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Nahum 1The Message (MSG)

God Is Serious Business

A report on the problem of Nineveh, the way God gave Nahum of Elkosh to see it:

2-6 God is serious business.
    He won’t be trifled with.
He avenges his foes.
    He stands up against his enemies, fierce and raging.
But God doesn’t lose his temper.
    He’s powerful, but it’s a patient power.
Still, no one gets by with anything.
    Sooner or later, everyone pays.
Tornadoes and hurricanes
    are the wake of his passage,
Storm clouds are the dust
    he shakes off his feet.
He yells at the sea: It dries up.
    All the rivers run dry.
The Bashan and Carmel mountains shrivel,
    the Lebanon orchards shrivel.
Mountains quake in their roots,
    hills dissolve into mud flats.
Earth shakes in fear of God.
    The whole world’s in a panic.
Who can face such towering anger?
    Who can stand up to this fierce rage?
His anger spills out like a river of lava,
    his fury shatters boulders.

7-10 God is good,
    a hiding place in tough times.
He recognizes and welcomes
    anyone looking for help,
No matter how desperate the trouble.
    But cozy islands of escape
He wipes right off the map.
    No one gets away from God.
Why waste time conniving against God?
    He’s putting an end to all such scheming.
For troublemakers, no second chances.
    Like a pile of dry brush,
Soaked in oil,
    they’ll go up in flames.

A Think Tank for Lies

11 Nineveh’s an anthill
    of evil plots against God,
A think tank for lies
    that seduce and betray.

12-13 And God has something to say about all this:
    “Even though you’re on top of the world,
With all the applause and all the votes,
    you’ll be mowed down flat.

“I’ve afflicted you, Judah, true,
    but I won’t afflict you again.
From now on I’m taking the yoke from your neck
    and splitting it up for kindling.
I’m cutting you free
    from the ropes of your bondage.”

14 God’s orders on Nineveh:

“You’re the end of the line.
    It’s all over with Nineveh.
I’m gutting your temple.
    Your gods and goddesses go in the trash.
I’m digging your grave. It’s an unmarked grave.
    You’re nothing—no, you’re less than nothing!”

15 Look! Striding across the mountains—
    a messenger bringing the latest good news: peace!
A holiday, Judah! Celebrate!
    Worship and recommit to God!
No more worries about this enemy.
    This one is history. Close the books.

The Message (MSG)

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

Nahum 2The Message (MSG)

Israel’s Been to Hell and Back

The juggernaut’s coming!
    Post guards, lay in supplies.
Get yourselves together,
    get ready for the big battle.

God has restored the Pride of Jacob,
    the Pride of Israel.
Israel’s lived through hard times.
    He’s been to hell and back.

3-12 Weapons flash in the sun,
    the soldiers splendid in battle dress,
Chariots burnished and glistening,
    ready to charge,
A spiked forest of brandished spears,
    lethal on the horizon.
The chariots pour into the streets.
    They fill the public squares,
Flaming like torches in the sun,
    like lightning darting and flashing.
The Assyrian king rallies his men,
    but they stagger and stumble.
They run to the ramparts
    to stem the tide, but it’s too late.
Soldiers pour through the gates.
    The palace is demolished.
Soon it’s all over:
    Nineveh stripped, Nineveh doomed,
Maids and slaves moaning like doves,
    beating their breasts.
Nineveh is a tub
    from which they’ve pulled the plug.
Cries go up, “Do something! Do something!”
    but it’s too late. Nineveh’s soon empty—nothing.
Other cries come: “Plunder the silver!
    Plunder the gold!
A bonanza of plunder!
    Take everything you want!”
Doom! Damnation! Desolation!
    Hearts sink,
    knees fold,
    stomachs retch,
    faces blanch.
So, what happened to the famous
    and fierce Assyrian lion
And all those cute Assyrian cubs?
    To the lion and lioness
Cozy with their cubs,
    fierce and fearless?
To the lion who always returned from the hunt
    with fresh kills for lioness and cubs,
The lion lair heaped with bloody meat,
    blood and bones for the royal lion feast?

13 “Assyria, I’m your enemy,”
    says God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
“I’ll torch your chariots. They’ll go up in smoke.
    ‘Lion Country’ will be strewn with carcasses.
The war business is over—you’re out of work:
    You’ll have no more wars to report,
No more victories to announce.
    You’re out of war work forever.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Nahum 3The Message (MSG)

Let the Nations Get Their Fill of the Ugly Truth

1-4 Doom to Murder City—
    full of lies, bursting with loot, addicted to violence!
Horns blaring, wheels clattering,
    horses rearing, chariots lurching,
Horsemen galloping,
    brandishing swords and spears,
Dead bodies rotting in the street,
    corpses stacked like cordwood,
Bodies in every gutter and alley,
    clogging every intersection!
And whores! Whores without end!
    Whore City,
Fatally seductive, you’re the Witch of Seduction,
    luring nations to their ruin with your evil spells.

5-7 “I’m your enemy, Whore Nineveh—
    I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
I’ll strip you of your seductive silk robes
    and expose you on the world stage.
I’ll let the nations get their fill of the ugly truth
    of who you really are and have been all along.
I’ll pelt you with dog dung
    and place you on a pedestal: ‘Slut on Exhibit.’
Everyone who sees you will gag and say,
    ‘Nineveh’s a pigsty:
What on earth did we ever see in her?
    Who would give her a second look? Ugh!’”

Past the Point of No Return

8-13 Do you think you’re superior to Egyptian Thebes,
    proudly invincible on the River Nile,
Protected by the great River,
    walled in by the River, secure?
Ethiopia stood guard to the south,
    Egypt to the north.
Put and Libya, strong friends,
    were ready to step in and help.
But you know what happened to her:
    The whole city was marched off to a refugee camp,
Her babies smashed to death
    in public view on the streets,
Her prize leaders auctioned off,
    her celebrities put in chain gangs.
Expect the same treatment, Nineveh.
    You’ll soon be staggering like a bunch of drunks,
Wondering what hit you,
    looking for a place to sleep it off.
All your forts are like peach trees,
    the lush peaches ripe, ready for the picking.
One shake of the tree and they fall
    straight into hungry mouths.
Face it: Your warriors are wimps.
    You’re sitting ducks.
Your borders are gaping doors, inviting
    your enemies in. And who’s to stop them?

14-15 Store up water for the siege.
    Shore up your defenses.
Get down to basics: Work the clay
    and make bricks.
Sorry. Too late.
    Enemy fire will burn you up.
Swords will cut you to pieces.
    You’ll be chewed up as if by locusts.

15-17 Yes, as if by locusts—a fitting fate,
    for you yourselves are a locust plague.
You’ve multiplied shops and shopkeepers—
    more buyers and sellers than stars in the sky!
A plague of locusts, cleaning out the neighborhood
    and then flying off.
Your bureaucrats are locusts,
    your brokers and bankers are locusts.
Early on, they’re all at your service,
    full of smiles and promises,
But later when you return with questions or complaints,
    you’ll find they’ve flown off and are nowhere to be found.

18-19 King of Assyria! Your shepherd-leaders,
    in charge of caring for your people,
Are busy doing everything else but.
    They’re not doing their job,
And your people are scattered and lost.
    There’s no one to look after them.
You’re past the point of no return.
    Your wound is fatal.
When the story of your fate gets out,
    the whole world will applaud and cry “Encore!”
Your cruel evil has seeped
    into every nook and cranny of the world.
    Everyone has felt it and suffered.

The Message (MSG)

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

John 5The Message (MSG)

Even on the Sabbath

1-6 Soon another Feast came around and Jesus was back in Jerusalem. Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there was a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda, with five alcoves. Hundreds of sick people—blind, crippled, paralyzed—were in these alcoves. One man had been an invalid there for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him stretched out by the pool and knew how long he had been there, he said, “Do you want to get well?”

The sick man said, “Sir, when the water is stirred, I don’t have anybody to put me in the pool. By the time I get there, somebody else is already in.”

8-9 Jesus said, “Get up, take your bedroll, start walking.” The man was healed on the spot. He picked up his bedroll and walked off.

9-10 That day happened to be the Sabbath. The Jews stopped the healed man and said, “It’s the Sabbath. You can’t carry your bedroll around. It’s against the rules.”

11 But he told them, “The man who made me well told me to. He said, ‘Take your bedroll and start walking.’”

12-13 They asked, “Who gave you the order to take it up and start walking?” But the healed man didn’t know, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd.

14 A little later Jesus found him in the Temple and said, “You look wonderful! You’re well! Don’t return to a sinning life or something worse might happen.”

15-16 The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. That is why the Jews were out to get Jesus—because he did this kind of thing on the Sabbath.

17 But Jesus defended himself. “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”

18 That really set them off. The Jews were now not only out to expose him; they were out to kill him. Not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was calling God his own Father, putting himself on a level with God.

What the Father Does, the Son Does

19-20 So Jesus explained himself at length. “I’m telling you this straight. The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing. What the Father does, the Son does. The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing.

20-23 “But you haven’t seen the half of it yet, for in the same way that the Father raises the dead and creates life, so does the Son. The Son gives life to anyone he chooses. Neither he nor the Father shuts anyone out. The Father handed all authority to judge over to the Son so that the Son will be honored equally with the Father. Anyone who dishonors the Son, dishonors the Father, for it was the Father’s decision to put the Son in the place of honor.

24 “It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.

25-27 “It’s urgent that you get this right: The time has arrived—I mean right now!—when dead men and women will hear the voice of the Son of God and, hearing, will come alive. Just as the Father has life in himself, he has conferred on the Son life in himself. And he has given him the authority, simply because he is the Son of Man, to decide and carry out matters of Judgment.

28-29 “Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment.

30-33 “I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide. You can trust my decision because I’m not out to get my own way but only to carry out orders. If I were simply speaking on my own account, it would be an empty, self-serving witness. But an independent witness confirms me, the most reliable Witness of all. Furthermore, you all saw and heard John, and he gave expert and reliable testimony about me, didn’t he?

34-38 “But my purpose is not to get your vote, and not to appeal to mere human testimony. I’m speaking to you this way so that you will be saved. John was a torch, blazing and bright, and you were glad enough to dance for an hour or so in his bright light. But the witness that really confirms me far exceeds John’s witness. It’s the work the Father gave me to complete. These very tasks, as I go about completing them, confirm that the Father, in fact, sent me. The Father who sent me, confirmed me. And you missed it. You never heard his voice, you never saw his appearance. There is nothing left in your memory of his Message because you do not take his Messenger seriously.

39-40 “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

41-44 “I’m not interested in crowd approval. And do you know why? Because I know you and your crowds. I know that love, especially God’s love, is not on your working agenda. I came with the authority of my Father, and you either dismiss me or avoid me. If another came, acting self-important, you would welcome him with open arms. How do you expect to get anywhere with God when you spend all your time jockeying for position with each other, ranking your rivals and ignoring God?

45-47 “But don’t think I’m going to accuse you before my Father. Moses, in whom you put so much stock, is your accuser. If you believed, really believed, what Moses said, you would believe me. He wrote of me. If you won’t take seriously what he wrote, how can I expect you to take seriously what I speak?”

The Message (MSG)

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

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