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When these words of her older son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she called her younger son Jacob and said, “Your brother Esau is plotting vengeance against you. He’s going to kill you. Son, listen to me. Get out of here. Run for your life to Haran, to my brother Laban. Live with him for a while until your brother cools down, until his anger subsides and he forgets what you did to him. I’ll then send for you and bring you back. Why should I lose both of you the same day?”
Ehud approached him—the king was now quite alone in his cool rooftop room—and said, “I have a word of God for you.” Eglon stood up from his throne. Ehud reached with his left hand and took his sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s big belly. Not only the blade but the hilt went in. The fat closed in over it so he couldn’t pull it out. Ehud slipped out by way of the porch and shut and locked the doors of the rooftop room behind him. Then he was gone. When the servants came, they saw with surprise that the doors to the rooftop room were locked. They said, “He’s probably relieving himself in the restroom.”
But Gideon replied, “What have I done compared to you? Why, even the gleanings of Ephraim are superior to the vintage of Abiezer. God gave you Midian’s commanders, Oreb and Zeeb. What have I done compared with you?” When they heard this, they calmed down and cooled off.
[ Abimelech ] Gideon was hardly cool in the tomb when the People of Israel had gotten off track and were prostituting themselves to Baal—they made Baal-of-the-Covenant their god. The People of Israel forgot all about God, their God, who had saved them from all their enemies who had hemmed them in. And they didn’t keep faith with the family of Jerub-Baal (Gideon), honoring all the good he had done for Israel.
But despite Josiah, God’s hot anger did not cool; the raging anger ignited by Manasseh burned unchecked. And God, not swerving in his judgment, gave sentence: “I’ll remove Judah from my presence in the same way I removed Israel. I’ll turn my back on this city, Jerusalem, that I chose, and even from this Temple of which I said, ‘My Name lives here.’”
Later, when King Xerxes’ anger had cooled and he was having second thoughts about what Vashti had done and what he had ordered against her, the king’s young attendants stepped in and got the ball rolling: “Let’s begin a search for beautiful young virgins for the king. Let the king appoint officials in every province of his kingdom to bring every beautiful young virgin to the palace complex of Susa and to the harem run by Hegai, the king’s eunuch who oversees the women; he will put them through their beauty treatments. Then let the girl who best pleases the king be made queen in place of Vashti.” The king liked this advice and took it.
[ My So-Called Friends ] “When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them. But my brothers are fickle as a gulch in the desert— one day they’re gushing with water From melting ice and snow cascading out of the mountains, But by midsummer they’re dry, gullies baked dry in the sun. Travelers who spot them and go out of their way for a drink end up in a waterless gulch and die of thirst. Merchant caravans from Tema see them and expect water, tourists from Sheba hope for a cool drink. They arrive so confident—but what a disappointment! They get there, and their faces fall! And you, my so-called friends, are no better— there’s nothing to you! One look at a hard scene and you shrink in fear. It’s not as though I asked you for anything— I didn’t ask you for one red cent— Nor did I beg you to go out on a limb for me. So why all this dodging and shuffling?
[ If We Die, Will We Live Again? ] “We’re all adrift in the same boat: too few days, too many troubles. We spring up like wildflowers in the desert and then wilt, transient as the shadow of a cloud. Do you occupy your time with such fragile wisps? Why even bother hauling me into court? There’s nothing much to us to start with; how do you expect us to amount to anything? Mortals have a limited life span. You’ve already decided how long we’ll live— you set the boundary and no one can cross it. So why not give us a break? Ease up! Even ditchdiggers get occasional days off. For a tree there is always hope. Chop it down and it still has a chance— its roots can put out fresh sprouts. Even if its roots are old and gnarled, its stump long dormant, At the first whiff of water it comes to life, buds and grows like a sapling. But men and women? They die and stay dead. They breathe their last, and that’s it. Like lakes and rivers that have dried up, parched reminders of what once was, So mortals lie down and never get up, never wake up again—never. Why don’t you just bury me alive, get me out of the way until your anger cools? But don’t leave me there! Set a date when you’ll see me again. If we humans die, will we live again? That’s my question. All through these difficult days I keep hoping, waiting for the final change—for resurrection! Homesick with longing for the creature you made, you’ll call—and I’ll answer! You’ll watch over every step I take, but you won’t keep track of my missteps. My sins will be stuffed in a sack and thrown into the sea—sunk in deep ocean.
“They savor evil as a delicacy, roll it around on their tongues, Prolong the flavor, a dalliance in decadence— real gourmets of evil! But then they get stomach cramps, a bad case of food poisoning. They gag on all that rich food; God makes them vomit it up. They gorge on evil, make a diet of that poison— a deadly diet—and it kills them. No quiet picnics for them beside gentle streams with fresh-baked bread and cheese, and tall, cool drinks. They spit out their food half-chewed, unable to relax and enjoy anything they’ve worked for. And why? Because they exploited the poor, took what never belonged to them.
[ A Terrible Beauty Streams from God ] “Job, are you listening? Have you noticed all this? Stop in your tracks! Take in God’s miracle-wonders! Do you have any idea how God does it all, how he makes bright lightning from dark storms, How he piles up the cumulus clouds— all these miracle-wonders of a perfect Mind? Why, you don’t even know how to keep cool on a sweltering hot day, So how could you even dream of making a dent in that hot-tin-roof sky?
“Look at the land beast, Behemoth. I created him as well as you. Grazing on grass, docile as a cow— Just look at the strength of his back, the powerful muscles of his belly. His tail sways like a cedar in the wind; his huge legs are like beech trees. His skeleton is made of steel, every bone in his body hard as steel. Most magnificent of all my creatures, but I still lead him around like a lamb! The grass-covered hills serve him meals, while field mice frolic in his shadow. He takes afternoon naps under shade trees, cools himself in the reedy swamps, Lazily cool in the leafy shadows as the breeze moves through the willows. And when the river rages he doesn’t budge, stolid and unperturbed even when the Jordan goes wild. But you’d never want him for a pet— you’d never be able to housebreak him!”
River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city, this sacred haunt of the Most High. God lives here, the streets are safe, God at your service from crack of dawn. Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten, but Earth does anything he says.
How long do we have to put up with this, God? Do you have it in for us for good? Will your smoldering rage never cool down? If you’re going to be angry, be angry with the pagans who care nothing about you, or your rival kingdoms who ignore you. They’re the ones who ruined Jacob, who wrecked and looted the place where he lived.
And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel; They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks, discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain! God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!
[ A Korah Psalm ] God, you smiled on your good earth! You brought good times back to Jacob! You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people, you put their sins far out of sight. You took back your sin-provoked threats, you cooled your hot, righteous anger.
Then Israel entered Egypt, Jacob immigrated to the Land of Ham. God gave his people lots of babies; soon their numbers alarmed their foes. He turned the Egyptians against his people; they abused and cheated God’s servants. Then he sent his servant Moses, and Aaron, whom he also chose. They worked marvels in that spiritual wasteland, miracles in the Land of Ham. He spoke, “Darkness!” and it turned dark— they couldn’t see what they were doing. He turned all their water to blood so that all their fish died; He made frogs swarm through the land, even into the king’s bedroom; He gave the word and flies swarmed, gnats filled the air. He substituted hail for rain, he stabbed their land with lightning; He wasted their vines and fig trees, smashed their groves of trees to splinters; With a word he brought in locusts, millions of locusts, armies of locusts; They consumed every blade of grass in the country and picked the ground clean of produce; He struck down every firstborn in the land, the first fruits of their virile powers. He led Israel out, their arms filled with loot, and not one among his tribes even stumbled. Egypt was glad to have them go— they were scared to death of them. God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day and a fire to light their way through the night; They prayed and he brought quail, filled them with the bread of heaven; He opened the rock and water poured out; it flowed like a river through that desert— All because he remembered his Covenant, his promise to Abraham, his servant.
After Israel left Egypt, the clan of Jacob left those barbarians behind; Judah became holy land for him, Israel the place of holy rule. Sea took one look and ran the other way; River Jordan turned around and ran off. The mountains turned playful and skipped like rams, the hills frolicked like spring lambs. What’s wrong with you, Sea, that you ran away? and you, River Jordan, that you turned and ran off? And mountains, why did you skip like rams? and you, hills, frolic like spring lambs? Tremble, Earth! You’re in the Lord’s presence! in the presence of Jacob’s God. He turned the rock into a pool of cool water, turned flint into fresh spring water.
The Message (MSG)

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

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