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Psalm 79-80The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

79 1-4 God! Barbarians have broken into your home,
    violated your holy temple,
    left Jerusalem a pile of rubble!
They’ve served up the corpses of your servants
    as carrion food for birds of prey,
Threw the bones of your holy people
    out to the wild animals to gnaw on.
They dumped out their blood
    like buckets of water.
All around Jerusalem, their bodies
    were left to rot, unburied.
We’re nothing but a joke to our neighbors,
    graffiti scrawled on the city walls.

5-7 How long do we have to put up with this, God?
    Do you have it in for us for good?
    Will your smoldering rage never cool down?
If you’re going to be angry, be angry
    with the pagans who care nothing about you,
    or your rival kingdoms who ignore you.
They’re the ones who ruined Jacob,
    who wrecked and looted the place where he lived.

8-10 Don’t blame us for the sins of our parents.
    Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope.
You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.
    Your reputation is on the line.
Pull us out of this mess, forgive us our sins—
    do what you’re famous for doing!
Don’t let the heathen get by with their sneers:
    “Where’s your God? Is he out to lunch?”
Go public and show the godless world
    that they can’t kill your servants and get by with it.

11-13 Give groaning prisoners a hearing;
    pardon those on death row from their doom—you can do it!
Give our jeering neighbors what they’ve got coming to them;
    let their God-taunts boomerang and knock them flat.
Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for,
    will thank you over and over and over.
We’ll tell everyone we meet
    how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!

An Asaph Psalm

80 1-2 Listen, Shepherd, Israel’s Shepherd—
    get all your Joseph sheep together.
Throw beams of light
    from your dazzling throne
So Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh
    can see where they’re going.
Get out of bed—you’ve slept long enough!
    Come on the run before it’s too late.

God, come back!
    Smile your blessing smile:
    That will be our salvation.

4-6 God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    how long will you smolder like a sleeping volcano
    while your people call for fire and brimstone?
You put us on a diet of tears,
    bucket after bucket of salty tears to drink.
You make us look ridiculous to our friends;
    our enemies poke fun day after day.

God-of-the-Angel-Armies, come back!
    Smile your blessing smile:
        That will be our salvation.

8-18 Remember how you brought a young vine from Egypt,
    cleared out the brambles and briers
    and planted your very own vineyard?
You prepared the good earth,
    you planted her roots deep;
    the vineyard filled the land.
Your vine soared high and shaded the mountains,
    even dwarfing the giant cedars.
Your vine ranged west to the Sea,
    east to the River.
So why do you no longer protect your vine?
    Trespassers pick its grapes at will;
Wild pigs crash through and crush it,
    and the mice nibble away at what’s left.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies, turn our way!
    Take a good look at what’s happened
    and attend to this vine.
Care for what you once tenderly planted—
    the vine you raised from a shoot.
And those who dared to set it on fire—
    give them a look that will kill!
Then take the hand of your once-favorite child,
    the child you raised to adulthood.
We will never turn our back on you;
    breathe life into our lungs so we can shout your name!

19 God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, come back!
    Smile your blessing smile:
    That will be our salvation.

The Message (MSG)

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

Romans 11:1-18The Message (MSG)

The Loyal Minority

11 1-2 Does this mean, then, that God is so fed up with Israel that he’ll have nothing more to do with them? Hardly. Remember that I, the one writing these things, am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham out of the tribe of Benjamin. You can’t get much more Semitic than that! So we’re not talking about repudiation. God has been too long involved with Israel, has too much invested, to simply wash his hands of them.

2-6 Do you remember that time Elijah was agonizing over this same Israel and cried out in prayer?

God, they murdered your prophets,
They trashed your altars;
I’m the only one left and now they’re after me!

And do you remember God’s answer?

I still have seven thousand who haven’t quit,
Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish.

It’s the same today. There’s a fiercely loyal minority still—not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. They’re holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.

7-10 And then what happened? Well, when Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God. Moses and Isaiah both commented on this:

Fed up with their quarrelsome, self-centered ways,
    God blurred their eyes and dulled their ears,
Shut them in on themselves in a hall of mirrors,
    and they’re there to this day.

David was upset about the same thing:

I hope they get sick eating self-serving meals,
    break a leg walking their self-serving ways.
I hope they go blind staring in their mirrors,
    get ulcers from playing at god.

Pruning and Grafting Branches

11-12 The next question is, “Are they down for the count? Are they out of this for good?” And the answer is a clear-cut No. Ironically when they walked out, they left the door open and the outsiders walked in. But the next thing you know, the Jews were starting to wonder if perhaps they had walked out on a good thing. Now, if their leaving triggered this worldwide coming of non-Jewish outsiders to God’s kingdom, just imagine the effect of their coming back! What a homecoming!

13-15 But I don’t want to go on about them. It’s you, the outsiders, that I’m concerned with now. Because my personal assignment is focused on the so-called outsiders, I make as much of this as I can when I’m among my Israelite kin, the so-called insiders, hoping they’ll realize what they’re missing and want to get in on what God is doing. If their falling out initiated this worldwide coming together, their recovery is going to set off something even better: mass homecoming! If the first thing the Jews did, even though it was wrong for them, turned out for your good, just think what’s going to happen when they get it right!

16-18 Behind and underneath all this there is a holy, God-planted, God-tended root. If the primary root of the tree is holy, there’s bound to be some holy fruit. Some of the tree’s branches were pruned and you wild olive shoots were grafted in. Yet the fact that you are now fed by that rich and holy root gives you no cause to crow over the pruned branches. Remember, you aren’t feeding the root; the root is feeding you.

The Message (MSG)

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

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