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Daniel 7The Message (MSG)

A Vision of Four Animals

In the first year of the reign of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream. What he saw as he slept in his bed terrified him—a real nightmare. Then he wrote out his dream:

2-3 “In my dream that night I saw the four winds of heaven whipping up a great storm on the sea. Four huge animals, each different from the others, ascended out of the sea.

“The first animal looked like a lion, but it had the wings of an eagle. While I watched, its wings were pulled off. It was then pulled erect so that it was standing on two feet like a man. Then a human heart was placed in it.

“Then I saw a second animal that looked like a bear. It lurched from side to side, holding three ribs in its jaws. It was told, ‘Attack! Devour! Fill your belly!’

“Next I saw another animal. This one looked like a panther. It had four birdlike wings on its back. This animal had four heads and was made to rule.

“After that, a fourth animal appeared in my dream. This one was a grisly horror—hideous. It had huge iron teeth. It crunched and swallowed its victims. Anything left over, it trampled into the ground. It was different from the other animals—this one was a real monster. It had ten horns.

“As I was staring at the horns and trying to figure out what they meant, another horn sprouted up, a little horn. Three of the original horns were pulled out to make room for it. There were human eyes in this little horn, and a big mouth speaking arrogantly.

9-10 “As I was watching all this,

“Thrones were set in place
    and The Old One sat down.
His robes were white as snow,
    his hair was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
    its wheels blazing.
A river of fire
    poured out of the throne.
Thousands upon thousands served him,
    tens of thousands attended him.
The courtroom was called to order,
    and the books were opened.

11-13 “I kept watching. The little horn was speaking arrogantly. Then, as I watched, the monster was killed and its body cremated in a roaring fire. The other animals lived on for a limited time, but they didn’t really do anything, had no power to rule. My dream continued.

13-14 “I saw a human form, a son of man,
    arriving in a whirl of clouds.
He came to The Old One
    and was presented to him.
He was given power to rule—all the glory of royalty.
    Everyone—race, color, and creed—had to serve him.
His rule would be forever, never ending.
    His kingly rule would never be replaced.

15-16 “But as for me, Daniel, I was disturbed. All these dream-visions had me agitated. So I went up to one of those standing by and asked him the meaning of all this. And he told me, interpreting the dream for me:

17-18 “‘These four huge animals,’ he said, ‘mean that four kingdoms will appear on earth. But eventually the holy people of the High God will be given the kingdom and have it ever after—yes, forever and ever.’

19-22 “But I wanted to know more. I was curious about the fourth animal, the one so different from the others, the hideous monster with the iron teeth and the bronze claws, gulping down what it ripped to pieces and trampling the leftovers into the dirt. And I wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and the other horn that sprouted up while three of the original horns were removed. This new horn had eyes and a big mouth and spoke arrogantly, dominating the other horns. I watched as this horn was making war on God’s holy people and getting the best of them. But then The Old One intervened and decided things in favor of the people of the High God. In the end, God’s holy people took over the kingdom.

23-25 “The bystander continued, telling me this: ‘The fourth animal is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from the first three kingdoms, a monster kingdom that will chew up everyone in sight and spit them out. The ten horns are ten kings, one after another, that will come from this kingdom. But then another king will arrive. He will be different from the earlier kings. He will begin by toppling three kings. Then he will blaspheme the High God, persecute the followers of the High God, and try to get rid of sacred worship and moral practice. God’s holy people will be persecuted by him for a time, two times, half a time.

26-27 “‘But when the court comes to order, the horn will be stripped of its power and totally destroyed. Then the royal rule and the authority and the glory of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the people of the High God. Their royal rule will last forever. All other rulers will serve and obey them.’

28 “And there it ended. I, Daniel, was in shock. I was like a man who had seen a ghost. But I kept it all to myself.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Daniel 8The Message (MSG)

A Vision of a Ram and a Billy Goat

“In King Belshazzar’s third year as king, another vision came to me, Daniel. This was now the second vision.

2-4 “In the vision, I saw myself in Susa, the capital city of the province Elam, standing at the Ulai Canal. Looking around, I was surprised to see a ram also standing at the gate. The ram had two huge horns, one bigger than the other, but the bigger horn was the last to appear. I watched as the ram charged: first west, then north, then south. No beast could stand up to him. He did just as he pleased, strutting as if he were king of the beasts.

5-7 “While I was watching this, wondering what it all meant, I saw a billy goat with an immense horn in the middle of its forehead come up out of the west and fly across the whole country, not once touching the ground. The billy goat approached the double-horned ram that I had earlier seen standing at the gate and, enraged, charged it viciously. I watched as, mad with rage, it charged the ram and hit it so hard that it broke off its two horns. The ram didn’t stand a chance against it. The billy goat knocked the ram to the ground and stomped all over it. Nothing could have saved the ram from the goat.

8-12 “Then the billy goat swelled to an enormous size. At the height of its power its immense horn broke off and four other big horns sprouted in its place, pointing to the four points of the compass. And then from one of these big horns another horn sprouted. It started small, but then grew to an enormous size, facing south and east—toward lovely Palestine. The horn grew tall, reaching to the stars, the heavenly army, and threw some of the stars to the earth and stomped on them. It even dared to challenge the power of God, Prince of the Celestial Army! And then it threw out daily worship and desecrated the Sanctuary. As judgment against their sin, the holy people of God got the same treatment as the daily worship. The horn cast God’s Truth aside. High-handed, it took over everything and everyone.

13 “Then I overheard two holy angels talking. One asked, ‘How long is what we see here going to last—the abolishing of daily worship, this devastating judgment against sin, the kicking around of God’s holy people and the Sanctuary?’

14 “The other answered, ‘Over the course of 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning. Then the Sanctuary will be set right again.’

15 “While I, Daniel, was trying to make sense of what I was seeing, suddenly there was a humanlike figure standing before me.

16-17 “Then I heard a man’s voice from over by the Ulai Canal calling out, ‘Gabriel, tell this man what is going on. Explain the vision to him.’ He came up to me, but when he got close I became terrified and fell facedown on the ground.

17-18 “He said, ‘Understand that this vision has to do with the time of the end.’ As soon as he spoke, I fainted, my face in the dirt. But he picked me up and put me on my feet.

19 “And then he continued, ‘I want to tell you what is going to happen as the judgment days of wrath wind down, for there is going to be an end to all this.

20-22 “‘The double-horned ram you saw stands for the two kings of the Medes and Persians. The billy goat stands for the kingdom of the Greeks. The huge horn on its forehead is the first Greek king. The four horns that sprouted after it was broken off are the four kings that come after him, but without his power.

23-26 “‘As their kingdoms cool down
    and rebellions heat up,
A king will show up,
    hard-faced, a master trickster.
His power will swell enormously.
    He’ll talk big, high-handedly,
Doing whatever he pleases,
    knocking off heroes and holy ones left and right.
He’ll plot and scheme to make crime flourish—
    and oh, how it will flourish!
He’ll think he’s invincible
    and get rid of anyone who gets in his way.
But when he takes on the Prince of all princes,
    he’ll be smashed to bits—
    but not by human hands.
This vision of the 2,300 sacrifices, evening and morning,
    is accurate but confidential.
Keep it to yourself.
    It refers to the far future.’

27 “I, Daniel, walked around in a daze, unwell for days. Then I got a grip on myself and went back to work taking care of the king’s affairs. But I continued to be upset by the vision. I couldn’t make sense of it.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 137The Message (MSG)

137 1-3 Alongside Babylon’s rivers
    we sat on the banks; we cried and cried,
    remembering the good old days in Zion.
Alongside the quaking aspens
    we stacked our unplayed harps;
That’s where our captors demanded songs,
    sarcastic and mocking:
    “Sing us a happy Zion song!”

4-6 Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song
    in this wasteland?
If I ever forget you, Jerusalem,
    let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves.
Let my tongue swell and turn black
    if I fail to remember you,
If I fail, O dear Jerusalem,
    to honor you as my greatest.

7-9 God, remember those Edomites,
    and remember the ruin of Jerusalem,
That day they yelled out,
    “Wreck it, smash it to bits!”
And you, Babylonians—ravagers!
    A reward to whoever gets back at you
    for all you’ve done to us;
Yes, a reward to the one who grabs your babies
    and smashes their heads on the rocks!

The Message (MSG)

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

Luke 4The Message (MSG)

Tested by the Devil

1-2 Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by the Devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when the time was up he was hungry.

The Devil, playing on his hunger, gave the first test: “Since you’re God’s Son, command this stone to turn into a loaf of bread.”

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to really live.”

5-7 For the second test he led him up and spread out all the kingdoms of the earth on display at once. Then the Devil said, “They’re yours in all their splendor to serve your pleasure. I’m in charge of them all and can turn them over to whomever I wish. Worship me and they’re yours, the whole works.”

Jesus refused, again backing his refusal with Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”

9-11 For the third test the Devil took him to Jerusalem and put him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that ‘he has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone’?”

12 “Yes,” said Jesus, “and it’s also written, ‘Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God.’”

13 That completed the testing. The Devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.

To Set the Burdened Free

14-15 Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.

16-21 He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God’s Spirit is on me;
    he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
    recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
    to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

22 All who were there, watching and listening, were surprised at how well he spoke. But they also said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son, the one we’ve known since he was a youngster?”

23-27 He answered, “I suppose you’re going to quote the proverb, ‘Doctor, go heal yourself. Do here in your hometown what we heard you did in Capernaum.’ Well, let me tell you something: No prophet is ever welcomed in his hometown. Isn’t it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Sarepta in Sidon? And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha but the only one cleansed was Naaman the Syrian.”

28-30 That set everyone in the meeting place seething with anger. They threw him out, banishing him from the village, then took him to a mountain cliff at the edge of the village to throw him to his doom, but he gave them the slip and was on his way.

31-32 He went down to Capernaum, a village in Galilee. He was teaching the people on the Sabbath. They were surprised and impressed—his teaching was so forthright, so confident, so authoritative, not the quibbling and quoting they were used to.

33-34 In the meeting place that day there was a man demonically disturbed. He screamed, “Ho! What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you’re up to. You’re the Holy One of God and you’ve come to destroy us!”

35 Jesus shut him up: “Quiet! Get out of him!” The demonic spirit threw the man down in front of them all and left. The demon didn’t hurt him.

36-37 That set everyone back on their heels, whispering and wondering, “What’s going on here? Someone whose words make things happen? Someone who orders demonic spirits to get out and they go?” Jesus was the talk of the town.

He Healed Them All

38-39 He left the meeting place and went to Simon’s house. Simon’s mother-in-law was running a high fever and they asked him to do something for her. He stood over her, told the fever to leave—and it left. Before they knew it, she was up getting dinner for them.

40-41 When the sun went down, everyone who had anyone sick with some ailment or other brought them to him. One by one he placed his hands on them and healed them. Demons left in droves, screaming, “Son of God! You’re the Son of God!” But he shut them up, refusing to let them speak because they knew too much, knew him to be the Messiah.

42-44 He left the next day for open country. But the crowds went looking and, when they found him, clung to him so he couldn’t go on. He told them, “Don’t you realize that there are yet other villages where I have to tell the Message of God’s kingdom, that this is the work God sent me to do?” Meanwhile he continued preaching in the meeting places of Galilee.

The Message (MSG)

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

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