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Micah 5The Message (MSG)

The Leader Who Will Shepherd-Rule Israel

But for now, prepare for the worst, victim daughter!
    The siege is set against us.
They humiliate Israel’s king,
    slapping him around like a rag doll.

2-4 But you, Bethlehem, David’s country,
    the runt of the litter—
From you will come the leader
    who will shepherd-rule Israel.
He’ll be no upstart, no pretender.
    His family tree is ancient and distinguished.
Meanwhile, Israel will be in foster homes
    until the birth pangs are over and the child is born,
And the scattered brothers come back
    home to the family of Israel.
He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God’s strength,
    centered in the majesty of God-Revealed.
And the people will have a good and safe home,
    for the whole world will hold him in respect—
    Peacemaker of the world!

5-6 And if some bullying Assyrian shows up,
    invades and violates our land, don’t worry.
We’ll put him in his place, send him packing,
    and watch his every move.
Shepherd-rule will extend as far as needed,
    to Assyria and all other Nimrod-bullies.
Our shepherd-ruler will save us from old or new enemies,
    from anyone who invades or violates our land.

The purged and select company of Jacob will be
    like an island in the sea of peoples.
They’ll be like dew from God,
    like summer showers
Not mentioned in the weather forecast,
    not subject to calculation or control.

8-9 Yes, the purged and select company of Jacob will be
    like an island in the sea of peoples,
Like the king of beasts among wild beasts,
    like a young lion loose in a flock of sheep,
Killing and devouring the lambs
    and no one able to stop him.
With your arms raised in triumph over your foes,
    your enemies will be no more!

10-15 “The day is coming”
    God’s Decree—
“When there will be no more war. None.
    I’ll slaughter your war horses and demolish your chariots.
I’ll dismantle military posts
    and level your fortifications.
I’ll abolish your religious black markets,
    your underworld traffic in black magic.
I will smash your carved and cast gods
    and chop down your phallic posts.
No more taking control of the world,
    worshiping what you do or make.
I’ll root out your sacred sex-and-power centers
    and destroy the God-defiant.
In raging anger, I’ll make a clean sweep
    of godless nations who haven’t listened.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Micah 6The Message (MSG)

What God Is Looking For

1-2 Listen now, listen to God:

“Take your stand in court.
    If you have a complaint, tell the mountains;
    make your case to the hills.
And now, Mountains, hear God’s case;
    listen, Jury Earth—
For I am bringing charges against my people.
    I am building a case against Israel.

3-5 “Dear people, how have I done you wrong?
    Have I burdened you, worn you out? Answer!
I delivered you from a bad life in Egypt;
    I paid a good price to get you out of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you—
    and Aaron and Miriam to boot!
Remember what Balak king of Moab tried to pull,
    and how Balaam son of Beor turned the tables on him.
Remember all those stories about Shittim and Gilgal.
    Keep all God’s salvation stories fresh and present.”

6-7 How can I stand up before God
    and show proper respect to the high God?
Should I bring an armload of offerings
    topped off with yearling calves?
Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,
    with buckets and barrels of olive oil?
Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,
    my precious baby, to cancel my sin?

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
    be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
    take God seriously.

Attention! God calls out to the city!
    If you know what’s good for you, you’ll listen.
So listen, all of you!
    This is serious business.

10-16 “Do you expect me to overlook obscene wealth
    you’ve piled up by cheating and fraud?
Do you think I’ll tolerate shady deals
    and shifty scheming?
I’m tired of the violent rich
    bullying their way with bluffs and lies.
I’m fed up. Beginning now, you’re finished.
    You’ll pay for your sins down to your last cent.
No matter how much you get, it will never be enough—
    hollow stomachs, empty hearts.
No matter how hard you work, you’ll have nothing to show for it—
    bankrupt lives, wasted souls.
You’ll plant grass
    but never get a lawn.
You’ll make jelly
    but never spread it on your bread.
You’ll press apples
    but never drink the cider.
You have lived by the standards of your king, Omri,
    the decadent lifestyle of the family of Ahab.
Because you’ve slavishly followed their fashions,
    I’m forcing you into bankruptcy.
Your way of life will be laughed at, a tasteless joke.
    Your lives will be derided as futile and fake.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Micah 7The Message (MSG)

Stick Around to See What God Will Do

1-6 I’m overwhelmed with sorrow!
    sunk in a swamp of despair!
I’m like someone who goes to the garden
    to pick cabbages and carrots and corn
And returns empty-handed,
    finds nothing for soup or sandwich or salad.
There’s not a decent person in sight.
    Right-living humans are extinct.
They’re all out for one another’s blood,
    animals preying on each other.
They’ve all become experts in evil.
    Corrupt leaders demand bribes.
The powerful rich
    make sure they get what they want.
The best and brightest are thistles.
    The top of the line is crabgrass.
But no longer: It’s exam time.
    Look at them slinking away in disgrace!
Don’t trust your neighbor,
    don’t confide in your friend.
Watch your words,
    even with your spouse.
Neighborhoods and families are falling to pieces.
    The closer they are—sons, daughters, in-laws—
The worse they can be.
    Your own family is the enemy.

But me, I’m not giving up.
    I’m sticking around to see what God will do.
I’m waiting for God to make things right.
    I’m counting on God to listen to me.

Spreading Your Wings

8-10 Don’t, enemy, crow over me.
    I’m down, but I’m not out.
I’m sitting in the dark right now,
    but God is my light.
I can take God’s punishing rage.
    I deserve it—I sinned.
But it’s not forever. He’s on my side
    and is going to get me out of this.
He’ll turn on the lights and show me his ways.
    I’ll see the whole picture and how right he is.
And my enemy will see it, too,
    and be discredited—yes, disgraced!
This enemy who kept taunting,
    “So where is this God of yours?”
I’m going to see it with these, my own eyes—
    my enemy disgraced, trash in the gutter.

11-13 Oh, that will be a day! A day for rebuilding your city,
    a day for stretching your arms, spreading your wings!
All your dispersed and scattered people will come back,
    old friends and family from faraway places,
From Assyria in the east to Egypt in the west,
    from across the seas and out of the mountains.
But there’ll be a reversal for everyone else—massive depopulation—
    because of the way they lived, the things they did.

14-17 Shepherd, O God, your people with your staff,
    your dear and precious flock.
Uniquely yours in a grove of trees,
    centered in lotus land.
Let them graze in lush Bashan
    as in the old days in green Gilead.
Reproduce the miracle-wonders
    of our exodus from Egypt.
And the godless nations: Put them in their place—
    humiliated in their arrogance, speechless and clueless.
Make them slink like snakes, crawl like cockroaches,
    come out of their holes from under their rocks
And face our God.
    Fill them with holy fear and trembling.

18-20 Where is the god who can compare with you—
    wiping the slate clean of guilt,
Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear,
    to the past sins of your purged and precious people?
You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long,
    for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.
And compassion is on its way to us.
    You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing.
You’ll sink our sins
    to the bottom of the ocean.
You’ll stay true to your word to Father Jacob
    and continue the compassion you showed Grandfather Abraham—
Everything you promised our ancestors
    from a long time ago.

The Message (MSG)

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

Hebrews 7The Message (MSG)

Melchizedek, Priest of God

1-3 Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Highest God. He met Abraham, who was returning from “the royal massacre,” and gave him his blessing. Abraham in turn gave him a tenth of the spoils. “Melchizedek” means “King of Righteousness.” “Salem” means “Peace.” So, he is also “King of Peace.” Melchizedek towers out of the past—without record of family ties, no account of beginning or end. In this way he is like the Son of God, one huge priestly presence dominating the landscape always.

4-7 You realize just how great Melchizedek is when you see that Father Abraham gave him a tenth of the captured treasure. Priests descended from Levi are commanded by law to collect tithes from the people, even though they are all more or less equals, priests and people, having a common father in Abraham. But this man, a complete outsider, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him, the one to whom the promises had been given. In acts of blessing, the lesser is blessed by the greater.

8-10 Or look at it this way: We pay our tithes to priests who die, but Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, the Scripture says, “lives.” Ultimately you could even say that since Levi descended from Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedek, when we pay tithes to the priestly tribe of Levi they end up with Melchizedek.

A Permanent Priesthood

11-14 If the priesthood of Levi and Aaron, which provided the framework for the giving of the law, could really make people perfect, there wouldn’t have been need for a new priesthood like that of Melchizedek. But since it didn’t get the job done, there was a change of priesthood, which brought with it a radical new kind of law. There is no way of understanding this in terms of the old Levitical priesthood, which is why there is nothing in Jesus’ family tree connecting him with that priestly line.

15-19 But the Melchizedek story provides a perfect analogy: Jesus, a priest like Melchizedek, not by genealogical descent but by the sheer force of resurrection life—he lives!—“priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek.” The former way of doing things, a system of commandments that never worked out the way it was supposed to, was set aside; the law brought nothing to maturity. Another way—Jesus!—a way that does work, that brings us right into the presence of God, is put in its place.

20-22 The old priesthood of Aaron perpetuated itself automatically, father to son, without explicit confirmation by God. But then God intervened and called this new, permanent priesthood into being with an added promise:

God gave his word;
    he won’t take it back:
“You’re the permanent priest.”

This makes Jesus the guarantee of a far better way between us and God—one that really works! A new covenant.

23-25 Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.

26-28 So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.

The Message (MSG)

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

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