Today our passages are Joel 1:1–3:21; Revelation 1:1-20; Psalm 128:1-6; and Proverbs 29:18. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
Joel 1-3:21 (The Message)
Get in Touch with Reality—and Weep!1-3 God's Message to Joel son of Pethuel: Attention, elder statesmen! Listen closely,
everyone, whoever and wherever you are!
Have you ever heard of anything like this?
Has anything like this ever happened before—ever?
Make sure you tell your children,
and your children tell their children,
And their children their children.
Don't let this message die out.
4What the chewing locust left,
the gobbling locust ate;
What the gobbling locust left,
the munching locust ate;
What the munching locust left,
the chomping locust ate.
5-7Sober up, you drunks!
Get in touch with reality—and weep!
Your supply of booze is cut off.
You're on the wagon, like it or not.
My country's being invaded
by an army invincible, past numbering,
Teeth like those of a lion,
fangs like those of a tiger.
It has ruined my vineyards,
stripped my orchards,
And clear-cut the country.
The landscape's a moonscape.
8-10Weep like a young virgin dressed in black,
mourning the loss of her fiancé.
Without grain and grapes,
worship has been brought to a standstill
in the Sanctuary of God.
The priests are at a loss.
God's ministers don't know what to do.
The fields are sterile.
The very ground grieves.
The wheat fields are lifeless,
vineyards dried up, olive oil gone.
11-12Dirt farmers, despair!
Grape growers, wring your hands!
Lament the loss of wheat and barley.
All crops have failed.
Vineyards dried up,
fig trees withered,
Pomegranates, date palms, and apple trees—
And joy is dried up and withered
in the hearts of the people.
Nothing's Going On in the Place of Worship13-14 And also you priests,
put on your robes and join the outcry.
You who lead people in worship,
lead them in lament.
Spend the night dressed in gunnysacks,
you servants of my God.
Nothing's going on in the place of worship,
no offerings, no prayers—nothing.
Declare a holy fast, call a special meeting,
get the leaders together,
Round up everyone in the country.
Get them into God's Sanctuary for serious prayer to God. 15-18What a day! Doomsday!
God's Judgment Day has come.
The Strong God has arrived.
This is serious business!
Food is just a memory at our tables,
as are joy and singing from God's Sanctuary.
The seeds in the field are dead,
Grain silos abandoned.
Who needs them? The crops have failed!
The farm animals groan—oh, how they groan!
The cattle mill around.
There's nothing for them to eat.
Not even the sheep find anything.
19-20God! I pray, I cry out to you!
The fields are burning up,
The country is a dust bowl,
forest and prairie fires rage unchecked.
Wild animals, dying of thirst,
look to you for a drink.
Springs and streams are dried up.
The whole country is burning up.
The Locust Army1-3 Blow the ram's horn trumpet in Zion! Trumpet the alarm on my holy mountain!
Shake the country up!
God's Judgment's on its way—the Day's almost here!
A black day! A Doomsday!
Clouds with no silver lining!
Like dawn light moving over the mountains,
a huge army is coming.
There's never been anything like it
and never will be again.
Wildfire burns everything before this army
and fire licks up everything in its wake.
Before it arrives, the country is like the Garden of Eden.
When it leaves, it is Death Valley.
Nothing escapes unscathed. 4-6The locust army seems all horses—
galloping horses, an army of horses.
It sounds like thunder
leaping on mountain ridges,
Or like the roar of wildfire
through grass and brush,
Or like an invincible army shouting for blood,
ready to fight, straining at the bit.
At the sight of this army,
the people panic, faces white with terror.
7-11The invaders charge.
They climb barricades. Nothing stops them.
Each soldier does what he's told,
so disciplined, so determined.
They don't get in each other's way.
Each one knows his job and does it.
Undaunted and fearless,
They storm the city,
swarm its defenses,
Loot the houses,
breaking down doors, smashing windows.
They arrive like an earthquake,
sweep through like a tornado.
Sun and moon turn out their lights,
stars black out.
God himself bellows in thunder
as he commands his forces.
Look at the size of that army!
And the strength of those who obey him!
God's Judgment Day—great and terrible.
Who can possibly survive this?
Change Your Life12 But there's also this, it's not too late—
God's personal Message!—
"Come back to me and really mean it!
Come fasting and weeping, sorry for your sins!" 13-14Change your life, not just your clothes.
Come back to God, your God.
And here's why: God is kind and merciful.
He takes a deep breath, puts up with a lot,
This most patient God, extravagant in love,
always ready to cancel catastrophe.
Who knows? Maybe he'll do it now,
maybe he'll turn around and show pity.
Maybe, when all's said and done,
there'll be blessings full and robust for your God!
15-17 Blow the ram's horn trumpet in Zion!
Declare a day of repentance, a holy fast day.
Call a public meeting.
Get everyone there. Consecrate the congregation.
Make sure the elders come,
but bring in the children, too, even the nursing babies,
Even men and women on their honeymoon—
interrupt them and get them there.
Between Sanctuary entrance and altar,
let the priests, God's servants, weep tears of repentance.
Let them intercede: "Have mercy, God, on your people!
Don't abandon your heritage to contempt.
Don't let the pagans take over and rule them
and sneer, 'And so where is this God of theirs?'"
18-20 At that, God went into action to get his land back.
He took pity on his people.
God answered and spoke to his people,
"Look, listen—I'm sending a gift:
Grain and wine and olive oil.
The fast is over—eat your fill!
I won't expose you any longer
to contempt among the pagans.
I'll head off the final enemy coming out of the north
and dump them in a wasteland.
Half of them will end up in the Dead Sea,
the other half in the Mediterranean.
There they'll rot, a stench to high heaven.
The bigger the enemy, the stronger the stench!"
The Trees Are Bearing Fruit Again21-24 Fear not, Earth! Be glad and celebrate!
God has done great things.
Fear not, wild animals!
The fields and meadows are greening up.
The trees are bearing fruit again:
a bumper crop of fig trees and vines!
Children of Zion, celebrate!
Be glad in your God.
He's giving you a teacher
to train you how to live right—
Teaching, like rain out of heaven, showers of words
to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do.
And plenty of food for your body—silos full of grain,
casks of wine and barrels of olive oil. 25-27 "I'll make up for the years of the locust,
the great locust devastation—
Locusts savage, locusts deadly,
fierce locusts, locusts of doom,
That great locust invasion
I sent your way.
You'll eat your fill of good food.
You'll be full of praises to your God,
The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder.
Never again will my people be despised.
You'll know without question
that I'm in the thick of life with Israel,
That I'm your God, yes, your God,
the one and only real God.
Never again will my people be despised.
The Sun Turning Black and the Moon Blood-Red28-32 "And that's just the beginning: After that— "I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters.
Your old men will dream,
your young men will see visions.
I'll even pour out my Spirit on the servants,
men and women both.
I'll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below:
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Judgment Day of God,
the Day tremendous and awesome.
Whoever calls, 'Help, God!'
On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
there will be a great rescue—just as God said.
Included in the survivors
are those that God calls."
God Is a Safe Hiding Place1-3 "In those days, yes, at that very time when I put life back together again for Judah and Jerusalem,
I'll assemble all the godless nations.
I'll lead them down into Judgment Valley
And put them all on trial, and judge them one and all
because of their treatment of my own people Israel.
They scattered my people all over the pagan world
and grabbed my land for themselves.
They threw dice for my people
and used them for barter.
They would trade a boy for a whore,
sell a girl for a bottle of wine when they wanted a drink. 4-8 "As for you, Tyre and Sidon and Philistia,
why should I bother with you?
Are you trying to get back at me
for something I did to you?
If you are, forget it.
I'll see to it that it boomerangs on you.
You robbed me, cleaned me out of silver and gold,
carted off everything valuable to furnish your own temples.
You sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem
into slavery to the Greeks in faraway places.
But I'm going to reverse your crime.
I'm going to free those slaves.
I'll have done to you what you did to them:
I'll sell your children as slaves to your neighbors,
And they'll sell them to the far-off Sabeans."
9-11 Announce this to the godless nations:
Prepare for battle!
Soldiers at attention!
Present arms! Advance!
Turn your shovels into swords,
turn your hoes into spears.
Let the weak one throw out his chest
and say, "I'm tough, I'm a fighter."
Hurry up, pagans! Wherever you are, get a move on!
Get your act together.
Prepare to be
shattered by God!
12Let the pagan nations set out
for Judgment Valley.
There I'll take my place at the bench
and judge all the surrounding nations.
13"Swing the sickle—
the harvest is ready.
Stomp on the grapes—
the winepress is full.
The wine vats are full,
overflowing with vintage evil.
14"Mass confusion, mob uproar—
in Decision Valley!
God's Judgment Day has arrived
in Decision Valley.
15-17"The sky turns black,
sun and moon go dark, stars burn out.
God roars from Zion, shouts from Jerusalem.
Earth and sky quake in terror.
But God is a safe hiding place,
a granite safe house for the children of Israel.
Then you'll know for sure
that I'm your God,
Living in Zion,
my sacred mountain.
Jerusalem will be a sacred city,
posted: 'no trespassing.'
Milk Rivering Out of the Hills18-21 "What a day!
Wine streaming off the mountains,
Milk rivering out of the hills,
water flowing everywhere in Judah,
A fountain pouring out of God's Sanctuary,
watering all the parks and gardens!
But Egypt will be reduced to weeds in a vacant lot,
Edom turned into barren badlands,
All because of brutalities to the Judean people,
the atrocities and murders of helpless innocents.
Meanwhile, Judah will be filled with people,
Jerusalem inhabited forever.
The sins I haven't already forgiven, I'll forgive."
God has moved into Zion for good.
Revelation 1:1-20 (The Message)
Revelation 11-2A revealing of Jesus, the Messiah. God gave it to make plain to his servants what is about to happen. He published and delivered it by Angel to his servant John. And John told everything he saw: God's Word— the witness of Jesus Christ! 3How blessed the reader! How blessed the hearers and keepers of these oracle words, all the words written in this book!
Time is just about up.
His Eyes Pouring Fire-Blaze4-7I, John, am writing this to the seven churches in Asia province: All the best to you from The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive, and from the Seven Spirits assembled before his throne, and from Jesus Christ—Loyal Witness, Firstborn from the dead, Ruler of all earthly kings.
Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us,
who blood-washed our sins from our lives,
Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father,
forever—and yes, he's on his way!
Riding the clouds, he'll be seen by every eye,
those who mocked and killed him will see him,
People from all nations and all times
will tear their clothes in lament.
Oh, Yes. 8The Master declares, "I'm A to Z. I'm The God Who Is, The God Who Was, and The God About to Arrive. I'm the Sovereign-Strong."
9-17I, John, with you all the way in the trial and the Kingdom and the passion of patience in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of God's Word, the witness of Jesus. It was Sunday and I was in the Spirit, praying. I heard a loud voice behind me, trumpet-clear and piercing: "Write what you see into a book. Send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea." I turned and saw the voice.
I saw a gold menorah
with seven branches,
And in the center, the Son of Man,
in a robe and gold breastplate,
hair a blizzard of white,
Eyes pouring fire-blaze,
both feet furnace-fired bronze,
His voice a cataract,
right hand holding the Seven Stars,
His mouth a sharp-biting sword,
his face a perigee sun.
I saw this and fainted dead at his feet. His right hand pulled me upright, his voice reassured me:
17-20"Don't fear: I am First, I am Last, I'm Alive. I died, but I came to life, and my life is now forever. See these keys in my hand? They open and lock Death's doors, they open and lock Hell's gates. Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be. The Seven Stars you saw in my right hand and the seven-branched gold menorah—do you want to know what's behind them? The Seven Stars are the Angels of the seven churches; the menorah's seven branches are the seven churches."
Psalm 128:1-6 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song1-2 All you who fear God, how blessed you are! how happily you walk on his smooth straight road!
You worked hard and deserve all you've got coming.
Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness!
3-4 Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes,
your household lush as a vineyard,
The children around your table
as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.
Stand in awe of God's Yes.
Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!
5-6 Enjoy the good life in Jerusalem
every day of your life.
And enjoy your grandchildren.
Peace to Israel!
Proverbs 29:18 (The Message)
18 If people can't see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.
Verse of the Day
“I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me. When you become fruitful disciples of mine, my Father will be honored.” - John 15:5,8
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher, Thomas Carlyle wrote, “He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.”