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Isaiah 22The Message (MSG)

A Country of Cowards

22 1-3 A Message concerning the Valley of Vision:

What’s going on here anyway?
    All this partying and noisemaking,
Shouting and cheering in the streets,
    the city noisy with celebrations!
You have no brave soldiers to honor,
    no combat heroes to be proud of.
Your leaders were all cowards,
    captured without even lifting a sword,
A country of cowards
    captured escaping the battle.

You Looked, but You Never Looked to Him

4-8 In the midst of the shouting, I said, “Let me alone.
    Let me grieve by myself.
Don’t tell me it’s going to be all right.
    These people are doomed. It’s not all right.”
For the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    is bringing a day noisy with mobs of people,
Jostling and stampeding in the Valley of Vision,
    knocking down walls
    and hollering to the mountains, “Attack! Attack!”
Old enemies Elam and Kir arrive armed to the teeth—
    weapons and chariots and cavalry.
Your fine valleys are noisy with war,
    chariots and cavalry charging this way and that.
    God has left Judah exposed and defenseless.

8-11 You assessed your defenses that Day, inspected your arsenal of weapons in the Forest Armory. You found the weak places in the city walls that needed repair. You secured the water supply at the Lower Pool. You took an inventory of the houses in Jerusalem and tore down some to get bricks to fortify the city wall. You built a large cistern to ensure plenty of water.

You looked and looked and looked, but you never looked to him who gave you this city, never once consulted the One who has long had plans for this city.

12-13 The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    called out on that Day,
Called for a day of repentant tears,
    called you to dress in somber clothes of mourning.
But what do you do? You throw a party!
    Eating and drinking and dancing in the streets!
You barbecue bulls and sheep, and throw a huge feast—
    slabs of meat, kegs of beer.
“Seize the day! Eat and drink!
    Tomorrow we die!”

14 God-of-the-Angel-Armies whispered to me his verdict on this frivolity: “You’ll pay for this outrage until the day you die.” The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, says so.

The Key of the Davidic Heritage

15-19 The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, spoke: “Come. Go to this steward, Shebna, who is in charge of all the king’s affairs, and tell him: What’s going on here? You’re an outsider here and yet you act like you own the place, make a big, fancy tomb for yourself where everyone can see it, making sure everyone will think you’re important. God is about to sack you, to throw you to the dogs. He’ll grab you by the hair, swing you round and round dizzyingly, and then let you go, sailing through the air like a ball, until you’re out of sight. Where you’ll land, nobody knows. And there you’ll die, and all the stuff you’ve collected heaped on your grave. You’ve disgraced your master’s house! You’re fired—and good riddance!

20-24 “On that Day I’ll replace Shebna. I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I’ll dress him in your robe. I’ll put your belt on him. I’ll give him your authority. He’ll be a father-leader to Jerusalem and the government of Judah. I’ll give him the key of the Davidic heritage. He’ll have the run of the place—open any door and keep it open, lock any door and keep it locked. I’ll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. He’ll secure the Davidic tradition. Everything will hang on him—not only the fate of Davidic descendants but also the detailed daily operations of the house, including cups and cutlery.

25 “And then the Day will come,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies, “when that nail will come loose and fall out, break loose from that solid wall—and everything hanging on it will go with it.” That’s what will happen. God says so.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 23The Message (MSG)

It Was All Numbers, Dead Numbers, Profit and Loss

23 1-4 Wail, ships of Tarshish,
    your strong seaports all in ruins!
When the ships returned from Cyprus,
    they saw the destruction.
Hold your tongue, you who live on the seacoast,
    merchants of Sidon.
Your people sailed the deep seas,
    buying and selling,
Making money on wheat from Shihor,
    grown along the Nile—
    multinational broker in grains!
Hang your head in shame, Sidon. The Sea speaks up,
    the powerhouse of the ocean says,
“I’ve never had labor pains, never had a baby,
    never reared children to adulthood,
Never gave life, never worked with life.
    It was all numbers, dead numbers, profit and loss.”

When Egypt gets the report on Tyre,
    what wailing! what wringing of hands!

Nothing Left Here to Be Proud Of

6-12 Visit Tarshish, you who live on the seacoast.
    Take a good, long look and wail—yes, cry buckets of tears!
Is this the city you remember as energetic and alive,
    bustling with activity, this historic old city,
Expanding throughout the globe,
    buying and selling all over the world?
And who is behind the collapse of Tyre,
    the Tyre that controlled the world markets?
Tyre’s merchants were the business tycoons.
    Tyre’s traders called all the shots.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies ordered the crash
    to show the sordid backside of pride
    and puncture the inflated reputations.
Sail for home, O ships of Tarshish.
    There are no docks left in this harbor.
God reached out to the sea and sea traders,
    threw the sea kingdoms into turmoil.
God ordered the destruction
    of the seacoast cities, the centers of commerce.
God said, “There’s nothing left here to be proud of,
    bankrupt and bereft Sidon.
Do you want to make a new start in Cyprus?
    Don’t count on it. Nothing there will work out for you either.”

13 Look at what happened to Babylon: There’s nothing left of it. Assyria turned it into a desert, into a refuge for wild dogs and stray cats. They brought in their big siege engines, tore down the buildings, and left nothing behind but rubble.

14 Wail, ships of Tarshish,
    your strong seaports all in ruins!

15-16 For the next seventy years, a king’s lifetime, Tyre will be forgotten. At the end of the seventy years, Tyre will stage a comeback, but it will be the comeback of a worn-out whore, as in the song:

“Take a harp, circle the city,
    unremembered whore.
Sing your old songs, your many old songs.
    Maybe someone will remember.”

17-18 At the end of the seventy years, God will look in on Tyre. She’ll go back to her old whoring trade, selling herself to the highest bidder, doing anything with anyone—promiscuous with all the kingdoms of earth—for a fee. But everything she gets, all the money she takes in, will be turned over to God. It will not be put in banks. Her profits will be put to the use of God-Aware, God-Serving-People, providing plenty of food and the best of clothing.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 24The Message (MSG)

The Landscape Will Be a Moonscape

24 1-3 Danger ahead! God’s about to ravish the earth
    and leave it in ruins,
Rip everything out by the roots
    and send everyone scurrying:
        priests and laypeople alike,
        owners and workers alike,
        celebrities and nobodies alike,
        buyers and sellers alike,
        bankers and beggars alike,
        the haves and have-nots alike.
The landscape will be a moonscape,
    totally wasted.
And why? Because God says so.
    He’s issued the orders.

The earth turns gaunt and gray,
    the world silent and sad,
    sky and land lifeless, colorless.

Earth Polluted by Its Very Own People

5-13 Earth is polluted by its very own people,
    who have broken its laws,
Disrupted its order,
    violated the sacred and eternal covenant.
Therefore a curse, like a cancer,
    ravages the earth.
Its people pay the price of their sacrilege.
    They dwindle away, dying out one by one.
No more wine, no more vineyards,
    no more songs or singers.
The laughter of castanets is gone,
    the shouts of celebrants, gone,
    the laughter of fiddles, gone.
No more parties with toasts of champagne.
    Serious drinkers gag on their drinks.
The chaotic cities are unlivable. Anarchy reigns.
    Every house is boarded up, condemned.
People riot in the streets for wine,
    but the good times are gone forever—
    no more joy for this old world.
The city is dead and deserted,
    bulldozed into piles of rubble.
That’s the way it will be on this earth.
    This is the fate of all nations:
An olive tree shaken clean of its olives,
    a grapevine picked clean of its grapes.

14-16 But there are some who will break into glad song.
    Out of the west they’ll shout of God’s majesty.
Yes, from the east God’s glory will ascend.
    Every island of the sea
Will broadcast God’s fame,
    the fame of the God of Israel.
From the four winds and the seven seas we hear the singing:
    “All praise to the Righteous One!”

16-20 But I said, “That’s all well and good for somebody,
    but all I can see is doom, doom, and more doom.”
All of them at one another’s throats,
    yes, all of them at one another’s throats.
Terror and pits and booby traps
    are everywhere, whoever you are.
If you run from the terror,
    you’ll fall into the pit.
If you climb out of the pit,
    you’ll get caught in the trap.
Chaos pours out of the skies.
    The foundations of earth are crumbling.
Earth is smashed to pieces,
    earth is ripped to shreds,
    earth is wobbling out of control,
Earth staggers like a drunk,
    sways like a shack in a high wind.
Its piled-up sins are too much for it.
    It collapses and won’t get up again.

21-23 That’s when God will call on the carpet
    rebel powers in the skies and
Rebel kings on earth.
    They’ll be rounded up like prisoners in a jail,
Corralled and locked up in a jail,
    and then sentenced and put to hard labor.
Shamefaced moon will cower, humiliated,
    red-faced sun will skulk, disgraced,
Because God-of-the-Angel-Armies will take over,
    ruling from Mount Zion and Jerusalem,
Splendid and glorious
    before all his leaders.

The Message (MSG)

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

Hebrews 12The Message (MSG)

Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

4-11 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
    but don’t be crushed by it either.
It’s the child he loves that he disciplines;
    the child he embraces, he also corrects.

God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

12-13 So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!

14-17 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

An Unshakable Kingdom

18-21 Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified.

22-24 No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace.

25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.

28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

The Message (MSG)

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

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