June 5, 2015

 Isaiah 38-39
At that time, Hezekiah got sick. He was about to die. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz visited him and said, “God says, ‘Prepare your affairs and your family. This is it: You’re going to die. You’re not going to get well.’”  Hezekiah turned away from Isaiah and, facing the wall, prayed to God: “God, please, I beg you: Remember how I’ve lived my life. I’ve lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours. You’ve seen how I’ve lived, the good that I have done.” And Hezekiah wept as he prayed—painful tears.

Then God told Isaiah, “Go and speak with Hezekiah. Give him this Message from me, God, the God of your ancestor David: ‘I’ve heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll add fifteen years to your life. And I’ll save both you and this city from the king of Assyria. I have my hand on this city....

This is what Hezekiah king of Judah wrote after he’d been sick and then recovered from his sickness:
In the very prime of life I have to leave. Whatever time I have left is spent in death’s waiting room. No more glimpses of God in the land of the living,  No more meetings with my neighbors, no more rubbing shoulders with friends.... I cry for help until morning.  Like a lion, God pummels and pounds me,  relentlessly finishing me off....My eyes ache from looking up for help: “Master, I’m in trouble! Get me out of this!”  But what’s the use? God himself gave me the word. He’s done it to me.  I can’t sleep—I’m that upset, that troubled.

O Master, these are the conditions in which people live, and yes, in these very conditions my spirit is still alive—fully recovered with a fresh infusion of life!  It seems it was good for me to go through all those troubles. Throughout them all you held tight to my lifeline. You never let me tumble over the edge into nothing.  But my sins you let go of, threw them over your shoulder—good riddance!... It’s the living—live men, live women—who thank you, just as I’m doing right now. Parents give their children full reports on your faithful ways.

God saves and will save me.  As fiddles and mandolins strike up the tunes, we’ll sing, oh we’ll sing, sing, for the rest of our lives in the Sanctuary of God....

Sometime later, King Merodach-baladan of Babylon sent messengers with greetings and a gift to Hezekiah. He had heard that Hezekiah had been sick and was now well.  Hezekiah received the messengers warmly. He took them on a tour of his royal precincts, proudly showing them all his treasures: silver, gold, spices, expensive oils, all his weapons—everything out on display. There was nothing in his house or kingdom that Hezekiah didn’t show them.  

Later the prophet Isaiah showed up. He asked Hezekiah, “What were these men up to? What did they say? And where did they come from?” Hezekiah said, “They came from a long way off, from Babylon.” “And what did they see in your palace?” “Everything,” said Hezekiah. “I showed them the works, opened all the doors and impressed them with it all.”

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Now listen to this Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies: I have to warn you, the time is coming when everything in this palace, along with everything your ancestors accumulated before you, will be hauled off to Babylon. God says that there will be nothing left. Nothing. And not only your things but your sons. Some of your sons will be taken into exile, ending up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Hezekiah replied to Isaiah, “Good. If God says so, it’s good.” Within himself he was thinking, “But surely nothing bad will happen in my lifetime. I’ll enjoy peace and stability as long as I live.”

Luke 12:35-12:59
Keep your shirts on, keep the lights on!...Lucky the servants whom the master finds on  watch!  He’ll put on an apron, sit them at the table, and serve them a meal, sharing his wedding feast with them.  It doesn’t matter what time of the night he arrives, they’re awake--and so blessed!

So don’t you be slovenly and careless.  Just when you don’t expect him, the Son of Man will show up.”

Peter said. “Master, are you telling this story just for us? Or is it for everybody?”  The Master said, “Let me ask you;  Who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff to feed them well and on time?  He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he is doing his job.

The servant who knows what his master wants and ignores it, or insolently does whatever he pleases, will be thoroughly thrashed.  But if he does a poor job through ignorance, he will get off with a slap on the hand.  

Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!  

 I have come to start a fire on this earth --how I wish it were blazing right now!  I’ve come to change, everything, turn everything rightside up--how I long for it to be finished!  Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice?  No!  I’ve come to disrupt  and confront!.....

Friends!  You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell me change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.  You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things.  Just use your common sense, the kind you use if, while being taken to court, you decide to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you’d probably go to jail and pay every last penny of the fine.  That is the kind of decision I am asking you to make.