What God Is Looking For

1–2  Listen now, listen to God:

“Take your stand in court.

If you have a complaint, tell the mountains;

make your case to the hills.

And now, Mountains, hear God’s case;

listen, Jury Earth—

For I am bringing charges against my people.

I am building a case against Israel.

3–5  “Dear people, how have I done you wrong?

Have I burdened you, worn you out? Answer!

I delivered you from a bad life in Egypt;

I paid a good price to get you out of slavery.

I sent Moses to lead you—

and Aaron and Miriam to boot!

Remember what Balak king of Moab tried to pull,

and how Balaam son of Beor turned the tables on him.

Remember all those stories about Shittim and Gilgal.

Keep all God’s salvation stories fresh and present.”

6–7  How can I stand up before God

and show proper respect to the high God?

Should I bring an armload of offerings

topped off with yearling calves?

Would God be impressed with thousands of rams,

with buckets and barrels of olive oil?

Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child,

my precious baby, to cancel my sin?

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,

what God is looking for in men and women.

It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,

be compassionate and loyal in your love,

And don’t take yourself too seriously—

take God seriously.

Attention! God calls out to the city!

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll listen.

So listen, all of you!

This is serious business.

10–16 Do you expect me to overlook obscene wealth

you’ve piled up by cheating and fraud?

Do you think I’ll tolerate shady deals

and shifty scheming?

I’m tired of the violent rich

bullying their way with bluffs and lies.

I’m fed up. Beginning now, you’re finished.

You’ll pay for your sins down to your last cent.

No matter how much you get, it will never be enough—

hollow stomachs, empty hearts.

No matter how hard you work, you’ll have nothing to show for it—

bankrupt lives, wasted souls.

You’ll plant grass

but never get a lawn.

You’ll make jelly

but never spread it on your bread.

You’ll press apples

but never drink the cider.

You have lived by the standards of your king, Omri,

the decadent lifestyle of the family of Ahab.

Because you’ve slavishly followed their fashions,

I’m forcing you into bankruptcy.

Your way of life will be laughed at, a tasteless joke.

Your lives will be derided as futile and fake.”


About The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language

Many people assume that a book about a holy God should sound elevated, stately, and ceremonial. If this is how you’ve always viewed the Bible, you’re about to make a surprising discovery. The Message brings the life-changing power of the New Testament, the vibrant passion of the Psalms, and the rich, practical wisdom of Proverbs into easy-to-read modern language that echoes the rhythm and idioms of the original Greek and Hebrew. Written in the same kind of language you’d use to talk with friends, write a letter, or discuss politics, The Message preserves the authentic, earthy flavor and the expressive character of the Bible’s best-loved books. Whether you’ve been reading the Bible for years or are exploring it for the first time, The Message will startle and surprise you. And it will allow you to experience firsthand the same power and directness that motivated its original readers to change the course of history so many centuries ago.


Copyright 2005 Eugene H. Peterson.

THE MESSAGE text may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio), up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses, without express written permission of the publisher, NavPress Publishing Group, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible and do not account for 25 percent or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.

Notice of copyright must appear as follows on either the title page or the copyright page of the work in which THE MESSAGE is quoted: “Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”

When quotations from THE MESSAGE text are used in nonsaleable media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies, or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but “The Message” must appear at the end of each quotation.

Permission requests for commercial and noncommercial use that exceed the above guidelines must be directed to and approved in writing by NavPress Publishing Group, Permissions, P.O. Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935.

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