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Isaiah 29The Message (MSG)

Blind Yourselves So That You See Nothing

29 1-4 Doom, Ariel, Ariel,
    the city where David set camp!
Let the years add up,
    let the festivals run their cycles,
But I’m not letting up on Jerusalem.
    The moaning and groaning will continue.
    Jerusalem to me is an Ariel.
Like David, I’ll set up camp against you.
    I’ll set siege, build towers,
    bring in siege engines, build siege ramps.
Driven into the ground, you’ll speak,
    you’ll mumble words from the dirt—
Your voice from the ground, like the muttering of a ghost.
    Your speech will whisper from the dust.

5-8 But it will be your enemies who are beaten to dust,
    the mob of tyrants who will be blown away like chaff.
Because, surprise, as if out of nowhere,
    a visit from God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
With thunderclaps, earthquakes, and earsplitting noise,
    backed up by hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning strikes,
And the mob of enemies at war with Ariel,
    all who trouble and hassle and torment her,
    will turn out to be a bad dream, a nightmare.
Like a hungry man dreaming he’s eating steak
    and wakes up hungry as ever,
Like a thirsty woman dreaming she’s drinking iced tea
    and wakes up thirsty as ever,
So that mob of nations at war against Mount Zion
    will wake up and find they haven’t shot an arrow,
    haven’t killed a single soul.

9-10 Drug yourselves so you feel nothing.
    Blind yourselves so you see nothing.
Get drunk, but not on wine.
    Black out, but not from whiskey.
For God has rocked you into a deep, deep sleep,
    put the discerning prophets to sleep,
    put the farsighted seers to sleep.

You Have Everything Backward

11-12 What you’ve been shown here is somewhat like a letter in a sealed envelope. If you give it to someone who can read and tell her, “Read this,” she’ll say, “I can’t. The envelope is sealed.” And if you give it to someone who can’t read and tell him, “Read this,” he’ll say, “I can’t read.”

13-14 The Master said:

“These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
    but their hearts aren’t in it.
Because they act like they’re worshiping me
    but don’t mean it,
I’m going to step in and shock them awake,
    astonish them, stand them on their ears.
The wise ones who had it all figured out
    will be exposed as fools.
The smart people who thought they knew everything
    will turn out to know nothing.”

15-16 Doom to you! You pretend to have the inside track.
    You shut God out and work behind the scenes,
Plotting the future as if you knew everything,
    acting mysterious, never showing your hand.
You have everything backward!
    You treat the potter as a lump of clay.
Does a book say to its author,
    “He didn’t write a word of me”?
Does a meal say to the woman who cooked it,
    “She had nothing to do with this”?

17-21 And then before you know it,
    and without you having anything to do with it,
Wasted Lebanon will be transformed into lush gardens,
    and Mount Carmel reforested.
At that time the deaf will hear
    word-for-word what’s been written.
After a lifetime in the dark,
    the blind will see.
The castoffs of society will be laughing and dancing in God,
    the down-and-outs shouting praise to The Holy of Israel.
For there’ll be no more gangs on the street.
    Cynical scoffers will be an extinct species.
Those who never missed a chance to hurt or demean
    will never be heard of again:
Gone the people who corrupted the courts,
    gone the people who cheated the poor,
    gone the people who victimized the innocent.

22-24 And finally this, God’s Message for the family of Jacob,
    the same God who redeemed Abraham:
“No longer will Jacob hang his head in shame,
    no longer grow gaunt and pale with waiting.
For he’s going to see his children,
    my personal gift to him—lots of children.
And these children will honor me
    by living holy lives.
In holy worship they’ll honor the Holy One of Jacob
    and stand in holy awe of the God of Israel.
Those who got off-track will get back on-track,
    and complainers and whiners learn gratitude.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 30The Message (MSG)

All Show, No Substance

30 1-5 “Doom, rebel children!”
    God’s Decree.
“You make plans, but not mine.
    You make deals, but not in my Spirit.
You pile sin on sin,
    one sin on top of another,
Going off to Egypt
    without so much as asking me,
Running off to Pharaoh for protection,
    expecting to hide out in Egypt.
Well, some protection Pharaoh will be!
    Some hideout, Egypt!
They look big and important, true,
    with officials strategically established in
Zoan in the north and Hanes in the south,
    but there’s nothing to them.
Anyone stupid enough to trust them
    will end up looking stupid—
All show, no substance,
    an embarrassing farce.”

6-7 And this note on the animals of the Negev
    encountered on the road to Egypt:
A most dangerous, treacherous route,
    menaced by lions and deadly snakes.
And you’re going to lug all your stuff down there,
    your donkeys and camels loaded down with bribes,
Thinking you can buy protection
    from that hollow farce of a nation?
Egypt is all show, no substance.
    My name for her is Toothless Dragon.

This Is a Rebel Generation

8-11 So, go now and write all this down.
    Put it in a book
So that the record will be there
    to instruct the coming generations,
Because this is a rebel generation,
    a people who lie,
A people unwilling to listen
    to anything God tells them.
They tell their spiritual leaders,
    “Don’t bother us with irrelevancies.”
They tell their preachers,
    “Don’t waste our time on impracticalities.
Tell us what makes us feel better.
    Don’t bore us with obsolete religion.
That stuff means nothing to us.
    Quit hounding us with The Holy of Israel.”

12-14 Therefore, The Holy of Israel says this:
    “Because you scorn this Message,
Preferring to live by injustice
    and shape your lives on lies,
This perverse way of life
    will be like a towering, badly built wall
That slowly, slowly tilts and shifts,
    and then one day, without warning, collapses—
Smashed to bits like a piece of pottery,
    smashed beyond recognition or repair,
Useless, a pile of debris
    to be swept up and thrown in the trash.”

God Takes the Time to Do Everything Right

15-17 God, the Master, The Holy of Israel,
    has this solemn counsel:
“Your salvation requires you to turn back to me
    and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
    in complete dependence on me—
The very thing
    you’ve been unwilling to do.
You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’
    You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough!
You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’
    Do you think your pursuers ride old nags?
Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker.
    Before a mere five you’ll all run off.
There’ll be nothing left of you—
    a flagpole on a hill with no flag,
    a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”

18 But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you.
    He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you.
God takes the time to do everything right—everything.
    Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

19-22 Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”

23-26 God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills. Better yet, on the Day God heals his people of the wounds and bruises from the time of punishment, moonlight will flare into sunlight, and sunlight, like a whole week of sunshine at once, will flood the land.

27-28 Look, God’s on his way,
    and from a long way off!
Smoking with anger,
    immense as he comes into view,
Words steaming from his mouth,
    searing, indicting words!
A torrent of words, a flash flood of words
    sweeping everyone into the vortex of his words.
He’ll shake down the nations in a sieve of destruction,
    herd them into a dead end.

29-33 But you will sing,
    sing through an all-night holy feast!
Your hearts will burst with song,
    make music like the sound of flutes on parade,
En route to the mountain of God,
    on the way to the Rock of Israel.
God will sound out in grandiose thunder,
    display his hammering arm,
Furiously angry, showering sparks—
    cloudburst, storm, hail!
Oh yes, at God’s thunder
    Assyria will cower under the clubbing.
Every blow God lands on them with his club
    is in time to the music of drums and pipes,
God in all-out, two-fisted battle,
    fighting against them.
Topheth’s fierce fires are well prepared,
    ready for the Assyrian king.
The Topheth furnace is deep and wide,
    well stoked with hot-burning wood.
God’s breath, like a river of burning pitch,
    starts the fire.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 31The Message (MSG)

Impressed by Military Mathematics

31 1-3 Doom to those who go off to Egypt
    thinking that horses can help them,
Impressed by military mathematics,
    awed by sheer numbers of chariots and riders—
And to The Holy of Israel, not even a glance,
    not so much as a prayer to God.
Still, he must be reckoned with,
    a most wise God who knows what he’s doing.
He can call down catastrophe.
    He’s a God who does what he says.
He intervenes in the work of those who do wrong,
    stands up against interfering evildoers.
Egyptians are mortal, not God,
    and their horses are flesh, not Spirit.
When God gives the signal, helpers and helped alike
    will fall in a heap and share the same dirt grave.

4-5 This is what God told me:

“Like a lion, king of the beasts,
    that gnaws and chews and worries its prey,
Not fazed in the least by a bunch of shepherds
    who arrive to chase it off,
So God-of-the-Angel-Armies comes down
    to fight on Mount Zion, to make war from its heights.
And like a huge eagle hovering in the sky,
    God-of-the-Angel-Armies protects Jerusalem.
I’ll protect and rescue it.
    Yes, I’ll hover and deliver.”

6-7 Repent, return, dear Israel, to the One you so cruelly abandoned. On the day you return, you’ll throw away—every last one of you—the no-gods your sinful hands made from metal and wood.

8-9 “Assyrians will fall dead,
    killed by a sword-thrust but not by a soldier,
    laid low by a sword not swung by a mortal.
Assyrians will run from that sword, run for their lives,
    and their prize young men made slaves.
Terrorized, that rock-solid people will fall to pieces,
    their leaders scatter hysterically.”
God’s Decree on Assyria.
    His fire blazes in Zion,
    his furnace burns hot in Jerusalem.

The Message (MSG)

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

James 1The Message (MSG)

I, James, am a slave of God and the Master Jesus, writing to the twelve tribes scattered to Kingdom Come: Hello!

Faith Under Pressure

2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

5-8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

9-11 When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing.

12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

13-15 Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.

16-18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.

Act on What You Hear

19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

22-24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.

25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.

26-27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

The Message (MSG)

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

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