, captive Jerusalem!

Throw off your chains, captive daughter of Zion!

God says, “You were sold for nothing. You’re being bought back for nothing.”

4-6 Again, the Master, God, says, “Early on, my people went to Egypt and lived, strangers in the land. At the other end, Assyria oppressed them. And now, what have I here?” God’s Decree. “My people are hauled off again for no reason at all. Tyrants on the warpath, whooping it up, and day after day, incessantly, my reputation blackened. Now it’s time that my people know who I am, what I’m made of—yes, that I have something to say. Here I am!”

7-10 How beautiful on the mountains
    are the feet of the messenger bringing good news,
Breaking the news that all’s well,
    proclaiming good times, announcing salvation,
    telling Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Voices! Listen! Your scouts are shouting, thunderclap shouts,
    shouting in joyful unison.
They see with their own eyes
    God coming back to Zion.
Break into song! Boom it out, ruins of Jerusalem:
    God has comforted his people!
    He’s redeemed Jerusalem!”
God has rolled up his sleeves.
    All the nations can see his holy, muscled arm.
Everyone, from one end of the earth to the other,
    sees him at work, doing his salvation work.

11-12 Out of here! Out of here! Leave this place!
    Don’t look back. Don’t contaminate yourselves with plunder.
Just leave, but leave clean. Purify yourselves
    in the process of worship, carrying the holy vessels of God.
But you don’t have to be in a hurry.
    You’re not running from anybody!
God is leading you out of here,
    and the God of Israel is also your rear guard.

It Was Our Pains He Carried

13-15 “Just watch my servant blossom!
    Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd!
But he didn’t begin that way.
    At first everyone was appalled.
He didn’t even look human—
    a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.
Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback,
    kings shocked into silence when they see him.
For what was unheard of they’ll see with their own eyes,
    what was unthinkable they’ll have right before them.”

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Thessalonians 5The Message (MSG)

1-3 I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—“We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.

4-8 But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we’re creatures of Day, let’s act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.

9-11 God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

The Way He Wants You to Live

12-13 And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!

13-15 Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.

16-18 Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

19-22 Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible. Check out everything, and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.

23-24 May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!

25-27 Friends, keep up your prayers for us. Greet all the followers of Jesus there with a holy embrace. And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out.

28 The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you!

The Message (MSG)

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

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