Today our passages are Isaiah 12:1–14:32; 2 Corinthians 13:1-14; Psalm 57:1-11; and Proverbs 23:9-11. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Isaiah 12-14:32 (The Message)
My Strength and Song1 And you will say in that day,
"I thank you, God.
You were angry
but your anger wasn't forever.
You withdrew your anger
and moved in and comforted me. 2"Yes, indeed—God is my salvation.
I trust, I won't be afraid.
God—yes God!—is my strength and song,
best of all, my salvation!"
3-4Joyfully you'll pull up buckets of water
from the wells of salvation.
And as you do it, you'll say,
"Give thanks to God.
Call out his name.
Ask him anything!
Shout to the nations, tell them what he's done,
spread the news of his great reputation!
5-6"Sing praise-songs to God. He's done it all!
Let the whole earth know what he's done!
Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion!
The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel."
Babylon Is Doomed!1 The Message on Babylon. Isaiah son of Amoz saw it: 2-3"Run up a flag on an open hill. Yell loud. Get their attention.
Wave them into formation.
Direct them to the nerve center of power.
I've taken charge of my special forces,
called up my crack troops.
They're bursting with pride and passion
to carry out my angry judgment." 4-5Thunder rolls off the mountains
like a mob huge and noisy—
Thunder of kingdoms in an uproar,
nations assembling for war.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies is calling
his army into battle formation.
They come from far-off countries,
they pour in across the horizon.
It's God on the move with the weapons of his wrath,
ready to destroy the whole country.
6-8Wail! God's Day of Judgment is near—
an avalanche crashing down from the Strong God!
Everyone paralyzed in the panic,
hysterical and unstrung,
Doubled up in pain
like a woman giving birth to a baby.
Horrified—everyone they see
is like a face out of a nightmare.
9-16"Watch now. God's Judgment Day comes.
Cruel it is, a day of wrath and anger,
A day to waste the earth
and clean out all the sinners.
The stars in the sky, the great parade of constellations,
will be nothing but black holes.
The sun will come up as a black disk,
and the moon a blank nothing.
I'll put a full stop to the evil on earth,
terminate the dark acts of the wicked.
I'll gag all braggarts and boasters—not a peep anymore from them—
and trip strutting tyrants, leave them flat on their faces.
Proud humanity will disappear from the earth.
I'll make mortals rarer than hens' teeth.
And yes, I'll even make the sky shake,
and the earth quake to its roots
Under the wrath of God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
the Judgment Day of his raging anger.
Like a hunted white-tailed deer,
like lost sheep with no shepherd,
People will huddle with a few of their own kind,
run off to some makeshift shelter.
But tough luck to stragglers—they'll be killed on the spot,
throats cut, bellies ripped open,
Babies smashed on the rocks
while mothers and fathers watch,
17-22"And now watch this:
Against Babylon, I'm inciting the Medes,
A ruthless bunch indifferent to bribes,
the kind of brutality that no one can blunt.
They massacre the young,
wantonly kick and kill even babies.
And Babylon, most glorious of all kingdoms,
the pride and joy of Chaldeans,
Will end up smoking and stinking like Sodom,
and, yes, like Gomorrah, when God had finished with them.
No one will live there anymore,
generation after generation a ghost town.
Not even Bedouins will pitch tents there.
Shepherds will give it a wide berth.
But strange and wild animals will like it just fine,
filling the vacant houses with eerie night sounds.
Skunks will make it their home,
and unspeakable night hags will haunt it.
Hyenas will curdle your blood with their laughing,
and the howling of coyotes will give you the shivers.
"Babylon is doomed.
It won't be long now."
Now You Are Nothing1-2 But not so with Jacob. God will have compassion on Jacob. Once again he'll choose Israel. He'll establish them in their own country. Outsiders will be attracted and throw their lot in with Jacob. The nations among whom they lived will actually escort them back home, and then Israel will pay them back by making slaves of them, men and women alike, possessing them as slaves in God's country, capturing those who had captured them, ruling over those who had abused them. 3-4When God has given you time to recover from the abuse and trouble and harsh servitude that you had to endure, you can amuse yourselves by taking up this satire, a taunt against the king of Babylon:
4-6Can you believe it? The tyrant is gone!
The tyranny is over!
God has broken the rule of the wicked,
the power of the bully-rulers
That crushed many people.
A relentless rain of cruel outrage
Established a violent rule of anger
rife with torture and persecution.
7-10And now it's over, the whole earth quietly at rest.
Burst into song! Make the rafters ring!
Ponderosa pine trees are happy,
giant Lebanon cedars are relieved, saying,
"Since you've been cut down,
there's no one around to cut us down."
And the underworld dead are all excited,
preparing to welcome you when you come.
Getting ready to greet you are the ghostly dead,
all the famous names of earth.
All the buried kings of the nations
will stand up on their thrones
With well-prepared speeches,
royal invitations to death:
"Now you are as nothing as we are!
Make yourselves at home with us dead folks!"
11This is where your pomp and fine music led you, Babylon,
to your underworld private chambers,
A king-size mattress of maggots for repose
and a quilt of crawling worms for warmth.
12What a comedown this, O Babylon!
Daystar! Son of Dawn!
Flat on your face in the underworld mud,
you, famous for flattening nations!
13-14You said to yourself,
"I'll climb to heaven.
I'll set my throne
over the stars of God.
I'll run the assembly of angels
that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon.
I'll climb to the top of the clouds.
I'll take over as King of the Universe!"
15-17But you didn't make it, did you?
Instead of climbing up, you came down—
Down with the underground dead,
down to the abyss of the Pit.
People will stare and muse:
"Can this be the one
Who terrorized earth and its kingdoms,
turned earth to a moonscape,
Wasted its cities,
shut up his prisoners to a living death?"
18-20Other kings get a decent burial,
honored with eulogies and placed in a tomb.
But you're dumped in a ditch unburied,
like a stray dog or cat,
Covered with rotting bodies,
murdered and indigent corpses.
Your dead body desecrated, mutilated—
no state funeral for you!
You've left your land in ruins,
left a legacy of massacre.
The progeny of your evil life
will never be named. Oblivion!
21Get a place ready to slaughter the sons of the wicked
and wipe out their father's line.
Unthinkable that they should own a square foot of land
or desecrate the face of the world with their cities!
22-23"I will confront them"—Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies—"and strip Babylon of name and survivors, children and grandchildren." God's Decree. "I'll make it a worthless swamp and give it as a prize to the hedgehog. And then I'll bulldoze it out of existence." Decree of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
Who Could Ever Cancel Such Plans?24-27God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks: "Exactly as I planned,
it will happen.
Following my blueprints,
it will take shape.
I will shatter the Assyrian who trespasses my land
and stomp him into the dirt on my mountains.
I will ban his taking and making of slaves
and lift the weight of oppression from all shoulders."
This is the plan,
planned for the whole earth,
And this is the hand that will do it,
reaching into every nation.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies has planned it.
Who could ever cancel such plans?
His is the hand that's reached out.
Who could brush it aside?
28-31In the year King Ahaz died, this Message came:
Hold it, Philistines! It's too soon to celebrate
the defeat of your cruel oppressor.
From the death throes of that snake a worse snake will come,
and from that, one even worse.
The poor won't have to worry.
The needy will escape the terror.
But you Philistines will be plunged into famine,
and those who don't starve, God will kill.
Wail and howl, proud city!
Fall prostrate in fear, Philistia!
On the northern horizon, smoke from burned cities,
the wake of a brutal, disciplined destroyer.
32What does one say to
outsiders who ask questions?
Tell them, "God has established Zion.
Those in need and in trouble find refuge in her."
2 Corinthians 13:1-14 (The Message)
2 Corinthians 13
He's Alive Now!1-4Well, this is my third visit coming up. Remember the Scripture that says, "A matter becomes clear after two or three witnesses give evidence"? On my second visit I warned that bunch that keeps sinning over and over in the same old ways that when I came back I wouldn't go easy on them. Now, preparing for the third, I'm saying it again from a distance. If you haven't changed your ways by the time I get there, look out. You who have been demanding proof that Christ speaks through me will get more than you bargained for. You'll get the full force of Christ, don't think you won't. He was sheer weakness and humiliation when he was killed on the cross, but oh, he's alive now—in the mighty power of God! We weren't much to look at, either, when we were humiliated among you, but when we deal with you this next time, we'll be alive in Christ, strengthened by God. 5-9Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won't show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we'd rather the test showed our failure than yours. We're rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn't possibly do otherwise.
We don't just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.
10I'm writing this to you now so that when I come I won't have to say another word on the subject. The authority the Master gave me is for putting people together, not taking them apart. I want to get on with it, and not have to spend time on reprimands.
11-13And that's about it, friends. Be cheerful. Keep things in good repair. Keep your spirits up. Think in harmony. Be agreeable. Do all that, and the God of love and peace will be with you for sure. Greet one another with a holy embrace. All the brothers and sisters here say hello.
14The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.
Psalm 57:1-11 (The Message)
A David Psalm, When He Hid in a Cave from Saul1-3 Be good to me, God—and now! I've run to you for dear life.
I'm hiding out under your wings
until the hurricane blows over.
I call out to High God,
the God who holds me together.
He sends orders from heaven and saves me,
he humiliates those who kick me around.
God delivers generous love,
he makes good on his word.
4 I find myself in a pride of lions
who are wild for a taste of human flesh;
Their teeth are lances and arrows,
their tongues are sharp daggers.
5 Soar high in the skies, O God!
Cover the whole earth with your glory!
6 They booby-trapped my path;
I thought I was dead and done for.
They dug a mantrap to catch me,
and fell in headlong themselves.
7-8 I'm ready, God, so ready,
ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
"Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp! wake up, lute!
Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!"
9-10 I'm thanking you, God, out loud in the streets,
singing your praises in town and country.
The deeper your love, the higher it goes;
every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.
11 Soar high in the skies, O God!
Cover the whole earth with your glory!
Proverbs 23:9-11 (The Message)
99 Don't bother talking sense to fools;
they'll only poke fun at your words.
1010-11 Don't stealthily move back the boundary lines
or cheat orphans out of their property,
For they have a powerful Advocate
who will go to bat for them.
Verse of the Day
Dainzin Gyaco, the thirteenth Dalai Lama, wrote, “In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.”