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Leviticus 25The Message (MSG)

“The Land Will Observe a Sabbath to God”

25 1-7 God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter the land which I am going to give you, the land will observe a Sabbath to God. Sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and take in your harvests for six years. But the seventh year the land will take a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a Sabbath to God; you will not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Don’t reap what grows of itself; don’t harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land gets a year of complete and total rest. But you can eat from what the land volunteers during the Sabbath year—you and your men and women servants, your hired hands, and the foreigners who live in the country, and, of course, also your livestock and the wild animals in the land can eat from it. Whatever the land volunteers of itself can be eaten.

“The Fiftieth Year Shall Be a Jubilee for You”

8-12 “Count off seven Sabbaths of years—seven times seven years: Seven Sabbaths of years adds up to forty-nine years. Then sound loud blasts on the ram’s horn on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement. Sound the ram’s horn all over the land. Sanctify the fiftieth year; make it a holy year. Proclaim freedom all over the land to everyone who lives in it—a Jubilee for you: Each person will go back to his family’s property and reunite with his extended family. The fiftieth year is your Jubilee year: Don’t sow; don’t reap what volunteers itself in the fields; don’t harvest the untended vines because it’s the Jubilee and a holy year for you. You’re permitted to eat from whatever volunteers itself in the fields.

13 “In this year of Jubilee everyone returns home to his family property.

14-17 “If you sell or buy property from one of your countrymen, don’t cheat him. Calculate the purchase price on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. He is obliged to set the sale price on the basis of the number of harvests remaining until the next Jubilee. The more years left, the more money; you can raise the price. But the fewer years left, the less money; decrease the price. What you are buying and selling in fact is the number of crops you’re going to harvest. Don’t cheat each other. Fear your God. I am God, your God.

18-22 “Keep my decrees and observe my laws and you will live secure in the land. The land will yield its fruit; you will have all you can eat and will live safe and secure. Do I hear you ask, ‘What are we going to eat in the seventh year if we don’t plant or harvest?’ I assure you, I will send such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant in the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and continue until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.

23-24 “The land cannot be sold permanently because the land is mine and you are foreigners—you’re my tenants. You must provide for the right of redemption for any of the land that you own.

25-28 “If one of your brothers becomes poor and has to sell any of his land, his nearest relative is to come and buy back what his brother sold. If a man has no one to redeem it but he later prospers and earns enough for its redemption, he is to calculate the value since he sold it and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it; he can then go back to his own land. If he doesn’t get together enough money to repay him, what he sold remains in the possession of the buyer until the year of Jubilee. In the Jubilee it will be returned and he can go back and live on his land.

29-31 “If a man sells a house in a walled city, he retains the right to buy it back for a full year after the sale. At any time during that year he can redeem it. But if it is not redeemed before the full year has passed, it becomes the permanent possession of the buyer and his descendants. It is not returned in the Jubilee. However, houses in unwalled villages are treated the same as fields. They can be redeemed and have to be returned at the Jubilee.

32-34 “As to the Levitical cities, houses in the cities owned by the Levites are always subject to redemption. Levitical property is always redeemable if it is sold in a town that they hold and reverts to them in the Jubilee, because the houses in the towns of the Levites are their property among the People of Israel. The pastures belonging to their cities may not be sold; they are their permanent possession.

35-38 “If one of your brothers becomes indigent and cannot support himself, help him, the same as you would a foreigner or a guest so that he can continue to live in your neighborhood. Don’t gouge him with interest charges; out of reverence for your God help your brother to continue to live with you in the neighborhood. Don’t take advantage of his plight by running up big interest charges on his loans, and don’t give him food for profit. I am your God who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

39-43 “If one of your brothers becomes indigent and has to sell himself to you, don’t make him work as a slave. Treat him as a hired hand or a guest among you. He will work for you until the Jubilee, after which he and his children are set free to go back to his clan and his ancestral land. Because the People of Israel are my servants whom I brought out of Egypt, they must never be sold as slaves. Don’t tyrannize them; fear your God.

44-46 “The male and female slaves which you have are to come from the surrounding nations; you are permitted to buy slaves from them. You may also buy the children of foreign workers who are living among you temporarily and from their clans which are living among you and have been born in your land. They become your property. You may will them to your children as property and make them slaves for life. But you must not tyrannize your brother Israelites.

47-53 “If a foreigner or temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your brothers becomes poor and sells himself to the foreigner who lives among you or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, he still has the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may buy him back. An uncle or cousin or any close relative of his extended family may redeem him. Or, if he gets the money together, he can redeem himself. What happens then is that he and his owner count out the time from the year he sold himself to the year of Jubilee; the buy-back price is set according to the wages of a hired hand for that number of years. If many years remain before the Jubilee, he must pay back a larger share of his purchase price, but if only a few years remain until the Jubilee, he is to calculate his redemption price accordingly. He is to be treated as a man hired from year to year. You must make sure that his owner does not tyrannize him.

54-55 “If he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he goes free in the year of Jubilee, he and his children, because the People of Israel are my servants, my servants whom I brought out of Egypt. I am God, your God.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 25The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

25 1-2 My head is high, God, held high;
I’m looking to you, God;
No hangdog skulking for me.

I’ve thrown in my lot with you;
You won’t embarrass me, will you?
Or let my enemies get the best of me?

Don’t embarrass any of us
Who went out on a limb for you.
It’s the traitors who should be humiliated.

Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.

Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren’t you?

Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!

Forget that I sowed wild oats;
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, God!

God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.

He gives the rejects his hand,
And leads them step-by-step.

10 From now on every road you travel
Will take you to God.
Follow the Covenant signs;
Read the charted directions.

11 Keep up your reputation, God;
Forgive my bad life;
It’s been a very bad life.

12 My question: What are God-worshipers like?
Your answer: Arrows aimed at God’s bull’s-eye.

13 They settle down in a promising place;
Their kids inherit a prosperous farm.

14 God-friendship is for God-worshipers;
They are the ones he confides in.

15 If I keep my eyes on God,
I won’t trip over my own feet.

16 Look at me and help me!
I’m all alone and in big trouble.

17 My heart and kidneys are fighting each other;
Call a truce to this civil war.

18 Take a hard look at my life of hard labor,
Then lift this ton of sin.

19 Do you see how many people
Have it in for me?
How viciously they hate me?

20 Keep watch over me and keep me out of trouble;
Don’t let me down when I run to you.

21 Use all your skill to put me together;
I wait to see your finished product.

22 God, give your people a break
From this run of bad luck.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 26The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

26 Clear my name, God;
    I’ve kept an honest shop.
I’ve thrown in my lot with you, God, and
    I’m not budging.

    Examine me, God, from head to foot,
    order your battery of tests.
Make sure I’m fit
    inside and out

    So I never lose
    sight of your love,
But keep in step with you,
    never missing a beat.

4-5     I don’t hang out with tricksters,
    I don’t pal around with thugs;
I hate that pack of gangsters,
    I don’t deal with double-dealers.

6-7     I scrub my hands with purest soap,
    then join hands with the others in the great circle,
    dancing around your altar, God,
Singing God-songs at the top of my lungs,
    telling God-stories.

8-10     God, I love living with you;
    your house glows with your glory.
When it’s time for spring cleaning,
    don’t sweep me out with the quacks and crooks,
Men with bags of dirty tricks,
    women with purses stuffed with bribe-money.

11-12     You know I’ve been aboveboard with you;
    now be aboveboard with me.
I’m on the level with you, God;
    I bless you every chance I get.

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 22The Message (MSG)

22 1-2 “My dear brothers and fathers, listen carefully to what I have to say before you jump to conclusions about me.” When they heard him speaking Hebrew, they grew even quieter. No one wanted to miss a word of this.

2-3 He continued, “I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions. And I’ve always been passionately on God’s side, just as you are right now.

4-5 “I went after anyone connected with this ‘Way,’ went at them hammer and tongs, ready to kill for God. I rounded up men and women right and left and had them thrown in prison. You can ask the Chief Priest or anyone in the High Council to verify this; they all knew me well. Then I went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus there, arrest them, and bring them back to Jerusalem for sentencing.

6-7 “As I arrived on the outskirts of Damascus about noon, a blinding light blazed out of the skies and I fell to the ground, dazed. I heard a voice: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?’

8-9 “‘Who are you, Master?’ I asked.

“He said, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the One you’re hunting down.’ My companions saw the light, but they didn’t hear the conversation.

10-11 “Then I said, ‘What do I do now, Master?’

“He said, ‘Get to your feet and enter Damascus. There you’ll be told everything that’s been set out for you to do.’ And so we entered Damascus, but nothing like the entrance I had planned—I was blind as a bat and my companions had to lead me in by the hand.

12-13 “And that’s when I met Ananias, a man with a sterling reputation in observing our laws—the Jewish community in Damascus is unanimous on that score. He came and put his arm on my shoulder. ‘Look up,’ he said. I looked, and found myself looking right into his eyes—I could see again!

14-16 “Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has handpicked you to be briefed on his plan of action. You’ve actually seen the Righteous Innocent and heard him speak. You are to be a key witness to everyone you meet of what you’ve seen and heard. So what are you waiting for? Get up and get yourself baptized, scrubbed clean of those sins and personally acquainted with God.’

17-18 “Well, it happened just as Ananias said. After I was back in Jerusalem and praying one day in the Temple, lost in the presence of God, I saw him, saw God’s Righteous Innocent, and heard him say to me, ‘Hurry up! Get out of here as quickly as you can. None of the Jews here in Jerusalem are going to accept what you say about me.’

19-20 “At first I objected: ‘Who has better credentials? They all know how obsessed I was with hunting out those who believed in you, beating them up in the meeting places and throwing them in jail. And when your witness Stephen was murdered, I was right there, holding the coats of the murderers and cheering them on. And now they see me totally converted. What better qualification could I have?’

21 “But he said, ‘Don’t argue. Go. I’m sending you on a long journey to outsider non-Jews.’”

A Roman Citizen

22-25 The people in the crowd had listened attentively up to this point, but now they broke loose, shouting out, “Kill him! He’s an insect! Stomp on him!” They shook their fists. They filled the air with curses. That’s when the captain intervened and ordered Paul taken into the barracks. By now the captain was thoroughly exasperated. He decided to interrogate Paul under torture in order to get to the bottom of this, to find out what he had done that provoked this outraged violence. As they spread-eagled him with thongs, getting him ready for the whip, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is this legal: torturing a Roman citizen without a fair trial?”

26 When the centurion heard that, he went directly to the captain. “Do you realize what you’ve done? This man is a Roman citizen!”

27 The captain came back and took charge. “Is what I hear right? You’re a Roman citizen?”

Paul said, “I certainly am.”

28 The captain was impressed. “I paid a huge sum for my citizenship. How much did it cost you?”

“Nothing,” said Paul. “It cost me nothing. I was free from the day of my birth.”

29 That put a stop to the interrogation. And it put the fear of God into the captain. He had put a Roman citizen in chains and come within a whisker of putting him under torture!

30 The next day, determined to get to the root of the trouble and know for sure what was behind the Jewish accusation, the captain released Paul and ordered a meeting of the high priests and the High Council to see what they could make of it. Paul was led in and took his place before them.

The Message (MSG)

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

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