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Habakkuk 1The Message (MSG)

Justice Is a Joke

1-4 The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it:

God, how long do I have to cry out for help
    before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!”
    before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil,
    stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out,
    quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces.
    Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
    and stand justice on its head.

God Says, “Look!”

5-11 “Look around at the godless nations.
    Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock.
Something’s about to take place
    and you’re going to find it hard to believe.
I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish you,
    Babylonians, fierce and ferocious—
World-conquering Babylon,
    grabbing up nations right and left,
A dreadful and terrible people,
    making up its own rules as it goes.
Their horses run like the wind,
    attack like bloodthirsty wolves.
A stampede of galloping horses
    thunders out of nowhere.
They descend like vultures
    circling in on carrion.
They’re out to kill. Death is on their minds.
    They collect victims like squirrels gathering nuts.
They mock kings,
    poke fun at generals,
Spit on forts,
    and leave them in the dust.
They’ll all be blown away by the wind.
    Brazen in sin, they call strength their god.”

Why Is God Silent Now?

12-13 God, you’re from eternity, aren’t you?
    Holy God, we aren’t going to die, are we?
God, you chose Babylonians for your judgment work?
    Rock-Solid God, you gave them the job of discipline?
But you can’t be serious!
    You can’t condone evil!
So why don’t you do something about this?
    Why are you silent now?
This outrage! Evil men swallow up the righteous
    and you stand around and watch!

14-16 You’re treating men and women
    as so many fish in the ocean,
Swimming without direction,
    swimming but not getting anywhere.
Then this evil Babylonian arrives and goes fishing.
    He pulls in a good catch.
He catches his limit and fills his creel—
    a good day of fishing! He’s happy!
He praises his rod and reel,
    piles his fishing gear on an altar and worships it!
It’s made his day,
    and he’s going to eat well tonight!

17 Are you going to let this go on and on?
    Will you let this Babylonian fisherman
Fish like a weekend angler,
    killing people as if they’re nothing but fish?

The Message (MSG)

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

Habakkuk 2The Message (MSG)

What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst.
    I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
    how he’ll answer my complaint.

Full of Self, but Soul-Empty

2-3 And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

“Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
    full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
    through loyal and steady believing
    is fully alive, really alive.

5-6 “Note well: Money deceives.
    The arrogant rich don’t last.
They are more hungry for wealth
    than the grave is for cadavers.
Like death, they always want more,
    but the ‘more’ they get is dead bodies.
They are cemeteries filled with dead nations,
    graveyards filled with corpses.
Don’t give people like this a second thought.
    Soon the whole world will be taunting them:

6-8 “‘Who do you think you are—
    getting rich by stealing and extortion?
How long do you think
    you can get away with this?’
Indeed, how long before your victims wake up,
    stand up and make you the victim?
You’ve plundered nation after nation.
    Now you’ll get a taste of your own medicine.
All the survivors are out to plunder you,
    a payback for all your murders and massacres.

9-11 “Who do you think you are—
    recklessly grabbing and looting,
Living it up, acting like king of the mountain,
    acting above it all, above trials and troubles?
You’ve engineered the ruin of your own house.
    In ruining others you’ve ruined yourself.
You’ve undermined your foundations,
    rotted out your own soul.
The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you.
    The woodwork will step forward with evidence.

12-14 “Who do you think you are—
    building a town by murder, a city with crime?
Don’t you know that God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    makes sure nothing comes of that but ashes,
Makes sure the harder you work
    at that kind of thing, the less you are?
Meanwhile the earth fills up
    with awareness of God’s glory
    as the waters cover the sea.

15-17 “Who do you think you are—
    inviting your neighbors to your drunken parties,
Giving them too much to drink,
    roping them into your sexual orgies?
You thought you were having the time of your life.
    Wrong! It’s a time of disgrace.
All the time you were drinking,
    you were drinking from the cup of God’s wrath.
You’ll wake up holding your throbbing head, hung over—
    hung over from Lebanon violence,
Hung over from animal massacres,
    hung over from murder and mayhem,
From multiple violations
    of place and people.

18-19 “What’s the use of a carved god
    so skillfully carved by its sculptor?
What good is a fancy cast god
    when all it tells is lies?
What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker
    who makes gods that can’t even talk?
Who do you think you are—
    saying to a stick of wood, ‘Wake up,’
Or to a dumb stone, ‘Get up’?
    Can they teach you anything about anything?
There’s nothing to them but surface.
    There’s nothing on the inside.

20 “But oh! God is in his holy Temple!
    Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!”

The Message (MSG)

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

Habakkuk 3The Message (MSG)

God Racing on the Crest of the Waves

1-2 A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk, with orchestra:

God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you,
    and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
    Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
    remember mercy.

3-7 God’s on his way again,
    retracing the old salvation route,
Coming up from the south through Teman,
    the Holy One from Mount Paran.
Skies are blazing with his splendor,
    his praises sounding through the earth,
His cloud-brightness like dawn, exploding, spreading,
    forked-lightning shooting from his hand—
    what power hidden in that fist!
Plague marches before him,
    pestilence at his heels!
He stops. He shakes Earth.
    He looks around. Nations tremble.
The age-old mountains fall to pieces;
    ancient hills collapse like a spent balloon.
The paths God takes are older
    than the oldest mountains and hills.
I saw everyone worried, in a panic:
    Old wilderness adversaries,
Cushan and Midian, were terrified,
    hoping he wouldn’t notice them.

8-16 God, is it River you’re mad at?
    Angry at old River?
Were you raging at Sea when you rode
    horse and chariot through to salvation?
You unfurled your bow
    and let loose a volley of arrows.
    You split Earth with rivers.
Mountains saw what was coming.
    They twisted in pain.
Flood Waters poured in.
    Ocean roared and reared huge waves.
Sun and Moon stopped in their tracks.
    Your flashing arrows stopped them,
    your lightning-strike spears impaled them.
Angry, you stomped through Earth.
    Furious, you crushed the godless nations.
You were out to save your people,
    to save your specially chosen people.
You beat the stuffing
    out of King Wicked,
Stripped him naked
    from head to toe,
Set his severed head on his own spear
    and blew away his army.
Scattered they were to the four winds—
    and ended up food for the sharks!
You galloped through the Sea on your horses,
    racing on the crest of the waves.
When I heard it, my stomach did flips.
    I stammered and stuttered.
My bones turned to water.
    I staggered and stumbled.
I sit back and wait for Doomsday
    to descend on our attackers.

17-19 Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
    and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
    and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
    and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
    I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
    I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
    I feel like I’m king of the mountain!

(For congregational use, with a full orchestra.)

The Message (MSG)

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

John 8The Message (MSG)

To Throw the Stone

1-2 Jesus went across to Mount Olives, but he was soon back in the Temple again. Swarms of people came to him. He sat down and taught them.

3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

9-10 Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. Jesus stood up and spoke to her. “Woman, where are they? Does no one condemn you?”

11 “No one, Master.”

“Neither do I,” said Jesus. “Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.”

You’re Missing God in All This

12 Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

13 The Pharisees objected, “All we have is your word on this. We need more than this to go on.”

14-18 Jesus replied, “You’re right that you only have my word. But you can depend on it being true. I know where I’ve come from and where I go next. You don’t know where I’m from or where I’m headed. You decide according to what you can see and touch. I don’t make judgments like that. But even if I did, my judgment would be true because I wouldn’t make it out of the narrowness of my experience but in the largeness of the One who sent me, the Father. That fulfills the conditions set down in God’s Law: that you can count on the testimony of two witnesses. And that is what you have: You have my word and you have the word of the Father who sent me.”

19 They said, “Where is this so-called Father of yours?”

Jesus said, “You’re looking right at me and you don’t see me. How do you expect to see the Father? If you knew me, you would at the same time know the Father.”

20 He gave this speech in the Treasury while teaching in the Temple. No one arrested him because his time wasn’t yet up.

21 Then he went over the same ground again. “I’m leaving and you are going to look for me, but you’re missing God in this and are headed for a dead end. There is no way you can come with me.”

22 The Jews said, “So, is he going to kill himself? Is that what he means by ‘You can’t come with me’?”

23-24 Jesus said, “You’re tied down to the mundane; I’m in touch with what is beyond your horizons. You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this. You’re at a dead end. If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives.”

25-26 They said to him, “Just who are you anyway?”

Jesus said, “What I’ve said from the start. I have so many things to say that concern you, judgments to make that affect you, but if you don’t accept the trustworthiness of the One who commanded my words and acts, none of it matters. That is who you are questioning—not me but the One who sent me.”

27-29 They still didn’t get it, didn’t realize that he was referring to the Father. So Jesus tried again. “When you raise up the Son of Man, then you will know who I am—that I’m not making this up, but speaking only what the Father taught me. The One who sent me stays with me. He doesn’t abandon me. He sees how much joy I take in pleasing him.”

30 When he put it in these terms, many people decided to believe.

If the Son Sets You Free

31-32 Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”

33 Surprised, they said, “But we’re descendants of Abraham. We’ve never been slaves to anyone. How can you say, ‘The truth will free you’?”

34-38 Jesus said, “I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can’t come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. But I also know that you are trying to kill me because my message hasn’t yet penetrated your thick skulls. I’m talking about things I have seen while keeping company with the Father, and you just go on doing what you have heard from your father.”

39-41 They were indignant. “Our father is Abraham!”

Jesus said, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would have been doing the things Abraham did. And yet here you are trying to kill me, a man who has spoken to you the truth he got straight from God! Abraham never did that sort of thing. You persist in repeating the works of your father.”

They said, “We’re not bastards. We have a legitimate father: the one and only God.”

42-47 “If God were your father,” said Jesus, “you would love me, for I came from God and arrived here. I didn’t come on my own. He sent me. Why can’t you understand one word I say? Here’s why: You can’t handle it. You’re from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies. I arrive on the scene, tell you the plain truth, and you refuse to have a thing to do with me. Can any one of you convict me of a single misleading word, a single sinful act? But if I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Anyone on God’s side listens to God’s words. This is why you’re not listening—because you’re not on God’s side.”

I Am Who I Am

48 The Jews then said, “That clinches it. We were right all along when we called you a Samaritan and said you were crazy—demon-possessed!”

49-51 Jesus said, “I’m not crazy. I simply honor my Father, while you dishonor me. I am not trying to get anything for myself. God intends something gloriously grand here and is making the decisions that will bring it about. I say this with absolute confidence. If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to look death in the face.”

52-53 At this point the Jews said, “Now we know you’re crazy. Abraham died. The prophets died. And you show up saying, ‘If you practice what I’m telling you, you’ll never have to face death, not even a taste.’ Are you greater than Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you think you are!”

54-56 Jesus said, “If I turned the spotlight on myself, it wouldn’t amount to anything. But my Father, the same One you say is your Father, put me here at this time and place of splendor. You haven’t recognized him in this. But I have. If I, in false modesty, said I didn’t know what was going on, I would be as much of a liar as you are. But I do know, and I am doing what he says. Abraham—your ‘father’—with jubilant faith looked down the corridors of history and saw my day coming. He saw it and cheered.”

57 The Jews said, “You’re not even fifty years old—and Abraham saw you?”

58 “Believe me,” said Jesus, “I am who I am long before Abraham was anything.”

59 That did it—pushed them over the edge. They picked up rocks to throw at him. But Jesus slipped away, getting out of the Temple.

The Message (MSG)

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

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