May 29, 2015

Isaiah 22-24
A Message concerning the Valley of Vision:
What’s going on here anyway? All this partying and noisemaking,...You have no brave soldiers to honor, no combat heroes to be proud of. your leaders were all cowards, captured without even lifting a sword,...

In the midst of the shouting, I said, “Let me alone.  Let me grieve by myself.  Don’t tell me it’s going to be all right. These people are doomed. It’s not all right.” For the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, is bringing a day noisy with mobs of people, jostling and stampeding in the Valley of Vision,... Your fine valleys are noisy with war, chariots and cavalry charging this way and that. God has left Judah exposed and defenseless....

The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, called out on that Day, called for a day of repentant tears, called you to dress in somber clothes of mourning. But what do you do? You throw a party!  Eating and drinking and dancing in the streets! You barbecue bulls and sheep, and throw a huge feast—slabs of meat, kegs of beer. Seize the day! Eat and drink! Tomorrow we die!”..

The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, spoke: “Come. Go to this steward, Shebna, who is in charge of all the king’s affairs, and tell him: What’s going on here? You’re an outsider here and yet you act like you own the place, make a big, fancy tomb for yourself where everyone can see it, making sure everyone will think you’re important. God is about to sack you, to throw you to the dogs. He’ll grab you by the hair, swing you round and round dizzyingly, and then let you go, sailing through the air like a ball, until you’re out of sight. Where you’ll land, nobody knows. And there you’ll die, and all the stuff you’ve collected heaped on your grave. You’ve disgraced your master’s house! You’re fired—and good riddance!

On that Day I’ll replace Shebna. I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I’ll dress him in your robe. I’ll put your belt on him. I’ll give him your authority. He’ll be a father-leader to Jerusalem and the government of Judah. I’ll give him the key of the Davidic heritage. He’ll have the run of the place—open any door and keep it open, lock any door and keep it locked. I’ll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. He’ll secure the Davidic tradition. Everything will hang on him—not only the fate of Davidic descendants but also the detailed daily operations of the house, including cups and cutlery.

“And then the Day will come,” says God-of-the-Angel-Armies, “when that nail will come loose and fall out, break loose from that solid wall—and everything hanging on it will go with it.” That’s what will happen. God says so.

Wail, ships of Tarshish, your strong seaports all in ruins!  When the ships returned from Cyprus, they saw the destruction... Hang your head in shame, Sidon. The Sea speaks up, the powerhouse of the ocean says, “I’ve never had labor pains, never had a baby, never reared children to adulthood, never gave life, never worked with life. It was all numbers, dead numbers, profit and loss.”...

Visit Tarshish, you who live on the seacoast.  Take a good, long look and wail—yes, cry buckets of tears! Is this the city you remember as energetic and alive, bustling with activity, this historic old city, expanding throughout the globe, buying and selling all over the world?  And who is behind the collapse of Tyre, the Tyre that controlled the world markets?... God-of-the-Angel-Armies ordered the crash to show the sordid backside of pride and puncture the inflated reputations...
Do you want to make a new start in Cyprus? Don’t count on it. Nothing there will work out for you either.”  Look at what happened to Babylon: There’s nothing left of it. Assyria turned it into a desert, into a refuge for wild dogs and stray cats. They brought in their big siege engines, tore down the buildings, and left nothing behind but rubble.

Wail, ships of Tarshish, your strong seaports all in ruins!  For the next seventy years, a king’s lifetime, Tyre will be forgotten. At the end of the seventy years, Tyre will stage a comeback, but it will be the comeback of a worn-out whore, ... At the end of the seventy years, God will look in on Tyre. She’ll go back to her old whoring trade, selling herself to the highest bidder, doing anything with anyone—promiscuous with all the kingdoms of earth—for a fee. But everything she gets, all the money she takes in, will be turned over to God. It will not be put in banks. Her profits will be put to the use of God-Aware, God-Serving-People, providing plenty of food and the best of clothing.

Danger ahead! God’s about to ravish the earth and leave it in ruins, rip everything out by the roots and send everyone scurrying:...The landscape will be a moonscape, totally wasted.  And why? Because God says so. He’s issued the orders..

Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws, disrupted its order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant.  Therefore a curse, like a cancer, ravages the earth. Its people pay the price of their sacrilege. They dwindle away, dying out one by one....The chaotic cities are unlivable. Anarchy reigns. Every house is boarded up, condemned. People riot in the streets for wine, but the good times are gone forever—no more joy for this old world....

But there are some who will break into glad song.  Out of the west they’ll shout of God’s majesty.  Yes, from the east God’s glory will ascend. Every island of the sea will broadcast God’s fame, the fame of the God of Israel. From the four winds and the seven seas we hear the singing:  “All praise to the Righteous One!”  But I said, “That’s all well and good for somebody, but all I can see is doom, doom, and more doom.”... That’s when God will call on the carpet rebel powers in the skies and rebel kings on earth.  They’ll be rounded up like prisoners in a jail, corralled and locked up in a jail, and then sentenced and put to hard labor. Shamefaced moon will cower, humiliated, red-faced sun will skulk, disgraced,

Because God-of-the-Angel-Armies will take over, ruling from Mount Zion and Jerusalem, splendid and glorious before all his leaders.

Luke 9:1-9:36 - Jesus now called the 12 and gave them authority and power to deal with all the demons and cure diseases.  He commissioned them to preach the good news of God’s kingdom and heal the sick.  He said, “Don’t load yourselves up with equipment.  Keep it simple, you are the equipment.  And no luxury inns---get a modest place and be content there until you leave.  If you’re not welcomed, leave town.  Don’t make a scene.  Shrug your shoulders and move on.”   Commissioned, they left.  They traveled from town to town telling the latest news of God, the Message, and curing people everywhere they went.  

Herod, the ruler, heard of these goings on and didn’t know what to think....Curious, he looked for a chance to see him in action.

The apostles returned and reported what they had done.  Jesus took them away, off by themselves, near Bethsaida.  But the crowds got wind of it and followed.  Jesus graciously welcomed them and talked to them about the kingdom of God.  Those who needed healing, he healed.

As the day declined, the 12 said, “Dismiss the crowd so they can go and get a room for the night and a bite to eat since we are out in the middle of nowhere.”  “You feed them.”  Jesus said.  The 12 protested that there was not more than 5 loaves and a couple of fish for more than 5000 people.  But Jesus went ahead and directed his disciples, “Sit them down in groups of about fifty.”  Jesus then lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke and gave out the bread/fish...After the people had all eaten their fill, 12 baskets of leftovers were gathered up.  

One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, “What are the crowds saying about me....and you---what are you saying about me?  Who am I?”  Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”  Jesus then warned him to keep quiet.  They were to tell no one what Peter had said.  He went on, “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering”....He then told them what to expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.  You’re not in the driver’s seat--I am.  Don’t run from suffering; embrace it.  Follow me and I’ll show you how.  Self-help is not a help at all.  Self-sacrifice is the way, my way to finding yourself, your true self.  What good would it be to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?....

About 8 days after saying this, he climbed the mountain to pray, taking Peter, James and John along.  While he was in prayer, Moses and Elijah joined him...they talked over his exodus, the one Jesus was about to complete in Jerusalem.  Meanwhile, the three disciples were slumped over in sleep.  When they came to, they saw Jesus in his glory and the two men standing with him.  When Moses and Elijah left, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, this is a great moment!  Let’s build three monuments for each of you.”  He blurted this out without thinking.  While he was babbling on like this, a cloud enveloped them.  As they found themselves buried in the cloud, they became deeply aware of God.  Then there was a voice out of the cloud: “This is my Son, the Chosen!  Listen to him.”  They were speechless.  And they continued to be speechless, said not one thing to anyone during those days of what they had seen.