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Zechariah 7The Message (MSG)

“You’re Interested in Religion, I’m Interested in People”

On the fourth day of the ninth month, in the fourth year of the reign of King Darius, God’s Message again came to Zechariah.

2-3 The town of Bethel had sent a delegation headed by Sarezer and Regem-Melech to pray for God’s blessing and to confer with the priests of the Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, and also with the prophets. They posed this question: “Should we plan for a day of mourning and abstinence next August, the seventieth anniversary of Jerusalem’s fall, as we have been doing all these years?”

4-6 God-of-the-Angel-Armies gave me this Message for them, for all the people and for the priests: “When you held days of fasting every fifth and seventh month all these seventy years, were you doing it for me? And when you held feasts, was that for me? Hardly. You’re interested in religion, I’m interested in people.

7-10 “There’s nothing new to say on the subject. Don’t you still have the message of the earlier prophets from the time when Jerusalem was still a thriving, bustling city and the outlying countryside, the Negev and Shephelah, was populated? [This is the message that God gave Zechariah.] Well, the message hasn’t changed. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said then and says now:

“‘Treat one another justly.
Love your neighbors.
Be compassionate with each other.
Don’t take advantage of widows, orphans, visitors, and the poor.
Don’t plot and scheme against one another—that’s evil.’

11-13 “But did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God’s revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons preached by the earlier prophets by order of God-of-the-Angel-Armies. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn’t listen to a word he said.

13-14 “So [this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies said] if they won’t listen to me, I won’t listen to them. I scattered them to the four winds. They ended up strangers wherever they were. Their ‘promised land’ became a vacant lot—weeds and tin cans and thistles. Not a sign of life. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Zechariah 8The Message (MSG)

Rebuilding the Temple

1-2 And then these Messages from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“I am zealous for Zion—I care!
    I’m angry about Zion—I’m involved!”

God’s Message:

“I’ve come back to Zion,
    I’ve moved back to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem’s new names will be Truth City,
    and Mountain of God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
    and Mount Holiness.”

4-5 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“Old men and old women will come back to Jerusalem, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, move around safely with their canes—a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing—a good city to grow up in.”

A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“Do the problems of returning and rebuilding by just a few survivors seem too much? But is anything too much for me? Not if I have my say.”

7-8 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“I’ll collect my people from countries to the east and countries to the west. I’ll bring them back and move them into Jerusalem. They’ll be my people and I’ll be their God. I’ll stick with them and do right by them.”

9-10 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“Get a grip on things. Hold tight, you who are listening to what I say through the preaching of the prophets. The Temple of God-of-the-Angel-Armies has been reestablished. The Temple is being rebuilt. We’ve come through a hard time: You worked for a pittance and were lucky to get that; the streets were dangerous; you could never let down your guard; I had turned the world into an armed camp.

11-12 “But things have changed. I’m taking the side of my core of surviving people:

Sowing and harvesting will resume,
Vines will grow grapes,
Gardens will flourish,
Dew and rain will make everything green.

12-13 “My core survivors will get everything they need—and more. You’ve gotten a reputation as a bad-news people, you people of Judah and Israel, but I’m coming to save you. From now on, you’re the good-news people. Don’t be afraid. Keep a firm grip on what I’m doing.”

Keep Your Lives Simple and Honest

14-17 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“In the same way that I decided to punish you when your ancestors made me angry, and didn’t pull my punches, at this time I’ve decided to bless Jerusalem and the country of Judah. Don’t be afraid. And now here’s what I want you to do: Tell the truth, the whole truth, when you speak. Do the right thing by one another, both personally and in your courts. Don’t cook up plans to take unfair advantage of others. Don’t do or say what isn’t so. I hate all that stuff. Keep your lives simple and honest.” Decree of God.

18-19 Again I received a Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“The days of mourning set for the fourth, fifth, seventh, and tenth months will be turned into days of feasting for Judah—celebration and holiday. Embrace truth! Love peace!”

20-21 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“People and their leaders will come from all over to see what’s going on. The leaders will confer with one another: ‘Shouldn’t we try to get in on this? Get in on God’s blessings? Pray to God-of-the-Angel-Armies? What’s keeping us? Let’s go!’

22 “Lots of people, powerful nations—they’ll come to Jerusalem looking for what they can get from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, looking to get a blessing from God.”

23 A Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

“At that time, ten men speaking a variety of languages will grab the sleeve of one Jew, hold tight, and say, ‘Let us go with you. We’ve heard that God is with you.’”

The Message (MSG)

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

Zechariah 9The Message (MSG)

The Whole World Has Its Eyes on God

1-6 War Bulletin:

God’s Message challenges the country of Hadrach.
    It will settle on Damascus.
The whole world has its eyes on God.
    Israel isn’t the only one.
That includes Hamath at the border,
    and Tyre and Sidon, clever as they think they are.
Tyre has put together quite a kingdom for herself;
    she has stacked up silver like cordwood,
    piled gold high as haystacks.
But God will certainly bankrupt her;
    he will dump all that wealth into the ocean
    and burn up what’s left in a big fire.
Ashkelon will see it and panic,
    Gaza will wring its hands,
    Ekron will face a dead end.
Gaza’s king will die.
    Ashkelon will be emptied out,
    And a villain will take over in Ashdod.

6-8 “I’ll take proud Philistia down a peg:
    I’ll make him spit out his bloody booty
    and abandon his vile ways.”
What’s left will be all God’s—a core of survivors,
    a family brought together in Judah—
But enemies like Ekron will go the way of the Jebusites,
    into the dustbin of history.
“I will set up camp in my home country
    and defend it against invaders.
Nobody is going to hurt my people ever again.
    I’m keeping my eye on them.

A Humble King Riding a Donkey

9-10 “Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
    Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
    a good king who makes all things right,
    a humble king riding a donkey,
    a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
    no more war horses in Jerusalem,
    no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
    a peaceful rule worldwide,
    from the four winds to the seven seas.

11-13 “And you, because of my blood covenant with you,
    I’ll release your prisoners from their hopeless cells.
Come home, hope-filled prisoners!
    This very day I’m declaring a double bonus—
    everything you lost returned twice-over!
Judah is now my weapon, the bow I’ll pull,
    setting Ephraim as an arrow to the string.
I’ll wake up your sons, O Zion,
    to counter your sons, O Greece.
From now on
    people are my swords.”

14-17 Then God will come into view,
    his arrows flashing like lightning!
Master God will blast his trumpet
    and set out in a whirlwind.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies will protect them—
    all-out war,
The war to end all wars,
    no holds barred.
Their God will save the day. He’ll rescue them.
    They’ll become like sheep, gentle and soft,
Or like gemstones in a crown,
    catching all the colors of the sun.
Then how they’ll shine! shimmer! glow!
    the young men robust, the young women lovely!

The Message (MSG)

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

Luke 13The Message (MSG)

Unless You Turn to God

13 1-5 About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”

6-7 Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’

8-9 “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”

Healing on the Sabbath

10-13 He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.

14 The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath.”

15-16 But Jesus shot back, “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?”

17 When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.

The Way to God

18-19 Then he said, “How can I picture God’s kingdom for you? What kind of story can I use? It’s like a pine nut that a man plants in his front yard. It grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches, and eagles build nests in it.”

20-21 He tried again. “How can I picture God’s kingdom? It’s like yeast that a woman works into enough dough for three loaves of bread—and waits while the dough rises.”

22 He went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.

23-25 A bystander said, “Master, will only a few be saved?”

He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on my guest list.’

26-27 “You’ll protest, ‘But we’ve known you all our lives!’ only to be interrupted with his abrupt, ‘Your kind of knowing can hardly be called knowing. You don’t know the first thing about me.’

28-30 “That’s when you’ll find yourselves out in the cold, strangers to grace. You’ll watch Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets march into God’s kingdom. You’ll watch outsiders stream in from east, west, north, and south and sit down at the table of God’s kingdom. And all the time you’ll be outside looking in—and wondering what happened. This is the Great Reversal: the last in line put at the head of the line, and the so-called first ending up last.”

31 Just then some Pharisees came up and said, “Run for your life! Herod’s on the hunt. He’s out to kill you!”

32-35 Jesus said, “Tell that fox that I’ve no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I’m busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I’m wrapping things up. Besides, it’s not proper for a prophet to come to a bad end outside Jerusalem.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets,
        abuser of the messengers of God!
How often I’ve longed to gather your children,
        gather your children like a hen,
Her brood safe under her wings—
        but you refused and turned away!
And now it’s too late: You won’t see me again
        until the day you say,
    ‘Blessed is he
    who comes in
    the name of God.’”

The Message (MSG)

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

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