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Isaiah 9-10The Message (MSG)

A Child Has Been Born—for Us!

But there’ll be no darkness for those who were in trouble. Earlier he did bring the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali into disrepute, but the time is coming when he’ll make that whole area glorious— the road along the Sea, the country past the Jordan, international Galilee.

2-7 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
    you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
    Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
    all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
    as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
    along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
    a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne
    over that promised kingdom.
He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
    and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
    beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will do all this.

God Answered Fire with Fire

8-10 The Master sent a message against Jacob.
    It landed right on Israel’s doorstep.
All the people soon heard the message,
    Ephraim and the citizens of Samaria.
But they were a proud and arrogant bunch.
    They dismissed the message, saying,
“Things aren’t that bad.
    We can handle anything that comes.
If our buildings are knocked down,
    we’ll rebuild them bigger and finer.
If our forests are cut down,
    we’ll replant them with finer trees.”

11-12 So God incited their adversaries against them,
    stirred up their enemies to attack:
From the east, Arameans; from the west, Philistines.
    They made hash of Israel.
But even after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

13-17 But the people paid no mind to him who hit them,
    didn’t seek God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
So God hacked off Israel’s head and tail,
    palm branch and reed, both on the same day.
The big-head elders were the head,
    the lying prophets were the tail.
Those who were supposed to lead this people
    led them down blind alleys,
And those who followed the leaders
    ended up lost and confused.
That’s why the Master lost interest in the young men,
    had no feeling for their orphans and widows.
All of them were godless and evil,
    talking filth and folly.
And even after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

18-21 Their wicked lives raged like an out-of-control fire,
    the kind that burns everything in its path—
Trees and bushes, weeds and grasses—
    filling the skies with smoke.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies answered fire with fire,
    set the whole country on fire,
Turned the people into consuming fires,
    consuming one another in their lusts—
Appetites insatiable, stuffing and gorging
    themselves left and right with people and things.
But still they starved. Not even their children
    were safe from their rapacious hunger.
Manasseh ate Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh,
    and then the two ganged up against Judah.
And after that, he was still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

You Who Legislate Evil

10 1-4 Doom to you who legislate evil,
    who make laws that make victims—

Laws that make misery for the poor,
    that rob my destitute people of dignity,
Exploiting defenseless widows,
    taking advantage of homeless children.
What will you have to say on Judgment Day,
    when Doomsday arrives out of the blue?
Who will you get to help you?
    What good will your money do you?
A sorry sight you’ll be then, huddled with the prisoners,
    or just some corpses stacked in the street.
Even after all this, God is still angry,
    his fist still raised, ready to hit them again.

Doom to Assyria!

5-11 “Doom to Assyria, weapon of my anger.
    My wrath is a cudgel in his hands!
I send him against a godless nation,
    against the people I’m angry with.
I command him to strip them clean, rob them blind,
    and then push their faces in the mud and leave them.
But Assyria has another agenda;
    he has something else in mind.
He’s out to destroy utterly,
    to stamp out as many nations as he can.
Assyria says, ‘Aren’t my commanders all kings?
    Can’t they do whatever they like?
Didn’t I destroy Calno as well as Carchemish?
    Hamath as well as Arpad? Level Samaria as I did Damascus?
I’ve eliminated kingdoms full of gods
    far more impressive than anything in Jerusalem and Samaria.
So what’s to keep me from destroying Jerusalem
    in the same way I destroyed Samaria and all her god-idols?’”

12-13 When the Master has finished dealing with Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he’ll say, “Now it’s Assyria’s turn. I’ll punish the bragging arrogance of the king of Assyria, his high and mighty posturing, the way he goes around saying,

13-14 “‘I’ve done all this by myself.
    I know more than anyone.
I’ve wiped out the boundaries of whole countries.
    I’ve walked in and taken anything I wanted.
I charged in like a bull
    and toppled their kings from their thrones.
I reached out my hand and took all that they treasured
    as easily as a boy taking a bird’s eggs from a nest.
Like a farmer gathering eggs from the henhouse,
    I gathered the world in my basket,
And no one so much as fluttered a wing
    or squawked or even chirped.’”

15-19 Does an ax take over from the one who swings it?
    Does a saw act more important than the sawyer?
As if a shovel did its shoveling by using a ditch digger!
    As if a hammer used the carpenter to pound nails!
Therefore the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    will send a debilitating disease on his robust Assyrian fighters.
Under the canopy of God’s bright glory
    a fierce fire will break out.
Israel’s Light will burst into a conflagration.
    The Holy will explode into a firestorm,
And in one day burn to cinders
    every last Assyrian thornbush.
God will destroy the splendid trees and lush gardens.
    The Assyrian body and soul will waste away to nothing
    like a disease-ridden invalid.
A child could count what’s left of the trees
    on the fingers of his two hands.

20-23 And on that Day also, what’s left of Israel, the ragtag survivors of Jacob, will no longer be fascinated by abusive, battering Assyria. They’ll lean on God, The Holy—yes, truly. The ragtag remnant—what’s left of Jacob—will come back to the Strong God. Your people Israel were once like the sand on the seashore, but only a scattered few will return. Destruction is ordered, brimming over with righteousness. For the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will finish here what he started all over the globe.

24-27 Therefore the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says: “My dear, dear people who live in Zion, don’t be terrorized by the Assyrians when they beat you with clubs and threaten you with rods like the Egyptians once did. In just a short time my anger against you will be spent and I’ll turn my destroying anger on them. I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, will go after them with a cat-o’-nine-tails and finish them off decisively—as Gideon downed Midian at the rock Oreb, as Moses turned the tables on Egypt. On that day, Assyria will be pulled off your back, and the yoke of slavery lifted from your neck.”

27-32 Assyria’s on the move: up from Rimmon,
    on to Aiath,
through Migron,
    with a bivouac at Micmash.
They’ve crossed the pass,
    set camp at Geba for the night.
Ramah trembles with fright.
    Gibeah of Saul has run off.
Cry for help, daughter of Gallim!
    Listen to her, Laishah!
    Do something, Anathoth!
Madmenah takes to the hills.
    The people of Gebim flee in panic.
The enemy’s soon at Nob—nearly there!
    In sight of the city he shakes his fist
At the mount of dear daughter Zion,
    the hill of Jerusalem.

33-34 But now watch this: The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    swings his ax and lops the branches,
Chops down the giant trees,
    lays flat the towering forest-on-the-march.
His ax will make toothpicks of that forest,
    that Lebanon-like army reduced to kindling.

The Message (MSG)

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

Ephesians 3The Message (MSG)

The Secret Plan of God

1-3 This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

4-6 As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

7-8 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

8-10 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!

11-13 All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

The Message (MSG)

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

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