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Isaiah 25The Message (MSG)

God’s Hand Rests on This Mountain

25 1-5 God, you are my God.
    I celebrate you. I praise you.
You’ve done your share of miracle-wonders,
    well-thought-out plans, solid and sure.
Here you’ve reduced the city to rubble,
    the strong city to a pile of stones.
The enemy Big City is a non-city,
    never to be a city again.
Superpowers will see it and honor you,
    brutal oppressors bow in worshipful reverence.
They’ll see that you take care of the poor,
    that you take care of poor people in trouble,
Provide a warm, dry place in bad weather,
    provide a cool place when it’s hot.
Brutal oppressors are like a winter blizzard
    and vicious foreigners like high noon in the desert.
But you, shelter from the storm and shade from the sun,
    shut the mouths of the big-mouthed bullies.

6-8 But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
    a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
    the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
    Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
    He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
    Yes! God says so!

9-10 Also at that time, people will say,
    “Look at what’s happened! This is our God!
We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!
    This God, the one we waited for!
Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.
    God’s hand rests on this mountain!”

10-12 As for the Moabites, they’ll be treated like refuse,
    waste shoveled into a cesspool.
Thrash away as they will,
    like swimmers trying to stay afloat,
They’ll sink in the sewage.
    Their pride will pull them under.
Their famous fortifications will crumble to nothing,
    those mighty walls reduced to dust.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 26The Message (MSG)

Stretch the Borders of Life

26 1-6 At that time, this song
    will be sung in the country of Judah:
We have a strong city, Salvation City,
    built and fortified with salvation.
Throw wide the gates
    so good and true people can enter.
People with their minds set on you,
    you keep completely whole,
Steady on their feet,
    because they keep at it and don’t quit.
Depend on God and keep at it
    because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
Those who lived high and mighty
    he knocked off their high horse.
He used the city built on the hill
    as fill for the marshes.
All the exploited and outcast peoples
    build their lives on the reclaimed land.

7-10 The path of right-living people is level.
    The Leveler evens the road for the right-living.
We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger
    in the path sign-posted with your decisions.
Who you are and what you’ve done
    are all we’ll ever want.
Through the night my soul longs for you.
    Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you.
When your decisions are on public display,
    everyone learns how to live right.
If the wicked are shown grace,
    they don’t seem to get it.
In the land of right living, they persist in wrong living,
    blind to the splendor of God.

11-15 You hold your hand up high, God,
    but they don’t see it.
Open their eyes to what you do,
    to see your zealous love for your people.
Shame them. Light a fire under them.
    Get the attention of these enemies of yours.
God, order a peaceful and whole life for us
    because everything we’ve done, you’ve done for us.
O God, our God, we’ve had other masters rule us,
    but you’re the only Master we’ve ever known.
The dead don’t talk,
    ghosts don’t walk,
Because you’ve said, “Enough—that’s all for you,”
    and wiped them off the books.
But the living you make larger than life.
    The more life you give, the more glory you display,
    and stretch the borders to accommodate more living!

16-18 O God, they begged you for help when they were in trouble,
    when your discipline was so heavy
    they could barely whisper a prayer.
Like a woman having a baby,
    writhing in distress, screaming her pain
    as the baby is being born,
That’s how we were because of you, O God.
    We were pregnant full-term.
We writhed in labor but bore no baby.
    We gave birth to wind.
Nothing came of our labor.
    We produced nothing living.
    We couldn’t save the world.

19 But friends, your dead will live,
    your corpses will get to their feet.
All you dead and buried,
    wake up! Sing!
Your dew is morning dew
    catching the first rays of sun,
The earth bursting with life,
    giving birth to the dead.

20-21 Come, my people, go home
    and shut yourselves in.
Go into seclusion for a while
    until the punishing wrath is past,
Because God is sure to come from his place
    to punish the wrong of the people on earth.
Earth itself will point out the bloodstains;
    it will show where the murdered have been hidden away.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 27The Message (MSG)

Selected Grain by Grain

27 At that time God will unsheathe his sword,
    his merciless, massive, mighty sword.
He’ll punish the serpent Leviathan as it flees,
    the serpent Leviathan thrashing in flight.
He’ll kill that old dragon
    that lives in the sea.

2-5 “At that same time, a fine vineyard will appear.
    There’s something to sing about!
I, God, tend it.
    I keep it well-watered.
I keep careful watch over it
    so that no one can damage it.
I’m not angry. I care.
    Even if it gives me thistles and thornbushes,
I’ll just pull them out
    and burn them up.
Let that vine cling to me for safety,
    let it find a good and whole life with me,
    let it hold on for a good and whole life.”

The days are coming when Jacob
    shall put down roots,
Israel blossom and grow fresh branches,
    and fill the world with its fruit.

7-11 Has God knocked them to the ground
    as he knocked down those who hit them? Oh, no.
Were they killed
    as their killers were killed? Again, no.
He was hard on them all right. The exile was a harsh sentence.
    He blew them away on a fierce blast of wind.
But the good news is that through this experience
    Jacob’s guilt was taken away.
    The evidence that his sin is removed will be this:
He will tear down the alien altars,
    take them apart stone by stone,
And then crush the stones into gravel
    and clean out all the sex-and-religion shrines.
For there’s nothing left of that pretentious grandeur.
    Nobody lives there anymore. It’s unlivable.
But animals do just fine,
    browsing and bedding down.
And it’s not a bad place to get firewood.
    Dry twigs and dead branches are plentiful.
It’s the leavings of a people with no sense of God.
    So, the God who made them
Will have nothing to do with them.
    He who formed them will turn his back on them.

12-13 At that time God will thresh
    from the River Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt,
And you, people of Israel,
    will be selected grain by grain.
At that same time a great trumpet will be blown,
    calling home the exiles from Assyria,
Welcoming home the refugees from Egypt
    to come and worship God on the holy mountain, Jerusalem.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 28The Message (MSG)

God Will Speak in Baby Talk

28 1-4 Doom to the pretentious drunks of Ephraim,
    shabby and washed out and seedy—
Tipsy, sloppy-fat, beer-bellied parodies
    of a proud and handsome past.
Watch closely: God has someone picked out,
    someone tough and strong to flatten them.
Like a hailstorm, like a hurricane, like a flash flood,
    one-handed he’ll throw them to the ground.
Samaria, the party hat on Israel’s head,
    will be knocked off with one blow.
It will disappear quicker than
    a piece of meat tossed to a dog.

5-6 At that time, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will be
    the beautiful crown on the head of what’s left of his people:
Energy and insights of justice to those who guide and decide,
    strength and prowess to those who guard and protect.

7-8 These also, the priest and prophet, stagger from drink,
    weaving, falling-down drunks,
Besotted with wine and whiskey,
    can’t see straight, can’t talk sense.
Every table is covered with vomit.
    They live in vomit.

9-10 “Is that so? And who do you think you are to teach us?
    Who are you to lord it over us?
We’re not babies in diapers
    to be talked down to by such as you—
‘Da, da, da, da,
    blah, blah, blah, blah.
That’s a good little girl,
    that’s a good little boy.’”

11-12 But that’s exactly how you will be addressed.
    God will speak to this people
In baby talk, one syllable at a time—
    and he’ll do it through foreign oppressors.
He said before, “This is the time and place to rest,
    to give rest to the weary.
This is the place to lay down your burden.”
    But they won’t listen.

13 So God will start over with the simple basics
    and address them in baby talk, one syllable at a time—
“Da, da, da, da,
    blah, blah, blah, blah.
That’s a good little girl,
    that’s a good little boy.”
And like toddlers, they will get up and fall down,
    get bruised and confused and lost.

14-15 Now listen to God’s Message, you scoffers,
    you who rule this people in Jerusalem.
You say, “We’ve taken out good life insurance.
    We’ve hedged all our bets, covered all our bases.
No disaster can touch us. We’ve thought of everything.
    We’re advised by the experts. We’re set.”

The Meaning of the Stone

16-17 But the Master, God, has something to say to this:

“Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion,
    a solid granite foundation, squared and true.
And this is the meaning of the stone:
    a trusting life won’t topple.
I’ll make justice the measuring stick
    and righteousness the plumb line for the building.
A hailstorm will knock down the shantytown of lies,
    and a flash flood will wash out the rubble.

18-22 “Then you’ll see that your precious life insurance policy
    wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
Your careful precautions against death
    were a pack of illusions and lies.
When the disaster happens,
    you’ll be crushed by it.
Every time disaster comes, you’ll be in on it—
    disaster in the morning, disaster at night.”
Every report of disaster
    will send you cowering in terror.
There will be no place where you can rest,
    nothing to hide under.
God will rise to full stature,
    raging as he did long ago on Mount Perazim
And in the valley of Gibeon against the Philistines.
    But this time it’s against you.
Hard to believe, but true.
    Not what you’d expect, but it’s coming.
Sober up, friends, and don’t scoff.
    Scoffing will just make it worse.
I’ve heard the orders issued for destruction, orders from
    God-of-the-Angel-Armies—ending up in an international disaster.

23-26 Listen to me now.
    Give me your closest attention.
Do farmers plow and plow and do nothing but plow?
    Or harrow and harrow and do nothing but harrow?
After they’ve prepared the ground, don’t they plant?
    Don’t they scatter dill and spread cumin,
Plant wheat and barley in the fields
    and raspberries along the borders?
They know exactly what to do and when to do it.
    Their God is their teacher.

27-29 And at the harvest, the delicate herbs and spices,
    the dill and cumin, are treated delicately.
On the other hand, wheat is threshed and milled, but still not endlessly.
    The farmer knows how to treat each kind of grain.
He’s learned it all from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    who knows everything about when and how and where.

The Message (MSG)

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

Hebrews 13The Message (MSG)

Jesus Doesn’t Change

13 1-4 Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love. Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it! Regard prisoners as if you were in prison with them. Look on victims of abuse as if what happened to them had happened to you. Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.

5-6 Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote,

God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?

7-8 Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.

10-12 The altar from which God gives us the gift of himself is not for exploitation by insiders who grab and loot. In the old system, the animals are killed and the bodies disposed of outside the camp. The blood is then brought inside to the altar as a sacrifice for sin. It’s the same with Jesus. He was crucified outside the city gates—that is where he poured out the sacrificial blood that was brought to God’s altar to cleanse his people.

13-15 So let’s go outside, where Jesus is, where the action is—not trying to be privileged insiders, but taking our share in the abuse of Jesus. This “insider world” is not our home. We have our eyes peeled for the City about to come. Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring out sacrificial praises from our lips to God in Jesus’ name.

16 Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.

17 Be responsive to your pastoral leaders. Listen to their counsel. They are alert to the condition of your lives and work under the strict supervision of God. Contribute to the joy of their leadership, not its drudgery. Why would you want to make things harder for them?

18-21 Pray for us. We have no doubts about what we’re doing or why, but it’s hard going and we need your prayers. All we care about is living well before God. Pray that we may be together soon.

May God, who puts all things together,
    makes all things whole,
Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus,
    the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant,
Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd,
    up and alive from the dead,
Now put you together, provide you
    with everything you need to please him,
Make us into what gives him most pleasure,
    by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah.
All glory to Jesus forever and always!
    Oh, yes, yes, yes.

22-23 Friends, please take what I’ve written most seriously. I’ve kept this as brief as possible; I haven’t piled on a lot of extras. You’ll be glad to know that Timothy has been let out of prison. If he leaves soon, I’ll come with him and get to see you myself.

24 Say hello to your pastoral leaders and all the congregations. Everyone here in Italy wants to be remembered to you.

25 Grace be with you, every one.

The Message (MSG)

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

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