Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 196

Ezekiel 31–35, Psalm 64

Bible text(s)

Egypt is Compared with a Cedar Tree

1On the first day of the third month of the eleventh year of our exile, the LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “say to the king of Egypt and all his people:

How powerful you are!

What can I compare you to?

3You are like a cedar in Lebanon,

With beautiful, shady branches,

A tree so tall it reaches the clouds.

4There was water to make it grow,

And underground rivers to feed it.

They watered the place where the tree was growing

And sent streams to all the trees of the forest.

5Because it was well watered,

It grew taller than other trees.

Its branches grew thick and long.

6Every kind of bird built nests in its branches;

The wild animals bore their young in its shelter;

The nations of the world rested in its shade.

7How beautiful the tree was —

So tall, with such long branches.

Its roots reached down to the deep-flowing streams.

8No cedar in God's garden could compare with it.

No fir tree ever had such branches,

And no plane tree such boughs.

No tree in God's own garden was so beautiful.

9I made it beautiful, with spreading branches.

It was the envy of every tree in Eden, the garden of God.

10“Now then, I, the Sovereign LORD, will tell you what is going to happen to that tree that grew until it reached the clouds. As it grew taller it grew proud; 11so I have rejected it and will let a foreign ruler have it. He will give that tree what it deserves for its wickedness. 12Ruthless foreigners will cut it down and leave it. Its branches and broken boughs will fall on every mountain and valley in the country. All the nations that have been living in its shade will go away. 13The birds will come and perch on the fallen tree, and the wild animals will walk over its branches. 14And so from now on, no tree, no matter how well watered it is, will grow as tall as that again or push its top through the clouds and reach such a height. All of them are doomed to die like mortals, doomed to join those who go down to the world of the dead.”

15This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “On the day when the tree goes to the world of the dead, I will make the underground waters cover it as a sign of mourning. I will hold back the rivers and not let the many streams flow out. Because the tree has died, I will bring darkness over the Lebanon Mountains and make all the trees of the forest wither. 16When I send it down to the world of the dead, the noise of its downfall will shake the nations. All the trees of Eden and all the choice, well-watered trees of Lebanon who have gone to the world below will be pleased at its downfall. 17They will go with it to the world of the dead to join those that have already fallen. And all who live under its shadow will be scattered among the nations.

18“The tree is the king of Egypt and all his people. Not even the trees in Eden were so tall and impressive. But now, like the trees of Eden, it will go down to the world of the dead and join the ungodly and those killed in battle. I have spoken,” says the Sovereign LORD.

Ezekiel 31GNBOpen in Bible reader

The King of Egypt is Compared with a Crocodile

1On the first day of the twelfth month of the twelfth year of our exile, the LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “give a solemn warning to the king of Egypt. Give him this message from me: you act like a lion among the nations, but you are more like a crocodile splashing through a river. You muddy the water with your feet and pollute the rivers. 3When many nations gather, I will catch you in my net and let them drag the net ashore. 4I will throw you out on the ground and bring all the birds and animals of the world to feed on you. 5I will cover mountains and valleys with your rotting corpse. 6I will pour out your blood until it spreads over the mountains and fills the streams. 7When I destroy you, I will cover the sky and blot out the stars. The sun will hide behind the clouds, and the moon will give no light. 8I will put out all the lights of heaven and plunge your world into darkness. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.

9“Many nations will be troubled when I spread the news of your destruction through countries you never heard of. 10What I do to you will shock many nations. When I swing my sword, kings will shudder with fright. On the day you fall, all of them will tremble in fear for their own lives.”

11The Sovereign LORD says to the king of Egypt, “You will face the sword of the king of Babylonia. 12I will let soldiers from cruel nations draw their swords and kill all your people. All your people and everything else that you are proud of will be destroyed. 13I will slaughter your cattle at every water hole. There will be no people or cattle to muddy the water any more. 14I will let your waters settle and become clear and let your rivers run calm. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. 15When I make Egypt a desolate waste and destroy all who live there, they will know that I am the LORD. 16This solemn warning will become a funeral song. The women of the nations will sing it to mourn for Egypt and all its people. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.”

The World of the Dead

17On the fifteenth day of the first month of the twelfth year of our exile, the LORD spoke to me. 18“Mortal man,” he said, “mourn for all the many people of Egypt. Send them down with the other powerful nations to the world of the dead. 19Say to them:

“Do you think you are more beautiful than anyone else?

You will go down to the world of the dead

and lie there among the ungodly.

20“The people of Egypt will fall with those who are killed in battle. A sword is ready to kill them all. 21The greatest heroes and those who fought on the Egyptian side welcome the Egyptians to the world of the dead. They shout: ‘The ungodly who were killed in battle have come down here, and here they lie!’

22“Assyria is there, with the graves of her soldiers all around. They were all killed in battle, 23and their graves are in the deepest parts of the world of the dead. All her soldiers fell in battle, and their graves surround her tomb. Yet once they terrified the land of the living.

24“Elam is there, with the graves of her soldiers all around. They were all killed in battle, and they went down, uncircumcised, to the world of the dead. In life they spread terror, but now they lie dead and disgraced. 25Elam lies down among those killed in battle, and the graves of her soldiers are all around her. They are all uncircumcised, all killed in battle. In life they spread terror, but now they lie dead and disgraced, sharing the fate of those killed in battle.

26“Meshech and Tubal are there, with the graves of their soldiers all around. They are all uncircumcised, all killed in battle. Yet once they terrified the living. 27They were not given honourable burial like the heroes of ancient times, who went fully armed to the world of the dead, their swords placed under their heads and their shields over their bodies. These heroes were once powerful enough to terrify the living.

28“That is how the Egyptians will lie crushed among the uncircumcised who were killed in battle.

29“Edom is there with her kings and rulers. They were powerful soldiers, but now they lie in the world of the dead with the uncircumcised who were killed in battle.

30“All the princes of the north are there, and so are the Sidonians. Their power once spread terror, but now they go down in disgrace with those killed in battle and are laid to rest, uncircumcised. They share the disgrace of those who go down to the world of the dead.

31“The sight of all these who were killed in battle will be a comfort to the king of Egypt and his army,” says the Sovereign LORD.

32“I made the king of Egypt terrorize the living, but he and all his army will be killed and laid to rest with all the uncircumcised who die in battle.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

Ezekiel 32GNBOpen in Bible reader

God Appoints Ezekiel as a Watchman

(Ezek 3.16–21)

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “tell your people what happens when I bring war to a land. The people of that country choose one of their number to be a watchman. 3When he sees the enemy approaching, he sounds the alarm to warn everyone. 4If someone hears it but pays no attention and the enemy comes and kills him, then he is to blame for his own death. 5His death is his own fault, because he paid no attention to the warning. If he had paid attention, he could have escaped. 6If, however, the watchman sees the enemy coming and does not sound the alarm, the enemy will come and kill those sinners, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their death.

7“Now, mortal man, I am making you a watchman for the nation of Israel. You must pass on to them the warnings I give you. 8If I announce that an evil person is going to die but you do not warn him to change his ways so that he can save his life, then he will die, still a sinner, and I will hold you responsible for his death. 9If you do warn an evil person and he doesn't stop sinning, he will die, still a sinner, but your life will be spared.”

Individual Responsibility

10The LORD spoke to me. “Mortal man,” he said, “repeat to the Israelites what they are saying: ‘We are burdened with our sins and the wrongs we have done. We are wasting away. How can we live?’ 11Tell them that as surely as I, the Sovereign LORD, am the living God, I do not enjoy seeing sinners die. I would rather see them stop sinning and live. Israel, stop the evil you are doing. Why do you want to die?

12“Now, mortal man, tell the Israelites that when someone good sins, the good he has done will not save him. If an evil person stops doing evil, he won't be punished, and if a good person starts sinning, his life will not be spared. 13I may promise life to someone good, but if he starts thinking that his past goodness is enough and begins to sin, I will not remember any of the good he did. He will die because of his sins. 14I may warn someone evil that he is going to die, but if he stops sinning and does what is right and good — 15for example, if he returns the security he took for a loan or gives back what he stole — if he stops sinning and follows the laws that give life, he will not die, but live. 16I will forgive the sins he has committed, and he will live because he has done what is right and good.

17“And your people say that what I do isn't right! No, it's their way that isn't right. 18When someone righteous stops doing good and starts doing evil, he will die for it. 19When someone evil gives up sinning and does what is right and good, he has saved his life. 20But Israel, you say that what I do isn't right. I am going to judge you by what you do.”

The News of Jerusalem's Fall

21On the fifth day of the tenth month of the twelfth year of our exile, someone who had escaped from Jerusalem came and told me that the city had fallen. 22The evening before he came, I had felt the powerful presence of the LORD. When the man arrived the next morning, the LORD gave me back the power of speech.

The Sins of the People

23The LORD spoke to me. 24“Mortal man,” he said, “the people who are living in the ruined cities of the land of Israel are saying: ‘Abraham was only one man, and he was given the whole land. There are many of us, so now the land is ours.’

25“Tell them what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying: You eat meat with the blood still in it. You worship idols. You commit murder. What makes you think that the land belongs to you? 26You rely on your swords. Your actions are disgusting. Everyone commits adultery. What makes you think that the land is yours?

27“Tell them that I, the Sovereign LORD, warn them that as surely as I am the living God, the people who live in the ruined cities will be killed. Those living in the country will be eaten by wild animals. Those hiding in the mountains and in caves will die of disease. 28I will make the country a desolate waste, and the power they were so proud of will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be so wild that no one will be able to travel through them. 29When I punish the people for their sins and make the country a waste, then they will know that I am the LORD.”

The Results of the Prophet's Message

30The LORD said, “Mortal man, your people are talking about you when they meet by the city walls or in the doorways of their houses. They say to one another, ‘Let's go and hear what word has come from the LORD now.’ 31So my people crowd in to hear what you have to say, but they don't do what you tell them to do. Loving words are on their lips, but they continue their greedy ways. 32To them you are nothing more than an entertainer singing love songs or playing a harp. They listen to all your words and don't obey a single one of them. 33But when all your words come true — and they will come true — then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Ezekiel 33GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Shepherds of Israel

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “denounce the rulers of Israel. Prophesy to them, and tell them what I, the Sovereign LORD, say to them: you are doomed, you shepherds of Israel! You take care of yourselves, but never tend the sheep. 3You drink the milk, wear clothes made from the wool, and kill and eat the finest sheep. But you never tend the sheep. 4You have not taken care of the weak ones, healed those that are sick, bandaged those that are hurt, brought back those that wandered off, or looked for those that were lost. Instead, you treated them cruelly. 5Because the sheep had no shepherd, they were scattered, and wild animals killed and ate them. 6So my sheep wandered over the high hills and the mountains. They were scattered over the face of the earth, and no one looked for them or tried to find them.

7“Now, you shepherds, listen to what I, the LORD, am telling you. 8As surely as I am the living God, you had better listen to me. My sheep have been attacked by wild animals that killed and ate them because there was no shepherd. My shepherds did not try to find the sheep. They were taking care of themselves and not the sheep. 9So listen to me, you shepherds. 10I, the Sovereign LORD, declare that I am your enemy. I will take my sheep away from you and never again let you be their shepherds; never again will I let you take care only of yourselves. I will rescue my sheep from you and not let you eat them.

The Good Shepherd

11“I, the Sovereign LORD, tell you that I myself will look for my sheep and take care of them 12in the same way as shepherds take care of their sheep that were scattered and are brought together again. I will bring them back from all the places where they were scattered on that dark, disastrous day. 13I will take them out of foreign countries, gather them together, and bring them back to their own land. I will lead them back to the mountains and the streams of Israel and will feed them in pleasant pastures. 14I will let them graze in safety in the mountain meadows and the valleys and in all the green pastures of the land of Israel. 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will find them a place to rest. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.

16“I will look for those that are lost, bring back those that wander off, bandage those that are hurt, and heal those that are sick; but those that are fat and strong I will destroy, because I am a shepherd who does what is right.

17“Now then, my flock, I, the Sovereign LORD, tell you that I will judge each of you and separate the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats. 18Some of you are not satisfied with eating the best grass; you even trample down what you don't eat! You drink the clear water and muddy what you don't drink! 19My other sheep have to eat the grass you trample down and drink the water you muddy.

20“So now, I, the Sovereign LORD, tell you that I will judge between you strong sheep and the weak sheep. 21You pushed the sick ones aside and butted them away from the flock. 22But I will rescue my sheep and not let them be ill-treated any more. I will judge each of my sheep and separate the good from the bad. 23I will give them a king like my servant David to be their one shepherd, and he will take care of them. 24I, the LORD, will be their God, and a king like my servant David will be their ruler. I have spoken. 25I will make a covenant with them that guarantees their security. I will get rid of all the dangerous animals in the land, so that my sheep can live safely in the fields and sleep in the forests.

26“I will bless them and let them live round my sacred hill. There I will bless them with showers of rain when they need it. 27The trees will bear fruit, the fields will produce crops, and everyone will live in safety on his own land. When I break my people's chains and set them free from those who made them slaves, then they will know that I am the LORD. 28The heathen nations will not plunder them any more, and the wild animals will not kill and eat them. They will live in safety, and no one will terrify them. 29I will give them fertile fields and put an end to hunger in the land. The other nations will not sneer at them any more. 30Everyone will know that I protect Israel and that they are my people. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.

31“You, my sheep, the flock that I feed, are my people, and I am your God,” says the Sovereign LORD.

Ezekiel 34GNBOpen in Bible reader

God's Punishment of Edom

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “denounce the country of Edom. 3Tell the people what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying:

“I am your enemy, mountains of Edom!

I will make you a desolate waste.

4I will leave your cities in ruins

And your land desolate;

Then you will know that I am the LORD.

5“You were Israel's constant enemy and let her people be slaughtered in the time of her disaster, the time of final punishment for her sins. 6So then — as surely as I, the Sovereign LORD, am the living God — death is your fate, and you cannot escape it. You are guilty of murder, and murder will follow you. 7I will make the hill country of Edom a waste and kill everyone who travels through it. 8I will cover the mountains with corpses, and the bodies of those who are killed in battle will cover the hills and valleys. 9I will make you desolate for ever, and no one will live in your cities again. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

10“You said that the two nations, Judah and Israel, together with their lands, belonged to you and that you would possess them, even though I, the LORD, was their God. 11So then, as surely as I, the Sovereign LORD, am the living God, I will pay you back for your anger, your jealousy, and your hatred towards my people. They will know that I am punishing you for what you did to them. 12Then you will know that I, the LORD, heard you say with contempt that the mountains of Israel were desolate and that they were yours to devour. 13I have heard the wild, boastful way you have talked against me.”

14The Sovereign LORD says, “I will make you so desolate that the whole world will rejoice at your downfall, 15just as you rejoiced at the devastation of Israel, my own possession. The mountains of Seir, yes, all the land of Edom, will be desolate. Then everyone will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 35GNBOpen in Bible reader

A Prayer for Protection

1I am in trouble, God — listen to my prayer!

I am afraid of my enemies — save my life!

2Protect me from the plots of the wicked,

from evil mobs.

3They sharpen their tongues like swords

and aim cruel words like arrows.

4They are quick to spread their shameless lies;

they destroy good people with cowardly slander.

5They encourage each other in their evil plots;

they plan where to place their traps.

“No one can see them,” they say.

6They make evil plans and say,

“We have planned a perfect crime.”

The human heart and mind are a mystery.

7But God shoots his arrows at them,

and suddenly they are wounded.

8He will destroy them because of those words;

all who see them will shake their heads.

9They will all be afraid;

they will think about what God has done

and tell about his deeds.

10All righteous people will rejoice

because of what the LORD has done.

They will find safety in him;

all good people will praise him.

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