June 2, 2015

Isaiah 34-35
Draw in close now, nations. Listen carefully, you people. Pay attention!  Earth, you, too, and everything in you. World, and all that comes from you.  And here’s why: God is angry, good and angry with all the nations, so blazingly angry at their arms and armies...  

It’s God’s scheduled time for vengeance, the year all Zion’s accounts are settled.  Edom’s streams will flow sluggish, thick with pollution, the soil sterile, poisoned with waste,... God will reverse creation. Chaos!  He will cancel fertility. Emptiness! Leaders will have no one to lead.  They’ll name it No Kingdom There,...

Get and read God’s book: None of this is going away, this breeding, brooding evil. God has personally commanded it all.  His Spirit set it in motion.  God has assigned them their place, decreed their fate in detail.  This is permanent—generation after generation, the same old thing.

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower— Like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color.  Mountain glories of Lebanon—a gift.  Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon—gifts. God’s resplendent glory, fully on display.  God awesome, God majestic.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees.  Tell fearful souls,  “Courage! Take heart!  God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs.  He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”  Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.  Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness streams flow in the desert.  Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain.  Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.
There will be a highway called the Holy Road.  No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.  It’s for God’s people exclusively— impossible to get lost on this road.  Not even fools can get lost on it.  No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals—Nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.  Only the redeemed will walk on it.  The people God has ransomed will come back on this road. They’ll sing as they make their way home to Zion, unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

Luke 11:29 - 11:54 - As the crowd swelled, Jesus took a fresh tack.  “The mood of this age is all wrong.  Everybody looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind.  all you’re looking for is something to titilate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles.  But the only proof you’re going to get is the Jonah-proof given to the Ninevites, which looks like no proof at all.  What Jonah was to Nineveh, the Son of Man is to this age...

A far greater preacher than Jonah is here and you squabble about proof....Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you and you quibble over evidence.

No one lights a lamp then hides it in a drawer.  It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going.  Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body.  If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  If you live squinty eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar.  Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning so you don’t get musty and murky.  Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”

When Jesus finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner.  He entered his house and sat right down at the table.  The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before  the meal. The Master responded to this by stating, “Stupid Pharisees!  Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside!  Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor: then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.  I’ve had it with you Pharisees! Frauds!  You keep meticulous account  books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of Justice and God’s love....

You’re hopeless, you Pharisees!  Frauds!  You love sitting at the head table at church dinners, love preening yourselves in the radiance of public flattery.  Frauds!  You are just like unmarked graves.  People walk over that nice, grassy surface, never suspecting  the rot and corruption  that is six feet under.”  

When a religion scholar spoke up to support the Pharisee, Jesus became even more explicit, “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars!  You load people down with rules and regulations ,nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help.... You’re hopeless...you took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them.  You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.”

As soon as Jesus left the table, the religion scholars and Pharisees went into a rage.  They went over and over everything he said, plotting how they could trap him in something from his own mouth.