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Isaiah 32The Message (MSG)

Safe Houses, Quiet Gardens

32 1-8 But look! A king will rule in the right way,
    and his leaders will carry out justice.
Each one will stand as a shelter from high winds,
    provide safe cover in stormy weather.
Each will be cool running water in parched land,
    a huge granite outcrop giving shade in the desert.
Anyone who looks will see,
    anyone who listens will hear.
The impulsive will make sound decisions,
    the tongue-tied will speak with eloquence.
No more will fools become celebrities,
    nor crooks be rewarded with fame.
For fools are fools and that’s that,
    thinking up new ways to do mischief.
They leave a wake of wrecked lives
    and lies about God,
Turning their backs on the homeless hungry,
    ignoring those dying of thirst in the streets.
And the crooks? Underhanded sneaks they are,
    inventive in sin and scandal,
Exploiting the poor with scams and lies,
    unmoved by the victimized poor.
But those who are noble make noble plans,
    and stand for what is noble.

9-14 Take your stand, indolent women!
    Listen to me!
Indulgent, indolent women,
    listen closely to what I have to say.
In just a little over a year from now,
    you’ll be shaken out of your lazy lives.
The grape harvest will fail,
    and there’ll be no fruit on the trees.
Oh tremble, you indolent women.
    Get serious, you pampered dolls!
Strip down and discard your silk fineries.
    Put on funeral clothes.
Shed honest tears for the lost harvest,
    the failed vintage.
Weep for my people’s gardens and farms
    that grow nothing but thistles and thornbushes.
Cry tears, real tears, for the happy homes no longer happy,
    the merry city no longer merry.
The royal palace is deserted,
    the bustling city quiet as a morgue,
The emptied parks and playgrounds
    taken over by wild animals,
    delighted with their new home.

15-20 Yes, weep and grieve until the Spirit is poured
    down on us from above
And the badlands desert grows crops
    and the fertile fields become forests.
Justice will move into the badlands desert.
    Right will build a home in the fertile field.
And where there’s Right, there’ll be Peace
    and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.
My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood—
    in safe houses, in quiet gardens.
The forest of your pride will be clear-cut,
    the city showing off your power leveled.
But you will enjoy a blessed life,
    planting well-watered fields and gardens,
    with your farm animals grazing freely.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 33The Message (MSG)

The Ground Under Our Feet Mourns

33 Doom to you, Destroyer,
    not yet destroyed;
And doom to you, Betrayer,
    not yet betrayed.
When you finish destroying,
    your turn will come—destroyed!
When you quit betraying,
    your turn will come—betrayed!

2-4 God, treat us kindly. You’re our only hope.
    First thing in the morning, be there for us!
    When things go bad, help us out!
You spoke in thunder and everyone ran.
    You showed up and nations scattered.
Your people, for a change, got in on the loot,
    picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.

5-6 God is supremely esteemed. His center holds.
    Zion brims over with all that is just and right.
God keeps your days stable and secure—
    salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus,
    and best of all, Zion’s treasure, Fear-of-God.

7-9 But look! Listen!
    Tough men weep openly.
    Peacemaking diplomats are in bitter tears.
The roads are empty—
    not a soul out on the streets.
The peace treaty is broken,
    its conditions violated,
    its signers reviled.
The very ground under our feet mourns,
    the Lebanon mountains hang their heads,
Flowering Sharon is a weed-choked gully,
    and the forests of Bashan and Carmel? Bare branches.

10-12 “Now I’m stepping in,” God says.
    “From now on, I’m taking over.
    The gloves come off. Now see how mighty I am.
There’s nothing to you.
    Pregnant with chaff, you produce straw babies;
    full of hot air, you self-destruct.
You’re good for nothing but fertilizer and fuel.
    Earth to earth—and the sooner the better.

13-14 “If you’re far away,
    get the reports on what I’ve done,
And if you’re in the neighborhood,
    pay attention to my record.
The sinners in Zion are rightly terrified;
    the godless are at their wit’s end:
‘Who among us can survive this firestorm?
    Who of us can get out of this purge with our lives?’”

15-16 The answer’s simple:
    Live right,
    speak the truth,
    despise exploitation,
    refuse bribes,
    reject violence,
    avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living!
    A safe and stable way to live.
    A nourishing, satisfying way to live.

God Makes All the Decisions Here

17-19 Oh, you’ll see the king—a beautiful sight!
    And you’ll take in the wide vistas of land.
In your mind you’ll go over the old terrors:
    “What happened to that Assyrian inspector who condemned and confiscated?
And the one who gouged us of taxes?
    And that cheating moneychanger?”
Gone! Out of sight forever! Their insolence
    nothing now but a fading stain on the carpet!
No more putting up with a language you can’t understand,
    no more sounds of gibberish in your ears.

20-22 Just take a look at Zion, will you?
    Centering our worship in festival feasts!
Feast your eyes on Jerusalem,
    a quiet and permanent place to live.
No more pulling up stakes and moving on,
    no more patched-together lean-tos.
Instead, God! God majestic, God himself the place
    in a country of broad rivers and streams,
But rivers blocked to invading ships,
    off-limits to predatory pirates.
For God makes all the decisions here. God is our king.
    God runs this place and he’ll keep us safe.

23 Ha! Your sails are in shreds,
    your mast wobbling,
    your hold leaking.
The plunder is free for the taking, free for all—
    for weak and strong, insiders and outsiders.

24 No one in Zion will say, “I’m sick.”
    Best of all, they’ll all live guilt-free.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 34The Message (MSG)

The Fires Burning Day and Night

34 Draw in close now, nations. Listen carefully,
    you people. Pay attention!
Earth, you, too, and everything in you.
    World, and all that comes from you.

2-4 And here’s why: God is angry,
    good and angry with all the nations,
So blazingly angry at their arms and armies
    that he’s going to rid earth of them, wipe them out.
The corpses, thrown in a heap,
    will stink like the town dump in midsummer,
Their blood flowing off the mountains
    like creeks in spring runoff.
Stars will fall out of the sky
    like overripe, rotting fruit in the orchard,
And the sky itself will be folded up like a blanket
    and put away in a closet.
All that army of stars, shriveled to nothing,
    like leaves and fruit in autumn, dropping and rotting!

5-7 “Once I’ve finished with earth and sky,
    I’ll start in on Edom.
I’ll come down hard on Edom,
    a people I’ve slated for total termination.”
God has a sword, thirsty for blood and more blood,
    a sword hungry for well-fed flesh,
Lamb and goat blood,
    the suet-rich kidneys of rams.
Yes, God has scheduled a sacrifice in Bozrah, the capital,
    the whole country of Edom a slaughterhouse.
A wholesale slaughter, wild animals
    and farm animals alike slaughtered.
The whole country soaked with blood,
    all the ground greasy with fat.

8-15 It’s God’s scheduled time for vengeance,
    the year all Zion’s accounts are settled.
Edom’s streams will flow sluggish, thick with pollution,
    the soil sterile, poisoned with waste,
The whole country
    a smoking, stinking garbage dump—
The fires burning day and night,
    the skies black with endless smoke.
Generation after generation of wasteland—
    no more travelers through this country!
Vultures and skunks will police the streets;
    owls and crows will feel at home there.
God will reverse creation. Chaos!
    He will cancel fertility. Emptiness!
Leaders will have no one to lead.
    They’ll name it No Kingdom There,
A country where all kings
    and princes are unemployed.
Thistles will take over, covering the castles,
    fortresses conquered by weeds and thornbushes.
Wild dogs will prowl the ruins,
    ostriches have the run of the place.
Wildcats and hyenas will hunt together,
    demons and devils dance through the night.
The night-demon Lilith, evil and rapacious,
    will establish permanent quarters.
Scavenging carrion birds will breed and brood,
    infestations of ominous evil.

16-17 Get and read God’s book:
    None of this is going away,
    this breeding, brooding evil.
God has personally commanded it all.
    His Spirit set it in motion.
God has assigned them their place,
    decreed their fate in detail.
This is permanent—
    generation after generation, the same old thing.

The Message (MSG)

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

Isaiah 35The Message (MSG)

The Voiceless Break into Song

35 1-2 Wilderness and desert will sing joyously,
    the badlands will celebrate and flower—
Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom,
    a symphony of song and color.
Mountain glories of Lebanon—a gift.
    Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon—gifts.
God’s resplendent glory, fully on display.
    God awesome, God majestic.

3-4 Energize the limp hands,
    strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls,
    “Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here,
    on his way to put things right
And redress all wrongs.
    He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

5-7 Blind eyes will be opened,
    deaf ears unstopped,
Lame men and women will leap like deer,
    the voiceless break into song.
Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness,
    streams flow in the desert.
Hot sands will become a cool oasis,
    thirsty ground a splashing fountain.
Even lowly jackals will have water to drink,
    and barren grasslands flourish richly.

8-10 There will be a highway
    called the Holy Road.
No one rude or rebellious
    is permitted on this road.
It’s for God’s people exclusively—
    impossible to get lost on this road.
    Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road,
    no dangerous wild animals—
Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.
    Only the redeemed will walk on it.
The people God has ransomed
    will come back on this road.
They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion,
    unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness
    as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

The Message (MSG)

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

James 2The Message (MSG)

The Royal Rule of Love

1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?

5-7 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?

8-11 You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.

12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.

Faith in Action

14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?

25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.

The Message (MSG)

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

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