But look! A king will rule in the right way, and his leaders will carry out justice.
Each one will stand as a shelter from high winds, provide safe cover in stormy weather. Each will be cool running water in parched land, a huge granite outcrop giving shade in the desert.
Anyone who looks will see, anyone who listens will hear.
The impulsive will make sound decisions, the tongue-tied will speak with eloquence.
No more will fools become celebrities, nor crooks be rewarded with fame.
For fools are fools and that's that, thinking up new ways to do mischief. They leave a wake of wrecked lives and lies about God, Turning their backs on the homeless hungry, ignoring those dying of thirst in the streets.
And the crooks? Underhanded sneaks they are, inventive in sin and scandal, Exploiting the poor with scams and lies, unmoved by the victimized poor.
But those who are noble make noble plans, and stand for what is noble.
Take your stand, indolent women! Listen to me! Indulgent, indolent women, listen closely to what I have to say.
In just a little over a year from now, you'll be shaken out of your lazy lives. The grape harvest will fail, and there'll be no fruit on the trees.
Oh tremble, you indolent women. Get serious, you pampered dolls! Strip down and discard your silk fineries. Put on funeral clothes.
Shed honest tears for the lost harvest, the failed vintage.
Weep for my people's gardens and farms that grow nothing but thistles and thornbushes. Cry tears, real tears, for the happy homes no longer happy, the merry city no longer merry.
The royal palace is deserted, the bustling city quiet as a morgue, The emptied parks and playgrounds taken over by wild animals, delighted with their new home.
Yes, weep and grieve until the Spirit is poured down on us from above And the badlands desert grows crops and the fertile fields become forests.
Justice will move into the badlands desert. Right will build a home in the fertile field.
And where there's Right, there'll be Peace and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.
My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood - in safe houses, in quiet gardens.
The forest of your pride will be clear-cut, the city showing off your power leveled.
But you will enjoy a blessed life, planting well-watered fields and gardens, with your farm animals grazing freely.
Doom to you, Destroyer, not yet destroyed; And doom to you, Betrayer, not yet betrayed. When you finish destroying, your turn will come - destroyed! When you quit betraying, your turn will come - betrayed!
God, treat us kindly. You're our only hope. First thing in the morning, be there for us! When things go bad, help us out!
You spoke in thunder and everyone ran. You showed up and nations scattered.
Your people, for a change, got in on the loot, picking the field clean of the enemy spoils.
God is supremely esteemed. His center holds. Zion brims over with all that is just and right.
God keeps your days stable and secure - salvation, wisdom, and knowledge in surplus, and best of all, Zion's treasure, Fear-of-God.
But look! Listen! Tough men weep openly. Peacemaking diplomats are in bitter tears.
The roads are empty - not a soul out on the streets. The peace treaty is broken, its conditions violated, its signers reviled.
The very ground under our feet mourns, the Lebanon mountains hang their heads, Flowering Sharon is a weed-choked gully, and the forests of Bashan and Carmel? Bare branches.
"Now I'm stepping in," God says. "From now on, I'm taking over. The gloves come off. Now see how mighty I am.
There's nothing to you. Pregnant with chaff, you produce straw babies; full of hot air, you self-destruct.
You're good for nothing but fertilizer and fuel. Earth to earth - and the sooner the better.
"If you're far away, get the reports on what I've done, And if you're in the neighborhood, pay attention to my record.
The sinners in Zion are rightly terrified; the godless are at their wit's end: 'Who among us can survive this firestorm? Who of us can get out of this purge with our lives?'"
The answer's simple: Live right, speak the truth, despise exploitation, refuse bribes, reject violence, avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living! A safe and stable way to live. A nourishing, satisfying way to live. God Makes All the Decisions Here
Oh, you'll see the king - a beautiful sight! And you'll take in the wide vistas of land.
In your mind you'll go over the old terrors: "What happened to that Assyrian inspector who condemned and confiscated? And the one who gouged us of taxes? And that cheating moneychanger?"
Gone! Out of sight forever! Their insolence nothing now but a fading stain on the carpet! No more putting up with a language you can't understand, no more sounds of gibberish in your ears.
Just take a look at Zion, will you? Centering our worship in festival feasts! Feast your eyes on Jerusalem, a quiet and permanent place to live. No more pulling up stakes and moving on, no more patched-together lean-tos.
Instead, God! God majestic, God himself the place in a country of broad rivers and streams, But rivers blocked to invading ships, off-limits to predatory pirates.
For God makes all the decisions here. God is our king. God runs this place and he'll keep us safe.
Ha! Your sails are in shreds, your mast wobbling, your hold leaking. The plunder is free for the taking, free for all - for weak and strong, insiders and outsiders.
No one in Zion will say, "I'm sick." Best of all, they'll all live guilt-free.
I, Paul, have been sent on special assignment by Christ as part of God's master plan. Together with my friend Timothy,
I greet the Christians and stalwart followers of Christ who live in Colosse. May everything good from God our Father be yours!
Our prayers for you are always spilling over into thanksgivings. We can't quit thanking God our Father and Jesus our Messiah for you!
We keep getting reports on your steady faith in Christ, our Jesus, and the love you continuously extend to all Christians.
The lines of purpose in your lives never grow slack, tightly tied as they are to your future in heaven, kept taut by hope.
It's the same all over the world. The Message bears fruit and gets larger and stronger, just as it has in you. From the very first day you heard and recognized the truth of what God is doing, you've been hungry for more.
It's as vigorous in you now as when you learned it from our friend and close associate Epaphras. He is one reliable worker for Christ! I could always depend on him.
He's the one who told us how thoroughly love had been worked into your lives by the Spirit.
Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven't stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works.
We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.
We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul - not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy,
thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.
God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He's set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much,
the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God's original purpose in everything created.
For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels - everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.
He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.
And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding.
Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe - people and things, animals and atoms - get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.
You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got.
But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.
You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message - just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message.
I want you to know how glad I am that it's me sitting here in this jail and not you. There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world - the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church's part of that suffering.
When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth.
This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open.
God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message.
We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less.
That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)