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Job 34-35The Message (MSG)

Elihu’s Second Speech

It’s Impossible for God to Do Evil

34 1-4 Elihu continued:

“So, my fine friends—listen to me,
    and see what you think of this.
Isn’t it just common sense—
    as common as the sense of taste—
To put our heads together
    and figure out what’s going on here?

5-9 “We’ve all heard Job say, ‘I’m in the right,
    but God won’t give me a fair trial.
When I defend myself, I’m called a liar to my face.
    I’ve done nothing wrong, and I get punished anyway.’
Have you ever heard anything to beat this?
    Does nothing faze this man Job?
Do you think he’s spent too much time in bad company,
    hanging out with the wrong crowd,
So that now he’s parroting their line:
    ‘It doesn’t pay to try to please God’?

10-15 “You’re veterans in dealing with these matters;
    certainly we’re of one mind on this.
It’s impossible for God to do anything evil;
    no way can the Mighty One do wrong.
He makes us pay for exactly what we’ve done—no more, no less.
    Our chickens always come home to roost.
It’s impossible for God to do anything wicked,
    for the Mighty One to subvert justice.
He’s the one who runs the earth!
    He cradles the whole world in his hand!
If he decided to hold his breath,
    every man, woman, and child would die for lack of air.

God Is Working Behind the Scenes

16-20 “So, Job, use your head;
    this is all pretty obvious.
Can someone who hates order, keep order?
    Do you dare condemn the righteous, mighty God?
Doesn’t God always tell it like it is,
    exposing corrupt rulers as scoundrels and criminals?
Does he play favorites with the rich and famous and slight the poor?
    Isn’t he equally responsible to everybody?
Don’t people who deserve it die without notice?
    Don’t wicked rulers tumble to their doom?
When the so-called great ones are wiped out,
    we know God is working behind the scenes.

21-28 “He has his eyes on every man and woman.
    He doesn’t miss a trick.
There is no night dark enough, no shadow deep enough,
    to hide those who do evil.
God doesn’t need to gather any more evidence;
    their sin is an open-and-shut case.
He deposes the so-called high and mighty without asking questions,
    and replaces them at once with others.
Nobody gets by with anything; overnight,
    judgment is signed, sealed, and delivered.
He punishes the wicked for their wickedness
    out in the open where everyone can see it,
Because they quit following him,
    no longer even thought about him or his ways.
Their apostasy was announced by the cry of the poor;
    the cry of the afflicted got God’s attention.

Because You Refuse to Live on God’s Terms

29-30 “If God is silent, what’s that to you?
    If he turns his face away, what can you do about it?
But whether silent or hidden, he’s there, ruling,
    so that those who hate God won’t take over
    and ruin people’s lives.

31-33 “So why don’t you simply confess to God?
    Say, ‘I sinned, but I’ll sin no more.
Teach me to see what I still don’t see.
    Whatever evil I’ve done, I’ll do it no more.’
Just because you refuse to live on God’s terms,
    do you think he should start living on yours?
You choose. I can’t do it for you.
    Tell me what you decide.

34-37 “All right-thinking people say—
    and the wise who have listened to me concur—
‘Job is an ignoramus.
    He talks utter nonsense.’
Job, you need to be pushed to the wall and called to account
    for wickedly talking back to God the way you have.
You’ve compounded your original sin
    by rebelling against God’s discipline,
Defiantly shaking your fist at God,
    piling up indictments against the Almighty One.”

Elihu’s Third Speech

When God Makes Creation a Classroom

35 1-3 Elihu lit into Job again:

“Does this kind of thing make any sense?
    First you say, ‘I’m perfectly innocent before God.’
And then you say, ‘It doesn’t make a bit of difference
    whether I’ve sinned or not.’

4-8 “Well, I’m going to show you
    that you don’t know what you’re talking about,
    neither you nor your friends.
Look up at the sky. Take a long hard look.
    See those clouds towering above you?
If you sin, what difference could that make to God?
    No matter how much you sin, will it matter to him?
Even if you’re good, what would God get out of that?
    Do you think he’s dependent on your accomplishments?
The only ones who care whether you’re good or bad
    are your family and friends and neighbors.
    God’s not dependent on your behavior.

9-15 “When times get bad, people cry out for help.
    They cry for relief from being kicked around,
But never give God a thought when things go well,
    when God puts spontaneous songs in their hearts,
When God sets out the entire creation as a science classroom,
    using birds and beasts to teach wisdom.
People are arrogantly indifferent to God—
    until, of course, they’re in trouble,
    and then God is indifferent to them.
There’s nothing behind such prayers except panic;
    the Almighty pays them no mind.
So why would he notice you
    just because you say you’re tired of waiting to be heard,
Or waiting for him to get good and angry
    and do something about the world’s problems?

16 “Job, you talk sheer nonsense—
    nonstop nonsense!”

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 15:1-21The Message (MSG)

To Let Outsiders Inside

15 1-2 It wasn’t long before some Jews showed up from Judea insisting that everyone be circumcised: “If you’re not circumcised in the Mosaic fashion, you can’t be saved.” Paul and Barnabas were up on their feet at once in fierce protest. The church decided to resolve the matter by sending Paul, Barnabas, and a few others to put it before the apostles and leaders in Jerusalem.

After they were sent off and on their way, they told everyone they met as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria about the breakthrough to the non-Jewish outsiders. Everyone who heard the news cheered—it was terrific news!

4-5 When they got to Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas were graciously received by the whole church, including the apostles and leaders. They reported on their recent journey and how God had used them to open things up to the outsiders. Some Pharisees stood up to say their piece. They had become believers, but continued to hold to the hard party line of the Pharisees. “You have to circumcise the pagan converts,” they said. “You must make them keep the Law of Moses.”

6-9 The apostles and leaders called a special meeting to consider the matter. The arguments went on and on, back and forth, getting more and more heated. Then Peter took the floor: “Friends, you well know that from early on God made it quite plain that he wanted the pagans to hear the Message of this good news and embrace it—and not in any secondhand or roundabout way, but firsthand, straight from my mouth. And God, who can’t be fooled by any pretense on our part but always knows a person’s thoughts, gave them the Holy Spirit exactly as he gave him to us. He treated the outsiders exactly as he treated us, beginning at the very center of who they were and working from that center outward, cleaning up their lives as they trusted and believed him.

10-11 “So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don’t we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as he did those from beyond our nation? So what are we arguing about?”

12-13 There was dead silence. No one said a word. With the room quiet, Barnabas and Paul reported matter-of-factly on the miracles and wonders God had done among the other nations through their ministry. The silence deepened; you could hear a pin drop.

13-18 James broke the silence. “Friends, listen. Simeon has told us the story of how God at the very outset made sure that racial outsiders were included. This is in perfect agreement with the words of the prophets:

After this, I’m coming back;
    I’ll rebuild David’s ruined house;
I’ll put all the pieces together again;
    I’ll make it look like new
So outsiders who seek will find,
    so they’ll have a place to come to,
All the pagan peoples
    included in what I’m doing.

“God said it and now he’s doing it. It’s no afterthought; he’s always known he would do this.

19-21 “So here is my decision: We’re not going to unnecessarily burden non-Jewish people who turn to the Master. We’ll write them a letter and tell them, ‘Be careful to not get involved in activities connected with idols, to guard the morality of sex and marriage, to not serve food offensive to Jewish Christians—blood, for instance.’ This is basic wisdom from Moses, preached and honored for centuries now in city after city as we have met and kept the Sabbath.”

The Message (MSG)

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

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