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Jeremiah 15-17The Message (MSG)

15 1-2 Then God said to me: “Jeremiah, even if Moses and Samuel stood here and made their case, I wouldn’t feel a thing for this people. Get them out of here. Tell them to get lost! And if they ask you, ‘So where do we go?’ tell them God says,

“‘If you’re assigned to die, go and die;
    if assigned to war, go and get killed;
If assigned to starve, go starve;
    if assigned to exile, off to exile you go!’

3-4 “I’ve arranged for four kinds of punishment: death in battle, the corpses dropped off by killer dogs, the rest picked clean by vultures, the bones gnawed by hyenas. They’ll be a sight to see, a sight to shock the whole world—and all because of Manasseh son of Hezekiah and all he did in Jerusalem.

“Who do you think will feel sorry for you, Jerusalem?
    Who do you think will waste tears on you?
Who will bother to take the time to ask,
    ‘So, how are things going?’

6-9 You left me, remember?” God’s Decree.
    “You turned your back and walked out.
So I will grab you and hit you hard.
    I’m tired of letting you off the hook.
I threw you to the four winds
    and let the winds scatter you like leaves.
I made sure you’ll lose everything,
    since nothing makes you change.
I created more widows among you
    than grains of sand on the ocean beaches.
At noon mothers will get the news
    of their sons killed in action.
Sudden anguish for the mothers—
    all those terrible deaths.
A mother of seven falls to the ground,
    gasping for breath,
Robbed of her children in their prime.
    Her sun sets at high noon!
Then I’ll round up any of you that are left alive
    and see that you’re killed by your enemies.”
        God’s Decree.

Giving Everything Away for Nothing

10-11 Unlucky mother—that you had me as a son,
    given the unhappy job of indicting the whole country!
I’ve never hurt or harmed a soul,
    and yet everyone is out to get me.
But, God knows, I’ve done everything I could to help them,
    prayed for them and against their enemies.
I’ve always been on their side, trying to stave off disaster.
    God knows how I’ve tried!

12-14 “O Israel, O Judah, what are your chances
    against the iron juggernaut from the north?
In punishment for your sins, I’m giving away
    everything you’ve got, giving it away for nothing.
I’ll make you slaves to your enemies
    in a strange and far-off land.
My anger is blazing and fierce,
    burning in hot judgment against you.”

15-18 You know where I am, God! Remember what I’m doing here!
    Take my side against my detractors.
Don’t stand back while they ruin me.
    Just look at the abuse I’m taking!
When your words showed up, I ate them—
    swallowed them whole. What a feast!
What delight I took in being yours,
    O God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I never joined the party crowd
    in their laughter and their fun.
Led by you, I went off by myself.
    You’d filled me with indignation. Their sin had me seething.
But why, why this chronic pain,
    this ever worsening wound and no healing in sight?
You’re nothing, God, but a mirage,
    a lovely oasis in the distance—and then nothing!

19-21 This is how God answered me:

“Take back those words, and I’ll take you back.
    Then you’ll stand tall before me.
Use words truly and well. Don’t stoop to cheap whining.
    Then, but only then, you’ll speak for me.
Let your words change them.
    Don’t change your words to suit them.
I’ll turn you into a steel wall,
    a thick steel wall, impregnable.
They’ll attack you but won’t put a dent in you
    because I’m at your side, defending and delivering.”
        God’s Decree.
“I’ll deliver you from the grip of the wicked.
    I’ll get you out of the clutch of the ruthless.”

Can Mortals Manufacture Gods?

16 God’s Message to me:

2-4 “Jeremiah, don’t get married. Don’t raise a family here. I have signed the death warrant on all the children born in this country, the mothers who bear them and the fathers who beget them—an epidemic of death. Death unlamented, the dead unburied, dead bodies decomposing and stinking like dung, all the killed and starved corpses served up as meals for carrion crows and mongrel dogs!”

5-7 God continued: “Don’t enter a house where there’s mourning. Don’t go to the funeral. Don’t sympathize. I’ve quit caring about what happens to this people.” God’s Decree. “No more loyal love on my part, no more compassion. The famous and obscure will die alike here, unlamented and unburied. No funerals will be conducted, no one will give them a second thought, no one will care, no one will say, ‘I’m sorry,’ no one will so much as offer a cup of tea, not even for the mother or father.

“And if there happens to be a feast celebrated, don’t go there either to enjoy the festivities.”

God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel, says, “Watch this! I’m about to banish smiles and laughter from this place. No more brides and bridegrooms celebrating. And I’m doing it in your lifetime, before your very eyes.

10-13 “When you tell this to the people and they ask, ‘Why is God talking this way, threatening us with all these calamities? We’re not criminals, after all. What have we done to our God to be treated like this?’ tell them this: ‘It’s because your ancestors left me, walked off and never looked back. They took up with the no-gods, worshiped and doted on them, and ignored me and wouldn’t do a thing I told them. And you’re even worse! Take a good look in the mirror—each of you doing whatever you want, whenever you want, refusing to pay attention to me. And for this I’m getting rid of you, throwing you out in the cold, into a far and strange country. You can worship your precious no-gods there to your heart’s content. Rest assured, I won’t bother you anymore.’

14-15 “On the other hand, don’t miss this: The time is coming when no one will say any longer, ‘As sure as God lives, the God who delivered Israel from Egypt.’ What they’ll say is, ‘As sure as God lives, the God who brought Israel back from the land of the north, brought them back from all the places where he’d scattered them.’ That’s right, I’m going to bring them back to the land I first gave to their ancestors.

16-17 “Now, watch for what comes next: I’m going to assemble a bunch of fishermen.” God’s Decree! “They’ll go fishing for my people and pull them in for judgment. Then I’ll send out a party of hunters, and they’ll hunt them out in all the mountains, hills, and caves. I’m watching their every move. I haven’t lost track of a single one of them, neither them nor their sins.

18 “They won’t get by with a thing. They’ll pay double for everything they did wrong. They’ve made a complete mess of things, littering their lives with their obscene no-gods, leaving piles of stinking god-junk all over the place.”

19-20 God, my strength, my stronghold,
    my safe retreat when trouble descends:
The godless nations will come
    from earth’s four corners, saying,
“Our ancestors lived on lies,
    useless illusions, all smoke.”
Can mortals manufacture gods?
    Their factories turn out no-gods!

21 “Watch closely now. I’m going to teach these wrongheaded people.
    Starting right now, I’m going to teach them
Who I am and what I do,
    teach them the meaning of my name, God—‘I Am.’”

The Heart Is Hopelessly Dark and Deceitful

17 1-2 “Judah’s sin is engraved
    with a steel chisel,
A steel chisel with a diamond point—
    engraved on their granite hearts,
    engraved on the stone corners of their altars.
The evidence against them is plain to see:
    sex-and-religion altars and sacred sex shrines
Anywhere there’s a grove of trees,
    anywhere there’s an available hill.

3-4 “I’ll use your mountains as roadside stands
    for giving away everything you have.
All your ‘things’ will serve as reparations
    for your sins all over the country.
You’ll lose your gift of land,
    The inheritance I gave you.
I’ll make you slaves of your enemies
    in a far-off and strange land.
My anger is hot and blazing and fierce,
    and no one will put it out.”

5-6 God’s Message:

“Cursed is the strong one
    who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone
    and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie,
    out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless
    in a land where nothing grows.

7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
    the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden,
    putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
    never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
    bearing fresh fruit every season.

9-10 “The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
    a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
    and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
    I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
    not as they pretend to be.”

11 Like a cowbird that cheats by laying its eggs
    in another bird’s nest
Is the person who gets rich by cheating.
    When the eggs hatch, the deceit is exposed.
What a fool he’ll look like then!

12-13 From early on your Sanctuary was set high,
    a throne of glory, exalted!
O God, you’re the hope of Israel.
    All who leave you end up as fools,
Deserters with nothing to show for their lives,
    who walk off from God, fountain of living waters—
    and wind up dead!

14-18 God, pick up the pieces.
    Put me back together again.
    You are my praise!
Listen to how they talk about me:
    “So where’s this ‘Word of God’?
    We’d like to see something happen!”
But it wasn’t my idea to call for Doomsday.
    I never wanted trouble.
You know what I’ve said.
    It’s all out in the open before you.
Don’t add to my troubles.
    Give me some relief!
Let those who harass me be harassed, not me.
    Let them be disgraced, not me.
Bring down upon them the day of doom.
    Lower the boom. Boom!

Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

19-20 God’s Message to me: “Go stand in the People’s Gate, the one used by Judah’s kings as they come and go, and then proceed in turn to all the gates of Jerusalem. Tell them, ‘Listen, you kings of Judah, listen to God’s Message—and all you people who go in and out of these gates, you listen!

21-23 “‘This is God’s Message. Be careful, if you care about your lives, not to desecrate the Sabbath by turning it into just another workday, lugging stuff here and there. Don’t use the Sabbath to do business as usual. Keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. They never did it, as you know. They paid no attention to what I said and went about their own business, refusing to be guided or instructed by me.

24-26 “‘But now, take seriously what I tell you. Quit desecrating the Sabbath by busily going about your own work, and keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing business as usual. Then kings from the time of David and their officials will continue to ride through these gates on horses or in chariots. The people of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem will continue to pass through them, too. Jerusalem will always be filled with people. People will stream in from all over Judah, from the province of Benjamin, from the Jerusalem suburbs, from foothills and mountains and deserts. They’ll come to worship, bringing all kinds of offerings—animals, grains, incense, expressions of thanks—into the Sanctuary of God.

27 “‘But if you won’t listen to me, won’t keep the Sabbath holy, won’t quit using the Sabbath for doing your own work, busily going in and out of the city gates on your self-important business, then I’ll burn the gates down. In fact, I’ll burn the whole city down, palaces and all, with a fire nobody will be able to put out!’”

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Timothy 2The Message (MSG)

Doing Your Best for God

1-7 So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.

8-13 Fix this picture firmly in your mind: Jesus, descended from the line of David, raised from the dead. It’s what you’ve heard from me all along. It’s what I’m sitting in jail for right now—but God’s Word isn’t in jail! That’s why I stick it out here—so that everyone God calls will get in on the salvation of Christ in all its glory. This is a sure thing:

If we die with him, we’ll live with him;
If we stick it out with him, we’ll rule with him;
If we turn our backs on him, he’ll turn his back on us;
If we give up on him, he does not give up—
    for there’s no way he can be false to himself.

14-18 Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul. Hymenaeus and Philetus are examples, throwing believers off stride and missing the truth by a mile by saying the resurrection is over and done with.

19 Meanwhile, God’s firm foundation is as firm as ever, these sentences engraved on the stones:

god knows who belongs to him.
spurn evil, all you who name god as god.

20-21 In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.

22-26 Run away from infantile indulgence. Run after mature righteousness—faith, love, peace—joining those who are in honest and serious prayer before God. Refuse to get involved in inane discussions; they always end up in fights. God’s servant must not be argumentative, but a gentle listener and a teacher who keeps cool, working firmly but patiently with those who refuse to obey. You never know how or when God might sober them up with a change of heart and a turning to the truth, enabling them to escape the Devil’s trap, where they are caught and held captive, forced to run his errands.

The Message (MSG)

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

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