June 14, 2015

Isaiah 58-60
“Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They’re busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?‘ and love having me on their side.  But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’

“Well, here’s why: “The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard.  You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won’t get your prayers off the ground.  Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after: a day to show off humility?  To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black?  Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed, cancel debts.  What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.  Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once.  Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer.  You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

“If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins, if you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go.  I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places— firm muscles, strong bones...
“If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,  If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God’s holy day as a celebration,  if you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,‘ making money, running here and there—Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!  Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.  I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”  Yes! God says so!
Look! Listen! God’s arm is not amputated—he can still save. God’s ears are not stopped up—he can still hear. There’s nothing wrong with God; the wrong is in you. Your wrongheaded lives caused the split between you and God. Your sins got between you so that he doesn’t hear....No one speaks up for the right, no one deals fairly.... They know nothing about peace and less than nothing about justice...

Which means that we’re a far cry from fair dealing, and we’re not even close to right living.  We long for light but sink into darkness, long for brightness but stumble through the night. Like the blind, we inch along a wall, groping eyeless in the dark.... We look for justice—not a sign of it;  for salvation—not so much as a hint.  Our wrongdoings pile up before you, God, our sins stand up and accuse us.  Our wrongdoings stare us down;  we know in detail what we’ve done: Mocking and denying God, not following our God, Spreading false rumors, inciting sedition, pregnant with lies, muttering malice.  Justice is beaten back, righteousness is banished to the sidelines, truth staggers down the street, honesty is nowhere to be found, good is missing in action.

God looked and saw evil looming on the horizon—  not a soul around to correct this awful situation. So he did it himself, took on the work of Salvation, fueled by his own Righteousness.  He dressed in Righteousness, put it on like a suit of armor, with Salvation on his head like a helmet, put on Judgment like an overcoat, and threw a cloak of Passion across his shoulders.  He’ll make everyone pay for what they’ve done:...  

“I’ll arrive in Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who leave their sins.” God’s Decree. “As for me,” God says, “this is my covenant with them: My Spirit that I’ve placed upon you and the words that I’ve given you to speak, they’re not going to leave your mouths nor the mouths of your children nor the mouths of your grandchildren. You will keep repeating these words and won’t ever stop.” God’s orders.

“Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight.  God’s bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness, but God rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you.  Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness.  Look up! Look around! Watch as they gather, watch as they approach you: Your sons coming from great distances, your daughters carried by their nannies. When you see them coming you’ll smile—big smiles! Your heart will swell and, yes, burst!...

Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings assist you in the conduct of worship.  When I was angry I hit you hard. It’s my desire now to be tender. Your Jerusalem gates will always be open—open house day and night!— Receiving deliveries of wealth from all nations, and their kings, the delivery boys!... The descendants of your oppressor will come bowing and scraping to you. All who looked down at you in contempt will lick your boots...

Not long ago you were despised refuse— out-of-the-way, unvisited, ignored.  But now I’ve put you on your feet, towering and grand forever, a joy to look at!  When you suck the milk of nations and the breasts of royalty, you’ll know that I, God, am your Savior, your Redeemer, Champion of Jacob....

I’ll install Peace to run your country, make Righteousness your boss....You’ll name your main street Salvation Way, and install Praise Park at the center of town.  You’ll have no more need of the sun by day nor the brightness of the moon at night.  God will be your eternal light, your God will bathe you in splendor. Your sun will never go down,  your moon will never fade. I will be your eternal light.  Your days of grieving are over.  All your people will live right and well,  in permanent possession of the land.  They’re the green shoot that I planted, planted with my own hands to display my glory.  The runt will become a great tribe,  the weakling become a strong nation. I am God. At the right time, I will make it happen!

Luke 19:28-19:48 -

After saying these things, Jesus headed straight up to Jerusalem.  When he got near Bethphage and Bethany, at the mountain called Olives, he sent off two disciples with instructions to go into the village to get a colt, never been ridden and took it to Jesus....As he rode, the people gave him a grand welcome, throwing their coats on the street.  Right at the crest, where Mount Olives begins its descent, the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over the mighty works they had witnessed....Some Pharisees from the crowd told Jesus, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!”  But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.” 

When the city came into view, he wept over it.  “If you had only recognized this day, and everything that was good for you!  But now, it’s too late...All this because you didn’t recognize and welcome God’s personal visit.

Going into the Temple he began to throw out everyone who had set up shop, selling everything and anything.  Jesus said, “It’s written in Scripture, My house is a house of prayer; you have turned it into a religious bazaar.”

From then on he taught each day in the Temple.  The high priest, religion scholars and the leaders were trying their best to find a way to get rid of him.  But with the people hanging on every word he spoke, they couldn’t come up with anything.