Zechariah 1The Message (MSG)
1 1-4 In the eighth month of the second year in the reign of Darius, God’s Message came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah, son of Iddo: “God was very angry with your ancestors. So give to the people this Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: ‘Come back to me and I’ll come back to you. Don’t be like your parents. The old-time prophets called out to them, “A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: Leave your evil life. Quit your evil practices.” But they ignored everything I said to them, stubbornly refused to listen.’
5-6 “And where are your ancestors now? Dead and buried. And the prophets who preached to them? Also dead and buried. But the Message that my servants the prophets spoke, that isn’t dead and buried. That Message did its work on your ancestors, did it not? It woke them up and they came back, saying, ‘He did what he said he would do, sure enough. We didn’t get by with a thing.’”
First Vision: Four Riders
7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month in the second year of the reign of Darius, the Message of God was given to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah, son of Iddo:
8 One night I looked out and saw a man astride a red horse. He was in the shadows in a grove of birches. Behind him were more horses—a red, a chestnut, and a white.
9 I said, “Sir, what are these horses doing here? What’s the meaning of this?”
The Angel-Messenger said, “Let me show you.”
10 Then the rider in the birch grove spoke up, “These are the riders that God sent to check things out on earth.”
11 They reported their findings to the Angel of God in the birch grove: “We have looked over the whole earth and all is well. Everything’s under control.”
12 The Angel of God reported back, “O God-of-the-Angel-Armies, how long are you going to stay angry with Jerusalem and the cities of Judah? When are you going to let up? Isn’t seventy years long enough?”
13-15 God reassured the Angel-Messenger—good words, comforting words—who then addressed me: “Tell them this. Tell them that God-of-the-Angel-Armies has spoken. This is God’s Message: ‘I care deeply for Jerusalem and Zion. I feel very possessive of them. But I’m thoroughly angry with the godless nations that act as if they own the whole world. I was only moderately angry earlier, but now they’ve gone too far. I’m going into action.
16-17 “‘I’ve come back to Jerusalem, but with compassion this time.’
Second Vision: Four Horns and Four Blacksmiths
18 I looked up, and was surprised by another vision: four horns!
19 I asked the Messenger-Angel, “And what’s the meaning of this?”
He said, “These are the powers that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem abroad.”
20 Then God expanded the vision to include four blacksmiths.
21 I asked, “And what are these all about?”
He said, “Since the ‘horns’ scattered Judah so badly that no one had any hope left, these blacksmiths have arrived to combat the horns. They’ll dehorn the godless nations who used their horns to scatter Judah to the four winds.”
Zechariah 2The Message (MSG)
Third Vision: The Man with the Tape Measure
2 1-5 I looked up and was surprised to see
6-7 “Up on your feet! Get out of there—and now!” God says so.
8-9 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the One of Glory who sent me on my mission, commenting on the godless nations who stripped you and left you homeless, said, “Anyone who hits you, hits me—bloodies my nose, blackens my eye. Yes, and at the right time I’ll give the signal and they’ll be stripped and thrown out by their own servants.” Then you’ll know for sure that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me on this mission.
10 “Shout and celebrate, Daughter of Zion!
11-12 Many godless nations will be linked up with God at that time. (“They will become my family! I’ll live in their homes!”) And then you’ll know for sure that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me on this mission. God will reclaim his Judah inheritance in the Holy Land. He’ll again make clear that Jerusalem is his choice.
13 Quiet, everyone! Shh! Silence before God. Something’s afoot in his holy house. He’s on the move!
Zechariah 3The Message (MSG)
Fourth Vision: Joshua’s New Clothes
3 1-2 Next the Messenger-Angel showed me the high priest Joshua. He was standing before God’s Angel where the Accuser showed up to accuse him. Then God said to the Accuser, “I, God, rebuke you, Accuser! I rebuke you and choose Jerusalem. Surprise! Everything is going up in flames, but I reach in and pull out Jerusalem!”
3-4 Joshua, standing before the angel, was dressed in dirty clothes. The angel spoke to his attendants, “Get him out of those filthy clothes,” and then said to Joshua, “Look, I’ve stripped you of your sin and dressed you up in clean clothes.”
5 I spoke up and said, “How about a clean new turban for his head also?” And they did it—put a clean new turban on his head. Then they finished dressing him, with God’s Angel looking on.
6-7 God’s Angel then charged Joshua, “Orders from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: ‘If you live the way I tell you and remain obedient in my service, then you’ll make the decisions around here and oversee my affairs. And all my attendants standing here will be at your service.
8-9 “‘Careful, High Priest Joshua—both you and your friends sitting here with you, for your friends are in on this, too! Here’s what I’m doing next: I’m introducing my servant Branch. And note this: This stone that I’m placing before Joshua, a single stone with seven eyes’—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—‘I’ll engrave with these words: “I’ll strip this land of its filthy sin, all at once, in a single day.”
10 “‘At that time, everyone will get along with one another, with friendly visits across the fence, friendly visits on one another’s porches.’”
Luke 11The Message (MSG)
Ask for What You Need
11 One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, “Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
2-4 So he said, “When you pray, say,
5-6 Then he said, “Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’
7 “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’
8 “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need.
9 “Here’s what I’m saying:
Ask and you’ll get;
10-13 “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing—you’re at least decent to your own children. And don’t you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?”
No Neutral Ground
14-16 Jesus delivered a man from a demon that had kept him speechless. The demon gone, the man started talking a blue streak, taking the crowd by complete surprise. But some from the crowd were cynical. “Black magic,” they said. “Some devil trick he’s pulled from his sleeve.” Others were skeptical, waiting around for him to prove himself with a spectacular miracle.
17-20 Jesus knew what they were thinking and said, “Any country in civil war for very long is wasted. A constantly squabbling family falls to pieces. If Satan cancels Satan, is there any Satan left? You accuse me of ganging up with the Devil, the prince of demons, to cast out demons, but if you’re slinging devil mud at me, calling me a devil who kicks out devils, doesn’t the same mud stick to your own exorcists? But if it’s God’s finger I’m pointing that sends the demons on their way, then God’s kingdom is here for sure.
21-22 “When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons? Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered.
23 “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.
24-26 “When a corrupting spirit is expelled from someone, it drifts along through the desert looking for an oasis, some unsuspecting soul it can bedevil. When it doesn’t find anyone, it says, ‘I’ll go back to my old haunt.’ On return, it finds the person swept and dusted, but vacant. It then runs out and rounds up seven other spirits dirtier than itself and they all move in, whooping it up. That person ends up far worse than if he’d never gotten cleaned up in the first place.”
27 While he was saying these things, some woman lifted her voice above the murmur of the crowd: “Blessed the womb that carried you, and the breasts at which you nursed!”
28 Jesus commented, “Even more blessed are those who hear God’s Word and guard it with their lives!”
Keep Your Eyes Open
29-30 As the crowd swelled, he took a fresh tack: “The mood of this age is all wrong. Everybody’s looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you’re looking for is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. But the only proof you’re going to get is the Jonah-proof given to the Ninevites, which looks like no proof at all. What Jonah was to Nineveh, the Son of Man is to this age.
32,31 “On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ On Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that condemns this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’
33-36 “No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”
37-41 When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.
42 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.
43-44 “You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You love sitting at the head table at church dinners, love preening yourselves in the radiance of public flattery. Frauds! You’re just like unmarked graves: People walk over that nice, grassy surface, never suspecting the rot and corruption that is six feet under.”
45 One of the religion scholars spoke up: “Teacher, do you realize that in saying these things you’re insulting us?”
46 He said, “Yes, and I can be even more explicit. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help.
47-51 “You’re hopeless! You build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed. The tombs you build are monuments to your murdering ancestors more than to the murdered prophets. That accounts for God’s Wisdom saying, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, but they’ll kill them and run them off.’ What it means is that every drop of righteous blood ever spilled from the time earth began until now, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was struck down between altar and sanctuary, is on your heads. Yes, it’s on the bill of this generation and this generation will pay.
52 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.”
53-54 As soon as Jesus left the table, the religion scholars and Pharisees went into a rage. They went over and over everything he said, plotting how they could trap him in something from his own mouth.