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Nehemiah 9The Message (MSG)

1-3 Then on the twenty-fourth day of this month, the People of Israel gathered for a fast, wearing burlap and faces smudged with dirt as signs of repentance. The Israelites broke off all relations with foreigners, stood up, and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their parents. While they stood there in their places, they read from the Book of The Revelation of God, their God, for a quarter of the day. For another quarter of the day they confessed and worshiped their God.

4-5 A group of Levites—Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Kenani—stood on the platform and cried out to God, their God, in a loud voice. The Levites Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah said, “On your feet! Bless God, your God, for ever and ever!”

5-6 Blessed be your glorious name,
    exalted above all blessing and praise!
You’re the one,
    God, you alone;
You made the heavens,
    the heavens of heavens, and all angels;
The earth and everything on it,
    the seas and everything in them;
You keep them all alive;
    heaven’s angels worship you!

7-8 You’re the one, God, the God
    who chose Abram
And brought him from Ur of the Chaldees
    and changed his name to Abraham.
You found his heart to be steady and true to you
    and signed a covenant with him,
A covenant to give him the land of the Canaanites,
    the Hittites, and the Amorites,
The Perizzites, Jebusites, and Girgashites,
    —to give it to his descendants.
And you kept your word
    because you are righteous.

9-15 You saw the anguish of our parents in Egypt.
    You heard their cries at the Red Sea;
You amazed Pharaoh, his servants, and the people of his land
    with wonders and miracle-signs.
You knew their bullying arrogance against your people;
    you made a name for yourself that lasts to this day.
You split the sea before them;
    they crossed through and never got their feet wet;
You pitched their pursuers into the deep;
    they sank like a rock in the storm-tossed sea.
By day you led them with a Pillar of Cloud,
    and by night with a Pillar of Fire
To show them the way
    they were to travel.
You came down onto Mount Sinai,
    you spoke to them out of heaven;
You gave them instructions on how to live well,
    true teaching, sound rules and commands;
You introduced them
    to your Holy Sabbath;
Through your servant Moses you decreed
    commands, rules, and instruction.
You gave bread from heaven for their hunger,
    you sent water from the rock for their thirst.
You told them to enter and take the land,
    which you promised to give them.

16-19 But they, our ancestors, were arrogant;
    bullheaded, they wouldn’t obey your commands.
They turned a deaf ear, they refused
    to remember the miracles you had done for them;
They turned stubborn, got it into their heads
    to return to their Egyptian slavery.
And you, a forgiving God,
    gracious and compassionate,
Incredibly patient, with tons of love—
    you didn’t dump them.
Yes, even when they cast a sculpted calf
    and said, “This is your god
Who brought you out of Egypt,”
    and continued from bad to worse,
You in your amazing compassion
    didn’t walk off and leave them in the desert.
The Pillar of Cloud didn’t leave them;
    daily it continued to show them their route;
The Pillar of Fire did the same by night,
    showed them the right way to go.

20-23 You gave them your good Spirit
    to teach them to live wisely.
You never stinted with your manna,
    gave them plenty of water to drink.
You supported them forty years in that desert;
    they had everything they needed;
Their clothes didn’t wear out
    and their feet never blistered.
You gave them kingdoms and peoples,
    establishing generous boundaries.
They took over the country of Sihon king of Heshbon
    and the country of Og king of Bashan.
You multiplied children for them,
    rivaling the stars in the night skies,
And you brought them into the land
    that you promised their ancestors
    they would get and own.

24-25 Well, they entered all right,
    they took it and settled in.
The Canaanites who lived there
    you brought to their knees before them.
You turned over their land, kings, and peoples
    to do with as they pleased.
They took strong cities and fertile fields,
    they took over well-furnished houses,
Cisterns, vineyards, olive groves,
    and lush, extensive orchards.
And they ate, grew fat on the fat of the land;
    they reveled in your bountiful goodness.

26-31 But then they mutinied, rebelled against you,
    threw out your laws and killed your prophets,
The very prophets who tried to get them back on your side—
    and then things went from bad to worse.
You turned them over to their enemies,
    who made life rough for them.
But when they called out for help in their troubles
    you listened from heaven;
And in keeping with your bottomless compassion
    you gave them saviors:
Saviors who saved them
    from the cruel abuse of their enemies.
But as soon as they had it easy again
    they were right back at it—more evil.
So you turned away and left them again to their fate,
    to the enemies who came right back.
They cried out to you again; in your great compassion
    you heard and helped them again.
    This went on over and over and over.
You warned them to return to your Revelation,
    they responded with haughty arrogance:
They flouted your commands, spurned your rules
    —the very words by which men and women live!
They set their jaws in defiance,
    they turned their backs on you and didn’t listen.
You put up with them year after year
    and warned them by your spirit through your prophets;
But when they refused to listen
    you abandoned them to foreigners.
Still, because of your great compassion,
    you didn’t make a total end to them.
You didn’t walk out and leave them for good;
    yes, you are a God of grace and compassion.

32-37 And now, our God, the great God,
    God majestic and terrible, loyal in covenant and love,
Don’t treat lightly the trouble that has come to us,
    to our kings and princes, our priests and prophets,
Our ancestors, and all your people from the time
    of the Assyrian kings right down to today.
You are not to blame
    for all that has come down on us;
You did everything right,
    we did everything wrong.
None of our kings, princes, priests, or ancestors
    followed your Revelation;
They ignored your commands,
    dismissed the warnings you gave them.
Even when they had their own kingdom
    and were enjoying your generous goodness,
Living in that spacious and fertile land
    that you spread out before them,
They didn’t serve you
    or turn their backs on the practice of evil.
And here we are, slaves again today;
    and here’s the land you gave our ancestors
So they could eat well and enjoy a good life,
    and now look at us—no better than slaves on this land.
Its wonderful crops go to the kings
    you put over us because of our sins;
They act like they own our bodies
    and do whatever they like with our cattle.
    We’re in deep trouble.

38 “Because of all this we are drawing up a binding pledge, a sealed document signed by our princes, our Levites, and our priests.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Nehemiah 10The Message (MSG)

10 1-8 The sealed document bore these signatures:

Nehemiah the governor, son of Hacaliah,

Zedekiah, Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah,

Pashhur, Amariah, Malkijah,

Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch,

Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah,

Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch,

Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin,

Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah.

These were the priests.

9-13 The Levites:

Jeshua son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel,

and their kinsmen: Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan,

Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah,

Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah,

Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu.

14-27 The heads of the people:

Parosh, Pahath-Moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani,

Bunni, Azgad, Bebai,

Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin,

Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur,

Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai,

Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai,

Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir,

Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua,

Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah,

Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub,

Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek,

Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah,

Ahiah, Hanan, Anan,

Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.

28-30 The rest of the people, priests, Levites, security guards, singers, Temple staff, and all who separated themselves from the foreign neighbors to keep The Revelation of God, together with their wives, sons, daughters—everyone old enough to understand—all joined their noble kinsmen in a binding oath to follow The Revelation of God given through Moses the servant of God, to keep and carry out all the commandments of God our Master, all his decisions and standards. Thus:

We will not marry our daughters to our foreign neighbors nor let our sons marry their daughters.

31 When the foreign neighbors bring goods or grain to sell on the Sabbath we won’t trade with them—not on the Sabbath or any other holy day.

Every seventh year we will leave the land fallow and cancel all debts.

32-33 We accept the responsibility for paying an annual tax of one-third of a shekel (about an eighth ounce) for providing The Temple of our God with

bread for the Table

regular Grain-Offerings

regular Whole-Burnt-Offerings

offerings for the Sabbaths, New Moons, and appointed feasts

Dedication-Offerings

Absolution-Offerings to atone for Israel

maintenance of The Temple of our God.

34 We—priests, Levites, and the people—have cast lots to see when each of our families will bring wood for burning on the Altar of our God, following the yearly schedule set down in The Revelation.

35-36 We take responsibility for delivering annually to The Temple of God the firstfruits of our crops and our orchards, our firstborn sons and cattle, and the firstborn from our herds and flocks for the priests who serve in The Temple of our God—just as it is set down in The Revelation.

37-39 We will bring the best of our grain, of our contributions, of the fruit of every tree, of wine, and of oil to the priests in the storerooms of The Temple of our God.

We will bring the tithes from our fields to the Levites, since the Levites are appointed to collect the tithes in the towns where we work. We’ll see to it that a priest descended from Aaron will supervise the Levites as they collect the tithes and make sure that they take a tenth of the tithes to the treasury in The Temple of our God. We’ll see to it that the People of Israel and Levites bring the grain, wine, and oil to the storage rooms where the vessels of the Sanctuary are kept and where the priests who serve, the security guards, and the choir meet.

We will not neglect The Temple of our God.

The Message (MSG)

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

Acts 2The Message (MSG)

A Sound Like a Strong Wind

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

5-11 There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn’t for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, “Aren’t these all Galileans? How come we’re hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
    Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
    Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!

“They’re speaking our languages, describing God’s mighty works!”

12 Their heads were spinning; they couldn’t make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: “What’s going on here?”

13 Others joked, “They’re drunk on cheap wine.”

Peter Speaks Up

14-21 That’s when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: “Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren’t drunk as some of you suspect. They haven’t had time to get drunk—it’s only nine o’clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:

“In the Last Days,” God says,
“I will pour out my Spirit
    on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
    also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
    your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
    I’ll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
    and they’ll prophesy.
I’ll set wonders in the sky above
    and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
    the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
    the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
    to me, God, will be saved.”

22-28 “Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him. David said it all:

I saw God before me for all time.
    Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side.
I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
    I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope.
I know you’ll never dump me in Hades;
    I’ll never even smell the stench of death.
You’ve got my feet on the life-path,
    with your face shining sun-joy all around.

29-36 “Dear friends, let me be completely frank with you. Our ancestor David is dead and buried—his tomb is in plain sight today. But being also a prophet and knowing that God had solemnly sworn that a descendant of his would rule his kingdom, seeing far ahead, he talked of the resurrection of the Messiah—‘no trip to Hades, no stench of death.’ This Jesus, God raised up. And every one of us here is a witness to it. Then, raised to the heights at the right hand of God and receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he poured out the Spirit he had just received. That is what you see and hear. For David himself did not ascend to heaven, but he did say,

God said to my Master, “Sit at my right hand
Until I make your enemies a stool for resting your feet.”

“All Israel, then, know this: There’s no longer room for doubt—God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross.”

37 Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?”

38-39 Peter said, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites.”

40 He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, “Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!”

41-42 That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

43-45 Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

46-47 They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

The Message (MSG)

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

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