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Lamentations 1The Message (MSG)

Worthless, Cheap, Abject!

Oh, oh, oh . . .
How empty the city, once teeming with people.
    A widow, this city, once in the front rank of nations,
    once queen of the ball, she’s now a drudge in the kitchen.

She cries herself to sleep each night, tears soaking her pillow.
    No one’s left among her lovers to sit and hold her hand.
    Her friends have all dumped her.

After years of pain and hard labor, Judah has gone into exile.
    She camps out among the nations, never feels at home.
    Hunted by all, she’s stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Zion’s roads weep, empty of pilgrims headed to the feasts.
    All her city gates are deserted, her priests in despair.
    Her virgins are sad. How bitter her fate.

Her enemies have become her masters. Her foes are living it up
    because God laid her low, punishing her repeated rebellions.
    Her children, prisoners of the enemy, trudge into exile.

All beauty has drained from Daughter Zion’s face.
    Her princes are like deer famished for food,
    chased to exhaustion by hunters.

Jerusalem remembers the day she lost everything,
    when her people fell into enemy hands, and not a soul there to help.
    Enemies looked on and laughed, laughed at her helpless silence.

Jerusalem, who outsinned the whole world, is an outcast.
    All who admired her despise her now that they see beneath the surface.
    Miserable, she groans and turns away in shame.

She played fast and loose with life, she never considered tomorrow,
    and now she’s crashed royally, with no one to hold her hand:
    “Look at my pain, O God! And how the enemy cruelly struts.”

10 The enemy reached out to take all her favorite things. She watched
    as pagans barged into her Sanctuary, those very people for whom
    you posted orders: keep out: this assembly off-limits.

11 All the people groaned, so desperate for food, so desperate to stay alive
    that they bartered their favorite things for a bit of breakfast:
    “O God, look at me! Worthless, cheap, abject!

12 “And you passersby, look at me! Have you ever seen anything like this?
    Ever seen pain like my pain, seen what he did to me,
    what God did to me in his rage?

13 “He struck me with lightning, skewered me from head to foot,
    then he set traps all around so I could hardly move.
    He left me with nothing—left me sick, and sick of living.

14 “He wove my sins into a rope
    and harnessed me to captivity’s yoke.
    I’m goaded by cruel taskmasters.

15 “The Master piled up my best soldiers in a heap,
    then called in thugs to break their fine young necks.
    The Master crushed the life out of fair virgin Judah.

16 “For all this I weep, weep buckets of tears,
    and not a soul within miles around cares for my soul.
    My children are wasted, my enemy got his way.”

17 Zion reached out for help, but no one helped.
    God ordered Jacob’s enemies to surround him,
    and now no one wants anything to do with Jerusalem.

18 God has right on his side. I’m the one who did wrong.
    Listen everybody! Look at what I’m going through!
    My fair young women, my fine young men, all herded into exile!

19 “I called to my friends; they betrayed me.
    My priests and my leaders only looked after themselves,
    trying but failing to save their own skins.

20 “O God, look at the trouble I’m in! My stomach in knots,
    my heart wrecked by a life of rebellion.
    Massacres in the streets, starvation in the houses.

21 “Oh, listen to my groans. No one listens, no one cares.
    When my enemies heard of the trouble you gave me, they cheered.
    Bring on Judgment Day! Let them get what I got!

22 “Take a good look at their evil ways and give it to them!
    Give them what you gave me for my sins.
    Groaning in pain, body and soul, I’ve had all I can take.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Lamentations 2The Message (MSG)

God Walked Away from His Holy Temple

Oh, oh, oh . . .
How the Master has cut down Daughter Zion
    from the skies, dashed Israel’s glorious city to earth,
    in his anger treated his favorite as throwaway junk.

The Master, without a second thought, took Israel in one gulp.
    Raging, he smashed Judah’s defenses,
    made hash of her king and princes.

His anger blazing, he knocked Israel flat,
    broke Israel’s arm and turned his back just as the enemy approached,
    came on Jacob like a wildfire from every direction.

Like an enemy, he aimed his bow, bared his sword,
    and killed our young men, our pride and joy.
    His anger, like fire, burned down the homes in Zion.

The Master became the enemy. He had Israel for supper.
    He chewed up and spit out all the defenses.
    He left Daughter Judah moaning and groaning.

He plowed up his old trysting place, trashed his favorite rendezvous.
    God wiped out Zion’s memories of feast days and Sabbaths,
    angrily sacked king and priest alike.

God abandoned his altar, walked away from his holy Temple
    and turned the fortifications over to the enemy.
    As they cheered in God’s Temple, you’d have thought it was a feast day!

God drew up plans to tear down the walls of Daughter Zion.
    He assembled his crew, set to work and went at it.
    Total demolition! The stones wept!

Her city gates, iron bars and all, disappeared in the rubble:
    her kings and princes off to exile—no one left to instruct or lead;
    her prophets useless—they neither saw nor heard anything from God.

10 The elders of Daughter Zion sit silent on the ground.
    They throw dust on their heads, dress in rough penitential burlap—
    the young virgins of Jerusalem, their faces creased with the dirt.

11 My eyes are blind with tears, my stomach in a knot.
    My insides have turned to jelly over my people’s fate.
    Babies and children are fainting all over the place,

12 Calling to their mothers, “I’m hungry! I’m thirsty!”
    then fainting like dying soldiers in the streets,
    breathing their last in their mothers’ laps.

13 How can I understand your plight, dear Jerusalem?
    What can I say to give you comfort, dear Zion?
    Who can put you together again? This bust-up is past understanding.

14 Your prophets courted you with sweet talk.
    They didn’t face you with your sin so that you could repent.
    Their sermons were all wishful thinking, deceptive illusions.

15 Astonished, passersby can’t believe what they see.
    They rub their eyes, they shake their heads over Jerusalem.
    Is this the city voted “Most Beautiful” and “Best Place to Live”?

16 But now your enemies gape, slack-jawed.
    Then they rub their hands in glee: “We’ve got them!
    We’ve been waiting for this! Here it is!”

17 God did carry out, item by item, exactly what he said he’d do.
    He always said he’d do this. Now he’s done it—torn the place down.
    He’s let your enemies walk all over you, declared them world champions!

18 Give out heart-cries to the Master, dear repentant Zion.
    Let the tears roll like a river, day and night,
    and keep at it—no time-outs. Keep those tears flowing!

19 As each night watch begins, get up and cry out in prayer.
    Pour your heart out face-to-face with the Master.
    Lift high your hands. Beg for the lives of your children
    who are starving to death out on the streets.

20 “Look at us, God. Think it over. Have you ever treated anyone like this?
    Should women eat their own babies, the very children they raised?
    Should priests and prophets be murdered in the Master’s own Sanctuary?

21 “Boys and old men lie in the gutters of the streets,
    my young men and women killed in their prime.
    Angry, you killed them in cold blood, cut them down without mercy.

22 “You invited, like friends to a party, men to swoop down in attack
    so that on the big day of God’s wrath no one would get away.
    The children I loved and reared—gone, gone, gone.”

The Message (MSG)

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

ObadiahThe Message (MSG)

Your World Will Collapse

Obadiah’s Message to Edom
    from God, the Master.
We got the news straight from God
    by a special messenger sent out to the godless nations:

“On your feet, prepare for battle;
    get ready to make war on Edom!

2-4 “Listen to this, Edom:
    I’m turning you to a no-account,
    the runt of the godless nations, despised.
You thought you were so great,
    perched high among the rocks, king of the mountain,
Thinking to yourself,
    ‘Nobody can get to me! Nobody can touch me!’
Think again. Even if, like an eagle,
    you hang out on a high cliff-face,
Even if you build your nest in the stars,
    I’ll bring you down to earth.”
        God’s sure Word.

5-14 “If thieves crept up on you,
    they’d rob you blind—isn’t that so?
If they mugged you on the streets at night,
    they’d pick you clean—isn’t that so?
Oh, they’ll take Esau apart, piece by piece,
    empty his purse and pockets.
All your old partners will drive you to the edge.
    Your old friends will lie to your face.
Your old drinking buddies will stab you in the back.
    Your world will collapse. You won’t know what hit you.
So don’t be surprised”—it’s God’s sure Word!—
    “when I wipe out all sages from Edom
    and rid the Esau mountains of its famous wise men.
Your great heroes will desert you, Teman.
    There’ll be nobody left in Esau’s mountains.
Because of the murderous history compiled
    against your brother Jacob,
You will be looked down on by everyone.
    You’ll lose your place in history.
On that day you stood there and didn’t do anything.
    Strangers took your brother’s army into exile.
Godless foreigners invaded and pillaged Jerusalem.
    You stood there and watched.
    You were as bad as they were.
You shouldn’t have gloated over your brother
    when he was down-and-out.
You shouldn’t have laughed and joked at Judah’s sons
    when they were facedown in the mud.
You shouldn’t have talked so big
    when everything was so bad.
You shouldn’t have taken advantage of my people
    when their lives had fallen apart.
You of all people should not have been amused
    by their troubles, their wrecked nation.
You shouldn’t have taken the shirt off their back
    when they were knocked flat, defenseless.
And you shouldn’t have stood waiting at the outskirts
    and cut off refugees,
And traitorously turned in helpless survivors
    who had lost everything.

15-18 God’s Judgment Day is near
    for all the godless nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you.
    What you did will boomerang back
    and hit your own head.
Just as you partied on my holy mountain,
    all the godless nations will drink God’s wrath.
They’ll drink and drink and drink—
    they’ll drink themselves to death.
But not so on Mount Zion—there’s respite there!
    a safe and holy place!
The family of Jacob will take back their possessions
    from those who took them from them.
That’s when the family of Jacob will catch fire,
    the family of Joseph become fierce flame,
    while the family of Esau will be straw.
Esau will go up in flames,
    nothing left of Esau but a pile of ashes.”
        God said it, and it is so.

19-21 People from the south will take over the Esau mountains;
    people from the foothills will overrun the Philistines.
They’ll take the farms of Ephraim and Samaria,
    and Benjamin will take Gilead.
Earlier, Israelite exiles will come back
    and take Canaanite land to the north at Zarephath.
Jerusalem exiles from the far northwest in Sepharad
    will come back and take the cities in the south.
The remnant of the saved in Mount Zion
    will go into the mountains of Esau
And rule justly and fairly,
    a rule that honors God’s kingdom.

The Message (MSG)

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

Revelation 14The Message (MSG)

A Perfect Offering

14 1-2 I saw—it took my breath away!—the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, 144,000 standing there with him, his Name and the Name of his Father inscribed on their foreheads. And I heard a voice out of Heaven, the sound like a cataract, like the crash of thunder.

2-5 And then I heard music, harp music and the harpists singing a new song before the Throne and the Four Animals and the Elders. Only the 144,000 could learn to sing the song. They were bought from earth, lived without compromise, virgin-fresh before God. Wherever the Lamb went, they followed. They were bought from humankind, firstfruits of the harvest for God and the Lamb. Not a false word in their mouths. A perfect offering.

Voices from Heaven

6-7 I saw another Angel soaring in Middle-Heaven. He had an Eternal Message to preach to all who were still on earth, every nation and tribe, every tongue and people. He preached in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory! His hour of judgment has come! Worship the Maker of Heaven and earth, salt sea and fresh water!”

A second Angel followed, calling out, “Ruined, ruined, Great Babylon ruined! She made all the nations drunk on the wine of her whoring!”

9-11 A third Angel followed, shouting, warning, “If anyone worships the Beast and its image and takes the mark on forehead or hand, that person will drink the wine of God’s wrath, prepared unmixed in his chalice of anger, and suffer torment from fire and brimstone in the presence of Holy Angels, in the presence of the Lamb. Smoke from their torment will rise age after age. No respite for those who worship the Beast and its image, who take the mark of its name.”

12 Meanwhile, the saints stand passionately patient, keeping God’s commands, staying faithful to Jesus.

13 I heard a voice out of Heaven, “Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they’ve done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end.”

Harvest Time

14-16 I looked up, I caught my breath!—a white cloud and one like the Son of Man sitting on it. He wore a gold crown and held a sharp sickle. Another Angel came out of the Temple, shouting to the Cloud-Enthroned, “Swing your sickle and reap. It’s harvest time. Earth’s harvest is ripe for reaping.” The Cloud-Enthroned gave a mighty sweep of his sickle, began harvesting earth in a stroke.

17-18 Then another Angel came out of the Temple in Heaven. He also had a sharp sickle. Yet another Angel, the one in charge of tending the fire, came from the Altar. He thundered to the Angel who held the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle. Harvest earth’s vineyard. The grapes are bursting with ripeness.”

19-20 The Angel swung his sickle, harvested earth’s vintage, and heaved it into the winepress, the giant winepress of God’s wrath. The winepress was outside the City. As the vintage was trodden, blood poured from the winepress as high as a horse’s bridle, a river of blood for two hundred miles.

The Message (MSG)

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

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