June 19, 2015

Jeremiah 3-5
God’s Message came to me as follows: “If a man’s wife walks out on him and marries another man, can he take her back as if nothing had happened?  Wouldn’t that raise a huge stink in the land?  And isn’t that what you’ve done— ‘whored’ your way with god after god? And now you want to come back as if nothing had happened.”

“Look around at the hills.  Where have you not had sex?... But it doesn’t even faze you. Brazen as whores, you carry on as if you’ve done nothing wrong.  Then you have the nerve to call out, ‘My father! You took care of me when I was a child. Why not now?  Are you going to keep up your anger nonstop?‘ That’s your line. Meanwhile you keep sinning nonstop.”

God spoke to me during the reign of King Josiah: “You have noticed, haven’t you, how fickle Israel has visited every hill and grove of trees as a whore at large? I assumed that after she had gotten it out of her system, she’d come back, but she didn’t. Her flighty sister, Judah, saw what she did. She also saw that because of fickle Israel’s loose morals I threw her out, gave her her walking papers. But that didn’t faze flighty sister Judah. She went out, big as you please, and took up a whore’s life also. She took up cheap sex-and-religion as a sideline diversion, an indulgent recreation, and used anything and anyone, flouting sanity and sanctity alike, stinking up the country. And not once in all this did flighty sister Judah even give me a nod, although she made a show of it from time to time.” God’s Decree....

Just admit your guilt.  Admit your God-defiance.  Admit to your promiscuous life with casual partners, pulling strangers into the sex-and-religion groves while turning a deaf ear to me.’”... “Come back, wandering children!”...I’ll give you good shepherd-rulers who rule my way, who rule you with intelligence and wisdom.  “And this is what will happen: You will increase and prosper in the land. The time will come”—God’s Decree!—“when no one will say any longer, ‘Oh, for the good old days! Remember the Ark of the Covenant?’ It won’t even occur to anyone to say it—‘the good old days.’ The so-called good old days of the Ark are gone for good.

 “Jerusalem will be the new Ark—‘God’s Throne.’ All the godless nations, no longer stuck in the ruts of their evil ways, will gather there to honor God. “At that time, the House of Judah will join up with the House of Israel. Holding hands, they’ll leave the north country and come to the land I willed to your ancestors....“Come back, wandering children! I can heal your wanderlust!”
 
“We’re here! We’ve come back to you. You’re our own true God!  All that popular religion was a cheap lie, duped crowds buying up the latest in gods. We’re back! Back to our true God, the salvation of Israel....We made our bed and now lie in it, all tangled up in the dirty sheets of dishonor.  All because we sinned against our God, we and our fathers and mothers. From the time we took our first steps, said our first words, we’ve been rebels, disobeying the voice of our God.”

“If you want to come back, O Israel, you must really come back to me. You must get rid of your stinking sin paraphernalia and not wander away from me anymore.  Then you can say words like, ‘As God lives . . .‘ and have them mean something true and just and right.  And the godless nations will get caught up in the blessing and find something in Israel to write home about.”...
 
“King and princes will lose heart;  priests will be baffled and prophets stand dumbfounded.” Then I said, “Alas, Master God!  You’ve fed lies to this people, this Jerusalem. You assured them, ‘All is well, don’t worry,‘at the very moment when the sword was at their throats.”  At that time, this people, yes, this very Jerusalem, will be told in plain words: “The northern hordes are sweeping in from the desert steppes— A wind that’s up to no good, a gale-force wind. I ordered this wind. I’m pronouncing my hurricane judgment on my people.”...

“It’s the way you’ve lived that’s brought all this on you. The bitter taste is from your evil life. That’s what’s piercing your heart.”  I’m doubled up with cramps in my belly—a poker burns in my gut.  My insides are tearing me up, never a moment’s peace.  The ram’s horn trumpet blast rings in my ears, the signal for all-out war.... How long do I have to look at the warning flares, listen to the siren of danger?

“What fools my people are! They have no idea who I am.  A company of half-wits,  dopes and donkeys all!  Experts at evil but klutzes at good.”...

Yes, this is God’s Word on the matter: “The whole country will be laid waste—still it won’t be the end of the world.  The earth will mourn and the skies lament because I’ve given my word and won’t take it back.  I’ve decided and won’t change my mind.”... 

“Patrol Jerusalem’s streets.  Look around. Take note. Search the market squares.  See if you can find one man, one woman, a single soul who does what is right and tries to live a true life. I want to forgive that person.”  “But if all they do is say, ‘As sure as God lives . . .‘they’re nothing but a bunch of liars.”  But you, God, you have an eye for truth, don’t you? You hit them hard, but it didn’t faze them. You disciplined them, but they refused correction.  Hardheaded, harder than rock, they wouldn’t change.  Then I said to myself, “Well, these are just poor people. They don’t know any better.  They were never taught anything about God.  They never went to prayer meetings.  I’ll find some people from the best families.   I’ll talk to them. They’ll know what’s going on, the way God works.  They’ll know the score.”  But they were no better!Rebels all!  Off doing their own thing....

“Why should I even bother with you any longer? Your children wander off, leaving me, taking up with gods that aren’t even gods. I satisfied their deepest needs, and then they went off with the ‘sacred’ whores, left me for orgies in sex shrines!... Do you think I’m going to stand around and do nothing?” “Don’t you think I’ll take serious measures against a people like this?...  “They’ve spread lies about God. They’ve said, ‘There’s nothing to him.  Nothing bad will happen to us, neither famine nor war will come our way. The prophets are all windbags. They speak nothing but nonsense.’”

Therefore, this is what God said to me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies “Because they have talked this way, they are going to eat those words.  Watch now! I’m putting my words as fire in your mouth.  And the people are a pile of kindling ready to go up in flames.

“Attention! I’m bringing a far-off nation against you, O house of Israel.”...And the fortresses that made you feel so safe—  leveled with a stroke of the sword!  “Even then, as bad as it will be”—God’s Decree!—“it will not be the end of the world for you. And when people ask, ‘Why did our God do all this to us?’ you must say to them, ‘It’s tit for tat. Just as you left me and served foreign gods in your own country, so now you must serve foreigners in their own country.’...

But this people—what a people!  Uncontrollable, untameable runaways.  It never occurs to them to say, ‘How can we honor our God with our lives,... Of course you don’t! Your bad behavior blinds you to all this.  Your sins keep my blessings at a distance.

“My people are infiltrated by wicked men, unscrupulous men on the hunt.  They set traps for the unsuspecting.  Their victims are innocent men and women.  Their houses are stuffed with ill-gotten gain, like a hunter’s bag full of birds. Pretentious and powerful and rich, hugely obese, oily with rolls of fat.  Worse, they have no conscience. Right and wrong mean nothing to them. They stand for nothing, stand up for no one, throw orphans to the wolves, exploit the poor.  Do you think I’ll stand by and do nothing about this?”   “Don’t you think I’ll take serious measures against a people like this? “Unspeakable! Sickening! What’s happened in this country? Prophets preach lies and priests hire on as their assistants.  And my people love it. They eat it up!  But what will you do when it’s time to pick up the pieces?”

Luke 22:39-22:71
Leaving there, he went as he so often did, to Mount Olives...When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”  He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me.  But please not what I want, What you want?!  At once an angel from heaven was at this side, strengthening him.  He prayed all the harder.  Sweat wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.  He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief, he said, “What business do you have sleeping?  Get up.  Pray so you won’t give in to temptation.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up.  Judas, the one from the 12, in the lead.  His disciples asked Jesus if they should fight and one even cut off the ear of a servant .  But Jesus said, “Let them be, even in this.”  Then touching the servant’s ear, he healed him.  Then Jesus spoke to those who had come,  “What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal?  Day after day I’ve been with you in the Temple and you’ve not so much as lifted a hand against me.  But do it your way---it’s a dark night, a dark hour. “

Arresting Jesus, they marched him off and took him into the house of the Chief Priest.  Peter followed...denied knowing Jesus on three separate occasions...the last word hardly off his lips, a rooster crowed.  Just then, the Master turned and looked at Peter.  Peter remembered what the Master had said to him earlier....He went out and cried and cried and cried.

The men in charge of Jesus began poking fun of him, slapping him around.  They put a blindfold on him and taunted, “Who hit you that time?”   In the morning, the leaders began to question Jesus and asked “Are you the Messiah?”  Jesus answered, “If I say yes, you wouldn’t believe me.  If I asked what you meant by your question, you wouldn’t answer me.  So here what I have to say;  From here on the Son of Man takes his place at God’s right hand, the place of power.”  They all said, “So you admit your claim to be the Son of God?”  “You’re the ones who keep saying it.”  Jesus said.  But they had made up there minds, “Why do we need any more evidence?  We’ve all heard him as good as say it himself.”