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Zechariah 10The Message (MSG)

God’s Work of Rebuilding

10 Pray to God for rain—it’s time for the spring rain—
    to God, the rainmaker,
Spring thunderstorm maker,
    maker of grain and barley.

2-3 “Store-bought gods babble gibberish.
    Religious experts spout rubbish.
They pontificate hot air.
    Their prescriptions are nothing but smoke.
And so the people wander like lost sheep,
    poor lost sheep without a shepherd.
I’m furious with the so-called shepherds.
    They’re worse than billy goats, and I’ll treat them like goats.”

3-5 God-of-the-Angel-Armies will step in
    and take care of his flock, the people of Judah.
He’ll revive their spirits,
    make them proud to be on God’s side.
God will use them in his work of rebuilding,
    use them as foundations and pillars,
Use them as tools and instruments,
    use them to oversee his work.
They’ll be a workforce to be proud of, working as one,
    their heads held high, striding through swamps and mud,
Courageous and vigorous because God is with them,
    undeterred by the world’s thugs.

6-12 “I’ll put muscle in the people of Judah;
    I’ll save the people of Joseph.
I know their pain and will make them good as new.
    They’ll get a fresh start, as if nothing had ever happened.
And why? Because I am their very own God,
    I’ll do what needs to be done for them.
The people of Ephraim will be famous,
    their lives brimming with joy.
Their children will get in on it, too—
    oh, let them feel blessed by God!
I’ll whistle and they’ll all come running.
    I’ve set them free—oh, how they’ll flourish!
Even though I scattered them to the far corners of earth,
    they’ll remember me in the faraway places.
They’ll keep the story alive in their children,
    and they will come back.
I’ll bring them back from the Egyptian west
    and round them up from the Assyrian east.
I’ll bring them back to sweet Gilead,
    back to leafy Lebanon.
Every square foot of land
    will be marked by homecoming.
They’ll sail through troubled seas, brush aside brash ocean waves.
    Roaring rivers will turn to a trickle.
Gaudy Assyria will be stripped bare,
    bully Egypt exposed as a fraud.
But my people—oh, I’ll make them strong, God-strong!
    and they’ll live my way.” God says so!

The Message (MSG)

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

Zechariah 11The Message (MSG)

11 1-4 Open your borders to the immigrants, proud Lebanon!
    Your sentinel trees will burn.
Weep, great pine trees! Mourn, you sister cedars!
    Your towering trees are cordwood.
Weep Bashan oak trees!
    Your thick forest is now a field of stumps.
Do you hear the wailing of shepherds?
    They’ve lost everything they once owned.
Do you hear the outrage of the lions?
    The mighty jungle of the Jordan is wasted.
Make room for the returning exiles!

Breaking the Beautiful Covenant

4-5 God commanded me, “Shepherd the sheep that are soon to be slaughtered. The people who buy them will butcher them for quick and easy money. What’s worse, they’ll get away with it. The people who sell them will say, ‘Lucky me! God’s on my side; I’ve got it made!’ They have shepherds who couldn’t care less about them.”

God’s Decree: “I’m washing my hands of the people of this land. From now on they’re all on their own. It’s dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest, and the devil take the hindmost. Don’t look for help from me.”

7-8 So I took over from the crass, money-grubbing owners, and shepherded the sheep marked for slaughter. I got myself two shepherd staffs. I named one Lovely and the other Harmony. Then I went to work shepherding the sheep. Within a month I got rid of the corrupt shepherds. I got tired of putting up with them—and they couldn’t stand me.

And then I got tired of the sheep and said, “I’ve had it with you—no more shepherding from me. If you die, you die; if you’re attacked, you’re attacked. Whoever survives can eat what’s left.”

10-11 Then I took the staff named Lovely and broke it across my knee, breaking the beautiful covenant I had made with all the peoples. In one stroke, both staff and covenant were broken. The money-hungry owners saw me do it and knew God was behind it.

12 Then I addressed them: “Pay me what you think I’m worth.” They paid me an insulting sum, counting out thirty silver coins.

13 God told me, “Throw it in the poor box.” This stingy wage was all they thought of me and my work! So I took the thirty silver coins and threw them into the poor box in God’s Temple.

14 Then I broke the other staff, Harmony, across my knee, breaking the concord between Judah and Israel.

15-16 God then said, “Dress up like a stupid shepherd. I’m going to install just such a shepherd in this land—a shepherd indifferent to victims, who ignores the lost, abandons the injured, and disdains decent citizens. He’ll only be in it for what he can get out of it, using and abusing any and all.

17 “Doom to you, useless shepherd,
    walking off and leaving the sheep!
A curse on your arm!
    A curse on your right eye!
Your arm will hang limp and useless.
    Your right eye will go stone blind.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Zechariah 12The Message (MSG)

Home Again in Jerusalem

12 1-2 War Bulletin:

God’s Message concerning Israel, God’s Decree—the very God who threw the skies into space, set earth on a firm foundation, and breathed his own life into men and women: “Watch for this: I’m about to turn Jerusalem into a cup of strong drink that will have the people who have set siege to Judah and Jerusalem staggering in a drunken stupor.

“On the Big Day, I’ll turn Jerusalem into a huge stone blocking the way for everyone. All who try to lift it will rupture themselves. All the pagan nations will come together and try to get rid of it.

4-5 “On the Big Day”—this is God speaking—“I’ll throw all the war horses into a crazed panic, and their riders along with them. But I’ll keep my eye on Judah, watching out for her at the same time that I make the enemy horses go blind. The families of Judah will then realize, ‘Why, our leaders are strong and able through God-of-the-Angel-Armies, their personal God.’

“On the Big Day, I’ll turn the families of Judah into something like a burning match in a tinder-dry forest, like a fiercely flaming torch in a barn full of hay. They’ll burn up everything and everyone in sight—people to the right, people to the left—while Jerusalem fills up with people moving in and making themselves at home—home again in Jerusalem.

7-8 “I, God, will begin by restoring the common households of Judah so that the glory of David’s family and the leaders in Jerusalem won’t overshadow the ordinary people in Judah. On the Big Day, I’ll look after everyone who lives in Jerusalem so that the lowliest, weakest person will be as glorious as David and the family of David itself will be godlike, like the Angel of God leading the people.

“On the Big Day, I’ll make a clean sweep of all the godless nations that fought against Jerusalem.

10-14 “Next I’ll deal with the family of David and those who live in Jerusalem. I’ll pour a spirit of grace and prayer over them. They’ll then be able to recognize me as the One they so grievously wounded—that piercing spear-thrust! And they’ll weep—oh, how they’ll weep! Deep mourning as of a parent grieving the loss of the firstborn child. The lamentation in Jerusalem that day will be massive, as famous as the lamentation over Hadad-Rimmon on the fields of Megiddo:

Everyone will weep and grieve,
    the land and everyone in it:
The family of David off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
The family of Nathan off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
The family of Levi off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
The family of Shimei off by itself
    and their women off by themselves;
And all the rest of the families off by themselves
    and their women off by themselves.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 126The Message (MSG)

A Pilgrim Song

126 1-3 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
    when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
    we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
    God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
    we are one happy people.

4-6 And now, God, do it again—
    bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
    will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
So those who went off with heavy hearts
    will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

The Message (MSG)

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

Luke 14The Message (MSG)

14 1-3 One time when Jesus went for a Sabbath meal with one of the top leaders of the Pharisees, all the guests had their eyes on him, watching his every move. Right before him there was a man hugely swollen in his joints. So Jesus asked the religion scholars and Pharisees present, “Is it permitted to heal on the Sabbath? Yes or no?”

4-6 They were silent. So he took the man, healed him, and sent him on his way. Then he said, “Is there anyone here who, if a child or animal fell down a well, wouldn’t rush to pull him out immediately, not asking whether or not it was the Sabbath?” They were stumped. There was nothing they could say to that.

Invite the Misfits

7-9 He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, “When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody, ‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’ Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.

10-11 “When you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, ‘Friend, come up to the front.’ That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”

12-14 Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”

The Story of the Dinner Party

15 That triggered a response from one of the guests: “How fortunate the one who gets to eat dinner in God’s kingdom!”

16-17 Jesus followed up. “Yes. For there was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, ‘Come on in; the food’s on the table.’

18 “Then they all began to beg off, one after another making excuses. The first said, ‘I bought a piece of property and need to look it over. Send my regrets.’

19 “Another said, ‘I just bought five teams of oxen, and I really need to check them out. Send my regrets.’

20 “And yet another said, ‘I just got married and need to get home to my wife.’

21 “The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant, ‘Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on, and bring them here.’

22 “The servant reported back, ‘Master, I did what you commanded—and there’s still room.’

23-24 “The master said, ‘Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full! Let me tell you, not one of those originally invited is going to get so much as a bite at my dinner party.’”

Figure the Cost

25-27 One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self!—can’t be my disciple. Anyone who won’t shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can’t be my disciple.

28-30 “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun at you: ‘He started something he couldn’t finish.’

31-32 “Or can you imagine a king going into battle against another king without first deciding whether it is possible with his ten thousand troops to face the twenty thousand troops of the other? And if he decides he can’t, won’t he send an emissary and work out a truce?

33 “Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it good-bye, you can’t be my disciple.

34 “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

The Message (MSG)

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

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