Today our passages are Jeremiah 51:1-53; Titus 2:1-15; Psalm 99:1-9; and Proverbs 26:17. 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 by using the link below.
Jeremiah 51:1-53 (The Message)
Hurricane Persia1-5There's more. God says more: "Watch this:
I'm whipping up
A death-dealing hurricane against Babylon—'Hurricane Persia'—
against all who live in that perverse land.
I'm sending a cleanup crew into Babylon.
They'll clean the place out from top to bottom.
When they get through there'll be nothing left of her
worth taking or talking about.
They won't miss a thing.
A total and final Doomsday!
Fighters will fight with everything they've got.
They will spare nothing and no one.
It's final and wholesale destruction—the end!
Babylon littered with the wounded,
streets piled with corpses.
It turns out that Israel and Judah
are not widowed after all.
As their God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, I am still alive and well,
committed to them even though
They filled their land with sin
against Israel's most Holy God. 6-8"Get out of Babylon as fast as you can.
Run for your lives! Save your necks!
Don't linger and lose your lives to my vengeance on her
as I pay her back for her sins.
Babylon was a fancy gold chalice
held in my hand,
Filled with the wine of my anger
to make the whole world drunk.
The nations drank the wine
and they've all gone crazy.
Babylon herself will stagger and crash,
senseless in a drunken stupor—tragic!
Get anointing balm for her wound.
Maybe she can be cured."
9"We did our best, but she can't be helped.
Babylon is past fixing.
Give her up to her fate.
The judgment on her will be vast,
a skyscraper-memorial of vengeance.
Your Lifeline Is Cut10"God has set everything right for us.
Come! Let's tell the good news
Back home in Zion.
Let's tell what our God did to set things right. 11-13"Sharpen the arrows!
Fill the quivers!
God has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
infecting them with war fever: 'Destroy Babylon!'
God's on the warpath.
He's out to avenge his Temple.
Give the signal to attack Babylon's walls.
Station guards around the clock.
Bring in reinforcements.
Set men in ambush.
God will do what he planned,
what he said he'd do to the people of Babylon.
You have more water than you need,
you have more money than you need—
But your life is over,
your lifeline cut."
14God-of-the-Angel-Armies has solemnly sworn:
"I'll fill this place with soldiers.
They'll swarm through here like locusts
chanting victory songs over you."
15-19By his power he made earth.
His wisdom gave shape to the world.
He crafted the cosmos.
He thunders and rain pours down.
He sends the clouds soaring.
He embellishes the storm with lightnings,
launches the wind from his warehouse.
Stick-god worshipers look mighty foolish!
god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods!
Their gods are frauds, dead sticks—
deadwood gods, tasteless jokes.
They're nothing but stale smoke.
When the smoke clears, they're gone.
But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing;
he put the whole universe together,
With special attention to Israel.
His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
They'll Sleep and Never Wake Up20-23God says, "You, Babylon, are my hammer,
my weapon of war.
I'll use you to smash godless nations,
use you to knock kingdoms to bits.
I'll use you to smash horse and rider,
use you to smash chariot and driver.
I'll use you to smash man and woman,
use you to smash the old man and the boy.
I'll use you to smash the young man and young woman,
use you to smash shepherd and sheep.
I'll use you to smash farmer and yoked oxen,
use you to smash governors and senators. 24"Judeans, you'll see it with your own eyes. I'll pay Babylon and all the Chaldeans back for all the evil they did in Zion." God's Decree.
25-26"I'm your enemy, Babylon, Mount Destroyer,
you ravager of the whole earth.
I'll reach out, I'll take you in my hand,
and I'll crush you till there's no mountain left.
I'll turn you into a gravel pit—
no more cornerstones cut from you,
No more foundation stones quarried from you!
Nothing left of you but gravel." God's Decree.
27-28"Raise the signal in the land,
blow the shofar-trumpet for the nations.
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her.
Call kingdoms into service against her.
Enlist Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a field marshal against her,
and round up horses, locust hordes of horses!
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her—
the king of the Medes, his leaders and people.
29-33"The very land trembles in terror, writhes in pain,
terrorized by my plans against Babylon,
Plans to turn the country of Babylon
into a lifeless moonscape—a wasteland.
Babylon's soldiers have quit fighting.
They hide out in ruins and caves—
Cowards who've given up without a fight,
exposed as cowering milksops.
Babylon's houses are going up in flames,
the city gates torn off their hinges.
Runner after runner comes racing in,
each on the heels of the last,
Bringing reports to the king of Babylon
that his city is a lost cause.
The fords of the rivers are all taken.
Wildfire rages through the swamp grass.
Soldiers desert left and right.
I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, said it would happen:
'Daughter Babylon is a threshing floor
at threshing time.
Soon, oh very soon, her harvest will come
and then the chaff will fly!'
34-37"Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
chewed up my people and spit out the bones.
He wiped his dish clean, pushed back his chair,
and belched—a huge gluttonous belch.
Lady Zion says,
'The brutality done to me be done to Babylon!'
And Jerusalem says,
'The blood spilled from me be charged to the Chaldeans!'
Then I, God, step in and say,
'I'm on your side, taking up your cause.
I'm your Avenger. You'll get your revenge.
I'll dry up her rivers, plug up her springs.
Babylon will be a pile of rubble,
scavenged by stray dogs and cats,
A dumping ground for garbage,
a godforsaken ghost town.'
38-40"The Babylonians will be like lions and their cubs,
ravenous, roaring for food.
I'll fix them a meal, all right—a banquet, in fact.
They'll drink themselves falling-down drunk.
Dead drunk, they'll sleep—and sleep, and sleep...
and they'll never wake up." God's Decree.
"I'll haul these 'lions' off to the slaughterhouse
like the lambs, rams, and goats,
never to be heard of again.
41-48"Babylon is finished—
the pride of the whole earth is flat on her face.
What a comedown for Babylon,
to end up inglorious in the sewer!
Babylon drowned in chaos,
battered by waves of enemy soldiers.
Her towns stink with decay and rot,
the land empty and bare and sterile.
No one lives in these towns anymore.
Travelers give them a wide berth.
I'll bring doom on the glutton god-Bel in Babylon.
I'll make him vomit up all he gulped down.
No more visitors stream into this place,
admiring and gawking at the wonders of Babylon.
The wonders of Babylon are no more.
Run for your lives, my dear people!
Run, and don't look back!
Get out of this place while you can,
this place torched by God's raging anger.
Don't lose hope. Don't ever give up
when the rumors pour in hot and heavy.
One year it's this, the next year it's that—
rumors of violence, rumors of war.
Trust me, the time is coming
when I'll put the no-gods of Babylon in their place.
I'll show up the whole country as a sickening fraud,
with dead bodies strewn all over the place.
Heaven and earth, angels and people,
will throw a victory party over Babylon
When the avenging armies from the north
descend on her." God's Decree!
Remember God in Your Long and Distant Exile49-50"Babylon must fall—
compensation for the war dead in Israel.
Babylonians will be killed
because of all that Babylonian killing.
But you exiles who have escaped a Babylonian death,
get out! And fast!
Remember God in your long and distant exile.
Keep Jerusalem alive in your memory." 51How we've been humiliated, taunted and abused,
kicked around for so long that we hardly know who we are!
And we hardly know what to think—
our old Sanctuary, God's house, desecrated by strangers.
52-53"I know, but trust me: The time is coming"
"When I will bring doom on her no-god idols,
and all over this land her wounded will groan.
Even if Babylon climbed a ladder to the moon
and pulled up the ladder so that no one could get to her,
That wouldn't stop me.
I'd make sure my avengers would reach her."
Titus 2:1-15 (The Message)
A God-Filled Life1-6Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. 7-8But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around.
9-10Guide slaves into being loyal workers, a bonus to their masters—no back talk, no petty thievery. Then their good character will shine through their actions, adding luster to the teaching of our Savior God.
11-14God's readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation's available for everyone! We're being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.
15Tell them all this. Build up their courage, and discipline them if they get out of line. You're in charge. Don't let anyone put you down.
Psalm 99:1-9 (The Message)
God looms majestic in Zion,
He towers in splendor over all the big names.
Great and terrible your beauty: let everyone praise you!
Holy. Yes, holy.
4-5 Strong King, lover of justice,
You laid things out fair and square;
You set down the foundations in Jacob,
Foundation stones of just and right ways.
Honor God, our God; worship his rule!
Holy. Yes, holy.
6-9 Moses and Aaron were his priests,
Samuel among those who prayed to him.
They prayed to God and he answered them;
He spoke from the pillar of cloud.
And they did what he said; they kept the law he gave them.
And then God, our God, answered them
(But you were never soft on their sins).
Lift high God, our God; worship at his holy mountain.
Holy. Yes, holy is God our God.
Proverbs 26:17 (The Message)
17 You grab a mad dog by the ears
when you butt into a quarrel that's none of your business.
Verse of the Day
“What God has said isn't only alive and active! It is sharper than any double-edged sword. His word can cut through our spirits and souls and through our joints and marrow, until it discovers the desires and thoughts of our hearts.” - Hebrews 4:12
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American statesman, author, explorer, soldier, naturalist, and reformer who served as the 26th President of the United States from 1901 to 1909, Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “An attitude of moderation is apt to be misunderstood when passions are greatly excited and when victory is apt to rest with the extremists on one side or the other; yet I think it is in the long run the only wise attitude...”