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Isaiah 15The Message (MSG)

Poignant Cries Reverberate Through Moab

15 1-4 A Message concerning Moab:

Village Ar of Moab is in ruins,
    destroyed in a night raid.
Village Kir of Moab is in ruins,
    destroyed in a night raid.
Village Dibon climbs to its chapel in the hills,
    goes up to lament.
Moab weeps and wails
    over Nebo and Medba.
Every head is shaved bald,
    every beard shaved clean.
They pour into the streets wearing black,
    go up on the roofs, take to the town square,
Everyone in tears,
    everyone in grief.
Towns Heshbon and Elealeh cry long and loud.
    The sound carries as far as Jahaz.
Moab sobs, shaking in grief.
    The soul of Moab trembles.

5-9 Oh, how I grieve for Moab!
    Refugees stream to Zoar
    and then on to Eglath-shelishiyah.
Up the slopes of Luhith they weep;
    on the road to Horonaim they cry their loss.
The springs of Nimrim are dried up—
    grass brown, buds stunted, nothing grows.
They leave, carrying all their possessions
    on their backs, everything they own,
Making their way as best they can
    across Willow Creek to safety.
Poignant cries reverberate
    all through Moab,
Gut-wrenching sobs as far as Eglaim,
    heart-racking sobs all the way to Beer-elim.
The banks of the Dibon crest with blood,
    but God has worse in store for Dibon:
A lion—a lion to finish off the fugitives,
    to clean up whoever’s left in the land.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 16The Message (MSG)

A New Government in the David Tradition

16 1-4 “Dispatch a gift of lambs,” says Moab,
    “to the leaders in Jerusalem—
Lambs from Sela sent across the desert
    to buy the goodwill of Jerusalem.
The towns and people of Moab
    are at a loss,
New-hatched birds knocked from the nest,
    fluttering helplessly
At the banks of the Arnon River,
    unable to cross:
‘Tell us what to do,
    help us out!
Protect us,
    hide us!
Give the refugees from Moab
    sanctuary with you.
Be a safe place for those on the run
    from the killing fields.’”

4-5 “When this is all over,” Judah answers,
    “the tyrant toppled,
The killing at an end,
    all signs of these cruelties long gone,
A new government of love will be established
    in the venerable David tradition.
A Ruler you can depend upon
    will head this government,
A Ruler passionate for justice,
    a Ruler quick to set things right.”

6-12 We’ve heard—everyone’s heard!—of Moab’s pride,
    world-famous for pride—
Arrogant, self-important, insufferable,
    full of hot air.
So now let Moab lament for a change,
    with antiphonal mock-laments from the neighbors!
What a shame! How terrible!
    No more fine fruitcakes and Kir-hareseth candies!
All those lush Heshbon fields dried up,
    the rich Sibmah vineyards withered!
Foreign thugs have crushed and torn out
    the famous grapevines
That once reached all the way to Jazer,
    right to the edge of the desert,
Ripped out the crops in every direction
    as far as the eye can see.
I’ll join the weeping. I’ll weep right along with Jazer,
    weep for the Sibmah vineyards.
And yes, Heshbon and Elealeh,
    I’ll mingle my tears with your tears!
The joyful shouting at harvest is gone.
    Instead of song and celebration, dead silence.
No more boisterous laughter in the orchards,
    no more hearty work songs in the vineyards.
Instead of the bustle and sound of good work in the fields,
    silence—deathly and deadening silence.
My heartstrings throb like harp strings for Moab,
    my soul in sympathy for sad Kir-heres.
When Moab trudges to the shrine to pray,
    he wastes both time and energy.
Going to the sanctuary and praying for relief
    is useless. Nothing ever happens.

13-14 This is God’s earlier Message on Moab. God’s updated Message is, “In three years, no longer than the term of an enlisted soldier, Moab’s impressive presence will be gone, that splendid hot-air balloon will be punctured, and instead of a vigorous population, just a few shuffling bums cadging handouts.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 17The Message (MSG)

Damascus: A Pile of Dust and Rubble

17 1-3 A Message concerning Damascus:

“Watch this: Damascus undone as a city,
    a pile of dust and rubble!
Her towns emptied of people.
    The sheep and goats will move in
And take over the towns
    as if they owned them—which they will!
Not a sign of a fort is left in Ephraim,
    not a trace of government left in Damascus.
What’s left of Aram?
    The same as what’s left of Israel—not much.”
        Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

The Day Is Coming

4-6 “The Day is coming when Jacob’s robust splendor goes pale
    and his well-fed body turns skinny.
The country will be left empty, picked clean
    as a field harvested by field hands.
She’ll be like a few stalks of barley left standing
    in the lush Valley of Rephaim after harvest,
Or like the couple of ripe olives overlooked
    in the top of the olive tree,
Or the four or five apples
    that the pickers couldn’t reach in the orchard.”
        Decree of the God of Israel.

7-8 Yes, the Day is coming when people will notice The One Who Made Them, take a long hard look at The Holy of Israel. They’ll lose interest in all the stuff they’ve made—altars and monuments and rituals, their homemade, handmade religion—however impressive it is.

And yes, the Day is coming when their fortress cities will be abandoned—the very same cities that the Hivites and Amorites abandoned when Israel invaded! And the country will be empty, desolate.

You Have Forgotten God

10-11 And why? Because you have forgotten God-Your-Salvation,
    not remembered your Rock-of-Refuge.
And so, even though you are very religious,
    planting all sorts of bushes and herbs and trees
    to honor and influence your fertility gods,
And even though you make them grow so well,
    bursting with buds and sprouts and blossoms,
Nothing will come of them. Instead of a harvest
    you’ll get nothing but grief and pain, pain, pain.

12-13 Oh my! Thunder! A thundering herd of people!
    Thunder like the crashing of ocean waves!
Nations roaring, roaring,
    like the roar of a massive waterfall,
Roaring like a deafening Niagara!
    But God will silence them with a word,
And then he’ll blow them away like dead leaves off a tree,
    like down from a thistle.

14 At bedtime, terror fills the air.
    By morning it’s gone—not a sign of it anywhere!
This is what happens to those who would ruin us,
    this is the fate of those out to get us.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 18The Message (MSG)

People Mighty and Merciless

18 1-2 Doom to the land of flies and mosquitoes
    beyond the Ethiopian rivers,
Shipping emissaries all over the world,
    down rivers and across seas.

Go, swift messengers,
    go to this people tall and handsome,
This people held in respect everywhere,
    this people mighty and merciless,
    from the land crisscrossed with rivers.

Everybody everywhere,
    all earth-dwellers:
When you see a flag flying on the mountain, look!
    When you hear the trumpet blown, listen!

4-6 For here’s what God told me:

“I’m not going to say anything,
    but simply look on from where I live,
Quiet as warmth that comes from the sun,
    silent as dew during harvest.”
And then, just before harvest, after the blossom
    has turned into a maturing grape,
He’ll step in and prune back the new shoots,
    ruthlessly hack off all the growing branches.
He’ll leave them piled on the ground
    for birds and animals to feed on—
Fodder for the summering birds,
    fodder for the wintering animals.

Then tribute will be brought to God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    brought from this people tall and handsome,
This people once held in respect everywhere,
    this people once mighty and merciless,
From the land crisscrossed with rivers,
    to Mount Zion, God’s place.

The Message (MSG)

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

Hebrews 10The Message (MSG)

The Sacrifice of Jesus

10 1-10 The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old “law plan” wasn’t complete in itself, it couldn’t complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can’t get rid of sin. That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ:

You don’t want sacrifices and offerings year after year;
    you’ve prepared a body for me for a sacrifice.
It’s not fragrance and smoke from the altar
    that whet your appetite.
So I said, “I’m here to do it your way, O God,
    the way it’s described in your Book.”

When he said, “You don’t want sacrifices and offerings,” he was referring to practices according to the old plan. When he added, “I’m here to do it your way,” he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—God’s way—by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus.

11-18 Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. The Holy Spirit confirms this:

This new plan I’m making with Israel
    isn’t going to be written on paper,
    isn’t going to be chiseled in stone;
This time “I’m writing out the plan in them,
    carving it on the lining of their hearts.”

He concludes,

I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.

Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.

Don’t Throw It All Away

19-21 So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.

22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

26-31 If we give up and turn our backs on all we’ve learned, all we’ve been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ’s sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be! If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death, what do you think will happen if you turn on God’s Son, spit on the sacrifice that made you whole, and insult this most gracious Spirit? This is no light matter. God has warned us that he’ll hold us to account and make us pay. He was quite explicit: “Vengeance is mine, and I won’t overlook a thing” and “God will judge his people.” Nobody’s getting by with anything, believe me.

32-39 Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion.

It won’t be long now, he’s on the way;
    he’ll show up most any minute.
But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust;
    if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy.

But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.

The Message (MSG)

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

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