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Judges 4-6The Message (MSG)

Deborah

1-3 The People of Israel kept right on doing evil in God’s sight. With Ehud dead, God sold them off to Jabin king of Canaan who ruled from Hazor. Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim, was the commander of his army. The People of Israel cried out to God because he had cruelly oppressed them with his nine hundred iron chariots for twenty years.

4-5 Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah’s Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice.

6-7 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, “It has become clear that God, the God of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take ten companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I’ll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin’s army, to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I’ll make sure you win the battle.”

Barak said, “If you go with me, I’ll go. But if you don’t go with me, I won’t go.”

9-10 She said, “Of course I’ll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there’ll be no glory in it for you. God will use a woman’s hand to take care of Sisera.”

Deborah got ready and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together at Kedesh. Ten companies of men followed him. And Deborah was with him.

11-13 It happened that Heber the Kenite had parted company with the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses’ in-law. He was now living at Zaanannim Oak near Kedesh. They told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. Sisera immediately called up all his chariots to the Kishon River—nine hundred iron chariots!—along with all his troops who were with him at Harosheth Haggoyim.

14 Deborah said to Barak, “Charge! This very day God has given you victory over Sisera. Isn’t God marching before you?”

Barak charged down the slopes of Mount Tabor, his ten companies following him.

15-16 God routed Sisera—all those chariots, all those troops!—before Barak. Sisera jumped out of his chariot and ran. Barak chased the chariots and troops all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera’s entire fighting force was killed—not one man left.

17-18 Meanwhile Sisera, running for his life, headed for the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. Jabin king of Hazor and Heber the Kenite were on good terms with one another. Jael stepped out to meet Sisera and said, “Come in, sir. Stay here with me. Don’t be afraid.”

So he went with her into her tent. She covered him with a blanket.

19 He said to her, “Please, a little water. I’m thirsty.”

She opened a bottle of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him up again.

20 He then said, “Stand at the tent flap. If anyone comes by and asks you, ‘Is there anyone here?’ tell him, ‘No, not a soul.’”

21 Then while he was fast asleep from exhaustion, Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg and hammer, tiptoed toward him, and drove the tent peg through his temple and all the way into the ground. He convulsed and died.

22 Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera. Jael went out to greet him. She said, “Come, I’ll show you the man you’re looking for.” He went with her and there he was—Sisera, stretched out, dead, with a tent peg through his temple.

23-24 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the People of Israel. The People of Israel pressed harder and harder on Jabin king of Canaan until there was nothing left of him.

That day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

When they let down their hair in Israel,
    they let it blow wild in the wind.
The people volunteered with abandon,
    bless God!

Hear O kings! Listen O princes!
    To God, yes to God, I’ll sing,
Make music to God,
    to the God of Israel.

4-5 God, when you left Seir,
    marched across the fields of Edom,
Earth quaked, yes, the skies poured rain,
    oh, the clouds made rivers.
Mountains leapt before God, the Sinai God,
    before God, the God of Israel.

6-8 In the time of Shamgar son of Anath,
    and in the time of Jael,
Public roads were abandoned,
    travelers went by backroads.
Warriors became fat and sloppy,
    no fight left in them.
Then you, Deborah, rose up;
    you got up, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders,
    who then fought at the gates.
And not a shield or spear to be seen
    among the forty companies of Israel.

Lift your hearts high, O Israel,
    with abandon, volunteering yourselves with the people—bless God!

10-11 You who ride on prize donkeys
    comfortably mounted on blankets
And you who walk down the roads,
    ponder, attend!
Gather at the town well
    and listen to them sing,
Chanting the tale of God’s victories,
    his victories accomplished in Israel.

Then the people of God
    went down to the city gates.

12 Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
    Wake up, wake up, sing a song!
On your feet, Barak!
    Take your prisoners, son of Abinoam!

13-18 Then the remnant went down to greet the brave ones.
    The people of God joined the mighty ones.
The captains from Ephraim came to the valley,
    behind you, Benjamin, with your troops.
Captains marched down from Makir,
    from Zebulun high-ranking leaders came down.
Issachar’s princes rallied to Deborah,
    Issachar stood fast with Barak,
    backing him up on the field of battle.
But in Reuben’s divisions there was much second-guessing.
    Why all those campfire discussions?
Diverted and distracted,
    Reuben’s divisions couldn’t make up their minds.
Gilead played it safe across the Jordan,
    and Dan, why did he go off sailing?
Asher kept his distance on the seacoast,
    safe and secure in his harbors.
But Zebulun risked life and limb, defied death,
    as did Naphtali on the battle heights.

19-23 The kings came, they fought,
    the kings of Canaan fought.
At Taanach they fought, at Megiddo’s brook,
    but they took no silver, no plunder.
The stars in the sky joined the fight,
    from their courses they fought against Sisera.
The torrent Kishon swept them away,
    the torrent attacked them, the torrent Kishon.
    Oh, you’ll stomp on the necks of the strong!
Then the hoofs of the horses pounded,
    charging, stampeding stallions.
“Curse Meroz,” says God’s angel.
    “Curse, double curse, its people,
Because they didn’t come when God needed them,
    didn’t rally to God’s side with valiant fighters.”

24-27 Most blessed of all women is Jael,
    wife of Heber the Kenite,
    most blessed of homemaking women.
He asked for water,
    she brought milk;
In a handsome bowl,
    she offered cream.
She grabbed a tent peg in her left hand,
    with her right hand she seized a hammer.
She hammered Sisera, she smashed his head,
    she drove a hole through his temple.
He slumped at her feet. He fell. He sprawled.
    He slumped at her feet. He fell.
    Slumped. Fallen. Dead.

28-30 Sisera’s mother waited at the window,
    a weary, anxious watch.
“What’s keeping his chariot?
    What delays his chariot’s rumble?”
The wisest of her ladies-in-waiting answers
    with calm, reassuring words,
“Don’t you think they’re busy at plunder,
    dividing up the loot?
A girl, maybe two girls,
    for each man,
And for Sisera a bright silk shirt,
    a prize, fancy silk shirt!
And a colorful scarf—make it two scarves—
    to grace the neck of the plunderer.”

31 Thus may all God’s enemies perish,
    while his lovers be like the unclouded sun.

The land was quiet for forty years.

Gideon

1-6 Yet again the People of Israel went back to doing evil in God’s sight. God put them under the domination of Midian for seven years. Midian overpowered Israel. Because of Midian, the People of Israel made for themselves hideouts in the mountains—caves and forts. When Israel planted its crops, Midian and Amalek, the easterners, would invade them, camp in their fields, and destroy their crops all the way down to Gaza. They left nothing for them to live on, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. Bringing their cattle and tents, they came in and took over, like an invasion of locusts. And their camels—past counting! They marched in and devastated the country. The People of Israel, reduced to grinding poverty by Midian, cried out to God for help.

7-10 One time when the People of Israel had cried out to God because of Midian, God sent them a prophet with this message: “God, the God of Israel, says,

I delivered you from Egypt,
    I freed you from a life of slavery;
I rescued you from Egypt’s brutality
    and then from every oppressor;
I pushed them out of your way
    and gave you their land.

“And I said to you, ‘I am God, your God. Don’t for a minute be afraid of the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living.’ But you didn’t listen to me.”

11-12 One day the angel of God came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, whose son Gideon was threshing wheat in the winepress, out of sight of the Midianites. The angel of God appeared to him and said, “God is with you, O mighty warrior!”

13 Gideon replied, “With me, my master? If God is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracle-wonders our parents and grandparents told us about, telling us, ‘Didn’t God deliver us from Egypt?’ The fact is, God has nothing to do with us—he has turned us over to Midian.”

14 But God faced him directly: “Go in this strength that is yours. Save Israel from Midian. Haven’t I just sent you?”

15 Gideon said to him, “Me, my master? How and with what could I ever save Israel? Look at me. My clan’s the weakest in Manasseh and I’m the runt of the litter.”

16 God said to him, “I’ll be with you. Believe me, you’ll defeat Midian as one man.”

17-18 Gideon said, “If you’re serious about this, do me a favor: Give me a sign to back up what you’re telling me. Don’t leave until I come back and bring you my gift.”

He said, “I’ll wait till you get back.”

19 Gideon went and prepared a young goat and a huge amount of unraised bread (he used over half a bushel of flour!). He put the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot and took them back under the shade of the oak tree for a sacred meal.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unraised bread, place them on that rock, and pour the broth on them.” Gideon did it.

21-22 The angel of God stretched out the tip of the stick he was holding and touched the meat and the bread. Fire broke out of the rock and burned up the meat and bread while the angel of God slipped away out of sight. And Gideon knew it was the angel of God!

Gideon said, “Oh no! Master, God! I have seen the angel of God face-to-face!”

23 But God reassured him, “Easy now. Don’t panic. You won’t die.”

24 Then Gideon built an altar there to God and named it “God’s Peace.” It’s still called that at Ophrah of Abiezer.

25-26 That night this happened. God said to him, “Take your father’s best seven-year-old bull, the prime one. Tear down your father’s Baal altar and chop down the Asherah fertility pole beside it. Then build an altar to God, your God, on the top of this hill. Take the prime bull and present it as a Whole-Burnt-Offering, using firewood from the Asherah pole that you cut down.”

27 Gideon selected ten men from his servants and did exactly what God had told him. But because of his family and the people in the neighborhood, he was afraid to do it openly, so he did it that night.

28 Early in the morning, the people in town were shocked to find Baal’s altar torn down, the Asherah pole beside it chopped down, and the prime bull burning away on the altar that had been built.

29 They kept asking, “Who did this?”

Questions and more questions, and then the answer: “Gideon son of Joash did it.”

30 The men of the town demanded of Joash: “Bring out your son! He must die! Why, he tore down the Baal altar and chopped down the Asherah tree!”

31 But Joash stood up to the crowd pressing in on him, “Are you going to fight Baal’s battles for him? Are you going to save him? Anyone who takes Baal’s side will be dead by morning. If Baal is a god in fact, let him fight his own battles and defend his own altar.”

32 They nicknamed Gideon that day Jerub-Baal because after he had torn down the Baal altar, he had said, “Let Baal fight his own battles.”

33-35 All the Midianites and Amalekites (the easterners) got together, crossed the river, and made camp in the Valley of Jezreel. God’s Spirit came over Gideon. He blew his ram’s horn trumpet and the Abiezrites came out, ready to follow him. He dispatched messengers all through Manasseh, calling them to the battle; also to Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. They all came.

36-37 Gideon said to God, “If this is right, if you are using me to save Israel as you’ve said, then look: I’m placing a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If dew is on the fleece only, but the floor is dry, then I know that you will use me to save Israel, as you said.”

38 That’s what happened. When he got up early the next morning, he wrung out the fleece—enough dew to fill a bowl with water!

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Don’t be impatient with me, but let me say one more thing. I want to try another time with the fleece. But this time let the fleece stay dry, while the dew drenches the ground.”

40 God made it happen that very night. Only the fleece was dry while the ground was wet with dew.

The Message (MSG)

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

Luke 4:31-44The Message (MSG)

31-32 He went down to Capernaum, a village in Galilee. He was teaching the people on the Sabbath. They were surprised and impressed—his teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to.

33-34 In the meeting place that day there was a man demonically disturbed. He screamed, “Ho! What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you’re up to. You’re the Holy One of God and you’ve come to destroy us!”

35 Jesus shut him up: “Quiet! Get out of him!” The demonic spirit threw the man down in front of them all and left. The demon didn’t hurt him.

36-37 That set everyone back on their heels, whispering and wondering, “What’s going on here? Someone whose words make things happen? Someone who orders demonic spirits to get out and they go?” Jesus was the talk of the town.

He Healed Them All

38-39 He left the meeting place and went to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was running a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. He stood over her, told the fever to leave—and it left. Before they knew it, she was up getting dinner for them.

40-41 When the sun went down, everyone who had anyone sick with some ailment or other brought them to him. One by one he placed his hands on them and healed them. Demons left in droves, screaming, “Son of God! You’re the Son of God!” But he shut them up, refusing to let them speak because they knew too much, knew him to be the Messiah.

42-44 He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking and, when they found him, clung to him so he couldn’t go on. He told them, “Don’t you realize that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God’s kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?” Meanwhile he continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee.

The Message (MSG)

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

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