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2 Kings 1The Message (MSG)

After Ahab died, Moab rebelled against Israel.

One day Ahaziah fell through the balcony railing on the rooftop of his house in Samaria and was injured. He sent messengers off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, “Am I going to recover from this accident?”

3-4 God’s angel spoke to Elijah the Tishbite: “Up on your feet! Go out and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria with this word, ‘Is it because there’s no God in Israel that you’re running off to consult Baal-Zebub god of Ekron?’ Here’s a message from the God you’ve tried to bypass: ‘You’re not going to get out of that bed you’re in—you’re as good as dead already.’” Elijah delivered the message and was gone.

The messengers went back. The king said, “So why are you back so soon—what’s going on?”

They told him, “A man met us and said, ‘Turn around and go back to the king who sent you; tell him, God’s message: Is it because there’s no God in Israel that you’re running off to consult Baal-Zebub god of Ekron? You needn’t bother. You’re not going to get out of that bed you’re in—you’re as good as dead already.’”

The king said, “Tell me more about this man who met you and said these things to you. What was he like?”

“Shaggy,” they said, “and wearing a leather belt.”

He said, “That has to be Elijah the Tishbite!”

The king sent a captain with fifty men to Elijah. Meanwhile Elijah was sitting, big as life, on top of a hill. The captain said, “O Holy Man! King’s orders: Come down!”

10 Elijah answered the captain of the fifty, “If it’s true that I’m a ‘holy man,’ lightning strike you and your fifty men!” Out of the blue lightning struck and incinerated the captain and his fifty.

11 The king sent another captain with his fifty men, “O Holy Man! King’s orders: Come down. And right now!”

12 Elijah answered, “If it’s true that I’m a ‘holy man,’ lightning strike you and your fifty men!” Immediately a divine lightning bolt struck and incinerated the captain and his fifty.

13-14 The king then sent a third captain with his fifty men. For a third time, a captain with his fifty approached Elijah. This one fell on his knees in supplication: “O Holy Man, have respect for my life and the souls of these fifty men! Twice now lightning from out of the blue has struck and incinerated captains with their fifty men; please, I beg you, respect my life!”

15 The angel of God told Elijah, “Go ahead; and don’t be afraid.” Elijah got up and went down with him to the king.

16 Elijah told him, “God’s word: Because you sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron, as if there were no God in Israel to whom you could pray, you’ll never get out of that bed alive—already you’re as good as dead.”

17 And he died, exactly as God’s word spoken by Elijah had said.

Because Ahaziah had no son, his brother Joram became the next king. The succession took place in the second year of the reign of Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah.

18 The rest of Ahaziah’s life is recorded in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Kings 2The Message (MSG)

1-2 Just before God took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on a walk out of Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Bethel.”

Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” So they both went to Bethel.

The guild of prophets at Bethel met Elisha and said, “Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?”

“Yes,” he said, “I know it. But keep it quiet.”

Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to Jericho.”

Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” So they both went to Jericho.

The guild of prophets at Jericho came to Elisha and said, “Did you know that God is going to take your master away from you today?”

“Yes,” he said, “I know it. But keep it quiet.”

Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here. God has sent me on an errand to the Jordan.”

Elisha said, “Not on your life! I’m not letting you out of my sight!” And so the two of them went their way together.

Meanwhile, fifty men from the guild of prophets gathered some distance away while the two of them stood at the Jordan.

Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up, and hit the water with it. The river divided and the two men walked through on dry land.

When they reached the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you before I’m taken from you? Ask anything.”

Elisha said, “Your life repeated in my life. I want to be a holy man just like you.”

10 “That’s a hard one!” said Elijah. “But if you’re watching when I’m taken from you, you’ll get what you’ve asked for. But only if you’re watching.”

11-14 And so it happened. They were walking along and talking. Suddenly a chariot and horses of fire came between them and Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it all and shouted, “My father, my father! You—the chariot and cavalry of Israel!” When he could no longer see anything, he grabbed his robe and ripped it to pieces. Then he picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him, returned to the shore of the Jordan, and stood there. He took Elijah’s cloak—all that was left of Elijah!—and hit the river with it, saying, “Now where is the God of Elijah? Where is he?”

When he struck the water, the river divided and Elisha walked through.

15 The guild of prophets from Jericho saw the whole thing from where they were standing. They said, “The spirit of Elijah lives in Elisha!” They welcomed and honored him.

16 They then said, “We’re at your service. We have fifty reliable men here; let’s send them out to look for your master. Maybe God’s spirit has swept him off to some mountain or dropped him into a remote ravine.”

Elisha said, “No. Don’t send them.”

17 But they pestered him until he caved in: “Go ahead then. Send them.”

So they sent the fifty men off. For three days they looked, searching high and low. Nothing.

18 Finally, they returned to Elisha in Jericho. He told them, “So there—didn’t I tell you?”

19 One day the men of the city said to Elisha, “You can see for yourself, master, how well our city is located. But the water is polluted and nothing grows.”

20 He said, “Bring me a brand-new bowl and put some salt in it.” They brought it to him.

21-22 He then went to the spring, sprinkled the salt into it, and proclaimed, “God’s word: I’ve healed this water. It will no longer kill you or poison your land.” And sure enough, the water was healed—and remains so to this day, just as Elisha said.

23 Another time, Elisha was on his way to Bethel and some little kids came out from the town and taunted him, “What’s up, old baldhead! Out of our way, skinhead!”

24 Elisha turned, took one look at them, and cursed them in the name of God. Two bears charged out of the underbrush and knocked them about, ripping them limb from limb—forty-two children in all!

25 Elisha went on to Mount Carmel, and then returned to Samaria.

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Kings 3The Message (MSG)

Joram of Israel

1-3 Joram son of Ahab began his rule over Israel in Samaria in the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. He was king for twelve years. In God’s sight he was a bad king. But he wasn’t as bad as his father and mother—to his credit he destroyed the obscene Baal stone that his father had made. But he hung on to the sinful practices of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the ones that had corrupted Israel for so long. He wasn’t about to give them up.

4-7 King Mesha of Moab raised sheep. He was forced to give the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and another 100,000 rams. When Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. So King Joram set out from Samaria and prepared Israel for war. His first move was to send a message to Jehoshaphat king of Judah: “The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Would you join me and fight him?”

7-8 “I’m with you all the way,” said Jehoshaphat. “My troops are your troops, my horses are your horses. Which route shall we take?”

“Through the badlands of Edom.”

The king of Israel, the king of Judah, and the king of Edom started out on what proved to be a looping detour. After seven days they had run out of water for both army and animals.

10 The king of Israel said, “Bad news! God has gotten us three kings out here to dump us into the hand of Moab.”

11 But Jehoshaphat said, “Isn’t there a prophet of God anywhere around through whom we can consult God?”

One of the servants of the king of Israel said, “Elisha son of Shaphat is around somewhere—the one who was Elijah’s right-hand man.”

12 Jehoshaphat said, “Good! A man we can trust!” So the three of them—the king of Israel, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom—went to meet him.

13 Elisha addressed the king of Israel, “What do you and I have in common? Go consult the puppet-prophets of your father and mother.”

“Never!” said the king of Israel. “It’s God who has gotten us into this fix, dumping all three of us kings into the hand of Moab.”

14-15 Elisha said, “As God-of-the-Angel-Armies lives, and before whom I stand ready to serve, if it weren’t for the respect I have for Jehoshaphat king of Judah, I wouldn’t give you the time of day. But considering—bring me a minstrel.” (When a minstrel played, the power of God came on Elisha.)

16-19 He then said, “God’s word: Dig ditches all over this valley. Here’s what will happen—you won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water and your army and your animals will drink their fill. This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you. You will ravage the country: Knock out its fortifications, level the key villages, clear-cut the orchards, clog the springs, and litter the cultivated fields with stones.”

20 In the morning—it was at the hour of morning sacrifice—the water had arrived, water pouring in from the west, from Edom, a flash flood filling the valley with water.

21-22 By this time everyone in Moab had heard that the kings had come up to make war against them. Everyone who was able to handle a sword was called into service and took a stand at the border. They were up and ready early in the morning when the sun rose over the water. From where the Moabites stood, the water reflecting the sun looked red, like blood.

23 “Blood! Look at the blood!” they said. “The kings must have fought each other—a bloody massacre! Go for the loot, Moab!”

24-25 When Moab entered the camp of Israel, the Israelites were up on their feet killing Moabites right and left, the Moabites running for their lives, Israelites relentless in pursuit—a slaughter. They leveled the towns, littered the cultivated fields with rocks, clogged the springs, and clear-cut the orchards. Only the capital, Kir Hareseth, was left intact, and that not for long; it too was surrounded and attacked with thrown and flung rocks.

26-27 When the king of Moab realized that he was fighting a losing battle, he took seven hundred swordsmen to hack a corridor past the king of Edom, but they didn’t make it. Then he took his son, his firstborn who would succeed him as king, and sacrificed him on the city wall. That set off furious anger against Israel. Israel pulled back and returned home.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 82The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

82 God calls the judges into his courtroom,
    he puts all the judges in the dock.

2-4 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
    you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
    to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
    and prosecute all those who exploit them.”

Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
    They haven’t a clue to what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,
    the world’s coming unglued.

6-7 “I commissioned you judges, each one of you,
    deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission
    and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”

O God, give them their just deserts!
    You’ve got the whole world in your hands!

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Timothy 1The Message (MSG)

1-2 I, Paul, am an apostle on special assignment for Christ, our living hope. Under God our Savior’s command, I’m writing this to you, Timothy, my son in the faith. All the best from our God and Christ be yours!

Self-Appointed Experts on Life

3-4 On my way to the province of Macedonia, I advised you to stay in Ephesus. Well, I haven’t changed my mind. Stay right there on top of things so that the teaching stays on track. Apparently some people have been introducing fantasy stories and fanciful family trees that digress into silliness instead of pulling the people back into the center, deepening faith and obedience.

5-7 The whole point of what we’re urging is simply love—love uncontaminated by self-interest and counterfeit faith, a life open to God. Those who fail to keep to this point soon wander off into cul-de-sacs of gossip. They set themselves up as experts on religious issues, but haven’t the remotest idea of what they’re holding forth with such imposing eloquence.

8-11 It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.

12-14 I’m so grateful to Christ Jesus for making me adequate to do this work. He went out on a limb, you know, in trusting me with this ministry. The only credentials I brought to it were invective and witch hunts and arrogance. But I was treated mercifully because I didn’t know what I was doing—didn’t know Who I was doing it against! Grace mixed with faith and love poured over me and into me. And all because of Jesus.

15-19 Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One—of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.

Deep honor and bright glory
    to the King of All Time—
One God, Immortal, Invisible,
    ever and always. Oh, yes!

I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in.

19-20 There are some, you know, who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith. Hymenaeus and Alexander are two of them. I let them wander off to Satan to be taught a lesson or two about not blaspheming.

The Message (MSG)

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

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