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Jeremiah 3The Message (MSG)

Your Sex-and-Religion Obsessions

God’s Message came to me as follows:

“If a man’s wife
    walks out on him
And marries another man,
    can he take her back as if nothing had happened?
Wouldn’t that raise a huge stink
    in the land?
And isn’t that what you’ve done—
    ‘whored’ your way with god after god?
And now you want to come back as if nothing had happened.”
    God’s Decree.

2-5 “Look around at the hills.
    Where have you not had sex?
You’ve camped out like hunters stalking deer.
    You’ve solicited many lover-gods,
Like a streetwalking whore
    chasing after other gods.
And so the rain has stopped.
    No more rain from the skies!
But it doesn’t even faze you. Brazen as whores,
    you carry on as if you’ve done nothing wrong.
Then you have the nerve to call out, ‘My father!
    You took care of me when I was a child. Why not now?
Are you going to keep up your anger nonstop?’
    That’s your line. Meanwhile you keep sinning nonstop.”

Admit Your God-Defiance

6-10 God spoke to me during the reign of King Josiah: “You have noticed, haven’t you, how fickle Israel has visited every hill and grove of trees as a whore at large? I assumed that after she had gotten it out of her system, she’d come back, but she didn’t. Her flighty sister, Judah, saw what she did. She also saw that because of fickle Israel’s loose morals I threw her out, gave her her walking papers. But that didn’t faze flighty sister Judah. She went out, big as you please, and took up a whore’s life also. She took up cheap sex-and-religion as a sideline diversion, an indulgent recreation, and used anything and anyone, flouting sanity and sanctity alike, stinking up the country. And not once in all this did flighty sister Judah even give me a nod, although she made a show of it from time to time.” God’s Decree.

11-12 Then God told me, “Fickle Israel was a good sight better than flighty Judah. Go and preach this message. Face north toward Israel and say:

12-15 “‘Turn back, fickle Israel.
    I’m not just hanging back to punish you.
I’m committed in love to you.
    My anger doesn’t seethe nonstop.
Just admit your guilt.
    Admit your God-defiance.
Admit to your promiscuous life with casual partners,
    pulling strangers into the sex-and-religion groves
While turning a deaf ear to me.’”
    God’s Decree.
“Come back, wandering children!”
    God’s Decree.
“I, yes I, am your true husband.
    I’ll pick you out one by one—
This one from the city, these two from the country—
    and bring you to Zion.
I’ll give you good shepherd-rulers who rule my way,
    who rule you with intelligence and wisdom.

16 “And this is what will happen: You will increase and prosper in the land. The time will come”—God’s Decree!—“when no one will say any longer, ‘Oh, for the good old days! Remember the Ark of the Covenant?’ It won’t even occur to anyone to say it—‘the good old days.’ The so-called good old days of the Ark are gone for good.

17 “Jerusalem will be the new Ark—‘God’s Throne.’ All the godless nations, no longer stuck in the ruts of their evil ways, will gather there to honor God.

18 “At that time, the House of Judah will join up with the House of Israel. Holding hands, they’ll leave the north country and come to the land I willed to your ancestors.

19-20 “I planned what I’d say if you returned to me:
    ‘Good! I’ll bring you back into the family.
I’ll give you choice land,
    land that the godless nations would die for.’
And I imagined that you would say, ‘Dear father!’
    and would never again go off and leave me.
But no luck. Like a false-hearted woman walking out on her husband,
    you, the whole family of Israel, have proven false to me.”
        God’s Decree.

21-22 The sound of voices comes drifting out of the hills,
    the unhappy sound of Israel’s crying,
Israel lamenting the wasted years,
    never once giving her God a thought.
“Come back, wandering children!
    I can heal your wanderlust!”

22-25 “We’re here! We’ve come back to you.
    You’re our own true God!
All that popular religion was a cheap lie,
    duped crowds buying up the latest in gods.
We’re back! Back to our true God,
    the salvation of Israel.
The Fraud picked us clean, swindled us
    of what our ancestors bequeathed us,
Gypped us out of our inheritance—
    God-blessed flocks and God-given children.
We made our bed and now lie in it,
    all tangled up in the dirty sheets of dishonor.
All because we sinned against our God,
    we and our fathers and mothers.
From the time we took our first steps, said our first words,
    we’ve been rebels, disobeying the voice of our God.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Jeremiah 4The Message (MSG)

1-2 “If you want to come back, O Israel,
    you must really come back to me.
You must get rid of your stinking sin paraphernalia
    and not wander away from me anymore.
Then you can say words like, ‘As God lives . . .’
    and have them mean something true and just and right.
And the godless nations will get caught up in the blessing
    and find something in Israel to write home about.”

3-4 Here’s another Message from God
    to the people of Judah and Jerusalem:
“Plow your unplowed fields,
    but then don’t plant weeds in the soil!
Yes, circumcise your lives for God’s sake.
    Plow your unplowed hearts,
    all you people of Judah and Jerusalem.
Prevent fire—the fire of my anger—
    for once it starts it can’t be put out.
Your wicked ways
    are fuel for the fire.

God’s Sledgehammer Anger

5-8 “Sound the alarm in Judah,
    broadcast the news in Jerusalem.
Say, ‘Blow the ram’s horn trumpet through the land!’
    Shout out—a bullhorn bellow!—
‘Close ranks!
    Run for your lives to the shelters!’
Send up a flare warning Zion:
    ‘Not a minute to lose! Don’t sit on your hands!’
Disaster’s descending from the north. I set it off!
    When it lands, it will shake the foundations.
Invaders have pounced like a lion from its cover,
    ready to rip nations to shreds,
Leaving your land in wrack and ruin,
    your cities in rubble, abandoned.
Dress in funereal black.
    Weep and wail,
For God’s sledgehammer anger
    has slammed into us head-on.

“When this happens”
    God’s Decree—
“King and princes will lose heart;
    priests will be baffled and prophets stand dumbfounded.”

10 Then I said, “Alas, Master God!
    You’ve fed lies to this people, this Jerusalem.
You assured them, ‘All is well, don’t worry,’
    at the very moment when the sword was at their throats.”

11-12 At that time, this people, yes, this very Jerusalem,
    will be told in plain words:
“The northern hordes are sweeping in
    from the desert steppes—
A wind that’s up to no good, a gale-force wind.
    I ordered this wind.
I’m pronouncing
    my hurricane judgment on my people.”

Your Evil Life Is Piercing Your Heart

13-14 Look at them! Like banks of storm clouds,
    racing, tumbling, their chariots a tornado,
Their horses faster than eagles!
    Woe to us! We’re done for!
Jerusalem! Scrub the evil from your lives
    so you’ll be fit for salvation.
How much longer will you harbor
    devious and malignant designs within you?

15-17 What’s this? A messenger from Dan?
    Bad news from Ephraim’s hills!
Make the report public.
    Broadcast the news to Jerusalem:
“Invaders from far off are
    raising war cries against Judah’s towns.
They’re all over her, like a dog on a bone.
    And why? Because she rebelled against me.”
        God’s Decree.

18 “It’s the way you’ve lived
    that’s brought all this on you.
The bitter taste is from your evil life.
    That’s what’s piercing your heart.”

19-21 I’m doubled up with cramps in my belly—
    a poker burns in my gut.
My insides are tearing me up,
    never a moment’s peace.
The ram’s horn trumpet blast rings in my ears,
    the signal for all-out war.
Disaster hard on the heels of disaster,
    the whole country in ruins!
In one stroke my home is destroyed,
    the walls flattened in the blink of an eye.
How long do I have to look at the warning flares,
    listen to the siren of danger?

Experts at Evil

22 “What fools my people are!
    They have no idea who I am.
A company of half-wits,
    dopes and donkeys all!
Experts at evil
    but klutzes at good.”

23-26 I looked at the earth—
    it was back to pre-Genesis chaos and emptiness.
I looked at the skies,
    and not a star to be seen.
I looked at the mountains—
    they were trembling like aspen leaves,
And all the hills
    rocking back and forth in the wind.
I looked—what’s this! Not a man or woman in sight,
    and not a bird to be seen in the skies.
I looked—this can’t be! Every garden and orchard shriveled up.
    All the towns were ghost towns.
And all this because of God,
    because of the blazing anger of God.

27-28 Yes, this is God’s Word on the matter:

“The whole country will be laid waste—
    still it won’t be the end of the world.
The earth will mourn
    and the skies lament
Because I’ve given my word and won’t take it back.
    I’ve decided and won’t change my mind.”

You’re Not Going to Seduce Anyone

29 Someone shouts, “Horsemen and archers!”
    and everybody runs for cover.
They hide in ditches,
    they climb into caves.
The cities are emptied,
    not a person left anywhere.

30-31 And you, what do you think you’re up to?
    Dressing up in party clothes,
Decking yourselves out in jewelry,
    putting on lipstick and rouge and mascara!
Your primping goes for nothing.
    You’re not going to seduce anyone. They’re out to kill you!
And what’s that I hear? The cry of a woman in labor,
    the screams of a mother giving birth to her firstborn.
It’s the cry of Daughter Zion, gasping for breath,
    reaching out for help:
“Help, oh help me! I’m dying!
    The killers are on me!”

The Message (MSG)

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

John 11The Message (MSG)

The Death of Lazarus

11 1-3 A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord’s feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Master, the one you love so very much is sick.”

When Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.”

5-7 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

They said, “Rabbi, you can’t do that. The Jews are out to kill you, and you’re going back?”

9-10 Jesus replied, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in daylight doesn’t stumble because there’s plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very well stumble because he can’t see where he’s going.”

11 He said these things, and then announced, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. I’m going to wake him up.”

12-13 The disciples said, “Master, if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap.

14-15 Then Jesus became explicit: “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.”

16 That’s when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions, “Come along. We might as well die with him.”

17-20 When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.

21-22 Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”

23 Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.”

24 Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”

25-26 “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.”

28 After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.”

29-32 The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him. Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33-34 When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where did you put him?”

34-35 “Master, come and see,” they said. Now Jesus wept.

36 The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.”

37 Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man.”

38-39 Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”

The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead four days!”

40 Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

41-42 Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.”

They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.”

43-44 Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.

Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

The Man Who Creates God-Signs

45-48 That was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary. They saw what Jesus did, and believed in him. But some went back to the Pharisees and told on Jesus. The high priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Jewish ruling body. “What do we do now?” they asked. “This man keeps on doing things, creating God-signs. If we let him go on, pretty soon everyone will be believing in him and the Romans will come and remove what little power and privilege we still have.”

49-52 Then one of them—it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year—spoke up, “Don’t you know anything? Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people.

53-54 From that day on, they plotted to kill him. So Jesus no longer went out in public among the Jews. He withdrew into the country bordering the desert to a town called Ephraim and secluded himself there with his disciples.

55-56 The Jewish Passover was coming up. Crowds of people were making their way from the country up to Jerusalem to get themselves ready for the Feast. They were curious about Jesus. There was a lot of talk of him among those standing around in the Temple: “What do you think? Do you think he’ll show up at the Feast or not?”

57 Meanwhile, the high priests and Pharisees gave out the word that anyone getting wind of him should inform them. They were all set to arrest him.

The Message (MSG)

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

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