Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 194

Ezekiel 21–25, Proverbs 30

Bible text(s)

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 21GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Crimes of Jerusalem

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “are you ready to judge the city that is full of murderers? Make clear to her all the disgusting things she has done. 3Tell the city what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying: because you have murdered so many of your own people and have defiled yourself by worshipping idols, your time is coming. 4You are guilty of those murders and are defiled by the idols you made, and so your day is coming, your time is up! That is why I have let the nations mock you and all the countries sneer at you. 5Countries near by and countries far away sneer at you because of your lawlessness. 6All Israel's leaders trust in their own strength and commit murder. 7You people in the city do not honour your parents. You cheat foreigners and take advantage of widows and orphans. 8You have no respect for the holy places, and you don't keep the Sabbath. 9Some of your people tell lies about others in order to have them put to death. Some of them eat sacrifices offered to idols. Some are always satisfying their lusts. 10Some of them sleep with their father's wife. Some force women to have intercourse with them during their period. 11Some commit adultery, and others seduce their daughters-in-law or their half-sisters. 12Some of your people murder for pay. Some charge interest on the loans they make to their fellow-Israelites and get rich by taking advantage of them. They have forgotten me.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

13“I will bring my fist down on your robberies and murders. 14Do you think you will have any courage left or have strength enough to lift your hand when I am finished with you? I, the LORD, have spoken, and I keep my word. 15I will scatter your people to every country and nation and will put an end to your evil actions. 16And so the other nations will dishonour you, but you will know that I am the LORD.”

God's Refining Furnace

17The LORD said to me, 18“Mortal man, the Israelites are of no use to me. They are like the waste metal — copper, tin, iron, and lead — left over after silver has been refined in a furnace. 19So now I, the Sovereign LORD, am telling them that they are just as useless as that. I will bring them all together in Jerusalem 20in the same way that the ore of silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin is put in a refining furnace. My anger and rage will melt them just as fire melts ore. 21Yes, I will gather them in Jerusalem, build a fire under them, and melt them with my anger. 22They will be melted in Jerusalem just as silver is melted in a furnace, and then they will know that they are feeling the anger of the LORD.”

The Sins of Israel's Leaders

23The LORD spoke to me again. 24“Mortal man,” he said, “tell the Israelites that their land is unholy, and so I am punishing it in my anger. 25The leaders are like lions roaring over the animals they have killed. They kill the people, take all the money and property they can get, and by their murders leave many widows. 26The priests break my law and have no respect for what is holy. They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not. They do not teach the difference between clean and unclean things, and they ignore the Sabbath. As a result the people of Israel do not respect me. 27The government officials are like wolves tearing apart the animals they have killed. They commit murder in order to get rich. 28The prophets have hidden these sins like those covering a wall with whitewash. They see false visions and make false predictions. They claim to speak the word of the Sovereign LORD, but I, the LORD, have not spoken to them. 29The wealthy cheat and rob. They ill-treat the poor and take advantage of foreigners. 30I looked for someone who could build a wall, who could stand in the places where the walls have crumbled and defend the land when my anger is about to destroy it, but I could find no one. 31So I will turn my anger loose on them, and like a fire I will destroy them for what they have done.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

Ezekiel 22GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Sinful Sisters

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “there were once two sisters. 3When they were young, living in Egypt, they lost their virginity and became prostitutes. 4The older one was named Oholah (she represents Samaria), and the younger one was named Oholibah (she represents Jerusalem). I married both of them, and they bore me children. 5Although she was mine, Oholah continued to be a prostitute and was full of lust for her lovers from Assyria. 6They were soldiers in uniforms of purple, noblemen and high-ranking officers; all of them were handsome young cavalry officers. 7She was the whore for all the Assyrian officers, and her lust led her to defile herself by worshipping Assyrian idols. 8She continued what she had begun as a prostitute in Egypt, where she lost her virginity. From the time she was a young woman, men slept with her and treated her like a prostitute. 9So I handed her over to her Assyrian lovers whom she wanted so much. 10They stripped her naked, seized her sons and daughters, and then killed her with a sword. Women everywhere gossiped about her fate.

11“Even though her sister Oholibah saw this, she was wilder and more of a prostitute than Oholah had ever been. 12She too was full of lust for the Assyrian noblemen and officers — soldiers in bright uniforms — and for the cavalry officers, all those handsome young men. 13I saw that she was completely immoral, that the second sister was as bad as the first.

14-15“She sank deeper and deeper in her immorality. She was attracted by the images of high Babylonian officials carved into the wall and painted bright red, with sashes round their waists and fancy turbans on their heads. 16As soon as she saw them, she was filled with lust and sent messengers to them in Babylonia. 17The Babylonians came to have sex with her. They used her and defiled her so much that finally she became disgusted with them. 18She exposed herself publicly and let everyone know she was a whore. I was as disgusted with her as I had been with her sister. 19She became more of a prostitute than ever, acting just as she did as a young woman, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20She was filled with lust for oversexed men who had all the lustfulness of donkeys or stallions.” 21(Oholibah, you wanted to repeat the immorality you were guilty of as a young woman in Egypt, where men played with your breasts and you lost your virginity.)

God's Judgement on the Younger Sister

22“Now then, Oholibah, this is what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to you. You are tired of those lovers, but I will make them angry with you and bring them to surround you. 23I will bring all the Babylonians and Chaldeans, men from Pekod, Shoa, and Koa, and all the Assyrians. I will gather all those handsome young noblemen and officers, all those important officials and high-ranking cavalry officers. 24They will attack you from the north, bringing a large army with chariots and supply wagons. Protected by shields and helmets, they will surround you. I will hand you over to them, and they will judge you by their own laws. 25Because I am angry with you, I will let them deal with you in their anger. They will cut off your nose and your ears and kill your children. Yes, they will take your sons and daughters from you and burn them alive. 26They will tear off your clothes and take your jewels. 27I will put a stop to your lust and to the obscenities you have committed ever since you were in Egypt. You won't look at any more idols or think about Egypt any more.”

28This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “I will hand you over to people you hate and are disgusted with. 29And because they hate you, they will take away everything you have worked for and leave you stripped naked, exposed like a prostitute. Your lust and your prostitution 30have brought this on you. You were a prostitute for the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. 31You followed in your sister's footsteps, and so I will give you the same cup of punishment to drink.”

32The Sovereign LORD says,

“You will drink from your sister's cup;

it is large and deep.

Everyone will scorn and mock you;

the cup is full.

33It will make you miserable and drunk,

that cup of fear and ruin,

your sister Samaria's cup.

34You will drink and drain it dry,

and with its broken pieces

tear your breast.

I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.”

35Now this is what the Sovereign LORD is saying: “Because you forgot me and turned your back on me, you will suffer for your lust and your prostitution.”

God's Judgement on Both Sisters

36The LORD said to me, “Mortal man, are you ready to judge Oholah and Oholibah? Accuse them of the disgusting things they have done. 37They have committed adultery and murder — adultery with idols and murder of the children they bore me. They sacrificed my children to their idols. 38And that is not all they did. They profaned my Temple and broke the Sabbath, which I had established. 39The very day that they killed my children as sacrifices to idols, they came to my Temple and profaned it!

40“Again and again they sent messengers to invite men to come from a great distance, and the men came. The two sisters would bathe and put on eye shadow and jewellery. 41They would sit on a beautiful couch, and in front of them they would have a table covered with good things, including the incense and the olive oil that I had given them. 42The sound of a carefree crowd could be heard, a group of men brought in from the desert. They put bracelets on the women's arms and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43And I said to myself that they were using as a prostitute a woman worn out by adultery. 44They went back to these prostitutes again and again. They went back to Oholah and Oholibah, those immoral women. 45Righteous men will condemn them on the charge of adultery and murder, because they practise adultery and their hands are stained with blood.”

46This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Bring a mob to terrorize them and rob them. 47Let the mob stone them and attack them with swords, kill their children, and burn down their houses. 48Throughout the land I will put a stop to immorality, as a warning to every woman not to commit adultery as they did. 49And you two sisters — I will punish you for your immorality and your sin of worshipping idols. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.”

Ezekiel 23GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Corroded Cooking Pot

1On the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year of our exile, the LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “write down today's date, because this is the day that the king of Babylonia is beginning the siege of Jerusalem. 3Tell my rebellious people this parable that I, the Sovereign LORD, have for them:

Set the pot on the fire

and fill it up with water.

4Put in the best pieces of meat —

the shoulders and the legs —

fill it with choice bony pieces too.

5Use the meat of the finest sheep;

pile the wood under the pot.

Let the water boil;

boil the bones and the meat.”

6This is what the Sovereign LORD is saying: “The city of murderers is doomed! It is like a corroded pot that is never cleaned. Piece after piece of meat is taken out, and not one is left. 7There was murder in the city, but the blood was not spilt on the ground where the dust could hide it; it was spilt on a bare rock. 8I have left the blood there, where it cannot be hidden, where it demands angry revenge.”

9This is what the Sovereign LORD is saying: “The city of murderers is doomed! I myself will pile up the firewood. 10Bring more wood! Fan the flames! Cook the meat! Boil away the broth! Burn up the bones! 11Now set the empty bronze pot on the coals and let it get red-hot. Then the pot will be ritually pure again after the corrosion is burnt off, 12although all that corrosion will not disappear in the flames. 13Jerusalem, your immoral actions have defiled you. Although I tried to purify you, you remained defiled. You will not be pure again until you have felt the full force of my anger. 14I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not ignore your sins or show pity or be merciful. You will be punished for what you have done.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

The Death of the Prophet's Wife

15The LORD spoke to me. 16“Mortal man,” he said, “with one blow I am going to take away the person you love most. You are not to complain or cry or shed any tears. 17Don't let your sobbing be heard. Do not go bareheaded or barefoot as a sign of mourning. Don't cover your face or eat the food that mourners eat.”

18Early in the day I was talking with the people. That evening my wife died, and the next day I did as I had been told. 19The people asked me, “Why are you acting like this?”

20So I said to them, “The LORD spoke to me and told me 21to give you Israelites this message: you are proud of the strength of the Temple. You like to look at it and to visit it, but the LORD is going to profane it. And the younger members of your families who are left in Jerusalem will be killed in war. 22Then you will do what I have done. You will not cover your faces or eat the food that mourners eat. 23You will not go bareheaded or barefoot or mourn or cry. You will waste away because of your sins, and you will groan to one another. 24Then I will be a sign to you; you will do everything I have done. The LORD says that when this happens, you will know that he is the Sovereign LORD.”

25The LORD said, “Now, mortal man, I will take away from them the strong Temple that was their pride and joy, which they liked to look at and to visit. And I will take away their sons and daughters. 26On the day that I do this, someone who escapes the destruction will come and tell you about it. 27That same day you will get back the power of speech which you had lost, and you will talk with him. In this way you will be a sign to the people, and they will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 24GNBOpen in Bible reader

Prophecy against Ammon

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “denounce the country of Ammon. 3Tell them to listen to what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying: you were delighted to see my Temple profaned, to see the land of Israel devastated, to see the people of Judah go into exile. 4Because you were glad, I will let the tribes from the eastern desert conquer you. They will set up their camps in your country and settle there. They will eat the fruit and drink the milk that should have been yours. 5I will turn the city of Rabbah into a place to keep camels, and the whole country of Ammon into a place to keep sheep, so that you will know that I am the LORD.

6“This is what the Sovereign LORD is saying: you clapped your hands and jumped for joy. You despised the land of Israel. 7Because you did, I will hand you over to other nations who will rob you and plunder you. I will destroy you so completely that you will not be a nation any more or have a country of your own. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

Prophecy against Moab

8The Sovereign LORD said, “Because Moab has said that Judah is like all the other nations, 9I will let the cities that defend the border of Moab be attacked, including even the finest cities — Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon, and Kiriathaim. 10I will let the tribes of the eastern desert conquer Moab, together with Ammon, so that Moab will no longer be a nation. 11I will punish Moab, and they will know that I am the LORD.”

Prophecy against Edom

12The Sovereign LORD said, “The people of Edom took cruel revenge on Judah, and that revenge has brought lasting guilt on Edom. 13Now I announce that I will punish Edom and kill every person and animal there. I will make it a waste, from the city of Teman to the city of Dedan, and the people will be killed in battle. 14My people Israel will take revenge on Edom for me, and they will make Edom feel my furious anger. Edom will know what it means to be the object of my revenge.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

Prophecy against Philistia

15The Sovereign LORD said, “The Philistines have taken cruel revenge on their age-long enemies and destroyed them in their hate. 16And so I am announcing that I will attack the Philistines and wipe them out. I will destroy everyone left living there on the Philistine Plain. 17I will punish them severely and take full revenge on them. They will feel my anger. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 25GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Words of Agur

1These are the solemn words of Agur son of Jakeh:

“God is not with me, God is not with me,

and I am helpless.

2I am more like an animal than a human being;

I do not have the sense a human being should have.

3I have never learned any wisdom,

and I know nothing at all about God.

4Who has ever mastered heavenly knowledge?

Who has ever caught the wind in his hand?

Or wrapped up water in a piece of cloth?

Or fixed the boundaries of the earth?

Who is he, if you know? Who is his son?

5“God keeps every promise he makes. He is like a shield for all who seek his protection. 6If you claim that he said something that he never said, he will reprimand you and show that you are a liar.”

More Proverbs

7I ask you, God, to let me have two things before I die: 8keep me from lying, and let me be neither rich nor poor. So give me only as much food as I need. 9If I have more, I might say that I do not need you. But if I am poor, I might steal and bring disgrace on my God.

10Never criticize servants to their master. You will be cursed and suffer for it.

11There are people who curse their fathers and do not show their appreciation for their mothers.

12There are people who think they are pure when they are as filthy as they can be.

13There are people who think they are so good — oh, how good they think they are!

14There are people who take cruel advantage of the poor and needy; that is the way they make their living.

15A leech has two daughters, and both are named “Give me!”

There are four things that are never satisfied:

    16the world of the dead,
    a woman without children,
    dry ground that needs rain,
    and a fire burning out of control.

17Those who make fun of their father or despise their mother in her old age ought to be eaten by vultures or have their eyes picked out by wild ravens.

18There are four things that are too mysterious for me to understand:

    19an eagle flying in the sky,
    a snake moving on a rock,
    a ship finding its way over the sea,
    and a man and a woman falling in love.

20This is how an unfaithful wife acts: she commits adultery, has a bath, and says, “But I haven't done anything wrong!”

21There are four things that the earth itself cannot tolerate:

    22a slave who becomes a king,
    a fool who has all he wants to eat,
    23a hateful woman who gets married,
    and a servant woman who takes the place of her mistress.

24There are four animals in the world that are small, but very, very clever:

    25Ants: they are weak, but they store up their food in the summer.
    26Rock-badgers: they are not strong either, but they make their homes among the rocks.
    27Locusts: they have no king, but they move in formation.
    28Lizards: you can hold one in your hand, but you can find them in palaces.

29There are four things that are impressive to watch as they walk:

    30lions, strongest of all animals and afraid of none;
    31goats,
    strutting cocks,
    and kings in front of their people.

32If you have been foolish enough to be arrogant and plan evil, stop and think! 33If you churn milk, you get butter. If you hit someone's nose, it bleeds. If you stir up anger, you get into trouble.

Proverbs 30GNBOpen in Bible reader
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