May 22, 2015

Isaiah 4-6
That will be the day when seven women will gang up on one man, saying, “We’ll take care of ourselves, get our own food and clothes.  Just give us a child. Make us pregnant so we’ll have something to live for!”

And that’s when God’s Branch will sprout green and lush. The produce of the country will give Israel’s survivors something to be proud of again. Oh, they’ll hold their heads high! Everyone left behind in Zion, all the discards and rejects in Jerusalem, will be reclassified as “holy”—alive and therefore precious....

Then God will bring back the ancient pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and mark Mount Zion and everyone in it with his glorious presence, his immense, protective presence, shade from the burning sun and shelter from the driving rain...

I’ll sing a ballad to the one I love, a love ballad about his vineyard: The one I love had a vineyard, a fine, well-placed vineyard.  He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds, and planted the very best vines. He built a lookout, built a winepress, a vineyard to be proud of.  He looked for a vintage yield of grapes, but for all his pains he got junk grapes.

"Now listen to what I’m telling you,...What do you think is going on between me and my vineyard? Can you think of anything I could have done to my vineyard that I didn’t do?  When I expected good grapes, why did I get bitter grapes?  Well now, let me tell you  what I’ll do to my vineyard:  I’ll tear down its fence and let it go to ruin......

Do you get it? The vineyard of God-of-the-Angel-Armies is the country of Israel.  All the men and women of Judah are the garden he was so proud of.  He looked for a crop of justice and saw them murdering each other.  He looked for a harvest of righteousness and heard only the moans of victims....

Doom to you who buy up all the houses and grab all the land for yourselves—

Doom to those who get up early and start drinking booze before breakfast, who stay up all hours of the night drinking themselves into a stupor....

But by working justice, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will be a mountain.  By working righteousness, Holy God will show what “holy” is....

Doom to you who use lies to sell evil, who haul sin to market by the truckload, Who say, “What’s God waiting for?...
  
Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, Who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness,Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Doom to you who think you’re so smart,who hold such a high opinion of yourselves!...

But they won’t get by with it....Their souls will atrophy, their achievements crumble into dust, Because they said no to the revelation of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, would have nothing to do with The Holy of Israel...

That’s why God flamed out in anger against his people, reached out and knocked them down.... Every light in the sky will be blacked out by the clouds.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Master sitting on a throne—high, exalted!—and the train of his robes filled the Temple. Angel-seraphs hovered above him, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew. And they called back and forth one to the other,

Holy, Holy, Holy is God-of-the-Angel-Armies. His bright glory fills the whole earth. The foundations trembled at the sound of the angel voices, and then the whole house filled with smoke. I said,

“Doom! It’s Doomsday! I’m as good as dead!  Every word I’ve ever spoken is tainted— blasphemous even!  And the people I live with talk the same way, using words that corrupt and desecrate.  And here I’ve looked God in the face! The King! God-of-the-angel armies

And then I heard the voice of the Master: “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” I spoke up, “I’ll go.  Send me!”

He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it;  look hard, but you won’t catch on.’ Make these people blockheads, with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes,  So they won’t see a thing, won’t hear a word,  So they won’t have a clue about what’s going on and, yes, so they won’t turn around and be made whole.”

Astonished, I said, “And Master, how long is this to go on?” He said, “Until the cities are emptied out, not a soul left in the cities— The country will look like pine and oak forest with every tree cut down—Every tree a stump, a huge field of stumps. But there’s a holy seed in those stumps.”

Luke 6:1-6:26 -

On a certain Sabbath Jesus was walking through a field of ripe grain.  His disciples were pulling off the heads of grain...and eating them.  Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing that, breaking a Sabbath rule?”  But Jesus stood up for them, “Have you never read what David and those with him did when they were hungry?  How he entered the sanctuary and ate fresh bread off the altar, bread that no one but priests were allowed to eat?  He also handed it out to his companions.”  The Son of Man is no slave to the Sabbath, he’s in charge.”

On another Sabbath, he went to the meeting place and taught.  There was a man there with a crippled right hand.  The Pharisees and religious scholars had their eye on Jesus to see if he would heal the man, hoping to catch him in a Sabbath infraction.  Jesus knew what they were up to and spoke to the man with the crippled hand, “Get up and stand here before us.”   Then Jesus addressed them.  “Let me ask you something.  What kind of action suits the Sabbath best?  Doing good or doing evil?  Helping people or leaving them helpless?”  He looked around, looked each one in the eye.  He said to the man,  “Hold out your hand.”  He held it out--it was as good as new!  They were beside themselves with anger, and started plotting how they might get rid of him.  

At about the same time he climbed a mountain to pray.  He was there all night in prayer before God.  The next day he summoned his disciples, from them he selected 12 he designated as apostles...Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain, surrounded by disciples and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon...Then he s poke,“You’re blessed when you have lost it all.  God’s kingdom is there for the finding.  You are blessed when you’re ravenously hungry, then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.  You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.  Joy comes with the morning.  Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me.  What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable...

But it is trouble ahead if you think you have it made.  What you have is all you’ll ever get.  And it is trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself.  Your self will not satisfy you for long.  And it is trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games.  There is suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it.  There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them.  Popularity contests are not truth contests--look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors!  Your task is to be true, not popular.”