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Hosea 10The Message (MSG)

You Thought You Could Do It All on Your Own

10 1-2 Israel was once a lush vine,
    bountiful in grapes.
The more lavish the harvest,
    the more promiscuous the worship.
The more money they got,
    the more they squandered on gods-in-their-own-image.
Their sweet smiles are sheer lies.
    They’re guilty as sin.
God will smash their worship shrines,
    pulverize their god-images.

3-4 They go around saying,
    “Who needs a king?
We couldn’t care less about God,
    so why bother with a king?
    What difference would he make?”
They talk big,
    lie through their teeth,
    make deals.
But their high-sounding words
    turn out to be empty words, litter in the gutters.

5-6 The people of Samaria travel over to Crime City
    to worship the golden calf-god.
They go all out, prancing and hollering,
    taken in by their showmen priests.
They act so important around the calf-god,
    but are oblivious to the sham, the shame.
They have plans to take it to Assyria,
    present it as a gift to the great king.
And so Ephraim makes a fool of himself,
    disgraces Israel with his stupid idols.

7-8 Samaria is history. Its king
    is a dead branch floating down the river.
Israel’s favorite sin centers
    will all be torn down.
Thistles and crabgrass
    will decorate their ruined altars.
Then they’ll say to the mountains, “Bury us!”
    and to the hills, “Fall on us!”

9-10 You got your start in sin at Gibeah—
    that ancient, unspeakable, shocking sin—
And you’ve been at it ever since.
    And Gibeah will mark the end of it
    in a war to end all the sinning.
I’ll come to teach them a lesson.
    Nations will gang up on them,
Making them learn the hard way
    the sum of Gibeah plus Gibeah.

11-15 Ephraim was a trained heifer
    that loved to thresh.
Passing by and seeing her strong, sleek neck,
    I wanted to harness Ephraim,
Put Ephraim to work in the fields—
    Judah plowing, Jacob harrowing:
Sow righteousness,
    reap love.
It’s time to till the ready earth,
    it’s time to dig in with God,
Until he arrives
    with righteousness ripe for harvest.
But instead you plowed wicked ways,
    reaped a crop of evil and ate a salad of lies.
You thought you could do it all on your own,
    flush with weapons and manpower.
But the volcano of war will erupt among your people.
    All your defense posts will be leveled
As viciously as king Shalman
    leveled the town of Beth-arba,
When mothers and their babies
    were smashed on the rocks.
That’s what’s ahead for you, you so-called people of God,
    because of your off-the-charts evil.
Some morning you’re going to wake up
    and find Israel, king and kingdom, a blank—nothing.

The Message (MSG)

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

Hosea 11The Message (MSG)

Israel Played at Religion with Toy Gods

11 1-9 “When Israel was only a child, I loved him.
    I called out, ‘My son!’—called him out of Egypt.
But when others called him,
    he ran off and left me.
He worshiped the popular sex gods,
    he played at religion with toy gods.
Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim.
    I rescued him from human bondage,
But he never acknowledged my help,
    never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon,
That I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek,
    that I bent down to feed him.
Now he wants to go back to Egypt or go over to Assyria—
    anything but return to me!
That’s why his cities are unsafe—the murder rate skyrockets
    and every plan to improve things falls to pieces.
My people are hell-bent on leaving me.
    They pray to god Baal for help.
    He doesn’t lift a finger to help them.
But how can I give up on you, Ephraim?
    How can I turn you loose, Israel?
How can I leave you to be ruined like Admah,
    devastated like luckless Zeboim?
I can’t bear to even think such thoughts.
    My insides churn in protest.
And so I’m not going to act on my anger.
    I’m not going to destroy Ephraim.
And why? Because I am God and not a human.
    I’m The Holy One and I’m here—in your very midst.

10-12 “The people will end up following God.
    I will roar like a lion—
Oh, how I’ll roar!
    My frightened children will come running from the west.
Like frightened birds they’ll come from Egypt,
    from Assyria like scared doves.
I’ll move them back into their homes.”
    God’s Word!

Soul-Destroying Lies

Ephraim tells lies right and left.
    Not a word of Israel can be trusted.
Judah, meanwhile, is no better,
    addicted to cheap gods.

The Message (MSG)

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

Hosea 12The Message (MSG)

12 1-5 Ephraim, obsessed with god-fantasies,
    chases ghosts and phantoms.
He tells lies nonstop,
    soul-destroying lies.
Both Ephraim and Judah made deals with Assyria
    and tried to get an inside track with Egypt.
God is bringing charges against Israel.
    Jacob’s children are hauled into court to be punished.
In the womb, that heel, Jacob, got the best of his brother.
    When he grew up, he tried to get the best of God.
But God would not be bested.
    God bested him.
Brought to his knees,
    Jacob wept and prayed.
God found him at Bethel.
    That’s where he spoke with him.
God is God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    God-Revealed, God-Known.

What are you waiting for? Return to your God!
    Commit yourself in love, in justice!
Wait for your God,
    and don’t give up on him—ever!

7-8 The businessmen engage in wholesale fraud.
    They love to rip people off!
Ephraim boasted, “Look, I’m rich!
    I’ve made it big!
And look how well I’ve covered my tracks:
    not a hint of fraud, not a sign of sin!”

9-11 “But not so fast! I’m God, your God!
    Your God from the days in Egypt!
I’m going to put you back to living in tents,
    as in the old days when you worshiped in the wilderness.
I speak through the prophets
    to give clear pictures of the way things are.
    Using prophets, I tell revealing stories.
I show Gilead rampant with religious scandal
    and Gilgal teeming with empty-headed religion.
I expose their worship centers as
    stinking piles of garbage in their gardens.”

12-14 Are you going to repeat the life of your ancestor Jacob?
    He ran off guilty to Aram,
Then sold his soul to get ahead,
    and made it big through treachery and deceit.
Your real identity is formed through God-sent prophets,
    who led you out of Egypt and served as faithful pastors.
As it is, Ephraim has continually
    and inexcusably insulted God.
Now he has to pay for his life-destroying ways.
    His Master will do to him what he has done.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 73The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

73 1-5 No doubt about it! God is good—
    good to good people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it,
    missed seeing his goodness.
I was looking the other way,
    looking up to the people
At the top,
    envying the wicked who have it made,
Who have nothing to worry about,
    not a care in the whole wide world.

6-10 Pretentious with arrogance,
    they wear the latest fashions in violence,
Pampered and overfed,
    decked out in silk bows of silliness.
They jeer, using words to kill;
    they bully their way with words.
They’re full of hot air,
    loudmouths disturbing the peace.
People actually listen to them—can you believe it?
    Like thirsty puppies, they lap up their words.

11-14 What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?
    Nobody’s tending the store.
The wicked get by with everything;
    they have it made, piling up riches.
I’ve been stupid to play by the rules;
    what has it gotten me?
A long run of bad luck, that’s what—
    a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.

15-20 If I’d have given in and talked like this,
    I would have betrayed your dear children.
Still, when I tried to figure it out,
    all I got was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
    Then I saw the whole picture:
The slippery road you’ve put them on,
    with a final crash in a ditch of delusions.
In the blink of an eye, disaster!
    A blind curve in the dark, and—nightmare!
We wake up and rub our eyes. . . . Nothing.
    There’s nothing to them. And there never was.

21-24 When I was beleaguered and bitter,
    totally consumed by envy,
I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
    in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
    but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
    and then you bless me.

25-28 You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
    God is rock-firm and faithful.
Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
    Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.
But I’m in the very presence of God
    oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord God my home.
    God, I’m telling the world what you do!

The Message (MSG)

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

Hebrews 4The Message (MSG)

When the Promises Are Mixed with Faith

1-3 For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said,

Exasperated, I vowed,
    “They’ll never get where they’re going,
    never be able to sit down and rest.”

3-7 God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world. Somewhere it’s written, “God rested the seventh day, having completed his work,” but in this other text he says, “They’ll never be able to sit down and rest.” So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient. God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation:

Today, please listen,
    don’t turn a deaf ear . . .

8-11 And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience.

12-13 God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

The High Priest Who Cried Out in Pain

14-16 Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

The Message (MSG)

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

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