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Job 20-21The Message (MSG)

Zophar Attacks Job—The Second Round

Savoring Evil as a Delicacy

20 1-3 Zophar from Naamath again took his turn:

“I can’t believe what I’m hearing!
    You’ve put my teeth on edge, my stomach in a knot.
How dare you insult my intelligence like this!
    Well, here’s a piece of my mind!

4-11 “Don’t you even know the basics,
    how things have been since the earliest days,
    when Adam and Eve were first placed on earth?
The good times of the wicked are short-lived;
    godless joy is only momentary.
The evil might become world famous,
    strutting at the head of the celebrity parade,
But still end up in a pile of dung.
    Acquaintances look at them with disgust and say, ‘What’s that?’
They fly off like a dream that can’t be remembered,
    like a shadowy illusion that vanishes in the light.
Though once notorious public figures, now they’re nobodies,
    unnoticed, whether they come or go.
Their children will go begging on skid row,
    and they’ll have to give back their ill-gotten gain.
Right in the prime of life,
    and youthful and vigorous, they’ll die.

12-19 “They savor evil as a delicacy,
    roll it around on their tongues,
Prolong the flavor, a dalliance in decadence—
    real gourmets of evil!
But then they get stomach cramps,
    a bad case of food poisoning.
They gag on all that rich food;
    God makes them vomit it up.
They gorge on evil, make a diet of that poison—
    a deadly diet—and it kills them.
No quiet picnics for them beside gentle streams
    with fresh-baked bread and cheese, and tall, cool drinks.
They spit out their food half-chewed,
    unable to relax and enjoy anything they’ve worked for.
And why? Because they exploited the poor,
    took what never belonged to them.

20-29 “Such God-denying people are never content with what they have
        or who they are;
    their greed drives them relentlessly.
They plunder everything
    but they can’t hold on to any of it.
Just when they think they have it all, disaster strikes;
    they’re served up a plate full of misery.
When they’ve filled their bellies with that,
    God gives them a taste of his anger,
    and they get to chew on that for a while.
As they run for their lives from one disaster,
    they run smack into another.
They’re knocked around from pillar to post,
    beaten to within an inch of their lives.
They’re trapped in a house of horrors,
    and see their loot disappear down a black hole.
Their lives are a total loss—
    not a penny to their name, not so much as a bean.
God will strip them of their sin-soaked clothes
    and hang their dirty laundry out for all to see.
Life is a complete wipeout for them,
    nothing surviving God’s wrath.
There! That’s God’s blueprint for the wicked—
    what they have to look forward to.”

Job’s Response

Why Do the Wicked Have It So Good?

21 1-3 Job replied:

“Now listen to me carefully, please listen,
    at least do me the favor of listening.
Put up with me while I have my say—
    then you can mock me later to your heart’s content.

4-16 “It’s not you I’m complaining to—it’s God.
    Is it any wonder I’m getting fed up with his silence?
Take a good look at me. Aren’t you appalled by what’s happened?
    No! Don’t say anything. I can do without your comments.
When I look back, I go into shock,
    my body is racked with spasms.
Why do the wicked have it so good,
    live to a ripe old age and get rich?
They get to see their children succeed,
    get to watch and enjoy their grandchildren.
Their homes are peaceful and free from fear;
    they never experience God’s disciplining rod.
Their bulls breed with great vigor
    and their cows calve without fail.
They send their children out to play
    and watch them frolic like spring lambs.
They make music with fiddles and flutes,
    have good times singing and dancing.
They have a long life on easy street,
    and die painlessly in their sleep.
They say to God, ‘Get lost!
    We’ve no interest in you or your ways.
Why should we have dealings with God Almighty?
    What’s there in it for us?’
But they’re wrong, dead wrong—they’re not gods.
    It’s beyond me how they can carry on like this!

17-21 “Still, how often does it happen that the wicked fail,
    or disaster strikes,
    or they get their just deserts?
How often are they blown away by bad luck?
    Not very often.
You might say, ‘God is saving up the punishment for their children.’
    I say, ‘Give it to them right now so they’ll know what
        they’ve done!’
They deserve to experience the effects of their evil,
    feel the full force of God’s wrath firsthand.
What do they care what happens to their families
    after they’re safely tucked away in the grave?

Fancy Funerals with All the Trimmings

22-26 “But who are we to tell God how to run his affairs?
    He’s dealing with matters that are way over our heads.
Some people die in the prime of life,
    with everything going for them—
    fat and sassy.
Others die bitter and bereft,
    never getting a taste of happiness.
They’re laid out side by side in the cemetery,
    where the worms can’t tell one from the other.

27-33 “I’m not deceived. I know what you’re up to,
    the plans you’re cooking up to bring me down.
Naively you claim that the castles of tyrants fall to pieces,
    that the achievements of the wicked collapse.
Have you ever asked world travelers how they see it?
    Have you not listened to their stories
Of evil men and women who got off scot-free,
    who never had to pay for their wickedness?
Did anyone ever confront them with their crimes?
    Did they ever have to face the music?
Not likely—they’re given fancy funerals
    with all the trimmings,
Gently lowered into expensive graves,
    with everyone telling lies about how wonderful they were.

34 “So how do you expect me to get any comfort from your nonsense?
    Your so-called comfort is a tissue of lies.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 10:24-48The Message (MSG)

God Plays No Favorites

23-26 The next morning he got up and went with them. Some of his friends from Joppa went along. A day later they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had his relatives and close friends waiting with him. The minute Peter came through the door, Cornelius was up on his feet greeting him—and then down on his face worshiping him! Peter pulled him up and said, “None of that—I’m a man and only a man, no different from you.”

27-29 Talking things over, they went on into the house, where Cornelius introduced Peter to everyone who had come. Peter addressed them, “You know, I’m sure that this is highly irregular. Jews just don’t do this—visit and relax with people of another race. But God has just shown me that no race is better than any other. So the minute I was sent for, I came, no questions asked. But now I’d like to know why you sent for me.”

30-32 Cornelius said, “Four days ago at about this time, midafternoon, I was home praying. Suddenly there was a man right in front of me, flooding the room with light. He said, ‘Cornelius, your daily prayers and neighborly acts have brought you to God’s attention. I want you to send to Joppa to get Simon, the one they call Peter. He’s staying with Simon the Tanner down by the sea.’

33 “So I did it—I sent for you. And you’ve been good enough to come. And now we’re all here in God’s presence, ready to listen to whatever the Master put in your heart to tell us.”

34-36 Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.

37-38 “You know the story of what happened in Judea. It began in Galilee after John preached a total life-change. Then Jesus arrived from Nazareth, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit, ready for action. He went through the country helping people and healing everyone who was beaten down by the Devil. He was able to do all this because God was with him.

39-43 “And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. Not everyone saw him—he wasn’t put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand—us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. But we’re not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets.”

44-46 No sooner were these words out of Peter’s mouth than the Holy Spirit came on the listeners. The believing Jews who had come with Peter couldn’t believe it, couldn’t believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on “outsider” non-Jews, but there it was—they heard them speaking in tongues, heard them praising God.

46-48 Then Peter said, “Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.” Hearing no objections, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Then they asked Peter to stay on for a few days.

The Message (MSG)

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

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