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Zechariah 9-12The Message (MSG)

The Whole World Has Its Eyes on God

1-6 War Bulletin:

God’s Message challenges the country of Hadrach.
    It will settle on Damascus.
The whole world has its eyes on God.
    Israel isn’t the only one.
That includes Hamath at the border,
    and Tyre and Sidon, clever as they think they are.
Tyre has put together quite a kingdom for herself;
    she has stacked up silver like cordwood,
    piled gold high as haystacks.
But God will certainly bankrupt her;
    he will dump all that wealth into the ocean
    and burn up what’s left in a big fire.
Ashkelon will see it and panic,
    Gaza will wring its hands,
    Ekron will face a dead end.
Gaza’s king will die.
    Ashkelon will be emptied out,
    And a villain will take over in Ashdod.

6-8 “I’ll take proud Philistia down a peg:
    I’ll make him spit out his bloody booty
    and abandon his vile ways.”
What’s left will be all God’s—a core of survivors,
    a family brought together in Judah—
But enemies like Ekron will go the way of the Jebusites,
    into the dustbin of history.
“I will set up camp in my home country
    and defend it against invaders.
Nobody is going to hurt my people ever again.
    I’m keeping my eye on them.

A Humble King Riding a Donkey

9-10 “Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
    a good king who makes all things right,
    a humble king riding a donkey,
    a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
    no more war horses in Jerusalem,
    no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
    a peaceful rule worldwide,
    from the four winds to the seven seas.

11-13 “And you, because of my blood covenant with you,
    I’ll release your prisoners from their hopeless cells.
Come home, hope-filled prisoners!
    This very day I’m declaring a double bonus—
    everything you lost returned twice-over!
Judah is now my weapon, the bow I’ll pull,
    setting Ephraim as an arrow to the string.
I’ll wake up your sons, O Zion,
    to counter your sons, O Greece.
From now on
    people are my swords.”

14-17 Then God will come into view,
    his arrows flashing like lightning!
Master God will blast his trumpet
    and set out in a whirlwind.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies will protect them—
    all-out war,
The war to end all wars,
    no holds barred.
Their God will save the day. He’ll rescue them.
    They’ll become like sheep, gentle and soft,
Or like gemstones in a crown,
    catching all the colors of the sun.
Then how they’ll shine! shimmer! glow!
    the young men robust, the young women lovely!

God’s Work of Rebuilding

10 Pray to God for rain—it’s time for the spring rain—
    to God, the rainmaker,
Spring thunderstorm maker,
    maker of grain and barley.

2-3 “Store-bought gods babble gibberish.
    Religious experts spout rubbish.
They pontificate hot air.
    Their prescriptions are nothing but smoke.
And so the people wander like lost sheep,
    poor lost sheep without a shepherd.
I’m furious with the so-called shepherds.
    They’re worse than billy goats, and I’ll treat them like goats.”

3-5 God-of-the-Angel-Armies will step in
    and take care of his flock, the people of Judah.
He’ll revive their spirits,
    make them proud to be on God’s side.
God will use them in his work of rebuilding,
    use them as foundations and pillars,
Use them as tools and instruments,
    use them to oversee his work.
They’ll be a workforce to be proud of, working as one,
    their heads held high, striding through swamps and mud,
Courageous and vigorous because God is with them,
    undeterred by the world’s thugs.

6-12 “I’ll put muscle in the people of Judah;
    I’ll save the people of Joseph.
I know their pain and will make them good as new.
    They’ll get a fresh start, as if nothing had ever happened.
And why? Because I am their very own God,
    I’ll do what needs to be done for them.
The people of Ephraim will be famous,
    their lives brimming with joy.
Their children will get in on it, too—
    oh, let them feel blessed by God!
I’ll whistle and they’ll all come running.
    I’ve set them free—oh, how they’ll flourish!
Even though I scattered them to the far corners of earth,
    they’ll remember me in the faraway places.
They’ll keep the story alive in their children,
    and they will come back.
I’ll bring them back from the Egyptian west
    and round them up from the Assyrian east.
I’ll bring them back to sweet Gilead,
    back to leafy Lebanon.
Every square foot of land
    will be marked by homecoming.
They’ll sail through troubled seas, brush aside brash ocean waves.
    Roaring rivers will turn to a trickle.
Gaudy Assyria will be stripped bare,
    bully Egypt exposed as a fraud.
But my people—oh, I’ll make them strong, God-strong!
    and they’ll live my way.” God says so!

11 1-4 Open your borders to the immigrants, proud Lebanon!
    Your sentinel trees will burn.
Weep, great pine trees! Mourn, you sister cedars!
    Your towering trees are cordwood.
Weep Bashan oak trees!
    Your thick forest is now a field of stumps.
Do you hear the wailing of shepherds?
    They’ve lost everything they once owned.
Do you hear the outrage of the lions?
    The mighty jungle of the Jordan is wasted.
Make room for the returning exiles!

Breaking the Beautiful Covenant

4-5 God commanded me, “Shepherd the sheep that are soon to be slaughtered. The people who buy them will butcher them for quick and easy money. What’s worse, they’ll get away with it. The people who sell them will say, ‘Lucky me! God’s on my side; I’ve got it made!’ They have shepherds who couldn’t care less about them.”

God’s Decree: “I’m washing my hands of the people of this land. From now on they’re all on their own. It’s dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, and the devil take the hindmost. Don’t look for help from me.”

7-8 So I took over from the crass, money-grubbing owners, and shepherded the sheep marked for slaughter. I got myself two shepherd staffs. I named one Lovely and the other Harmony. Then I went to work shepherding the sheep. Within a month I got rid of the corrupt shepherds. I got tired of putting up with them—and they couldn’t stand me.

And then I got tired of the sheep and said, “I’ve had it with you—no more shepherding from me. If you die, you die; if you’re attacked, you’re attacked. Whoever survives can eat what’s left.”

10-11 Then I took the staff named Lovely and broke it across my knee, breaking the beautiful covenant I had made with all the peoples. In one stroke, both staff and covenant were broken. The money-hungry owners saw me do it and knew God was behind it.

12 Then I addressed them: “Pay me what you think I’m worth.” They paid me an insulting sum, counting out thirty silver coins.

13 God told me, “Throw it in the poor box.” This stingy wage was all they thought of me and my work! So I took the thirty silver coins and threw them into the poor box in God’s Temple.

14 Then I broke the other staff, Harmony, across my knee, breaking the concord between Judah and Israel.

15-16 God then said, “Dress up like a stupid shepherd. I’m going to install just such a shepherd in this land—a shepherd indifferent to victims, who ignores the lost, abandons the injured, and disdains decent citizens. He’ll only be in it for what he can get out of it, using and abusing any and all.

17 “Doom to you, useless shepherd,
    walking off and leaving the sheep!
A curse on your arm!
    A curse on your right eye!
Your arm will hang limp and useless.
    Your right eye will go stone blind.”

Home Again in Jerusalem

12 1-2 War Bulletin:

God’s Message concerning Israel, God’s Decree—the very God who threw the skies into space, set earth on a firm foundation, and breathed his own life into men and women: “Watch for this: I’m about to turn Jerusalem into a cup of strong drink that will have the people who have set siege to Judah and Jerusalem staggering in a drunken stupor.

“On the Big Day, I’ll turn Jerusalem into a huge stone blocking the way for everyone. All who try to lift it will rupture themselves. All the pagan nations will come together and try to get rid of it.

4-5 “On the Big Day”—this is God speaking—“I’ll throw all the war horses into a crazed panic, and their riders along with them. But I’ll keep my eye on Judah, watching out for her at the same time that I make the enemy horses go blind. The families of Judah will then realize, ‘Why, our leaders are strong and able through God-of-the-Angel-Armies, their personal God.’

“On the Big Day, I’ll turn the families of Judah into something like a burning match in a tinder-dry forest, like a fiercely flaming torch in a barn full of hay. They’ll burn up everything and everyone in sight—people to the right, people to the left—while Jerusalem fills up with people moving in and making themselves at home—home again in Jerusalem.

7-8 “I, God, will begin by restoring the common households of Judah so that the glory of David’s family and the leaders in Jerusalem won’t overshadow the ordinary people in Judah. On the Big Day, I’ll look after everyone who lives in Jerusalem so that the lowliest, weakest person will be as glorious as David and the family of David itself will be godlike, like the Angel of God leading the people.

“On the Big Day, I’ll make a clean sweep of all the godless nations that fought against Jerusalem.

10-14 “Next I’ll deal with the family of David and those who live in Jerusalem. I’ll pour a spirit of grace and prayer over them. They’ll then be able to recognize me as the One they so grievously wounded—that piercing spear-thrust! And they’ll weep—oh, how they’ll weep! Deep mourning as of a parent grieving the loss of the firstborn child. The lamentation in Jerusalem that day will be massive, as famous as the lamentation over Hadad-Rimmon on the fields of Megiddo:

Everyone will weep and grieve,
    the land and everyone in it:
The family of David off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
The family of Nathan off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
The family of Levi off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
The family of Shimei off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
And all the rest of the families off by themselves
    and their women off by themselves.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Revelation 20The Message (MSG)

A Thousand Years

20 1-3 I saw an Angel descending out of Heaven. He carried the key to the Abyss and a chain—a huge chain. He grabbed the Dragon, that old Snake—the very Devil, Satan himself!—chained him up for a thousand years, dumped him into the Abyss, slammed it shut and sealed it tight. No more trouble out of him, deceiving the nations—until the thousand years are up. After that he has to be let loose briefly.

4-6 I saw thrones. Those put in charge of judgment sat on the thrones. I also saw the souls of those beheaded because of their witness to Jesus and the Word of God, who refused to worship either the Beast or his image, refused to take his mark on forehead or hand—they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years! The rest of the dead did not live until the thousand years were up. This is the first resurrection—and those involved most blessed, most holy. No second death for them! They’re priests of God and Christ; they’ll reign with him a thousand years.

7-10 When the thousand years are up, Satan will be let loose from his cell, and will launch again his old work of deceiving the nations, searching out victims in every nook and cranny of earth, even Gog and Magog! He’ll talk them into going to war and will gather a huge army, millions strong. They’ll stream across the earth, surround and lay siege to the camp of God’s holy people, the Beloved City. They’ll no sooner get there than fire will pour out of Heaven and burn them up. The Devil who deceived them will be hurled into Lake Fire and Brimstone, joining the Beast and False Prophet, the three in torment around the clock for ages without end.

Judgment

11-15 I saw a Great White Throne and the One Enthroned. Nothing could stand before or against the Presence, nothing in Heaven, nothing on earth. And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there—before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by the way they had lived. Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived. Then Death and Hell were hurled into Lake Fire. This is the second death—Lake Fire. Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire.

The Message (MSG)

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

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