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Isaiah 7-8The Message (MSG)

A Virgin Will Bear a Son

1-2 During the time that Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah son of Remaliah of Israel attacked Jerusalem, but the attack sputtered out. When the Davidic government learned that Aram had joined forces with Ephraim (that is, Israel), Ahaz and his people were badly shaken. They shook like trees in the wind.

3-6 Then God told Isaiah, “Go and meet Ahaz. Take your son Shear-jashub (A-Remnant-Will-Return) with you. Meet him south of the city at the end of the aqueduct where it empties into the upper pool on the road to the public laundry. Tell him, Listen, calm down. Don’t be afraid. And don’t panic over these two burnt-out cases, Rezin of Aram and the son of Remaliah. They talk big but there’s nothing to them. Aram, along with Ephraim’s son of Remaliah, have plotted to do you harm. They’ve conspired against you, saying, ‘Let’s go to war against Judah, dismember it, take it for ourselves, and set the son of Tabeel up as a puppet king over it.’

7-9 But God, the Master, says,

“It won’t happen.
    Nothing will come of it
Because the capital of Aram is Damascus
    and the king of Damascus is a mere man, Rezin.
As for Ephraim, in sixty-five years
    it will be rubble, nothing left of it.
The capital of Ephraim is Samaria,
    and the king of Samaria is the mere son of Remaliah.
If you don’t take your stand in faith,
    you won’t have a leg to stand on.”

10-11 God spoke again to Ahaz. This time he said, “Ask for a sign from your God. Ask anything. Be extravagant. Ask for the moon!”

12 But Ahaz said, “I’d never do that. I’d never make demands like that on God!”

13-17 So Isaiah told him, “Then listen to this, government of David! It’s bad enough that you make people tired with your pious, timid hypocrisies, but now you’re making God tired. So the Master is going to give you a sign anyway. Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She’ll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us). By the time the child is twelve years old, able to make moral decisions, the threat of war will be over. Relax, those two kings that have you so worried will be out of the picture. But also be warned: God will bring on you and your people and your government a judgment worse than anything since the time the kingdom split, when Ephraim left Judah. The king of Assyria is coming!”

18-19 That’s when God will whistle for the flies at the headwaters of Egypt’s Nile, and whistle for the bees in the land of Assyria. They’ll come and infest every nook and cranny of this country. There’ll be no getting away from them.

20 And that’s when the Master will take the razor rented from across the Euphrates—the king of Assyria no less!—and shave the hair off your heads and genitals, leaving you shamed, exposed, and denuded. He’ll shave off your beards while he’s at it.

21-22 It will be a time when survivors will count themselves lucky to have a cow and a couple of sheep. At least they’ll have plenty of milk! Whoever’s left in the land will learn to make do with the simplest foods—curds, whey, and honey.

23-25 But that’s not the end of it. This country that used to be covered with fine vineyards—thousands of them, worth millions!—will revert to a weed patch. Weeds and thornbushes everywhere! Good for nothing except, perhaps, hunting rabbits. Cattle and sheep will forage as best they can in the fields of weeds—but there won’t be a trace of all those fertile and well-tended gardens and fields.

Then God told me, “Get a big sheet of paper and write in indelible ink, ‘This belongs to Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Spoil-Speeds-Plunder-Hurries).’”

2-3 I got two honest men, Uriah the priest and Zechariah son of Jeberekiah, to witness the document. Then I went home to my wife, the prophetess. She conceived and gave birth to a son.

3-4 God told me, “Name him Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Before that baby says ‘Daddy’ or ‘Mamma’ the king of Assyria will have plundered the wealth of Damascus and the riches of Samaria.”

5-8 God spoke to me again, saying:

“Because this people has turned its back
    on the gently flowing stream of Shiloah
And gotten all excited over Rezin
    and the son of Remaliah,
I’m stepping in and facing them with
    the wild floodwaters of the Euphrates,
The king of Assyria and all his fanfare,
    a river in flood, bursting its banks,
Pouring into Judah, sweeping everything before it,
    water up to your necks,
A huge wingspan of a raging river,
    O Immanuel, spreading across your land.”

9-10 But face the facts, all you oppressors, and then wring your hands.
    Listen, all of you, far and near.
Prepare for the worst and wring your hands.
    Yes, prepare for the worst and wring your hands!
Plan and plot all you want—nothing will come of it.
    All your talk is mere talk, empty words,
Because when all is said and done,
    the last word is Immanuel—God-With-Us.

A Boulder Blocking Your Way

11-15 God spoke strongly to me, grabbed me with both hands and warned me not to go along with this people. He said:

“Don’t be like this people,
    always afraid somebody is plotting against them.
Don’t fear what they fear.
    Don’t take on their worries.
If you’re going to worry,
    worry about The Holy. Fear God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
The Holy can be either a Hiding Place
    or a Boulder blocking your way,
The Rock standing in the willful way
    of both houses of Israel,
A barbed-wire Fence preventing trespass
    to the citizens of Jerusalem.
Many of them are going to run into that Rock
    and get their bones broken,
Get tangled up in that barbed wire
    and not get free of it.”

16-18 Gather up the testimony,
    preserve the teaching for my followers,
While I wait for God as long as he remains in hiding,
    while I wait and hope for him.
I stand my ground and hope,
    I and the children God gave me as signs to Israel,
Warning signs and hope signs from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    who makes his home in Mount Zion.

19-22 When people tell you, “Try out the fortunetellers.
    Consult the spiritualists.
Why not tap into the spirit-world,
    get in touch with the dead?”
Tell them, “No, we’re going to study the Scriptures.”
    People who try the other ways get nowhere—a dead end!
Frustrated and famished,
    they try one thing after another.
When nothing works out they get angry,
    cursing first this god and then that one,
Looking this way and that,
    up, down, and sideways—and seeing nothing,
A blank wall, an empty hole.
    They end up in the dark with nothing.

The Message (MSG)

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

Ephesians 2The Message (MSG)

He Tore Down the Wall

1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.

14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.

16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.

19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

The Message (MSG)

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

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