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2 Kings 20The Message (MSG)

20 Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz paid him a visit and said, “Put your affairs in order; you’re about to die—you haven’t long to live.”

2-3 Hezekiah turned from Isaiah and faced God, praying:

Remember, O God, who I am, what I’ve done!
I’ve lived an honest life before you,
My heart’s been true and steady,
I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval.

And then the tears flowed. Hezekiah wept.

4-6 Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of God stopped him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, ‘God’s word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I’ve listened to your prayer and I’ve observed your tears. I’m going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. I’ve just added fifteen years to your life; I’m saving you from the king of Assyria, and I’m covering this city with my shield—for my sake and my servant David’s sake.’”

Isaiah then said, “Prepare a plaster of figs.”

They prepared the plaster, applied it to the boil, and Hezekiah was on his way to recovery.

Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “How do I know whether this is of God and not just the fig plaster? What confirming sign is there that God is healing me and that in three days I’ll walk into The Temple of God on my own legs?”

“This will be your sign from God,” said Isaiah, “that God is doing what he said he’d do: Do you want the shadow to advance ten degrees on the sundial or go back ten degrees? You choose.”

10 Hezekiah said, “It would be easy to make the sun’s shadow advance ten degrees. Make it go back ten degrees.”

11 So Isaiah called out in prayer to God, and the shadow went back ten degrees on Ahaz’s sundial.

12-13 Shortly after this, Merodach-Baladan, the son of Baladan king of Babylon, having heard that the king was sick, sent a get-well card and a gift to Hezekiah. Hezekiah was pleased and showed the messengers around the place—silver, gold, spices, aromatic oils, his stockpile of weapons—a guided tour of all his prized possessions. There wasn’t a thing in his palace or kingdom that Hezekiah didn’t show them.

14 And then Isaiah the prophet showed up: “And just what were these men doing here? Where did they come from and why?”

Hezekiah said, “They came from far away—from Babylon.”

15 “And what did they see in your palace?”

“Everything,” said Hezekiah. “There isn’t anything I didn’t show them—I gave them the grand tour.”

16-18 Then Isaiah spoke to Hezekiah, “Listen to what God has to say about this: The day is coming when everything you own and everything your ancestors have passed down to you, right down to the last cup and saucer, will be cleaned out of here—plundered and packed off to Babylon. God’s word! Worse yet, your sons, the progeny of sons you’ve begotten, will end up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

19 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “If God says it, it must be good.” But he was thinking to himself, “It won’t happen during my lifetime—I’ll enjoy peace and security as long as I live.”

20-21 The rest of the life and times of Hezekiah, along with his projects, especially the way he engineered the Upper Pool and brought water into the city, are written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Hezekiah died and was buried with his ancestors. His son Manasseh became the next king.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 38The Message (MSG)

Time Spent in Death’s Waiting Room

38 At that time, Hezekiah got sick. He was about to die. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz visited him and said, “God says, ‘Prepare your affairs and your family. This is it: You’re going to die. You’re not going to get well.’”

2-3 Hezekiah turned away from Isaiah and, facing the wall, prayed to God: “God, please, I beg you: Remember how I’ve lived my life. I’ve lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours. You’ve seen how I’ve lived, the good that I have done.” And Hezekiah wept as he prayed—painful tears.

4-6 Then God told Isaiah, “Go and speak with Hezekiah. Give him this Message from me, God, the God of your ancestor David: ‘I’ve heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll add fifteen years to your life. And I’ll save both you and this city from the king of Assyria. I have my hand on this city.

7-8 “‘And this is your confirming sign, confirming that I, God, will do exactly what I have promised. Watch for this: As the sun goes down and the shadow lengthens on the sundial of Ahaz, I’m going to reverse the shadow ten notches on the dial.’” And that’s what happened: The declining sun’s shadow reversed ten notches on the dial.

9-15 This is what Hezekiah king of Judah wrote after he’d been sick and then recovered from his sickness:

In the very prime of life
    I have to leave.
Whatever time I have left
    is spent in death’s waiting room.
No more glimpses of God
    in the land of the living,
No more meetings with my neighbors,
    no more rubbing shoulders with friends.
This body I inhabit is taken down
    and packed away like a camper’s tent.
Like a weaver, I’ve rolled up the carpet of my life
    as God cuts me free of the loom
And at day’s end sweeps up the scraps and pieces.
    I cry for help until morning.
Like a lion, God pummels and pounds me,
    relentlessly finishing me off.
I squawk like a doomed hen,
    moan like a dove.
My eyes ache from looking up for help:
    “Master, I’m in trouble! Get me out of this!”
But what’s the use? God himself gave me the word.
    He’s done it to me.
I can’t sleep—
    I’m that upset, that troubled.

16-19 O Master, these are the conditions in which people live,
    and yes, in these very conditions my spirit is still alive—
    fully recovered with a fresh infusion of life!
It seems it was good for me
    to go through all those troubles.
Throughout them all you held tight to my lifeline.
    You never let me tumble over the edge into nothing.
But my sins you let go of,
    threw them over your shoulder—good riddance!
The dead don’t thank you,
    and choirs don’t sing praises from the morgue.
Those buried six feet under
    don’t witness to your faithful ways.
It’s the living—live men, live women—who thank you,
    just as I’m doing right now.
Parents give their children
    full reports on your faithful ways.

20 God saves and will save me.
    As fiddles and mandolins strike up the tunes,
We’ll sing, oh we’ll sing, sing,
    for the rest of our lives in the Sanctuary of God.

21-22 Isaiah had said, “Prepare a poultice of figs and put it on the boil so he may recover.”

Hezekiah had said, “What is my cue that it’s all right to enter again the Sanctuary of God?”

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 39The Message (MSG)

There Will Be Nothing Left

39 Sometime later, King Merodach-baladan son of Baladan of Babylon sent messengers with greetings and a gift to Hezekiah. He had heard that Hezekiah had been sick and was now well.

Hezekiah received the messengers warmly. He took them on a tour of his royal precincts, proudly showing them all his treasures: silver, gold, spices, expensive oils, all his weapons—everything out on display. There was nothing in his house or kingdom that Hezekiah didn’t show them.

Later the prophet Isaiah showed up. He asked Hezekiah, “What were these men up to? What did they say? And where did they come from?”

Hezekiah said, “They came from a long way off, from Babylon.”

“And what did they see in your palace?”

“Everything,” said Hezekiah. “I showed them the works, opened all the doors and impressed them with it all.”

5-7 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Now listen to this Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: I have to warn you, the time is coming when everything in this palace, along with everything your ancestors accumulated before you, will be hauled off to Babylon. God says that there will be nothing left. Nothing. And not only your things but your sons. Some of your sons will be taken into exile, ending up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”

Hezekiah replied to Isaiah, “Good. If God says so, it’s good.” Within himself he was thinking, “But surely nothing bad will happen in my lifetime. I’ll enjoy peace and stability as long as I live.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 75The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

75 We thank you, God, we thank you—
    your Name is our favorite word;
    your mighty works are all we talk about.

2-4 You say, “I’m calling this meeting to order,
    I’m ready to set things right.
When the earth goes topsy-turvy
    And nobody knows which end is up,
I nail it all down,
    I put everything in place again.
I say to the smart alecks, ‘That’s enough,’
    to the bullies, ‘Not so fast.’”

5-6 Don’t raise your fist against High God.
    Don’t raise your voice against Rock of Ages.
He’s the One from east to west;
    from desert to mountains, he’s the One.

7-8 God rules: he brings this one down to his knees,
    pulls that one up on her feet.
God has a cup in his hand,
    a bowl of wine, full to the brim.
He draws from it and pours;
    it’s drained to the dregs.
Earth’s wicked ones drink it all,
    drink it down to the last bitter drop!

9-10 And I’m telling the story of God Eternal,
    singing the praises of Jacob’s God.
The fists of the wicked
    are bloody stumps,
The arms of the righteous
    are lofty green branches.

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Peter 2The Message (MSG)

1-3 So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.

The Stone

4-8 Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. The Scriptures provide precedent:

Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion,
    a cornerstone in the place of honor.
Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation
    will never have cause to regret it.

To you who trust him, he’s a Stone to be proud of, but to those who refuse to trust him,

The stone the workmen threw out
    is now the chief foundation stone.

For the untrusting it’s

. . . a stone to trip over,
    a boulder blocking the way.

They trip and fall because they refuse to obey, just as predicted.

9-10 But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

11-12 Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

13-17 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

The Kind of Life He Lived

18-20 You who are servants, be good servants to your masters—not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God’s sake when you’re treated badly for no good reason. There’s no particular virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re treated badly for good behavior and continue in spite of it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.

21-25 This is the kind of life you’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step.

He never did one thing wrong,
Not once said anything amiss.

They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing. You were lost sheep with no idea who you were or where you were going. Now you’re named and kept for good by the Shepherd of your souls.

The Message (MSG)

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

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