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Job 11-13The Message (MSG)

Zophar’s Counsel

How Wisdom Looks from the Inside

11 1-6 Now it was the turn of Zophar from Naamath:

“What a flood of words! Shouldn’t we put a stop to it?
    Should this kind of loose talk be permitted?
Job, do you think you can carry on like this and we’ll say nothing?
    That we’ll let you rail and mock and not step in?
You claim, ‘My doctrine is sound
    and my conduct impeccable.’
How I wish God would give you a piece of his mind,
    tell you what’s what!
I wish he’d show you how wisdom looks from the inside,
    for true wisdom is mostly ‘inside.’
But you can be sure of this,
    you haven’t gotten half of what you deserve.

7-12 “Do you think you can explain the mystery of God?
    Do you think you can diagram God Almighty?
God is far higher than you can imagine,
    far deeper than you can comprehend,
Stretching farther than earth’s horizons,
    far wider than the endless ocean.
If he happens along, throws you in jail
    then hauls you into court, can you do anything about it?
He sees through vain pretensions,
    spots evil a long way off—
    no one pulls the wool over his eyes!
Hollow men, hollow women, will wise up
    about the same time mules learn to talk.

Reach Out to God

13-20 “Still, if you set your heart on God
    and reach out to him,
If you scrub your hands of sin
    and refuse to entertain evil in your home,
You’ll be able to face the world unashamed
    and keep a firm grip on life, guiltless and fearless.
You’ll forget your troubles;
    they’ll be like old, faded photographs.
Your world will be washed in sunshine,
    every shadow dispersed by dayspring.
Full of hope, you’ll relax, confident again;
    you’ll look around, sit back, and take it easy.
Expansive, without a care in the world,
    you’ll be hunted out by many for your blessing.
But the wicked will see none of this.
    They’re headed down a dead-end road
    with nothing to look forward to—nothing.”

Job Answers Zophar

Put Your Ear to the Earth

12 1-3 Job answered:

“I’m sure you speak for all the experts,
    and when you die there’ll be no one left to tell us how to live.
But don’t forget that I also have a brain—
    I don’t intend to play second fiddle to you.
    It doesn’t take an expert to know these things.

4-6 “I’m ridiculed by my friends:
    ‘So that’s the man who had conversations with God!’
Ridiculed without mercy:
    ‘Look at the man who never did wrong!’
It’s easy for the well-to-do to point their fingers in blame,
    for the well-fixed to pour scorn on the strugglers.
Crooks reside safely in high-security houses,
    insolent blasphemers live in luxury;
    they’ve bought and paid for a god who’ll protect them.

7-12 “But ask the animals what they think—let them teach you;
    let the birds tell you what’s going on.
Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics.
    Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories.
Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree
    that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand—
Every living soul, yes,
    every breathing creature?
Isn’t this all just common sense,
    as common as the sense of taste?
Do you think the elderly have a corner on wisdom,
    that you have to grow old before you understand life?

From God We Learn How to Live

13-25 “True wisdom and real power belong to God;
    from him we learn how to live,
    and also what to live for.
If he tears something down, it’s down for good;
    if he locks people up, they’re locked up for good.
If he holds back the rain, there’s a drought;
    if he lets it loose, there’s a flood.
Strength and success belong to God;
    both deceived and deceiver must answer to him.
He strips experts of their vaunted credentials,
    exposes judges as witless fools.
He divests kings of their royal garments,
    then ties a rag around their waists.
He strips priests of their robes,
    and fires high officials from their jobs.
He forces trusted sages to keep silence,
    deprives elders of their good sense and wisdom.
He dumps contempt on famous people,
    disarms the strong and mighty.
He shines a spotlight into caves of darkness,
    hauls deepest darkness into the noonday sun.
He makes nations rise and then fall,
    builds up some and abandons others.
He robs world leaders of their reason,
    and sends them off into no-man’s-land.
They grope in the dark without a clue,
    lurching and staggering like drunks.”

I’m Taking My Case to God

13 1-5 “Yes, I’ve seen all this with my own eyes,
    heard and understood it with my very own ears.
Everything you know, I know,
    so I’m not taking a backseat to any of you.
I’m taking my case straight to God Almighty;
    I’ve had it with you—I’m going directly to God.
You graffiti my life with lies.
    You’re a bunch of pompous quacks!
I wish you’d shut your mouths—
    silence is your only claim to wisdom.

6-12 “Listen now while I make my case,
    consider my side of things for a change.
Or are you going to keep on lying ‘to do God a service’?
    to make up stories ‘to get him off the hook’?
Why do you always take his side?
    Do you think he needs a lawyer to defend himself?
How would you fare if you were in the dock?
    Your lies might convince a jury—but would they
        convince God?
He’d reprimand you on the spot
    if he detected a bias in your witness.
Doesn’t his splendor put you in awe?
    Aren’t you afraid to speak cheap lies before him?
Your wise sayings are knickknack wisdom,
    good for nothing but gathering dust.

13-19 “So hold your tongue while I have my say,
    then I’ll take whatever I have coming to me.
Why do I go out on a limb like this
    and take my life in my hands?
Because even if he killed me, I’d keep on hoping.
    I’d defend my innocence to the very end.
Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation!
    If I were guilt-stricken do you think I’d be doing this—
    laying myself on the line before God?
You’d better pay attention to what I’m telling you,
    listen carefully with both ears.
Now that I’ve laid out my defense,
    I’m sure that I’ll be acquitted.
Can anyone prove charges against me?
    I’ve said my piece. I rest my case.

Why Does God Stay Hidden and Silent?

20-27 “Please, God, I have two requests;
    grant them so I’ll know I count with you:
First, lay off the afflictions;
    the terror is too much for me.
Second, address me directly so I can answer you,
    or let me speak and then you answer me.
How many sins have been charged against me?
    Show me the list—how bad is it?
Why do you stay hidden and silent?
    Why treat me like I’m your enemy?
Why kick me around like an old tin can?
    Why beat a dead horse?
You compile a long list of mean things about me,
    even hold me accountable for the sins of my youth.
You hobble me so I can’t move about.
    You watch every move I make,
    and brand me as a dangerous character.

28 “Like something rotten, human life fast decomposes,
    like a moth-eaten shirt or a mildewed blouse.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 9:1-21The Message (MSG)

The Blinding of Saul

1-2 All this time Saul was breathing down the necks of the Master’s disciples, out for the kill. He went to the Chief Priest and got arrest warrants to take to the meeting places in Damascus so that if he found anyone there belonging to the Way, whether men or women, he could arrest them and bring them to Jerusalem.

3-4 He set off. When he got to the outskirts of Damascus, he was suddenly dazed by a blinding flash of light. As he fell to the ground, he heard a voice: “Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?”

5-6 He said, “Who are you, Master?”

“I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.”

7-9 His companions stood there dumbstruck—they could hear the sound, but couldn’t see anyone—while Saul, picking himself up off the ground, found himself stone-blind. They had to take him by the hand and lead him into Damascus. He continued blind for three days. He ate nothing, drank nothing.

10 There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.”

“Yes, Master?” he answered.

11-12 “Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”

13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

15-16 But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews. And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.”

17-19 So Ananias went and found the house, placed his hands on blind Saul, and said, “Brother Saul, the Master sent me, the same Jesus you saw on your way here. He sent me so you could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” No sooner were the words out of his mouth than something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes—he could see again! He got to his feet, was baptized, and sat down with them to a hearty meal.

Plots Against Saul

19-21 Saul spent a few days getting acquainted with the Damascus disciples, but then went right to work, wasting no time, preaching in the meeting places that this Jesus was the Son of God. They were caught off guard by this and, not at all sure they could trust him, they kept saying, “Isn’t this the man who wreaked havoc in Jerusalem among the believers? And didn’t he come here to do the same thing—arrest us and drag us off to jail in Jerusalem for sentencing by the high priests?”

The Message (MSG)

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

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