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Job 13The Message (MSG)

I’m Taking My Case to God

13 1-5 “Yes, I’ve seen all this with my own eyes,
    heard and understood it with my very own ears.
Everything you know, I know,
    so I’m not taking a backseat to any of you.
I’m taking my case straight to God Almighty;
    I’ve had it with you—I’m going directly to God.
You graffiti my life with lies.
    You’re a bunch of pompous quacks!
I wish you’d shut your mouths—
    silence is your only claim to wisdom.

6-12 “Listen now while I make my case,
    consider my side of things for a change.
Or are you going to keep on lying ‘to do God a service’?
    to make up stories ‘to get him off the hook’?
Why do you always take his side?
    Do you think he needs a lawyer to defend himself?
How would you fare if you were in the dock?
    Your lies might convince a jury—but would they
        convince God?
He’d reprimand you on the spot
    if he detected a bias in your witness.
Doesn’t his splendor put you in awe?
    Aren’t you afraid to speak cheap lies before him?
Your wise sayings are knickknack wisdom,
    good for nothing but gathering dust.

13-19 “So hold your tongue while I have my say,
    then I’ll take whatever I have coming to me.
Why do I go out on a limb like this
    and take my life in my hands?
Because even if he killed me, I’d keep on hoping.
    I’d defend my innocence to the very end.
Just wait, this is going to work out for the best—my salvation!
    If I were guilt-stricken do you think I’d be doing this—
    laying myself on the line before God?
You’d better pay attention to what I’m telling you,
    listen carefully with both ears.
Now that I’ve laid out my defense,
    I’m sure that I’ll be acquitted.
Can anyone prove charges against me?
    I’ve said my piece. I rest my case.

Why Does God Stay Hidden and Silent?

20-27 “Please, God, I have two requests;
    grant them so I’ll know I count with you:
First, lay off the afflictions;
    the terror is too much for me.
Second, address me directly so I can answer you,
    or let me speak and then you answer me.
How many sins have been charged against me?
    Show me the list—how bad is it?
Why do you stay hidden and silent?
    Why treat me like I’m your enemy?
Why kick me around like an old tin can?
    Why beat a dead horse?
You compile a long list of mean things about me,
    even hold me accountable for the sins of my youth.
You hobble me so I can’t move about.
    You watch every move I make,
    and brand me as a dangerous character.

28 “Like something rotten, human life fast decomposes,
    like a moth-eaten shirt or a mildewed blouse.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Job 14The Message (MSG)

If We Die, Will We Live Again?

14 1-17 “We’re all adrift in the same boat:
    too few days, too many troubles.
We spring up like wildflowers in the desert and then wilt,
    transient as the shadow of a cloud.
Do you occupy your time with such fragile wisps?
    Why even bother hauling me into court?
There’s nothing much to us to start with;
    how do you expect us to amount to anything?
Mortals have a limited life span.
    You’ve already decided how long we’ll live—
    you set the boundary and no one can cross it.
So why not give us a break? Ease up!
    Even ditchdiggers get occasional days off.
For a tree there is always hope.
    Chop it down and it still has a chance—
    its roots can put out fresh sprouts.
Even if its roots are old and gnarled,
    its stump long dormant,
At the first whiff of water it comes to life,
    buds and grows like a sapling.
But men and women? They die and stay dead.
    They breathe their last, and that’s it.
Like lakes and rivers that have dried up,
    parched reminders of what once was,
So mortals lie down and never get up,
    never wake up again—never.
Why don’t you just bury me alive,
    get me out of the way until your anger cools?
But don’t leave me there!
    Set a date when you’ll see me again.
If we humans die, will we live again? That’s my question.
    All through these difficult days I keep hoping,
    waiting for the final change—for resurrection!
Homesick with longing for the creature you made,
    you’ll call—and I’ll answer!
You’ll watch over every step I take,
    but you won’t keep track of my missteps.
My sins will be stuffed in a sack
    and thrown into the sea—sunk in deep ocean.

18-22 “Meanwhile, mountains wear down
    and boulders break up,
Stones wear smooth
    and soil erodes,
    as you relentlessly grind down our hope.
You’re too much for us.
    As always, you get the last word.
We don’t like it and our faces show it,
    but you send us off anyway.
If our children do well for themselves, we never know it;
    if they do badly, we’re spared the hurt.
Body and soul, that’s it for us—
    a lifetime of pain, a lifetime of sorrow.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 17The Message (MSG)

Thessalonica

17 1-3 They took the road south through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica, where there was a community of Jews. Paul went to their meeting place, as he usually did when he came to a town, and for three Sabbaths running he preached to them from the Scriptures. He opened up the texts so they understood what they’d been reading all their lives: that the Messiah absolutely had to be put to death and raised from the dead—there were no other options—and that “this Jesus I’m introducing you to is that Messiah.”

4-5 Some of them were won over and joined ranks with Paul and Silas, among them a great many God-fearing Greeks and a considerable number of women from the aristocracy. But the hard-line Jews became furious over the conversions. Mad with jealousy, they rounded up a bunch of brawlers off the streets and soon had an ugly mob terrorizing the city as they hunted down Paul and Silas.

5-7 They broke into Jason’s house, thinking that Paul and Silas were there. When they couldn’t find them, they collared Jason and his friends instead and dragged them before the city fathers, yelling hysterically, “These people are out to destroy the world, and now they’ve shown up on our doorstep, attacking everything we hold dear! And Jason is hiding them, these traitors and turncoats who say Jesus is king and Caesar is nothing!”

8-9 The city fathers and the crowd of people were totally alarmed by what they heard. They made Jason and his friends post heavy bail and let them go while they investigated the charges.

Berea

10-12 That night, under cover of darkness, their friends got Paul and Silas out of town as fast as they could. They sent them to Berea, where they again met with the Jewish community. They were treated a lot better there than in Thessalonica. The Jews received Paul’s message with enthusiasm and met with him daily, examining the Scriptures to see if they supported what he said. A lot of them became believers, including many Greeks who were prominent in the community, women and men of influence.

13-15 But it wasn’t long before reports got back to the Thessalonian hard-line Jews that Paul was at it again, preaching the Word of God, this time in Berea. They lost no time responding, and created a mob scene there, too. With the help of his friends, Paul gave them the slip—caught a boat and put out to sea. Silas and Timothy stayed behind. The men who helped Paul escape got him as far as Athens and left him there. Paul sent word back with them to Silas and Timothy: “Come as quickly as you can!”

Athens

16 The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.

17-18 He discussed it with the Jews and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through these conversations. Some of them dismissed him with sarcasm: “What an airhead!” But others, listening to him go on about Jesus and the resurrection, were intrigued: “That’s a new slant on the gods. Tell us more.”

19-21 These people got together and asked him to make a public presentation over at the Areopagus, where things were a little quieter. They said, “This is a new one on us. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. Where did you come up with this anyway? Explain it so we can understand.” Downtown Athens was a great place for gossip. There were always people hanging around, natives and tourists alike, waiting for the latest tidbit on most anything.

22-23 So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.

24-29 “The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?

30-31 “God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead.”

32-34 At the phrase “raising him from the dead,” the listeners split: Some laughed at him and walked off making jokes; others said, “Let’s do this again. We want to hear more.” But that was it for the day, and Paul left. There were still others, it turned out, who were convinced then and there, and stuck with Paul—among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris.

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 18The Message (MSG)

Corinth

18 1-4 After Athens, Paul went to Corinth. That is where he discovered Aquila, a Jew born in Pontus, and his wife, Priscilla. They had just arrived from Italy, part of the general expulsion of Jews from Rome ordered by Claudius. Paul moved in with them, and they worked together at their common trade of tentmaking. But every Sabbath he was at the meeting place, doing his best to convince both Jews and Greeks about Jesus.

5-6 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah. But no such luck. All they did was argue contentiously and contradict him at every turn. Totally exasperated, Paul had finally had it with them and gave it up as a bad job. “Have it your way, then,” he said. “You’ve made your bed; now lie in it. From now on I’m spending my time with the other nations.”

7-8 He walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus, a God-fearing man who lived right next to the Jews’ meeting place. But Paul’s efforts with the Jews weren’t a total loss, for Crispus, the meeting-place president, put his trust in the Master. His entire family believed with him.

8-11 In the course of listening to Paul, a great many Corinthians believed and were baptized. One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.” That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians.

12-13 But when Gallio was governor of Achaia province, the Jews got up a campaign against Paul, hauled him into court, and filed charges: “This man is seducing people into acts of worship that are illegal.”

14-16 Just as Paul was about to defend himself, Gallio interrupted and said to the Jews, “If this was a matter of criminal conduct, I would gladly hear you out. But it sounds to me like one more Jewish squabble, another of your endless hairsplitting quarrels over religion. Take care of it on your own time. I can’t be bothered with this nonsense,” and he cleared them out of the courtroom.

17 Now the street rabble turned on Sosthenes, the new meeting-place president, and beat him up in plain sight of the court. Gallio didn’t raise a finger. He could not have cared less.

Ephesus

18 Paul stayed a while longer in Corinth, but then it was time to take leave of his friends. Saying his good-byes, he sailed for Syria, Priscilla and Aquila with him. Before boarding the ship in the harbor town of Cenchrea, he had his head shaved as part of a vow he had taken.

19-21 They landed in Ephesus, where Priscilla and Aquila got off and stayed. Paul left the ship briefly to go to the meeting place and preach to the Jews. They wanted him to stay longer, but he said he couldn’t. But after saying good-bye, he promised, “I’ll be back, God willing.”

21-22 From Ephesus he sailed to Caesarea. He greeted the church there, and then went on to Antioch, completing the journey.

23 After spending a considerable time with the Antioch Christians, Paul set off again for Galatia and Phrygia, retracing his old tracks, one town after another, putting fresh heart into the disciples.

24-26 A man named Apollos came to Ephesus. He was a Jew, born in Alexandria, Egypt, and a terrific speaker, eloquent and powerful in his preaching of the Scriptures. He was well-educated in the way of the Master and fiery in his enthusiasm. Apollos was accurate in everything he taught about Jesus up to a point, but he only went as far as the baptism of John. He preached with power in the meeting place. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and told him the rest of the story.

27-28 When Apollos decided to go on to Achaia province, his Ephesian friends gave their blessing and wrote a letter of recommendation for him, urging the disciples there to welcome him with open arms. The welcome paid off: Apollos turned out to be a great help to those who had become believers through God’s immense generosity. He was particularly effective in public debate with the Jews as he brought out proof after convincing proof from the Scriptures that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah.

The Message (MSG)

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

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