Bible Society of South Africa

Bible Reading Plan – Day 222

Bible text(s)

The LORD's Will and Human Defiance

1It was the tenth day of the fifth month of the seventh year of our exile. Some of the leaders of the Israelite community came to consult me about the LORD's will, and they sat down in front of me. 2Then the LORD spoke to me. 3“Mortal man,” he said, “speak to these leaders and tell them that the Sovereign LORD is saying: you have come to ask my will, have you? As surely as I am the living God, I will not let you ask me anything. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.

4“Are you ready to pass sentence on them, mortal man? Then do so. Remind them of the disgusting things their ancestors did. 5Tell them what I am saying. When I chose Israel, I made them a promise. I revealed myself to them in Egypt and told them: I am the LORD your God. 6It was then that I promised to take them out of Egypt and lead them to a land I had chosen for them, a rich and fertile land, the finest land of all. 7I told them to throw away the disgusting idols they loved and not to make themselves unclean with the false gods of Egypt, because I am the LORD their God. 8But they defied me and refused to listen. They did not throw away their disgusting idols or give up the Egyptian gods. I was ready to let them feel the full force of my anger there in Egypt. 9But I did not, since that would have brought dishonour to my name, for in the presence of the people among whom they were living I had announced to Israel that I was going to lead them out of Egypt.

10“And so I led them out of Egypt into the desert. 11I gave them my commands and taught them my laws, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. 12I made the keeping of the Sabbath a sign of the agreement between us, to remind them that I, the LORD, make them holy. 13But even in the desert they defied me. They broke my laws and rejected my commands, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. They completely profaned the Sabbath. I was ready to let them feel the force of my anger there in the desert and destroy them. 14But I did not, since that would have brought dishonour to my name among the nations which had seen me lead Israel out of Egypt. 15So I made a promise in the desert that I would not take them to the land I had given them, a rich and fertile land, the finest land of all. 16I made the promise because they had rejected my commands, broken my laws, and profaned the Sabbath — they preferred to worship their idols.

17“But then I took pity on them. I decided not to kill them there in the desert. 18Instead, I warned the young people among them: do not keep the laws your ancestors made; do not follow their customs or defile yourselves with their idols. 19I am the LORD your God. Obey my laws and my commands. 20Make the Sabbath a holy day, so that it will be a sign of the covenant we made, and will remind you that I am the LORD your God.

21“But that generation also defied me. They broke my laws and did not keep my commands, which bring life to anyone who obeys them. They profaned the Sabbath. I was ready to let them feel the force of my anger there in the desert and kill them all. 22But I did not, since that would have brought dishonour to my name among the nations which had seen me bring Israel out of Egypt. 23So I made another promise in the desert. I vowed that I would scatter them all over the world. 24I did this because they had rejected my commands, broken my laws, profaned the Sabbath, and worshipped the same idols their ancestors had served.

25“Then I gave them laws that are not good and commands that do not bring life. 26I let them defile themselves with their own offerings, and I let them sacrifice their firstborn sons. This was to punish them and show them that I am the LORD.

27“Now then, mortal man, tell the Israelites what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them. This is another way their ancestors insulted me by their unfaithfulness. 28I brought them to the land I had promised to give them. When they saw the high hills and green trees, they offered sacrifices at all of them. They made me angry by the sacrifices they burnt and by the wine they brought as offerings. 29I asked them: what are these high places where you go? So they have been called ‘High Places’ ever since. 30Now tell the Israelites what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying: why must you commit the same sins your ancestors did and go running after their idols? 31Even today you offer the same gifts and defile yourselves with the same idols by sacrificing your children to them in the fire. And then you Israelites still come to ask what my will is! As surely as I, the Sovereign LORD, am the living God, I will not let you ask me anything. 32You have made up your minds that you want to be like the other nations, like the people who live in other countries and worship trees and rocks. But that will never be.

God Punishes and Forgives

33“As surely as I, the Sovereign LORD, am the living God, I warn you that in my anger I will rule over you with a strong hand, with all my power. 34I will show you my power and my anger when I gather you together and bring you back from all the countries where you have been scattered. 35I will bring you into the ‘Desert of the Nations’, and there I will condemn you to your face. 36I will now condemn you just as I condemned your ancestors in the Sinai Desert,” says the Sovereign LORD.

37“I will take firm control of you and make you obey my covenant. 38I will take away from among you those who are rebellious and sinful. I will take them out of the lands where they are living now, but I will not let them return to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

39The Sovereign LORD said, “And now, all you Israelites, please yourselves! Go on and serve your idols! But I warn you that after this you will have to obey me and stop dishonouring my holy name by offering gifts to your idols. 40There in the land, on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, all you people of Israel will worship me. I will be pleased with you and will expect you to bring me your sacrifices, your best offerings, and your holy gifts. 41After I bring you out of the countries where you have been scattered and gather you together, I will accept the sacrifices that you burn, and the nations will see that I am holy. 42When I bring you back to Israel, the land that I promised I would give to your ancestors, then you will know that I am the LORD. 43Then you will remember all the disgraceful things you did and how you defiled yourselves. You will be disgusted with yourselves because of all the evil things you did. 44When I act to protect my honour, you Israelites will know that I am the LORD, because I do not deal with you as your wicked, evil actions deserve.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

Fire in the South

45The LORD spoke to me. 46“Mortal man,” he said, “look towards the south. Speak against the south and prophesy against the forest of the south. 47Tell the southern forest to hear what the Sovereign LORD is saying: look! I am starting a fire, and it will burn up every tree in you, whether green or dry. Nothing will be able to put it out. It will spread from south to north, and everyone will feel the heat of the flames. 48They will all see that I, the LORD, set it on fire and that no one can put it out.”

49But I protested, “Sovereign LORD, don't make me do it! Everyone is already complaining that I always speak in riddles.”

The LORD's Sword

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “denounce Jerusalem. Denounce the places where people worship. Warn the land of Israel 3that I, the LORD, am saying: I am your enemy. I will draw my sword and kill all of you, good and evil alike. 4I will use my sword against everyone from south to north. 5Everyone will know that I, the LORD, have drawn my sword and that I will not put it away.

6“Mortal man, groan as if your heart is breaking with despair. Groan in sorrow where everyone can watch you. 7When they ask you why you are groaning, tell them it is because of the news that is coming. When it comes, their hearts will be filled with fear, their hands will hang limp, their courage will fail, and their knees will tremble. The time has come; it is here.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

8The LORD said to me, 9“Mortal man, prophesy. Tell the people what I, the Lord, am saying:

A sword, a sword is sharpened and polished.

10It is sharpened to kill,

polished to flash like lightning.

There can be no rejoicing,

for my people have disregarded every warning and punishment.

11The sword is being polished,

to make it ready for use.

It is sharpened and polished,

to be put in the hands of a killer.

12Howl in grief, mortal man;

this sword is meant for my people

and for all the leaders of Israel.

They are going to be killed

with all the rest of my people.

Beat your breast in despair!

13I am testing my people,

and if they refuse to repent,

all these things will happen to them.

14“Now, mortal man, prophesy. Clap your hands, and the sword will strike again and again. It is a sword that kills, a sword that terrifies and slaughters. 15It makes my people lose courage and stumble. I am threatening their city with a sword that flashes like lightning and is ready to kill. 16Cut to the right and the left, you sharp sword! Cut wherever you turn. 17I also will clap my hands, and my anger will be over. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

The Sword of the King of Babylonia

18The LORD spoke to me. 19“Mortal man,” he said, “mark out two roads by which the king of Babylonia can come with his sword. Both of them are to start in the same country. Put up a signpost where the roads fork. 20One arm will show the king the way to the Ammonite city of Rabbah, and the other the way to Judah, to the fortified city, Jerusalem. 21The king of Babylonia stands by the signpost at the fork of the road. To discover which way to go, he shakes the arrows; he consults his idols; he examines the liver of a sacrificed animal. 22Now! His right hand holds the arrow marked ‘Jerusalem’! It tells him to go and set up battering rams, to shout the battle cry, to place battering rams against the gates, to throw up earthworks, and to dig trenches. 23The people of Jerusalem won't believe this, because of the treaties they have made. But this prediction is to remind them of their sins and to warn them that they will be captured. 24This then is what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying: your sins are exposed. Everyone knows how guilty you are. You show your sins in your every action. You stand condemned, and I will hand you over to your enemies.

25“You wicked, unholy ruler of Israel, your day, the day of your final punishment, is coming. 26I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. Take off your crown and your turban. Nothing will be the same again. Raise the poor to power! Bring down those who are ruling! 27Ruin, ruin! Yes, I will make the city a ruin. But this will not happen until the one whom I have chosen to punish the city has come. Then I will give it to him.

A Sword and the Ammonites

28“Mortal man, prophesy. Announce what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to the Ammonites, who are insulting Israel. Say to them:

‘A sword is ready to destroy;

It is polished to kill, to flash like lightning.

29The visions that you see are false, and the predictions you make are lies. You are wicked and evil, and your day is coming, the day of your final punishment. The sword is going to fall on your necks.

30“ ‘Put up the sword! I will judge you in the place where you were created, in the land where you were born. 31You will feel my anger when I turn it loose on you like a blazing fire. And I will hand you over to brutal men, experts at destruction. 32You will be destroyed by fire. Your blood will be shed in your own country, and no one will remember you any more.’ ” The LORD has spoken.

Ezekiel 20:1-21:32GNBOpen in Bible reader
Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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