Leviticus 18 The Message (MSG)
18 1-5 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, I am God, your God. Don’t live like the people of Egypt where you used to live, and don’t live like the people of Canaan where I’m bringing you. Don’t do what they do. Obey my laws and live by my decrees. I am your God. Keep my decrees and laws: The person who obeys them lives by them. I am God.
6 “Don’t have sex with a close relative. I am God.
7 “Don’t violate your father by having sex with your mother. She is your mother. Don’t have sex with her.
8 “Don’t have sex with your father’s wife. That violates your father.
9 “Don’t have sex with your sister, whether she’s your father’s daughter or your mother’s, whether she was born in the same house or elsewhere.
10 “Don’t have sex with your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter. That would violate your own body.
11 “Don’t have sex with the daughter of your father’s wife born to your father. She is your sister.
12 “Don’t have sex with your father’s sister; she is your aunt, closely related to your father.
13 “Don’t have sex with your mother’s sister; she is your aunt, closely related to your mother.
14 “Don’t violate your father’s brother, your uncle, by having sex with his wife. She is your aunt.
15 “Don’t have sex with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; don’t have sex with her.
16 “Don’t have sex with your brother’s wife; that would violate your brother.
17 “Don’t have sex with both a woman and her daughter. And don’t have sex with her granddaughters either. They are her close relatives. That is wicked.
18 “Don’t marry your wife’s sister as a rival wife and have sex with her while your wife is living.
19 “Don’t have sex with a woman during the time of her menstrual period when she is unclean.
20 “Don’t have sex with your neighbor’s wife and violate yourself by her.
21 “Don’t give any of your children to be burned in sacrifice to the god Molech—an act of sheer blasphemy of your God. I am God.
22 “Don’t have sex with a man as one does with a woman. That is abhorrent.
23 “Don’t have sex with an animal and violate yourself by it.
“A woman must not have sex with an animal. That is perverse.
24-28 “Don’t pollute yourself in any of these ways. This is how the nations became polluted, the ones that I am going to drive out of the land before you. Even the land itself became polluted and I punished it for its iniquities—the land vomited up its inhabitants. You must keep my decrees and laws—natives and foreigners both. You must not do any of these abhorrent things. The people who lived in this land before you arrived did all these things and polluted the land. And if you pollute it, the land will vomit you up just as it vomited up the nations that preceded you.
29-30 “Those who do any of these abhorrent things will be cut off from their people. Keep to what I tell you; don’t engage in any of the abhorrent acts that were practiced before you came. Don’t pollute yourselves with them. I am God, your God.”
Leviticus 19 The Message (MSG)
“I Am God, Your God”
19 1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the congregation of Israel. Tell them, Be holy because I, God, your God, am holy.
3 “Every one of you must respect his mother and father.
“Keep my Sabbaths. I am God, your God.
4 “Don’t take up with no-god idols. Don’t make gods of cast metal. I am God, your God.
5-8 “When you sacrifice a Peace-Offering to God, do it as you’ve been taught so it is acceptable. Eat it on the day you sacrifice it and the day following. Whatever is left until the third day is to be burned up. If it is eaten on the third day it is polluted meat and not acceptable. Whoever eats it will be held responsible because he has violated what is holy to God. That person will be cut off from his people.
9-10 “When you harvest your land, don’t harvest right up to the edges of your field or gather the gleanings from the harvest. Don’t strip your vineyard bare or go back and pick up the fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am God, your God.
11 “Don’t steal.
“Don’t deceive anyone.
12 “Don’t swear falsely using my name, violating the name of your God. I am God.
13 “Don’t exploit your friend or rob him.
“Don’t hold back the wages of a hired hand overnight.
14 “Don’t curse the deaf; don’t put a stumbling block in front of the blind; fear your God. I am God.
15 “Don’t pervert justice. Don’t show favoritism to either the poor or the great. Judge on the basis of what is right.
16 “Don’t spread gossip and rumors.
“Don’t just stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger. I am God.
17 “Don’t secretly hate your neighbor. If you have something against him, get it out into the open; otherwise you are an accomplice in his guilt.
18 “Don’t seek revenge or carry a grudge against any of your people.
“Love your neighbor as yourself. I am God.
19 “Keep my decrees.
“Don’t mate two different kinds of animals.
“Don’t plant your fields with two kinds of seed.
“Don’t wear clothes woven of two kinds of material.
20-22 “If a man has sex with a slave girl who is engaged to another man but has not yet been ransomed or given her freedom, there must be an investigation. But they aren’t to be put to death because she wasn’t free. The man must bring a Compensation-Offering to God at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, a ram of compensation. The priest will perform the ritual of atonement for him before God with the ram of compensation for the sin he has committed. Then he will stand forgiven of the sin he committed.
23-25 “When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, don’t eat the fruit for three years; consider it inedible. By the fourth year its fruit is holy, an offering of praise to God. Beginning in the fifth year you can eat its fruit; you’ll have richer harvests this way. I am God, your God.
26 “Don’t eat meat with blood in it.
“Don’t practice divination or sorcery.
27 “Don’t cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim your beard.
28 “Don’t gash your bodies on behalf of the dead.
“Don’t tattoo yourselves. I am God.
29 “Don’t violate your daughter by making her a whore—the whole country would soon become a brothel, filled with sordid sex.
30 “Keep my Sabbaths and revere my Sanctuary: I am God.
31 “Don’t dabble in the occult or traffic with mediums; you’ll pollute your souls. I am God, your God.
32 “Show respect to the aged; honor the presence of an elder; fear your God. I am God.
33-34 “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.
35-36 “Don’t cheat when measuring length, weight, or quantity. Use honest scales and weights and measures. I am God, your God. I brought you out of Egypt.
37 “Keep all my decrees and all my laws. Yes, do them. I am God.”
Psalm 13 The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm
13 1-2 Long enough, God—
3-4 Take a good look at me, God, my God;
5-6 I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—
Acts 19 The Message (MSG)
19 1-2 Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?”
“We’ve never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?”
3 “How were you baptized, then?” asked Paul.
“In John’s baptism.”
4 “That explains it,” said Paul. “John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you’ve been baptized in John’s baptism, you’re ready now for the real thing, for Jesus.”
5-7 And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God’s actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.
8-10 Paul then went straight to the meeting place. He had the run of the place for three months, doing his best to make the things of the kingdom of God real and convincing to them. But then resistance began to form as some of them began spreading evil rumors through the congregation about the Christian way of life. So Paul left, taking the disciples with him, and set up shop in the school of Tyrannus, holding class there daily. He did this for two years, giving everyone in the province of Asia, Jews as well as Greeks, ample opportunity to hear the Message of the Master.
Witches Came out of the Woodwork
11-12 God did powerful things through Paul, things quite out of the ordinary. The word got around and people started taking pieces of clothing—handkerchiefs and scarves and the like—that had touched Paul’s skin and then touching the sick with them. The touch did it—they were healed and whole.
13-16 Some itinerant Jewish exorcists who happened to be in town at the time tried their hand at what they assumed to be Paul’s “game.” They pronounced the name of the Master Jesus over victims of evil spirits, saying, “I command you by the Jesus preached by Paul!” The seven sons of a certain Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were trying to do this on a man when the evil spirit talked back: “I know Jesus and I’ve heard of Paul, but who are you?” Then the possessed man went berserk—jumped the exorcists, beat them up, and tore off their clothes. Naked and bloody, they got away as best they could.
17-20 It was soon news all over Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. The realization spread that God was in and behind this. Curiosity about Paul developed into reverence for the Master Jesus. Many of those who thus believed came out of the closet and made a clean break with their secret sorceries. All kinds of witches and warlocks came out of the woodwork with their books of spells and incantations and made a huge bonfire of them. Someone estimated their worth at fifty thousand silver coins. In such ways it became evident that the Word of the Master was now sovereign and prevailed in Ephesus.
The Goddess Artemis
21-22 After all this had come to a head, Paul decided it was time to move on to Macedonia and Achaia provinces, and from there to Jerusalem. “Then,” he said, “I’m off to Rome. I’ve got to see Rome!” He sent two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, on to Macedonia and then stayed for a while and wrapped things up in Asia.
23-26 But before he got away, a huge ruckus occurred over what was now being referred to as “the Way.” A certain silversmith, Demetrius, conducted a brisk trade in the manufacture of shrines to the goddess Artemis, employing a number of artisans in his business. He rounded up his workers and others similarly employed and said, “Men, you well know that we have a good thing going here—and you’ve seen how Paul has barged in and discredited what we’re doing by telling people that there’s no such thing as a god made with hands. A lot of people are going along with him, not only here in Ephesus but all through Asia province.
27 “Not only is our little business in danger of falling apart, but the temple of our famous goddess Artemis will certainly end up a pile of rubble as her glorious reputation fades to nothing. And this is no mere local matter—the whole world worships our Artemis!”
28-31 That set them off in a frenzy. They ran into the street yelling, “Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!” They put the whole city in an uproar, stampeding into the stadium, and grabbing two of Paul’s associates on the way, the Macedonians Gaius and Aristarchus. Paul wanted to go in, too, but the disciples wouldn’t let him. Prominent religious leaders in the city who had become friendly to Paul concurred: “By no means go near that mob!”
32-34 Some were yelling one thing, some another. Most of them had no idea what was going on or why they were there. As the Jews pushed Alexander to the front to try to gain control, different factions clamored to get him on their side. But he brushed them off and quieted the mob with an impressive sweep of his arms. But the moment he opened his mouth and they knew he was a Jew, they shouted him down: “Great Artemis of the Ephesians! Great Artemis of the Ephesians!”—on and on and on, for over two hours.
35-37 Finally, the town clerk got the mob quieted down and said, “Fellow citizens, is there anyone anywhere who doesn’t know that our dear city Ephesus is protector of glorious Artemis and her sacred stone image that fell straight out of heaven? Since this is beyond contradiction, you had better get hold of yourselves. This is conduct unworthy of Artemis. These men you’ve dragged in here have done nothing to harm either our temple or our goddess.
38-41 “So if Demetrius and his guild of artisans have a complaint, they can take it to court and make all the accusations they want. If anything else is bothering you, bring it to the regularly scheduled town meeting and let it be settled there. There is no excuse for what’s happened today. We’re putting our city in serious danger. Rome, remember, does not look kindly on rioters.” With that, he sent them home.