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2 Kings 24The Message (MSG)

24 It was during his reign that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded the country. Jehoiakim became his puppet. But after three years he had had enough and revolted.

2-4 God dispatched a succession of raiding bands against him: Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite, and Ammonite. The strategy was to destroy Judah. Through the preaching of his servants and prophets, God had said he would do this, and now he was doing it. None of this was by chance—it was God’s judgment as he turned his back on Judah because of the enormity of the sins of Manasseh—Manasseh, the killer-king, who made the Jerusalem streets flow with the innocent blood of his victims. God wasn’t about to overlook such crimes.

5-6 The rest of the life and times of Jehoiakim is written in The Chronicles of the Kings of Judah. Jehoiakim died and was buried with his ancestors. His son Jehoiachin became the next king.

The threat from Egypt was now over—no more invasions by the king of Egypt—for by this time the king of Babylon had captured all the land between the Brook of Egypt and the Euphrates River, land formerly controlled by the king of Egypt.

Jehoiachin of Judah

8-9 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king. His rule in Jerusalem lasted only three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. In God’s opinion he also was an evil king, no different from his father.

10-12 The next thing to happen was that the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked Jerusalem and put it under siege. While his officers were laying siege to the city, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon paid a personal visit. And Jehoiachin king of Judah, along with his mother, officers, advisors, and government leaders, surrendered.

12-14 In the eighth year of his reign Jehoiachin was taken prisoner by the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar emptied the treasuries of both The Temple of God and the royal palace and confiscated all the gold furnishings that Solomon king of Israel had made for The Temple of God. This should have been no surprise—God had said it would happen. And then he emptied Jerusalem of people—all its leaders and soldiers, all its craftsmen and artisans. He took them into exile, something like ten thousand of them! The only ones he left were the very poor.

15-16 He took Jehoiachin into exile to Babylon. With him he took the king’s mother, his wives, his chief officers, the community leaders, anyone who was anybody—in round numbers, seven thousand soldiers plus another thousand or so craftsmen and artisans, all herded off into exile in Babylon.

17 Then the king of Babylon made Jehoiachin’s uncle, Mattaniah, his puppet king, but changed his name to Zedekiah.

Zedekiah of Judah

18 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he started out as king. He was king in Jerusalem for eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah. Her hometown was Libnah.

19 As far as God was concerned Zedekiah was just one more evil king, a carbon copy of Jehoiakim.

20 The source of all this doom to Jerusalem and Judah was God’s anger—God turned his back on them as an act of judgment. And then Zedekiah revolted against the king of Babylon.

The Message (MSG)

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

Jeremiah 22The Message (MSG)

Walking Out on the Covenant of God

22 1-3 God’s orders: “Go to the royal palace and deliver this Message. Say, ‘Listen to what God says, O King of Judah, you who sit on David’s throne—you and your officials and all the people who go in and out of these palace gates. This is God’s Message: Attend to matters of justice. Set things right between people. Rescue victims from their exploiters. Don’t take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, the widows. Stop the murdering!

4-5 “‘If you obey these commands, then kings who follow in the line of David will continue to go in and out of these palace gates mounted on horses and riding in chariots—they and their officials and the citizens of Judah. But if you don’t obey these commands, then I swear—God’s Decree!—this palace will end up a heap of rubble.’”

6-7 This is God’s verdict on Judah’s royal palace:

“I number you among my favorite places—
    like the lovely hills of Gilead,
    like the soaring peaks of Lebanon.
Yet I swear I’ll turn you into a wasteland,
    as empty as a ghost town.
I’ll hire a demolition crew,
    well-equipped with sledgehammers and wrecking bars,
Pound the country to a pulp
    and burn it all up.

8-9 “Travelers from all over will come through here and say to one another, ‘Why would God do such a thing to this wonderful city?’ They’ll be told, ‘Because they walked out on the covenant of their God, took up with other gods and worshiped them.’”

Building a Fine House but Destroying Lives

10 Don’t weep over dead King Josiah.
    Don’t waste your tears.
Weep for his exiled son:
    He’s gone for good.
    He’ll never see home again.

11-12 For this is God’s Word on Shallum son of Josiah, who succeeded his father as king of Judah: “He’s gone from here, gone for good. He’ll die in the place they’ve taken him to. He’ll never see home again.”

13-17 “Doom to him who builds palaces but bullies people,
    who makes a fine house but destroys lives,
Who cheats his workers
    and won’t pay them for their work,
Who says, ‘I’ll build me an elaborate mansion
    with spacious rooms and fancy windows.
I’ll bring in rare and expensive woods
    and the latest in interior decor.’
So, that makes you a king—
    living in a fancy palace?
Your father got along just fine, didn’t he?
    He did what was right and treated people fairly,
And things went well with him.
    He stuck up for the down-and-out,
And things went well for Judah.
    Isn’t this what it means to know me?”
        God’s Decree!
“But you’re blind and brainless.
    All you think about is yourself,
Taking advantage of the weak,
    bulldozing your way, bullying victims.”

18-19 This is God’s epitaph on Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:
    “Doom to this man!
Nobody will shed tears over him,
    ‘Poor, poor brother!’
Nobody will shed tears over him,
    ‘Poor, poor master!’
They’ll give him a donkey’s funeral,
    drag him out of the city and dump him.

You’ve Made a Total Mess of Your Life

20-23 “People of Jerusalem, climb a Lebanon peak and weep,
    climb a Bashan mountain and wail,
Climb the Abarim ridge and cry—
    you’ve made a total mess of your life.
I spoke to you when everything was going your way.
    You said, ‘I’m not interested.’
You’ve been that way as long as I’ve known you,
    never listened to a thing I said.
All your leaders will be blown away,
    all your friends end up in exile,
And you’ll find yourself in the gutter,
    disgraced by your evil life.
You big-city people thought you were so important,
    thought you were ‘king of the mountain’!
You’re soon going to be doubled up in pain,
    pain worse than the pangs of childbirth.

24-26 “As sure as I am the living God”—God’s Decree—“even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were the signet ring on my right hand, I’d pull you off and give you to those who are out to kill you, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Chaldeans, and then throw you, both you and your mother, into a foreign country, far from your place of birth. There you’ll both die.

27 “You’ll be homesick, desperately homesick, but you’ll never get home again.”

28-30 Is Jehoiachin a leaky bucket,
    a rusted-out pail good for nothing?
Why else would he be thrown away, he and his children,
    thrown away to a foreign place?
O land, land, land,
    listen to God’s Message!
This is God’s verdict:
“Write this man off as if he were childless,
    a man who will never amount to anything.
Nothing will ever come of his life.
    He’s the end of the line, the last of the kings.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 112The Message (MSG)

112 1-10 Hallelujah!
Blessed man, blessed woman, who fear God,
Who cherish and relish his commandments,
Their children robust on the earth,
And the homes of the upright—how blessed!
Their houses brim with wealth
And a generosity that never runs dry.
Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people—
God’s grace and mercy and justice!
The good person is generous and lends lavishly;
No shuffling or stumbling around for this one,
But a sterling and solid and lasting reputation.
Unfazed by rumor and gossip,
Heart ready, trusting in God,
Spirit firm, unperturbed,
Ever blessed, relaxed among enemies,
They lavish gifts on the poor—
A generosity that goes on, and on, and on.
An honored life! A beautiful life!
Someone wicked takes one look and rages,
Blusters away but ends up speechless.
There’s nothing to the dreams of the wicked. Nothing.

The Message (MSG)

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

John 18The Message (MSG)

Seized in the Garden at Night

18 Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it.

2-4 Judas, his betrayer, knew the place because Jesus and his disciples went there often. So Judas led the way to the garden, and the Roman soldiers and police sent by the high priests and Pharisees followed. They arrived there with lanterns and torches and swords. Jesus, knowing by now everything that was coming down on him, went out and met them. He said, “Who are you after?”

They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

5-6 He said, “That’s me.” The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.

Jesus asked again, “Who are you after?”

They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

8-9 “I told you,” said Jesus, “that’s me. I’m the one. So if it’s me you’re after, let these others go.” (This validated the words in his prayer, “I didn’t lose one of those you gave.”)

10 Just then Simon Peter, who was carrying a sword, pulled it from its sheath and struck the Chief Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Malchus was the servant’s name.

11 Jesus ordered Peter, “Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?”

12-14 Then the Roman soldiers under their commander, joined by the Jewish police, seized Jesus and tied him up. They took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.

15-16 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was known to the Chief Priest, and so he went in with Jesus to the Chief Priest’s courtyard. Peter had to stay outside. Then the other disciple went out, spoke to the doorkeeper, and got Peter in.

17 The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?”

He said, “No, I’m not.”

18 The servants and police had made a fire because of the cold and were huddled there warming themselves. Peter stood with them, trying to get warm.

The Interrogation

19-21 Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly in public. I’ve taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I’ve said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard.”

22 When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”

23 Jesus replied, “If I’ve said something wrong, prove it. But if I’ve spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?”

24 Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.

25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?”

He denied it, “Not me.”

26 One of the Chief Priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”

27 Again, Peter denied it. Just then a rooster crowed.

The King of the Jews

28-29 They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn’t enter the palace because they didn’t want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and spoke. “What charge do you bring against this man?”

30 They said, “If he hadn’t been doing something evil, do you think we’d be here bothering you?”

31-32 Pilate said, “You take him. Judge him by your law.”

The Jews said, “We’re not allowed to kill anyone.” (This would confirm Jesus’ word indicating the way he would die.)

33 Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”

35 Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”

36 “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”

37 Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”

Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”

38-39 Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man. It’s your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the ‘King of the Jews’?”

40 They shouted back, “Not this one, but Barabbas!” Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter.

The Message (MSG)

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

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