July 12, 2015

Ezekiel 4-6  - 
Now, son of man, take a brick and place it before you. Draw a picture of the city Jerusalem on it. Then make a model of a military siege against the brick: Build siege walls, construct a ramp, set up army camps, lay in battering rams around it. Then get an iron skillet and place it upright between you and the city—an iron wall. Face the model: The city shall be under siege and you shall be the besieger. This is a sign to the family of Israel. 

“Next lie on your left side and place the sin of the family of Israel on yourself. You will bear their sin for as many days as you lie on your side. The number of days you bear their sin will match the number of years of their sin, namely, 390. For 390 days you will bear the sin of the family of Israel. “Then, after you have done this, turn over and lie down on your right side and bear the sin of the family of Judah. Your assignment this time is to lie there for forty days, a day for each year of their sin.

“I will tie you up with ropes, tie you so you can’t move or turn over until you have finished the days of the siege.

 “Next I want you to take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, dried millet and spelt, and mix them in a bowl to make a flat bread. This is your food ration for the 390 days you lie on your side. Measure out about half a pound for each day and eat it on schedule. Also measure out your daily ration of about a pint of water and drink it on schedule. Eat the bread as you would a muffin. Bake the muffins out in the open where everyone can see you, using dried human dung for fuel.”

“Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a straight razor, shaving your head and your beard. Then, using a set of balancing scales, divide the hair into thirds. When the days of the siege are over, take one-third of the hair and burn it inside the city. Take another third, chop it into bits with the sword and sprinkle it around the city. The final third you’ll throw to the wind. Then I’ll go after them with a sword....

 “Therefore this is what God, the Master, says: You’ve been more headstrong and willful than any of the nations around you, refusing my guidance, ignoring my directions. You’ve sunk to the gutter level of those around you..... Not an ounce of pity will I show you.  A third of your people will die of either disease or hunger inside the city, a third will be killed outside the city, and a third will be thrown to the winds    and chased by killers.  Only then will I calm  down & let my anger cool.  Then you will know that I am serious about this all along, that I am a jealous God & not to be trifled with...

Then the Word of God came to me: “Son of man, now turn and face the mountains of Israel and preach against them: ‘O Mountains of Israel, listen to the Message of God, the Master. God, the Master, speaks to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I’m about to destroy your sacred god and goddess shrines. I’ll level your altars, bust up your sun-god pillars, and kill your people as they bow down to your no-god idols....

But I will let a few escape the killing as you are scattered through other lands... They’ll realize how devastated I was by their betrayal by their voracious lust for gratifying themselves in their idolatries..... They’ll realize that I am God when they see their people’s corpses strewn over and around all their ruined sex-and-religion shrines on the bare hills and in the lush fertility groves, in all the places where they indulged their sensual rites.... Then they will know that I am God! 

Acts 13:1-13:12
The congregation in Antioch was blessed with a number of prophet-preachers and teachers:.... One day as they were worshiping God—they were also fasting as they waited for guidance—the Holy Spirit spoke: “Take Barnabas and Saul and commission them for the work I have called them to do.” So they commissioned them. In that circle of intensity and obedience, of fasting and praying, they laid hands on their heads and sent them off....

The first thing they did at Salamis was preach the Word in the Jewish meeting places.  They had John along to help out as needed...  They came across a Jewish wizard - Bar Jesus.  He was as crooked as a corkscrew.  The governor invited Barnabas and Saul in, wanting to hear God’s Word firsthand from them. But Dr. Know-It-All (that’s the wizard’s name in plain English) stirred up a ruckus, trying to divert the governor from becoming a believer.

But Saul (or Paul), full of the Holy Spirit and looking him straight in the eye, said, “You bag of wind, you parody of a devil...He was plunged immediately into a shadowy mist and stumbled around, begging people to take his hand and show him the way.  When the governor saw what happened, he became a believer, full of enthusiasm over what they were saying about the Master.