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Judges 17The Message (MSG)

Micah

17 1-2 There was a man from the hill country of Ephraim named Micah. He said to his mother, “Remember that 1,100 pieces of silver that were taken from you? I overheard you when you pronounced your curse. Well, I have the money; I stole it. But now I’ve brought it back to you.”

His mother said, “God bless you, my son!”

3-4 As he returned the 1,100 silver pieces to his mother, she said, “I had totally consecrated this money to God for my son to make a statue, a cast god.” Then she took 200 pieces of the silver and gave it to a sculptor and he cast them into the form of a god.

This man, Micah, had a private chapel. He had made an ephod and some teraphim-idols and had ordained one of his sons to be his priest.

In those days there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing.

7-8 Meanwhile there was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah and from a family of Judah. He was a Levite but was a stranger there. He left that town, Bethlehem in Judah, seeking his fortune. He got as far as the hill country of Ephraim and showed up at Micah’s house.

Micah asked him, “So where are you from?”

He said, “I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I’m on the road, looking for a place to settle down.”

10 Micah said, “Stay here with me. Be my father and priest. I’ll pay you ten pieces of silver a year, whatever clothes you need, and your meals.”

11-12 The Levite agreed and moved in with Micah. The young man fit right in and became one of the family. Micah appointed the young Levite as his priest. This all took place in Micah’s home.

13 Micah said, “Now I know that God will make things go well for me—why, I’ve got a Levite for a priest!”

The Message (MSG)

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

Judges 18The Message (MSG)

18 In those days there was no king in Israel. But also in those days, the tribe of Dan was looking for a place to settle down. They hadn’t yet occupied their plot among the tribes of Israel.

2-3 The Danites sent out five robust warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol to look over the land and see what was out there suitable for their families. They said, “Go and explore the land.”

They went into the hill country of Ephraim and got as far as the house of Micah. They camped there for the night. As they neared Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite. They went over and said to him, “How on earth did you get here? What’s going on? What are you doing here?”

He said, “One thing led to another: Micah hired me and I’m now his priest.”

They said, “Oh, good—inquire of God for us. Find out whether our mission will be a success.”

The priest said, “Go assured. God’s looking out for you all the way.”

The five men left and headed north to Laish. They saw that the people there were living in safety under the umbrella of the Sidonians, quiet and unsuspecting. They had everything going for them. But the people lived a long way from the Sidonians to the west and had no treaty with the Arameans to the east.

When they got back to Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked, “So, how did you find things?”

9-10 They said, “Let’s go for it! Let’s attack. We’ve seen the land and it is excellent. Are you going to just sit on your hands? Don’t dawdle! Invade and conquer! When you get there, you’ll find they’re sitting ducks, totally unsuspecting. Wide open land—God is handing it over to you, everything you could ever ask for.”

11-13 So six hundred Danite men set out from Zorah and Eshtaol, armed to the teeth. Along the way they made camp at Kiriath Jearim in Judah. That is why the place is still today called Dan’s Camp—it’s just west of Kiriath Jearim. From there they proceeded into the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house.

14 The five men who earlier had explored the country of Laish told their companions, “Did you know there’s an ephod, teraphim-idols, and a cast god-sculpture in these buildings? What do you think? Do you want to do something about it?”

15-18 So they turned off the road there, went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and asked how things had been with him. The six hundred Danites, all well-armed, stood guard at the entrance to the gate while the five scouts who had gone to explore the land went in and took the carved idol, the ephod, the teraphim-idols, and the god-sculpture. The priest was standing at the gate entrance with the six hundred armed men. When the five went into Micah’s house and took the carved idol, the ephod, the teraphim-idols, and the sculpted god, the priest said to them, “What do you think you’re doing?”

19 They said to him, “Hush! Don’t make a sound. Come with us. Be our father and priest. Which is more important, that you be a priest to one man or that you become priest to a whole tribe and clan in Israel?”

20 The priest jumped at the chance. He took the ephod, the teraphim-idols, and the idol and fell in with the troops.

21-23 They turned away and set out, putting the children, the cattle, and the gear in the lead. They were well on their way from Micah’s house before Micah and his neighbors got organized. But they soon overtook the Danites. They shouted at them. The Danites turned around and said, “So what’s all the noise about?”

24 Micah said, “You took my god, the one I made, and you took my priest. And you marched off! What do I have left? How can you now say, ‘What’s the matter?’”

25 But the Danites answered, “Don’t yell at us; you just might provoke some fierce, hot-tempered men to attack you, and you’ll end up an army of dead men.”

26 The Danites went on their way. Micah saw that he didn’t stand a chance against their arms. He turned back and went home.

27 So they took the things that Micah had made, along with his priest, and they arrived at Laish, that city of quiet and unsuspecting people. They massacred the people and burned down the city.

28-29 There was no one around to help. They were a long way from Sidon and had no treaty with the Arameans. Laish was in the valley of Beth Rehob. When they rebuilt the city they renamed it Dan after their ancestor who was a son of Israel, but its original name was Laish.

30-31 The Danites set up the god-figure for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his descendants were priests to the tribe of Dan down to the time of the land’s captivity. All during the time that there was a sanctuary of God in Shiloh, they kept for their private use the god-figure that Micah had made.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 89The Message (MSG)

An Ethan Prayer

89 1-4 Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it!
    I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are.
I’ll never quit telling the story of your love—
    how you built the cosmos
    and guaranteed everything in it.
Your love has always been our lives’ foundation,
    your fidelity has been the roof over our world.
You once said, “I joined forces with my chosen leader,
    I pledged my word to my servant, David, saying,
‘Everyone descending from you is guaranteed life;
    I’ll make your rule as solid and lasting as rock.’”

5-18 God! Let the cosmos praise your wonderful ways,
    the choir of holy angels sing anthems to your faithful ways!
Search high and low, scan skies and land,
    you’ll find nothing and no one quite like God.
The holy angels are in awe before him;
    he looms immense and august over everyone around him.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies, who is like you,
    powerful and faithful from every angle?
You put the arrogant ocean in its place
    and calm its waves when they turn unruly.
You gave that old hag Egypt the back of your hand,
    you brushed off your enemies with a flick of your wrist.
You own the cosmos—you made everything in it,
    everything from atom to archangel.
You positioned the North and South Poles;
    the mountains Tabor and Hermon sing duets to you.
With your well-muscled arm and your grip of steel—
    nobody trifles with you!
The Right and Justice are the roots of your rule;
    Love and Truth are its fruits.
Blessed are the people who know the passwords of praise,
    who shout on parade in the bright presence of God.
Delighted, they dance all day long; they know
    who you are, what you do—they can’t keep it quiet!
Your vibrant beauty has gotten inside us—
    you’ve been so good to us! We’re walking on air!
All we are and have we owe to God,
    Holy God of Israel, our King!

19-37 A long time ago you spoke in a vision,
    you spoke to your faithful beloved:
“I’ve crowned a hero,
    I chose the best I could find;
I found David, my servant,
    poured holy oil on his head,
And I’ll keep my hand steadily on him,
    yes, I’ll stick with him through thick and thin.
No enemy will get the best of him,
    no scoundrel will do him in.
I’ll weed out all who oppose him,
    I’ll clean out all who hate him.
I’m with him for good and I’ll love him forever;
    I’ve set him on high—he’s riding high!
I’ve put Ocean in his one hand, River in the other;
    he’ll call out, ‘Oh, my Father—my God, my Rock of Salvation!’
Yes, I’m setting him apart as the First of the royal line,
    High King over all of earth’s kings.
I’ll preserve him eternally in my love,
    I’ll faithfully do all I so solemnly promised.
I’ll guarantee his family tree
    and underwrite his rule.
If his children refuse to do what I tell them,
    if they refuse to walk in the way I show them,
If they spit on the directions I give them
    and tear up the rules I post for them—
I’ll rub their faces in the dirt of their rebellion
    and make them face the music.
But I’ll never throw them out,
    never abandon or disown them.
Do you think I’d withdraw my holy promise?
    or take back words I’d already spoken?
I’ve given my word, my whole and holy word;
    do you think I would lie to David?
His family tree is here for good,
    his sovereignty as sure as the sun,
Dependable as the phases of the moon,
    inescapable as weather.”

38-51 But God, you did walk off and leave us,
    you lost your temper with the one you anointed.
You tore up the promise you made to your servant,
    you stomped his crown in the mud.
You blasted his home to kingdom come,
    reduced his city to a pile of rubble
Picked clean by wayfaring strangers,
    a joke to all the neighbors.
You declared a holiday for all his enemies,
    and they’re celebrating for all they’re worth.
Angry, you opposed him in battle,
    refused to fight on his side;
You robbed him of his splendor, humiliated this warrior,
    ground his kingly honor in the dirt.
You took the best years of his life
    and left him an impotent, ruined husk.
How long do we put up with this, God?
    Are you gone for good? Will you hold this grudge forever?
Remember my sorrow and how short life is.
    Did you create men and women for nothing but this?
We’ll see death soon enough. Everyone does.
    And there’s no back door out of hell.
So where is the love you’re so famous for, Lord?
    What happened to your promise to David?
Take a good look at your servant, dear Lord;
    I’m the butt of the jokes of all nations,
The taunting jokes of your enemies, God,
    as they dog the steps of your dear anointed.

52 Blessed be God forever and always!
Yes. Oh, yes.

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Corinthians 3The Message (MSG)

1-3 Does it sound like we’re patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? Well, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.

4-6 We couldn’t be more sure of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn’t think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn’t written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It’s written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!

Lifting the Veil

7-8 The Government of Death, its constitution chiseled on stone tablets, had a dazzling inaugural. Moses’ face as he delivered the tablets was so bright that day (even though it would fade soon enough) that the people of Israel could no more look right at him than stare into the sun. How much more dazzling, then, the Government of Living Spirit?

9-11 If the Government of Condemnation was impressive, how about this Government of Affirmation? Bright as that old government was, it would look downright dull alongside this new one. If that makeshift arrangement impressed us, how much more this brightly shining government installed for eternity?

12-15 With that kind of hope to excite us, nothing holds us back. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. He wore a veil so the children of Israel wouldn’t notice that the glory was fading away—and they didn’t notice. They didn’t notice it then and they don’t notice it now, don’t notice that there’s nothing left behind that veil. Even today when the proclamations of that old, bankrupt government are read out, they can’t see through it. Only Christ can get rid of the veil so they can see for themselves that there’s nothing there.

16-18 Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

The Message (MSG)

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

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