Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 193

Ezekiel 16–20, Psalm 62

Bible text(s)

Jerusalem the Unfaithful

1The LORD spoke to me again. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “point out to Jerusalem what disgusting things she has done. 3Tell Jerusalem what the Sovereign LORD is saying to her:

“You were born in the land of Canaan. Your father was an Amorite, and your mother was a Hittite. 4When you were born, no one cut your umbilical cord or washed you or rubbed you with salt or wrapped you in cloth. 5No one took enough pity on you to do any of these things for you. When you were born, no one loved you. You were thrown out in an open field.

6“Then I passed by and saw you squirming in your own blood. You were covered with blood, but I wouldn't let you die. 7I made you grow like a healthy plant. You grew strong and tall and became a young woman. Your breasts were well formed, and your hair had grown, but you were naked.

8“As I passed by again, I saw that the time had come for you to fall in love. I covered your naked body with my coat and promised to love you. Yes, I made a marriage covenant with you, and you became mine.” This is what the Sovereign LORD says.

9“Then I took water and washed the blood off you. I rubbed olive oil on your skin. 10I dressed you in embroidered gowns and gave you shoes of the best leather, a linen headband, and a silk cloak. 11I put jewels on you — bracelets and necklaces. 12I gave you a nose-ring and earrings and a beautiful crown to wear. 13You had ornaments of gold and silver, and you always wore clothes of embroidered linen and silk. You ate bread made from the best flour, and had honey and olive oil to eat. Your beauty was dazzling, and you became a queen. 14You became famous in every nation for your perfect beauty, because I was the one who made you so lovely.” This is what the Sovereign LORD says.

15“But you took advantage of your beauty and fame to sleep with everyone who came along. 16You used some of your clothes to decorate your places of worship, and just like a prostitute, you gave yourself to everyone. 17You took the silver and gold jewellery that I had given you, used it to make male images, and committed adultery with them. 18You took the embroidered clothes I gave you and put them on the images, and you offered to the images the olive oil and incense I had given you. 19I gave you food — the best flour, olive oil, and honey — but you offered it as a sacrifice to win the favour of idols.” This is what the Sovereign LORD says.

20“Then you took the sons and the daughters you had borne me and offered them as sacrifices to idols. Wasn't it bad enough to be unfaithful to me, 21without taking my children and sacrificing them to idols? 22During your disgusting life as a prostitute you never once remembered your childhood — when you were naked, squirming in your own blood.”

Jerusalem's Life as a Prostitute

23The Sovereign LORD said, “You are doomed! Doomed! You did all that evil, and then 24by the side of every road you built places to worship idols and practise prostitution. 25You dragged your beauty through the mud. You offered yourself to everyone who came by, and you were more of a prostitute every day. 26You let your lustful neighbours, the Egyptians, go to bed with you, and you used your prostitution to make me angry.

27“Now I have raised my hand to punish you and to take away your share of my blessing. I have handed you over to the Philistines, who hate you and are disgusted with your immoral actions.

28“Because you were not satisfied by the others, you went running after the Assyrians. You were their prostitute, but they didn't satisfy you either. 29You were also a prostitute for the Babylonians, that nation of merchants, but they didn't satisfy you either.”

30This is what the Sovereign LORD is saying: “You have done all this like a shameless prostitute. 31On every street you built places to worship idols and practise prostitution. But you are not out for money like a common prostitute. 32You are like a woman who commits adultery with strangers instead of loving her husband. 33A prostitute is paid, but you gave presents to all your lovers and bribed them to come from everywhere to sleep with you. 34You are a special kind of prostitute. No one forced you to become one. You didn't get paid; you paid them! Yes, you are different.”

God's Judgement on Jerusalem

35Now then, Jerusalem, you whore! Hear what the LORD is saying.

36This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “You stripped off your clothes and, like a prostitute, you gave yourself to your lovers and to all your disgusting idols, and you killed your children as sacrifices to idols. 37Because of this I will bring all your former lovers together — the ones you liked and the ones you hated. I will bring them round you in a circle, and then I will strip off your clothes and let them see you naked. 38I will condemn you for adultery and murder, and in my anger and fury I will punish you with death. 39I will put you in their power, and they will tear down the places where you engage in prostitution and worship idols. They will take away your clothes and jewels and leave you completely naked.

40“They will stir up a crowd to stone you, and they will cut you to pieces with their swords. 41They will burn your houses down and let crowds of women see your punishment. I will make you stop being a prostitute and make you stop giving gifts to your lovers. 42Then my anger will be over, and I will be calm. I will not be angry or jealous any more. 43You have forgotten how I treated you when you were young, and you have made me angry by all the things you did. That is why I have made you pay for them all. Why did you add sexual immorality to all the other disgusting things you did?” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

44The LORD said, “People will use this proverb about you, Jerusalem: ‘Like mother, like daughter.’ 45You really are your mother's daughter. She detested her husband and her children. You are like your sisters, who hated their husbands and their children. You and your sister cities had a Hittite mother and an Amorite father.

46“Your elder sister is Samaria, in the north, with her villages. Your younger sister, with her villages, is Sodom, in the south. 47Were you content to follow in their footsteps and copy their disgusting actions? No, in only a little while you were behaving worse than they were in everything you did.

48“As surely as I am the living God,” the Sovereign LORD says, “your sister Sodom and her villages never did the evil that you and your villages have done. 49She and her daughters were proud because they had plenty to eat and lived in peace and quiet, but they did not take care of the poor and the underprivileged. 50They were proud and stubborn and did the things that I hate, so I destroyed them, as you well know.

51“Samaria did not sin half as much as you have. You have acted more disgustingly than she ever did. Your corruption makes your sisters look innocent by comparison. 52And now you will have to endure your disgrace. Your sins are so much worse than those of your sisters that they look innocent beside you. Now blush and bear your shame, because you make your sisters look pure.”

Sodom and Samaria will be Restored

53The LORD said to Jerusalem, “I will make them prosperous again — Sodom and her villages and Samaria and her villages. Yes, I will make you prosperous too. 54You will be ashamed of yourself, and your disgrace will show your sisters how well off they are. 55They will become prosperous again, and you and your villages will also be restored. 56Didn't you joke about Sodom in those days when you were proud 57and before the evil you did had been exposed? Now you are just like her — a joke to the Edomites, the Philistines, and your other neighbours who hate you. 58You must suffer for the obscene, disgusting things you have done.” The LORD has spoken.

A Covenant that Lasts for Ever

59The Sovereign LORD says, “I will treat you as you deserve, because you ignored your promises and broke the covenant. 60But I will honour the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will make a covenant with you that will last for ever. 61You will remember how you have acted, and be ashamed of it when you get your elder sister and your younger sister back. I will let them be like daughters to you, even though this was not part of my covenant with you. 62I will renew my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. 63I will forgive all the wrongs you have done, but you will remember them and be too ashamed to open your mouth.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

Ezekiel 16GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Parable of the Eagles and the Vine

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “tell the Israelites a parable 3to let them know what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them: there was a giant eagle with beautiful feathers and huge wings, spread wide. He flew to the Lebanon Mountains and broke off the top of a cedar tree, 4which he carried to a land of commerce, and placed in a city of merchants. 5Then he took a young plant from the land of Israel and planted it in a fertile field, where there was always water to make it grow. 6The plant sprouted and became a low, wide-spreading grapevine. The branches grew upward towards the eagle, and the roots grew deep. The vine was covered with branches and leaves.

7“There was another giant eagle with huge wings and thick plumage. And now the vine sent its roots towards him and turned its leaves towards him, in the hope that he would give it more water than there was in the garden where it was growing. 8But the vine had already been planted in a fertile, well-watered field so that it could grow leaves and bear grapes and be a magnificent vine.

9“So I, the Sovereign LORD, ask: will this vine live and grow? Won't the first eagle pull it up by its roots, pull off the grapes, and break off the branches and let them wither? It will not take much strength or a mighty nation to pull it up. 10Yes, it is planted, but will it live and grow? Won't it wither when the east wind strikes it? Won't it wither there where it is growing?”

The Parable is Explained

11The LORD said to me, 12“Ask these rebels if they know what the parable means. Tell them that the king of Babylonia came to Jerusalem and took the king and his officials back with him to Babylonia. 13He took one of the king's family, made a treaty with him, and made him swear to be loyal. He took important men as hostages 14to keep the nation from rising again and to make sure that the treaty would be kept. 15But the king of Judah rebelled and sent agents to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Can he get away with that? He cannot break the treaty and go unpunished!

16“As surely as I am the living God,” says the Sovereign LORD, “this king will die in Babylonia because he broke his oath and the treaty he had made with the king of Babylonia, who put him on the throne. 17Even the powerful army of the king of Egypt will not be able to help him fight when the Babylonians build earthworks and dig trenches in order to kill many people. 18He broke his oath and the treaty he had made. He did all these things, and now he will not escape.”

19The Sovereign LORD says, “As surely as I am the living God, I will punish him for breaking the treaty which he swore in my name to keep. 20I will spread out a hunter's net and catch him in it. I will take him to Babylonia and punish him there, because he was unfaithful to me. 21His best soldiers will be killed in battle, and the survivors will be scattered in every direction. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken.”

God's Promise of Hope

22This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

“I will take the top of a tall cedar

and break off a tender sprout;

I will plant it on a high mountain,

23on Israel's highest mountain.

It will grow branches and bear seed

and become a magnificent cedar.

Birds of every kind will live there

and find shelter in its shade.

24All the trees in the land will know

that I am the LORD.

I cut down the tall trees

and make the small trees grow tall.

I wither up the green trees

and make the dry trees become green.

I, the LORD, have spoken. I will do what I have said I would do.”

Ezekiel 17GNBOpen in Bible reader

Individual Responsibility

1The LORD spoke to me 2and said, “What is this proverb people keep repeating in the land of Israel?

‘The parents ate the sour grapes,

But the children got the sour taste.’

3“As surely as I am the living God,” says the Sovereign LORD, “you will not repeat this proverb in Israel any more. 4The life of every person belongs to me, the life of the parent as well as that of the child. The person who sins is the one who will die.

5“Suppose there is a truly good man, righteous and honest. 6He doesn't worship the idols of the Israelites or eat the sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines. He doesn't seduce another man's wife or have intercourse with a woman during her period. 7He doesn't cheat or rob anyone. He returns what a borrower gives him as security; he feeds the hungry and gives clothing to the naked. 8He doesn't lend money for profit. He refuses to do evil and gives an honest decision in any dispute. 9Such a man obeys my commands and carefully keeps my laws. He is righteous, and he will live,” says the Sovereign LORD.

10“Then suppose this man has a son who robs and kills, who does any of these things 11that the father never did. He eats sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines and seduces other men's wives. 12He cheats the poor, he robs, he keeps what a borrower gives him as security. He goes to pagan shrines, worships disgusting idols, 13and lends money for profit. Will he live? No, he will not. He has done all these disgusting things, and so he will die. He will be to blame for his own death.

14“Now suppose this second man has a son. He sees all the sins his father practised, but does not follow his example. 15He doesn't worship the idols of the Israelites or eat the sacrifices offered at forbidden shrines. He doesn't seduce another man's wife 16or oppress anyone or rob anyone. He returns what a borrower gives him as security. He feeds the hungry and gives clothing to the naked. 17He refuses to do evil and doesn't lend money for profit. He keeps my laws and obeys my commands. He will not die because of his father's sins, but he will certainly live. 18His father, on the other hand, cheated and robbed, and always did evil to everyone. And so he died because of the sins he himself had committed.

19“But you ask, ‘Why shouldn't the son suffer because of his father's sins?’ The answer is that the son did what was right and good. He kept my laws and followed them carefully, and so he will certainly live. 20It is the one who sins who will die. A son is not to suffer because of his father's sins, nor a father because of the sins of his son. A good person will be rewarded for doing good, and an evil person will suffer for the evil he does.

21“If an evil person stops sinning and keeps my laws, if he does what is right and good, he will not die; he will certainly live. 22All his sins will be forgiven, and he will live, because he did what is right. 23Do you think I enjoy seeing an evil person die?” asks the Sovereign LORD. “No, I would rather see him repent and live.

24“But if a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing all the evil, disgusting things that evil people do, will he go on living? No! None of the good he did will be remembered. He will die because of his unfaithfulness and his sins.

25“But you say, ‘What the Lord does isn't right.’ Listen to me, you Israelites. Do you think my way of doing things isn't right? It is your way that isn't right. 26When a righteous person stops doing good and starts doing evil and then dies, he dies because of the evil he has done. 27When someone evil stops sinning and does what is right and good, he saves his life. 28He realizes what he is doing and stops sinning, so he will certainly not die, but go on living. 29And you Israelites say, ‘What the Lord does isn't right.’ You think my way isn't right, do you? It is your way that isn't right.

30“Now I, the Sovereign LORD, am telling you Israelites that I will judge each of you by what you have done. Turn away from all the evil you are doing, and don't let your sin destroy you. 31Give up all the evil you have been doing, and get yourselves new minds and hearts. Why do you Israelites want to die? 32I do not want anyone to die,” says the Sovereign LORD. “Turn away from your sins and live.”

Ezekiel 18GNBOpen in Bible reader

A Song of Sorrow

1The LORD told me to sing this song of sorrow for two princes of Israel:

2What a lioness your mother was!

She reared her cubs among the fierce male lions.

3She reared a cub and taught him to hunt;

he learnt to eat people.

4The nations heard about him

and trapped him in a pit.

With hooks they dragged him off to Egypt.

5She waited until she saw all hope was gone.

Then she reared another of her cubs,

and he grew into a fierce lion.

6When he was full-grown,

he prowled with the other lions.

He too learnt to hunt and eat people.

7He wrecked forts, he ruined towns.

The people of the land were terrified

every time he roared.

8The nations gathered to fight him;

people came from everywhere.

They spread their hunting nets

and caught him in their trap.

9They put him in a cage

and took him to the king of Babylonia.

They kept him under guard,

so that his roar would never be heard again

on the hills of Israel.

10Your mother was like a grapevine

planted near a stream.

Because there was plenty of water,

the vine was covered with leaves and fruit.

11Its branches were strong,

and grew to be royal sceptres.

The vine grew tall enough to reach the clouds;

everyone saw how leafy and tall it was.

12But angry hands pulled it up by the roots

and threw it to the ground.

The east wind dried up its fruit.

Its branches were broken off;

they dried up and were burnt.

13Now it is planted in the desert,

in a dry and waterless land.

14The stem of the vine caught fire;

fire burnt up its branches and fruit.

The branches will never again be strong,

will never be royal sceptres.

This is a song of sorrow; it has been sung again and again.

Ezekiel 19GNBOpen in Bible reader

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.”

Ezekiel 20GNBOpen in Bible reader

Confidence in God's Protection

1I wait patiently for God to save me;

I depend on him alone.

2He alone protects and saves me;

he is my defender,

and I shall never be defeated.

3How much longer will all of you attack someone

who is no stronger than a broken-down fence?

4You only want to bring him down from his place of honour;

you take pleasure in lies.

You speak words of blessing,

but in your heart you curse him.

5I depend on God alone;

I put my hope in him.

6He alone protects and saves me;

he is my defender,

and I shall never be defeated.

7My salvation and honour depend on God;

he is my strong protector;

he is my shelter.

8Trust in God at all times, my people.

Tell him all your troubles,

for he is our refuge.

9Human beings are all like a puff of breath;

great and small alike are worthless.

Put them on the scales, and they weigh nothing;

they are lighter than a mere breath.

10Don't put your trust in violence;

don't hope to gain anything by robbery;

even if your riches increase,

don't depend on them.

11More than once I have heard God say

that power belongs to him

12and that his love is constant.

You yourself, O Lord, reward everyone according to his deeds.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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