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Isaiah 11The Message (MSG)

A Green Shoot from Jesse’s Stump

11 1-5 A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump,
    from his roots a budding Branch.
The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,
    the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,
    the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.
Fear-of-God
    will be all his joy and delight.
He won’t judge by appearances,
    won’t decide on the basis of hearsay.
He’ll judge the needy by what is right,
    render decisions on earth’s poor with justice.
His words will bring everyone to awed attention.
    A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked.
Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots,
    and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.

A Living Knowledge of God

6-9 The wolf will romp with the lamb,
    the leopard sleep with the kid.
Calf and lion will eat from the same trough,
    and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture,
    their calves and cubs grow up together,
    and the lion eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
    the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill
    on my holy mountain.
The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
    a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.

10 On that day, Jesse’s Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious.

11 Also on that day, the Master for the second time will reach out to bring back what’s left of his scattered people. He’ll bring them back from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Ethiopia, Elam, Sinar, Hamath, and the ocean islands.

12-16 And he’ll raise that rallying banner high, visible to all nations,
    gather in all the scattered exiles of Israel,
Pull in all the dispersed refugees of Judah
    from the four winds and the seven seas.
The jealousy of Ephraim will dissolve,
    the hostility of Judah will vanish—
Ephraim no longer the jealous rival of Judah,
    Judah no longer the hostile rival of Ephraim!
Blood brothers united, they’ll pounce on the Philistines in the west,
    join forces to plunder the people in the east.
They’ll attack Edom and Moab.
    The Ammonites will fall into line.
God will once again dry up Egypt’s Red Sea,
    making for an easy crossing.
He’ll send a blistering wind
    down on the great River Euphrates,
Reduce it to seven mere trickles.
    None even need get their feet wet!
In the end there’ll be a highway all the way from Assyria,
    easy traveling for what’s left of God’s people—
A highway just like the one Israel had
    when he marched up out of Egypt.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 12The Message (MSG)

My Strength and Song

12 And you will say in that day,
    “I thank you, God.
You were angry
    but your anger wasn’t forever.
You withdrew your anger
    and moved in and comforted me.

“Yes, indeed—God is my salvation.
    I trust, I won’t be afraid.
God—yes God!—is my strength and song,
    best of all, my salvation!”

3-4 Joyfully you’ll pull up buckets of water
    from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you’ll say,
    “Give thanks to God.
Call out his name.
    Ask him anything!
Shout to the nations, tell them what he’s done,
    spread the news of his great reputation!

5-6 “Sing praise-songs to God. He’s done it all!
    Let the whole earth know what he’s done!
Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion!
    The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 13The Message (MSG)

Babylon Is Doomed!

13 The Message on Babylon. Isaiah son of Amoz saw it:

2-3 “Run up a flag on an open hill.

    Yell loud. Get their attention.
Wave them into formation.
    Direct them to the nerve center of power.
I’ve taken charge of my special forces,
    called up my crack troops.
They’re bursting with pride and passion
    to carry out my angry judgment.”

4-5 Thunder rolls off the mountains
    like a mob huge and noisy—
Thunder of kingdoms in an uproar,
    nations assembling for war.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling
    his army into battle formation.
They come from far-off countries,
    they pour in across the horizon.
It’s God on the move with the weapons of his wrath,
    ready to destroy the whole country.

6-8 Wail! God’s Day of Judgment is near—
    an avalanche crashing down from the Strong God!
Everyone paralyzed in the panic,
    hysterical and unstrung,
Doubled up in pain
    like a woman giving birth to a baby.
Horrified—everyone they see
    is like a face out of a nightmare.

9-16 “Watch now. God’s Judgment Day comes.
    Cruel it is, a day of wrath and anger,
A day to waste the earth
    and clean out all the sinners.
The stars in the sky, the great parade of constellations,
    will be nothing but black holes.
The sun will come up as a black disk,
    and the moon a blank nothing.
I’ll put a full stop to the evil on earth,
    terminate the dark acts of the wicked.
I’ll gag all braggarts and boasters—not a peep anymore from them—
    and trip strutting tyrants, leave them flat on their faces.
Proud humanity will disappear from the earth.
    I’ll make mortals rarer than hens’ teeth.
And yes, I’ll even make the sky shake,
    and the earth quake to its roots
Under the wrath of God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    the Judgment Day of his raging anger.
Like a hunted white-tailed deer,
    like lost sheep with no shepherd,
People will huddle with a few of their own kind,
    run off to some makeshift shelter.
But tough luck to stragglers—they’ll be killed on the spot,
    throats cut, bellies ripped open,
Babies smashed on the rocks
    while mothers and fathers watch,
Houses looted,
    wives raped.

17-22 “And now watch this:
    Against Babylon, I’m inciting the Medes,
A ruthless bunch indifferent to bribes,
    the kind of brutality that no one can blunt.
They massacre the young,
    wantonly kick and kill even babies.
And Babylon, most glorious of all kingdoms,
    the pride and joy of Chaldeans,
Will end up smoking and stinking like Sodom,
    and, yes, like Gomorrah, when God had finished with them.
No one will live there anymore,
    generation after generation a ghost town.
Not even Bedouins will pitch tents there.
    Shepherds will give it a wide berth.
But strange and wild animals will like it just fine,
    filling the vacant houses with eerie night sounds.
Skunks will make it their home,
    and unspeakable night hags will haunt it.
Hyenas will curdle your blood with their laughing,
    and the howling of coyotes will give you the shivers.

“Babylon is doomed.
    It won’t be long now.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 14The Message (MSG)

Now You Are Nothing

14 1-2 But not so with Jacob. God will have compassion on Jacob. Once again he’ll choose Israel. He’ll establish them in their own country. Outsiders will be attracted and throw their lot in with Jacob. The nations among whom they lived will actually escort them back home, and then Israel will pay them back by making slaves of them, men and women alike, possessing them as slaves in God’s country, capturing those who had captured them, ruling over those who had abused them.

3-4 When God has given you time to recover from the abuse and trouble and harsh servitude that you had to endure, you can amuse yourselves by taking up this satire, a taunt against the king of Babylon:

4-6 Can you believe it? The tyrant is gone!
    The tyranny is over!
God has broken the rule of the wicked,
    the power of the bully-rulers
That crushed many people.
    A relentless rain of cruel outrage
Established a violent rule of anger
    rife with torture and persecution.

7-10 And now it’s over, the whole earth quietly at rest.
    Burst into song! Make the rafters ring!
Ponderosa pine trees are happy,
    giant Lebanon cedars are relieved, saying,
“Since you’ve been cut down,
    there’s no one around to cut us down.”
And the underworld dead are all excited,
    preparing to welcome you when you come.
Getting ready to greet you are the ghostly dead,
    all the famous names of earth.
All the buried kings of the nations
    will stand up on their thrones
With well-prepared speeches,
    royal invitations to death:
“Now you are as nothing as we are!
    Make yourselves at home with us dead folks!”

11 This is where your pomp and fine music led you, Babylon,
    to your underworld private chambers,
A king-size mattress of maggots for repose
    and a quilt of crawling worms for warmth.

12 What a comedown this, O Babylon!
    Daystar! Son of Dawn!
Flat on your face in the underworld mud,
    you, famous for flattening nations!

13-14 You said to yourself,
    “I’ll climb to heaven.
I’ll set my throne
    over the stars of God.
I’ll run the assembly of angels
    that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon.
I’ll climb to the top of the clouds.
    I’ll take over as King of the Universe!”

15-17 But you didn’t make it, did you?
    Instead of climbing up, you came down—
Down with the underground dead,
    down to the abyss of the Pit.
People will stare and muse:
    “Can this be the one
Who terrorized earth and its kingdoms,
    turned earth to a moonscape,
Wasted its cities,
    shut up his prisoners to a living death?”

18-20 Other kings get a decent burial,
    honored with eulogies and placed in a tomb.
But you’re dumped in a ditch unburied,
    like a stray dog or cat,
Covered with rotting bodies,
    murdered and indigent corpses.
Your dead body desecrated, mutilated—
    no state funeral for you!
You’ve left your land in ruins,
    left a legacy of massacre.
The progeny of your evil life
    will never be named. Oblivion!

21 Get a place ready to slaughter the sons of the wicked
    and wipe out their father’s line.
Unthinkable that they should own a square foot of land
    or desecrate the face of the world with their cities!

22-23 “I will confront them”—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—“and strip Babylon of name and survivors, children and grandchildren.” God’s Decree. “I’ll make it a worthless swamp and give it as a prize to the hedgehog. And then I’ll bulldoze it out of existence.” Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

Who Could Ever Cancel Such Plans?

24-27 God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks:

“Exactly as I planned,
    it will happen.
Following my blueprints,
    it will take shape.
I will shatter the Assyrian who trespasses my land
    and stomp him into the dirt on my mountains.
I will ban his taking and making of slaves
    and lift the weight of oppression from all shoulders.”
This is the plan,
    planned for the whole earth,
And this is the hand that will do it,
    reaching into every nation.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies has planned it.
    Who could ever cancel such plans?
His is the hand that’s reached out.
    Who could brush it aside?

28-31 In the year King Ahaz died, this Message came:

Hold it, Philistines! It’s too soon to celebrate
    the defeat of your cruel oppressor.
From the death throes of that snake a worse snake will come,
    and from that, one even worse.
The poor won’t have to worry.
    The needy will escape the terror.
But you Philistines will be plunged into famine,
    and those who don’t starve, God will kill.
Wail and howl, proud city!
    Fall prostrate in fear, Philistia!
On the northern horizon, smoke from burned cities,
    the wake of a brutal, disciplined destroyer.

32 What does one say to
    outsiders who ask questions?
Tell them, “God has established Zion.
    Those in need and in trouble find refuge in her.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Hebrews 9The Message (MSG)

A Visible Parable

1-5 That first plan contained directions for worship, and a specially designed place of worship. A large outer tent was set up. The lampstand, the table, and “the bread of presence” were placed in it. This was called “the Holy Place.” Then a curtain was stretched, and behind it a smaller, inside tent set up. This was called “the Holy of Holies.” In it were placed the gold incense altar and the gold-covered ark of the covenant containing the gold urn of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, the covenant tablets, and the angel-wing-shadowed mercy seat. But we don’t have time to comment on these now.

6-10 After this was set up, the priests went about their duties in the large tent. Only the high priest entered the smaller, inside tent, and then only once a year, offering a blood sacrifice for his own sins and the people’s accumulated sins. This was the Holy Spirit’s way of showing with a visible parable that as long as the large tent stands, people can’t just walk in on God. Under this system, the gifts and sacrifices can’t really get to the heart of the matter, can’t assuage the conscience of the people, but are limited to matters of ritual and behavior. It’s essentially a temporary arrangement until a complete overhaul could be made.

Pointing to the Realities of Heaven

11-15 But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven’s “tent”—the true Holy Place—once and for all. He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.

16-17 Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus’ death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.

18-22 Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. After Moses had read out all the terms of the plan of the law—God’s “will”—he took the blood of sacrificed animals and, in a solemn ritual, sprinkled the document and the people who were its beneficiaries. And then he attested its validity with the words, “This is the blood of the covenant commanded by God.” He did the same thing with the place of worship and its furniture. Moses said to the people, “This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you.” Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That’s why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins.

23-26 That accounts for the prominence of blood and death in all these secondary practices that point to the realities of heaven. It also accounts for why, when the real thing takes place, these animal sacrifices aren’t needed anymore, having served their purpose. For Christ didn’t enter the earthly version of the Holy Place; he entered the Place Itself, and offered himself to God as the sacrifice for our sins. He doesn’t do this every year as the high priests did under the old plan with blood that was not their own; if that had been the case, he would have to sacrifice himself repeatedly throughout the course of history. But instead he sacrificed himself once and for all, summing up all the other sacrifices in this sacrifice of himself, the final solution of sin.

27-28 Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences. Christ’s death was also a one-time event, but it was a sacrifice that took care of sins forever. And so, when he next appears, the outcome for those eager to greet him is, precisely, salvation.

The Message (MSG)

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

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