June 16, 2015

Isaiah 64-66
Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and descend, make the mountains shudder at your presence—

Since before time began no one has ever imagined, no ear heard, no eye seen, a God like you who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who happily do what is right, who keep a good memory of the way you work. But how angry you’ve been with us!  We’ve sinned and kept at it so long! Is there any hope for us? Can we be saved?... No one prays to you or makes the effort to reach out to you because you’ve turned away from us, left us to stew in our sins.

Still, God, you are our Father.  We’re the clay and you’re our potter:  All of us are what you made us.  Don’t be too angry with us, O God. Don’t keep a permanent account of wrongdoing. Keep in mind, please, we are your people—all of us.... In the face of all this, are you going to sit there unmoved, God? Aren’t you going to say something?  Haven’t you made us miserable long enough?

“I’ve made myself available to those who haven’t bothered to ask. I’m here, ready to be found by those who haven’t bothered to look. I kept saying ‘I’m here, I’m right here’  to a nation that ignored me.  I reached out day after day to a people who turned their backs on me,  People who make wrong turns, who insist on doing things their own way.  They get on my nerves, are rude to my face day after day,...These people gag me.  I can’t stand their stench.  Look at this! Their sins are all written out—... “Because they’ve practiced their blasphemous worship, mocking me at their hillside shrines,  I’ll let loose the consequences and pay them in full for their actions.”

“But just as one bad apple doesn’t ruin the whole bushel, there are still plenty of good apples left. So I’ll preserve those in Israel who obey me. I won’t destroy the whole nation.  I’ll bring out my true children from Jacob and the heirs of my mountains from Judah.... These will be for the people who bothered to reach out to me, who wanted me in their lives, who actually bothered to look for me.....For when I invited you, you ignored me; when I spoke to you, you brushed me off.  You did the very things I exposed as evil; you chose what I hate.”...

I, God, will put you to death and give a new name to my servants.  Then whoever prays a blessing in the land will use my faithful name for the blessing, and whoever takes an oath in the land will use my faithful name for the oath, because the earlier troubles are gone and forgotten, banished far from my sight.

“Pay close attention now: I’m creating new heavens and a new earth.  All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten.  Look ahead with joy.  Anticipate what I’m creating:...
They’ll build houses and move in.  They’ll plant fields and eat what they grow.  No more building a house that some outsider takes over, no more planting fields that some enemy confiscates,  For my people will be as long-lived as trees, my chosen ones will have satisfaction in their work....For they themselves are plantings blessed by God, with their children and grandchildren likewise God-blessed.  Before they call out, I’ll answer.  Before they’ve finished speaking, I’ll have heard. Wolf and lamb will graze the same meadow, lion and ox eat straw from the same trough, but snakes—they’ll get a diet of dirt!...

God’s Message:  “Heaven’s my throne, earth is my footstool.  What sort of house could you build for me?  What holiday spot reserve for me?  I made all this! I own all this!”... “But there is something I’m looking for, a person simple and plain,
reverently responsive to what I say....

You choose self-serving worship, you delight in self-centered worship—disgusting!  Well, I choose to expose your nonsense and let you realize your worst fears, because when I invited you, you ignored me; when I spoke to you, you brushed me off.  You did the very things I exposed as evil, you chose what I hate.”

But listen to what God has to say to you who reverently respond to his Word:  “Your own families hate you and turn you out because of me.  They taunt you, ‘Let us see God’s glory! If God’s so great, why aren’t you happy?’ But they’re the ones who are going to end up shamed.”...

As it becomes apparent that God is on your side and against his enemies.  For God arrives like wildfire and his chariots like a tornado,  A furious outburst of anger, a rebuke fierce and fiery.  For it’s by fire that God brings judgment, a death sentence on the human race.  Many, oh so many, are under God’s sentence of death:...  

“I know everything they’ve ever done or thought. I’m going to come and then gather everyone—all nations, all languages. They’ll come and see my glory. I’ll set up a station at the center. I’ll send the survivors of judgment all over the world: Spain and Africa, Turkey and Greece, and the far-off islands that have never heard of me, who know nothing of what I’ve done nor who I am. I’ll send them out as missionaries to preach my glory among the nations. They’ll return with all your long-lost brothers and sisters from all over the world. They’ll bring them back and offer them in living worship to God. They’ll bring them on horses and wagons and carts, on mules and camels, straight to my holy mountain Jerusalem,” says God. “They’ll present them just as Israelites present their offerings in a ceremonial vessel in the Temple of God. I’ll even take some of them and make them priests and Levites,” says God.

 “For just as the new heavens and new earth that I am making will stand firm before me, so will your children and your reputation stand firm.  Month after month and week by week, everyone will come to worship me,” God says.  “And then they’ll go out and look at what happened to those who rebelled against me. Corpses!...

Luke 21 -

Just then Jesus looked up and saw people dropping offerings in the collection plate.  Then he saw a poor widow put in two pennies.  He said, “The plain truth is that this widow has given by far  the largest offering today.  All those others made offerings that they’ll never miss, she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford-- she gave her all.”

One day people were standing around talking about the Temple, remarking how beautiful it was... Jesus said, “All this you’re admiring so much--the time is coming when every stone in the building will end up in a heap of rubble....Watch out for the doomsday deceivers.  Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming ‘I am the One’ or ‘the end is near.‘   Don’t fall for any of that....But before any of this happens, they’ll arrest you, hunt you down and drag you to court and jail.  It will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog...

Make up your mind right now not to worry about it.  I will give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and mutters...Staying with it--that’s what is required.  Stay with it to the end.  you won’t be sorry, you’ll be saved.  

Sky and earth will wear out, my words won’t wear out.  But be on your guard.  Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping...Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wit  to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.”  

He spent his days in the Temple teaching, but his nights out on the mountain called Olives.  All of the people were up at the crack of dawn to come to the Temple and listen to him.