Ever been called in and interrogated? Ever been questions about something? Ever been accused of something? Ever found yourself in a place where they are trying to make a case for something that didn’t align? Ever been questioned about stuff that everyone already should know the answers? Ever wondered what are they trying to do? What are they trying to get out of me? How do they expect me to answer? Why is this happening? What do they expect to get out of this process? What can I do?
Ever been denied or been betrayed? Ever been rejected? Ever had someone close to you walk away? Ever had someone close to you lie about you or even knowing you? Ever felt like you were an outcast? Ever found yourself feeling alone?
Today’s reading starts in just such a place…
The High Priest Questions Jesus
(Matthew 26.59-66; Mark 14.55-64; Luke 22.66-71)
19The High Priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20Jesus answered, “I have always spoken publicly to everyone; all my teaching was done in the synagogues and in the Temple, where all the people come together. I have never said anything in secret. 21Why, then, do you question me? Question the people who heard me. Ask them what I told them—they know what I said.” 22When Jesus said this, one of the guards there slapped him and said, “How dare you talk like that to the High Priest!” 23Jesus answered him, “If I have said anything wrong, tell everyone here what it was. But if I am right in what I have said, why do you hit me?” 24Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the High Priest.
Peter Denies Jesus Again
(Matthew 26.71-75; Mark 14.69-72; Luke 22.58-62)
25Peter was still standing there keeping himself warm. So the others said to him, “Aren’t you also one of the disciples of that man?” But Peter denied it. “No, I am not,” he said. 26One of the High Priest’s slaves, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, spoke up. “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” he asked. 27Again Peter said “No”—and at once a rooster crowed.
–from John 18
Where there any witnesses? Was there anyone who could confirm or deny? Do you realize the power of 2 witnesses? Do you realize the impact to a trial when you have 2 or more witnesses who can corroborate a story? Do you realize the outcome when such evidence is available? Do you realize the holes in the case when there are no such witness?
The Two Witnesses
1I was then given a stick that looked like a measuring-rod, and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count those who are worshiping in the temple. 2But do not measure the outer courts, because they have been given to the heathen, who will trample on the Holy City for forty-two months. 3I will send my two witnesses dressed in sackcloth, and they will proclaim God’s message during those 1, 260 days.” 4The two witnesses are the two olive trees and the two lamps that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes out of their mouths and destroys their enemies; and in this way whoever tries to harm them will be killed. 6They have authority to shut up the sky so that there will be no rain during the time they proclaim God’s message. They have authority also over the springs of water, to turn them into blood; they have authority also to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they wish. 7When they finish proclaiming their message, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will fight against them. He will defeat them and kill them, 8and their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, where their Lord was crucified. The symbolic name of that city is Sodom, or Egypt. 9People from all nations, tribes, languages, and races will look at their bodies for three and a half days and will not allow them to be buried. 10The people of the earth will be happy because of the death of these two. They will celebrate and send presents to each other, because those two prophets brought much suffering upon the whole human race. 11After three and a half days a life-giving breath came from God and entered them, and they stood up; and all who saw them were terrified. 12Then the two prophets heard a loud voice say to them from heaven, “Come up here!” As their enemies watched, they went up into heaven in a cloud. 13At that very moment there was a violent earthquake; a tenth of the city was destroyed, and seven thousand people were killed. The rest of the people were terrified and praised the greatness of the God of heaven.
14The second horror is over, but the third horror will come soon!
The Seventh Trumpet
15Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The power to rule over the world belongs now to our Lord and his Messiah, and he will rule forever and ever!” 16Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones in front of God threw themselves face downward and worshiped God, 17saying: “Lord God Almighty, the one who is and who was! We thank you that you have taken your great power and have begun to rule! 18The heathen were filled with rage, because the time for your anger has come, the time for the dead to be judged. The time has come to reward your servants, the prophets, and all your people, all who have reverence for you, great and small alike. The time has come to destroy those who destroy the earth!” 19God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the Covenant Box was seen there. Then there were flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
–from Revelation 11
Put your trust in God! He knows right where you are at and what you are going through! Don’t lose hope, but rather put your hope and trust in God! Turn to Him! Ask Him for wisdom and discernment! And allow Him to work in and through your life!
21He watches every step we take. 22There is no darkness dark enough to hide a sinner from God. 23God does not need to set a time for us to go and be judged by him. 24He does not need an investigation to remove leaders and replace them with others. 25Because he knows what they do; he overthrows them and crushes them by night. 26He punishes sinners where all can see it, 27because they have stopped following him and ignored all his commands. 28They forced the poor to cry out to God, and he heard their calls for help. 29If God decided to do nothing at all, no one could criticize him. If he hid his face, we would be helpless. 30There would be nothing that nations could do to keep godless oppressors from ruling them. 31Job, have you confessed your sins to God and promised not to sin again? 32Have you asked God to show you your faults, and have you agreed to stop doing evil? 33Since you object to what God does, can you expect him to do what you want? The decision is yours, not mine; tell us now what you think. 34Any sensible person will surely agree; and the wise who hear me will say 35that Job is speaking from ignorance and that nothing he says makes sense. 36Think through everything that Job says; you will see that he talks like an evil man. 37To his sins he adds rebellion; in front of us all he mocks God.
–from Job 34
Take a look around you! Do you see what is going on in the world around you? Do you realize what it is setting up? Do you know the consequences of such things? What can you do? What will you do? How will you react and respond? What do you think God should do? How much patience do you think He has? How long do you think He will wait?
1During the time that Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, the Lord gave this message to Micah, who was from the town of Moresheth. The Lord revealed to Micah all these things about Samaria and Jerusalem.
A Lament for Samaria and Jerusalem
2Hear this, all you nations; listen to this, all who live on earth! The Sovereign Lord will testify against you. Listen! He speaks from his heavenly temple. 3The Lord is coming from his holy place; he will come down and walk on the tops of the mountains. 4Then the mountains will melt under him like wax in a fire; they will pour down into the valleys like water pouring down a hill. 5All this will happen because the people of Israel have sinned and rebelled against God. Who is to blame for Israel’s rebellion? Samaria, the capital city itself Who is guilty of idolatry in Judah? Jerusalem itself 6So the Lord says, “I will make Samaria a pile of ruins in the open country, a place for planting grapevines. I will pour the rubble of the city down into the valley, and will lay bare the city’s foundations. 7All its precious idols will be smashed to pieces, everything given to its temple prostitutes will be destroyed by fire, and all its images will become a desolate heap. Samaria acquired these things for its fertility rites, and now her enemies will carry them off for temple prostitutes elsewhere.” 8Then Micah said, “Because of this I will mourn and lament. To show my sorrow, I will walk around barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and wail like an ostrich. 9Samaria’s wounds cannot be healed, and Judah is about to suffer in the same way; destruction has reached the gates of Jerusalem itself, where my people live.”
The Enemy Approaches Jerusalem
10Don’t tell our enemies in Gath about our defeat; don’t let them see you weeping. People of Beth Leaphrah, show your despair by rolling in the dust! 11You people of Shaphir, go into exile, naked and ashamed. Those who live in Zaanan do not dare to come out of their city. When you hear the people of Bethezel mourn, you will know that there is no refuge there. 12The people of Maroth anxiously wait for relief, because the Lord has brought disaster close to Jerusalem. 13You that live in Lachish, hitch the horses to the chariots. You imitated the sins of Israel and so caused Jerusalem to sin. 14And now, people of Judah, say good-bye to the town of Moresheth Gath. The kings of Israel will get no help from the town of Achzib. 15People of Mareshah, the Lord will hand you over to an enemy, who is going to capture your town. The leaders of Israel will go and hide in the cave at Adullam. 16People of Judah, cut off your hair in mourning for the children you love. Make yourselves as bald as vultures, because your children will be taken away from you into exile.
–from Micah 1
What is your plan? What is your purpose? What is the reason for what you do? Do you realize the difference your intentions are to what you can accomplish? What’s it going to take for the light to go on? What’s it going to take for the aha moment to get you?
The Fate of Those Who Oppress the Poor
1How terrible it will be for those who lie awake and plan evil! When morning comes, as soon as they have the chance, they do the evil they planned. 2When they want fields, they seize them; when they want houses, they take them. No one’s family or property is safe. 3And so the Lord says, “I am planning to bring disaster on you, and you will not be able to escape it. You are going to find yourselves in trouble, and then you will not walk so proudly any more. 4When that time comes, people will use the story about you as an example of disaster, and they will sing this song of despair about your experience: We are completely ruined! The Lord has taken our land away And given it to those who took us captive.” 5So then, when the time comes for the land to be given back to the Lord’s people, there will be no share for any of you. 6The people preach at me and say, “Don’t preach at us. Don’t preach about all that. God is not going to disgrace us. 7Do you think the people of Israel are under a curse? Has the Lord lost his patience? Would he really do such things? Doesn’t he speak kindly to those who do right?” 8The Lord replies, “You attack my people like enemies. Men return from battle, thinking they are safe at home, but there you are, waiting to steal the coats off their backs. 9You drive the women of my people out of the homes they love, and you have robbed their children of my blessings forever. 10Get up and go; there is no safety here any more. Your sins have doomed this place to destruction. 11“These people want the kind of prophet who goes around full of lies and deceit and says, ‘I prophesy that wine and liquor will flow for you.’ 12“But I will gather you together, all you people of Israel that are left. I will bring you together like sheep returning to the fold. Like a pasture full of sheep, your land will once again be filled with many people.” 13God will open the way for them and lead them out of exile. They will break out of the city gates and go free. Their king, the Lord himself, will lead them out.
–from Micah 2
What direction are you heading? What do you believe? What are you listening to? What are you saying? What do you believe?
Micah Denounces Israel’s Leaders
1Listen, you rulers of Israel! You are supposed to be concerned about justice, 2yet you hate what is good and you love what is evil. You skin my people alive and tear the flesh off their bones. 3You eat my people up. You strip off their skin, break their bones, and chop them up like meat for the pot. 4The time is coming when you will cry out to the Lord, but he will not answer you. He will not listen to your prayers, for you have done evil. 5My people are deceived by prophets who promise peace to those who pay them, but threaten war for those who don’t. To these prophets the Lord says, 6“Prophets, your day is almost over; the sun is going down on you. Because you mislead my people, you will have no more prophetic visions, and you will not be able to predict anything.” 7Those who predict the future will be disgraced by their failure. They will all be humiliated because God does not answer them. 8But as for me, the Lord fills me with his spirit and power, and gives me a sense of justice and the courage to tell the people of Israel what their sins are. 9Listen to me, you rulers of Israel, you that hate justice and turn right into wrong. 10You are building God’s city, Jerusalem, on a foundation of murder and injustice. 11The city’s rulers govern for bribes, the priests interpret the Law for pay, the prophets give their revelations for money—and they all claim that the Lord is with them. “No harm will come to us,” they say. “The Lord is with us.” 12And so, because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a pile of ruins, and the Temple hill will become a forest.
–from Micah 3