Zechariah 4The Message (MSG)
Fifth Vision: A Lampstand and Two Olive Trees
4 The Messenger-Angel again called me to attention. It was like being wakened out of deep sleep.
2-3 He said, “What do you see?”
I answered, “I see a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top. Seven lamps, each with seven spouts, are set on the bowl. And there are two olive trees, one on either side of the bowl.”
4 Then I asked the Messenger-Angel, “What does this mean, sir?”
5-7 The Messenger-Angel said, “Can’t you tell?”
“No, sir,” I said.
Then he said, “This is God’s Message to Zerubbabel: ‘You can’t force these things. They only come about through my Spirit,’ says God-of-the-Angel-Armies. ‘So, big mountain, who do you think you are? Next to Zerubbabel you’re nothing but a molehill. He’ll proceed to set the Cornerstone in place, accompanied by cheers: Yes! Yes! Do it!’”
8-10 After that, the Word of God came to me: “Zerubbabel started rebuilding this Temple and he will complete it. That will be your confirmation that God-of-the-Angel-Armies sent me to you. Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They’ll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!”
Going back to the vision, the Messenger-Angel said, “The seven lamps are the eyes of God probing the dark corners of the world like searchlights.”
11-12 And the two olive trees on either side of the lampstand?” I asked. “What’s the meaning of them? And while you’re at it, the two branches of the olive trees that feed oil to the lamps—what do they mean?”
13 He said, “You haven’t figured that out?”
I said, “No, sir.”
14 He said, “These are the two who stand beside the Master of the whole earth and supply golden lamp oil worldwide.”
Zechariah 5The Message (MSG)
Sixth Vision: The Flying Book
5 I looked up again and saw—surprise!—a book on the wing! A book flying!
2 The Messenger-Angel said to me, “What do you see now?”
I said, “I see a book flying, a huge book—thirty feet long and fifteen wide!”
3-4 He told me, “This book is the verdict going out worldwide against thieves and liars. The first half of the book disposes of everyone who steals; the second half takes care of everyone who lies. I launched it”—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—“and so it will fly into the house of every thief and every liar. It will land in each house and tear it down, timbers and stones.”
Seventh Vision: A Woman in a Basket
5 The Messenger-Angel appeared and said, “Look up. Tell me what you see.”
6 I said, “What in the world is that?”
He said, “This is a bushel basket on a journey. It holds the sin of everyone, everywhere.”
7 Then the lid made of lead was removed from the basket—and there was a woman sitting in it!
8 He said, “This is Miss Wicked.” He pushed her back down into the basket and clamped the lead lid over her.
9 Then I looked up and to my surprise saw two women flying. On outstretched wings they airlifted the bushel basket into the sky.
10 I said to the Messenger-Angel, “Where are they taking the bushel basket?”
11 He said, “East to the land of Shinar. They will build a garage to house it. When it’s finished, the basket will be stored there.”
Zechariah 6The Message (MSG)
Eighth Vision: Four Chariots
6 Once again I looked up—another strange sight! Four chariots charging out from between two mountains. The mountains were bronze.
2-3 The first chariot was drawn by red horses, the second chariot by black horses, the third chariot by white horses, and the fourth chariot by dappled horses. All the horses were powerful.
4 I asked the Messenger-Angel, “Sir, what’s the meaning here?”
5-7 The angel answered, “These are the four winds of heaven, which originate with the Master of the whole earth. The black horses are headed north with the white ones right after them. The dappled horses are headed south.” The powerful horses galloped out, bursting with energy, eager to patrol through the earth. The Messenger-Angel commanded: “On your way! Survey the earth!” and they were off in every direction.
8 Then he called to me and said, “Look at them go! The ones going north are conveying a sense of my Spirit, serene and secure. No more trouble from that direction.”
A Man Named Branch
9-12 Then this Message from God came to me: “Take up a collection from the exiles. Target Heldai, Tobiah, and Jedaiah. They’ve just arrived from Babylon. You’ll find them at the home of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Collect silver and gold from them and fashion crowns. Place one on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and give him this message:
12-13 “‘A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Be alert. We have a man here whose name is Branch. He will branch out from where he is and build the Temple of God. Yes, he’s the one. He’ll build the Temple of God. Then he’ll assume the role of royalty, take his place on the throne and rule—a priest sitting on the throne!—showing that king and priest can coexist in harmony.’
14 “The other crown will be in the Temple of God as a symbol of royalty, under the custodial care of Helem, Tobiah, Jedaiah, and Hen son of Zephaniah.
15 “People will come from faraway places to pitch in and rebuild the Temple of God. This will confirm that God-of-the-Angel-Armies did, in fact, send me to you. All this follows as you put your minds to a life of responsive obedience to the voice of your God.”
Psalm 87The Message (MSG)
A Korah Psalm
87 1-3 He founded Zion on the Holy Mountain—
4 I name them off, those among whom I’m famous:
5 The word’s getting out on Zion:
6 God registers their names in his book:
7 Singers and dancers give credit to Zion:
Luke 12The Message (MSG)
Can’t Hide Behind a Religious Mask
12 1-3 By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.
4-5 “I’m speaking to you as dear friends. Don’t be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.
6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.
8-9 “Stand up for me among the people you meet and the Son of Man will stand up for you before all God’s angels. But if you pretend you don’t know me, do you think I’ll defend you before God’s angels?
10 “If you bad-mouth the Son of Man out of misunderstanding or ignorance, that can be overlooked. But if you’re knowingly attacking God himself, taking aim at the Holy Spirit, that won’t be overlooked.
11-12 “When they drag you into their meeting places, or into police courts and before judges, don’t worry about defending yourselves—what you’ll say or how you’ll say it. The right words will be there. The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes.”
The Story of the Greedy Farmer
13 Someone out of the crowd said, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.”
14 He replied, “Mister, what makes you think it’s any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?”
15 Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”
16-19 Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’
20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’
21 “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”
Steep Yourself in God-Reality
22-24 He continued this subject with his disciples. “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.
25-28 “Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
29-32 “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
33-34 “Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
When the Master Shows Up
35-38 “Keep your shirts on; keep the lights on! Be like house servants waiting for their master to come back from his honeymoon, awake and ready to open the door when he arrives and knocks. Lucky the servants whom the master finds on watch! He’ll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them. It doesn’t matter what time of the night he arrives; they’re awake—and so blessed!
39-40 “You know that if the house owner had known what night the burglar was coming, he wouldn’t have stayed out late and left the place unlocked. So don’t you be slovenly and careless. Just when you don’t expect him, the Son of Man will show up.”
41 Peter said, “Master, are you telling this story just for us? Or is it for everybody?”
42-46 The Master said, “Let me ask you: Who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff to feed them well and on time? He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he’s doing his job. But if he says to himself, ‘The master is certainly taking his time,’ begins maltreating the servants and maids, throws parties for his friends, and gets drunk, the master will walk in when he least expects it, give him the thrashing of his life, and put him back in the kitchen peeling potatoes.
47-48 “The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed. But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he’ll get off with a slap on the hand. Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!
To Start a Fire
49-53 “I’ve come to start a fire on this earth—how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up—how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront! From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be—
Three against two,
54-56 Then he turned to the crowd: “When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, ‘Storm’s coming’—and you’re right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, ‘This’ll be a hot one’—and you’re right. Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.
57-59 “You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense, the kind you’d use if, while being taken to court, you decided to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you’d probably go to jail and pay every last penny of the fine. That’s the kind of decision I’m asking you to make.”