2 Kings 21The Message (MSG)
Manasseh of Judah
21 1-6 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. In God’s judgment he was a bad king—an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. He rebuilt all the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, and he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and sex goddess Asherah, exactly what Ahaz king of Israel had done. He worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. He even built these pagan altars in The Temple of God, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God’s decree (“in Jerusalem I place my Name”) to God’s Name. And he built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God. He burned his own son in a sacrificial offering. He practiced black magic and fortunetelling. He held séances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil—in God’s judgment, a career in evil. And God was angry.
7-8 As a last straw he placed the carved image of the sex goddess Asherah in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God’s well-known statement to both David and Solomon, “In this Temple and in this city Jerusalem, my choice out of all the tribes of Israel, I place my Name—exclusively and forever. Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I gave to their ancestors. But here’s the condition: They must keep everything I’ve commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them.”
9 But the people didn’t listen. Manasseh led them off the beaten path into practices of evil even exceeding the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed.
10-12 God, thoroughly fed up, sent word through his servants the prophets: “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these outrageous sins, eclipsing the sin-performance of the Amorites before him, setting new records in evil, using foul idols to debase Judah into a nation of sinners, this is my judgment, God’s verdict: I, the God of Israel, will visit catastrophe on Jerusalem and Judah, a doom so terrible that when people hear of it they’ll shake their heads in disbelief, saying, ‘I can’t believe it!’
13-15 “I’ll visit the fate of Samaria on Jerusalem, a rerun of Ahab’s doom. I’ll wipe out Jerusalem as you would wipe out a dish, wiping it out and turning it over to dry. I’ll get rid of what’s left of my inheritance, dumping them on their enemies. If their enemies can salvage anything from them, they’re welcome to it. They’ve been nothing but trouble to me from the day their ancestors left Egypt until now. They pushed me to my limit; I won’t put up with their evil any longer.”
16 The final word on Manasseh was that he was an indiscriminate murderer. He drenched Jerusalem with the innocent blood of his victims. That’s on top of all the sins in which he involved his people. As far as God was concerned, he’d turned them into a nation of sinners.
17-18 The rest of the life and times of Manasseh, everything he did and his sorry record of sin, is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Manasseh died and joined his ancestors. He was buried in the palace garden, the Garden of Uzza. His son Amon became the next king.
Amon of Judah
19-22 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king. He was king for two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz. She was from Jotbah. In God’s opinion he lived an evil life, just like his father Manasseh. He followed in the footsteps of his father, serving and worshiping the same foul gods his father had served. He totally deserted the God of his ancestors; he did not live God’s way.
23-24 Amon’s servants revolted and assassinated him, killing the king right in his own palace. But the people, in their turn, killed the conspirators against King Amon and then crowned Josiah, Amon’s son, as king.
25-26 The rest of the life and times of Amon is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. They buried Amon in his burial plot in the Garden of Uzza. His son Josiah became the next king.
2 Chronicles 33The Message (MSG)
33 1-6 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. In God’s opinion he was a bad king—an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. He rebuilt the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and the sex goddess Asherah and worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. He built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of The Temple of God, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by God’s decree to God’s Name (“in Jerusalem I place my Name”). He burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the Valley of Ben Hinnom. He practiced witchcraft and fortunetelling. He held séances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil—in God’s view a career in evil. And God was angry.
7-8 As a last straw he placed a carved image of the sex goddess Asherah that he had commissioned in The Temple of God, a flagrant and provocative violation of God’s well-known command to both David and Solomon, “In this Temple and in this city Jerusalem, my choice out of all the tribes of Israel, I place my Name—exclusively and forever.” He had promised, “Never again will I let my people Israel wander off from this land I’ve given to their ancestors. But on this condition, that they keep everything I’ve commanded in the instructions my servant Moses passed on to them.”
9-10 But Manasseh led Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem off the beaten path into practices of evil exceeding even the evil of the pagan nations that God had earlier destroyed. When God spoke to Manasseh and his people about this, they ignored him.
11-13 Then God directed the leaders of the troops of the king of Assyria to come after Manasseh. They put a hook in his nose, shackles on his feet, and took him off to Babylon. Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help—total repentance before the God of his ancestors. As he prayed, God was touched; God listened and brought him back to Jerusalem as king. That convinced Manasseh that God was in control.
14-17 After that Manasseh rebuilt the outside defensive wall of the City of David to the west of the Gihon spring in the valley. It went from the Fish Gate and around the hill of Ophel. He also increased its height. He tightened up the defense system by posting army captains in all the fortress cities of Judah. He also did a good spring cleaning on The Temple, carting out the pagan idols and the goddess statue. He took all the altars he had set up on The Temple hill and throughout Jerusalem and dumped them outside the city. He put the Altar of God back in working order and restored worship, sacrificing Peace-Offerings and Thank-Offerings. He issued orders to the people: “You shall serve and worship God, the God of Israel.” But the people didn’t take him seriously—they used the name “God” but kept on going to the old pagan neighborhood shrines and doing the same old things.
18-19 The rest of the history of Manasseh—his prayer to his God, and the sermons the prophets personally delivered by authority of God, the God of Israel—this is all written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. His prayer and how God was touched by his prayer, a list of all his sins and the things he did wrong, the actual places where he built the pagan shrines, the installation of the sex-goddess Asherah sites, and the idolatrous images that he worshiped previous to his conversion—this is all described in the records of the prophets.
20 When Manasseh died, they buried him in the palace garden. His son Amon was the next king.
21-23 Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king. He was king for two years in Jerusalem. In God’s opinion he lived an evil life, just like his father Manasseh, but he never did repent to God as Manasseh repented. He just kept at it, going from one thing to another.
24-25 In the end Amon’s servants revolted and assassinated him—killed the king right in his own palace. The citizens in their turn then killed the king’s assassins. The citizens then crowned Josiah, Amon’s son, as king.
John 4The Message (MSG)
The Woman at the Well
4 1-3 Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.
4-6 To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.
7-8 A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
9 The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
11-12 The woman said, “Sir, you don’t even have a bucket to draw with, and this well is deep. So how are you going to get this ‘living water’? Are you a better man than our ancestor Jacob, who dug this well and drank from it, he and his sons and livestock, and passed it down to us?”
13-14 Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”
15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t ever get thirsty, won’t ever have to come back to this well again!”
16 He said, “Go call your husband and then come back.”
17-18 “I have no husband,” she said.
“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.”
19-20 “Oh, so you’re a prophet! Well, tell me this: Our ancestors worshiped God at this mountain, but you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place for worship, right?”
21-23 “Believe me, woman, the time is coming when you Samaritans will worship the Father neither here at this mountain nor there in Jerusalem. You worship guessing in the dark; we Jews worship in the clear light of day. God’s way of salvation is made available through the Jews. But the time is coming—it has, in fact, come—when what you’re called will not matter and where you go to worship will not matter.
23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
25 The woman said, “I don’t know about that. I do know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we’ll get the whole story.”
26 “I am he,” said Jesus. “You don’t have to wait any longer or look any further.”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.
28-30 The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” And they went out to see for themselves.
It’s Harvest Time
31 In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, “Rabbi, eat. Aren’t you going to eat?”
32 He told them, “I have food to eat you know nothing about.”
33 The disciples were puzzled. “Who could have brought him food?”
34-35 Jesus said, “The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time!
36-38 “The Harvester isn’t waiting. He’s taking his pay, gathering in this grain that’s ripe for eternal life. Now the Sower is arm in arm with the Harvester, triumphant. That’s the truth of the saying, ‘This one sows, that one harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a field you never worked. Without lifting a finger, you have walked in on a field worked long and hard by others.”
39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that village committed themselves to him because of the woman’s witness: “He knew all about the things I did. He knows me inside and out!” They asked him to stay on, so Jesus stayed two days. A lot more people entrusted their lives to him when they heard what he had to say. They said to the woman, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!”
43-45 After the two days he left for Galilee. Now, Jesus knew well from experience that a prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up. So when he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, but only because they were impressed with what he had done in Jerusalem during the Passover Feast, not that they really had a clue about who he was or what he was up to.
46-48 Now he was back in Cana of Galilee, the place where he made the water into wine. Meanwhile in Capernaum, there was a certain official from the king’s court whose son was sick. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and asked that he come down and heal his son, who was on the brink of death. Jesus put him off: “Unless you people are dazzled by a miracle, you refuse to believe.”
49 But the court official wouldn’t be put off. “Come down! It’s life or death for my son.”
50-51 Jesus simply replied, “Go home. Your son lives.”
The man believed the bare word Jesus spoke and headed home. On his way back, his servants intercepted him and announced, “Your son lives!”
52-53 He asked them what time he began to get better. They said, “The fever broke yesterday afternoon at one o’clock.” The father knew that that was the very moment Jesus had said, “Your son lives.”
53-54 That clinched it. Not only he but his entire household believed. This was now the second sign Jesus gave after having come from Judea into Galilee.