Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 197

Ezekiel 36–40, Psalm 65

Bible text(s)

God's Blessing on Israel

1The LORD said, “Mortal man, speak to the mountains of Israel and tell them to listen to the message which I, 2the Sovereign LORD, have for them: Israel's enemies gloated and said, ‘Now those ancient hills are ours!’

3“Prophesy, then, and announce what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying. When the neighbouring nations captured and plundered the mountains of Israel, all of them insulted Israel. 4So now listen to what I, the Sovereign LORD, say to you mountains and hills, to you brooks and valleys, to you places that were left in ruins, and to you deserted cities which were plundered and mocked by all the surrounding nations.

5“I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken out in the heat of my anger against the surrounding nations, and especially against Edom. With glee and contempt, they captured my land and took possession of its pastures.

6“So prophesy to the land of Israel; tell the mountains, hills, brooks, and valleys what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying in jealous anger because of the way the nations have insulted and humiliated them. 7I, the Sovereign LORD, solemnly promise that the surrounding nations will be humiliated. 8But on the mountains of Israel the trees will again grow leaves and bear fruit for you, my people Israel. You are going to come home soon. 9I am on your side, and I will make sure that your land is ploughed again and that seeds are sown there. 10I will make your population grow. You will live in the cities and rebuild everything that was left in ruins. 11I will make people and cattle increase in number. There will be more of you than ever before, and you will have many children. I will let you live there as you used to live, and I will make you more prosperous than ever. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 12I will bring you, my people Israel, back to live again in the land. It will be your own land, and it will never again let your children starve.

13“I, the Sovereign LORD, say: it is true that people say that the land eats people, and that it robs the nation of its children. 14But from now on it will no longer eat people and rob you of your children. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. 15The land will no longer have to listen to the nations mocking it or see the peoples sneer at it. The land will no longer rob the nation of its children. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.”

Israel's New Life

16The LORD spoke to me. 17“Mortal man,” he said, “when the Israelites were living in their land, they defiled it by the way they lived and acted. I regarded their behaviour as being as ritually unclean as a woman is during her monthly period. 18I let them feel the force of my anger because of the murders they had committed in the land and because of the idols by which they had defiled it. 19I condemned them for the way they lived and acted, and I scattered them through foreign countries. 20Wherever they went, they brought disgrace on my holy name, because people would say, ‘These are the people of the LORD, but they had to leave his land.’ 21That made me concerned for my holy name, since the Israelites brought disgrace on it everywhere they went.

22“Now then, give the Israelites the message that I, the Sovereign LORD, have for them: what I am going to do is not for the sake of you Israelites, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have disgraced in every country where you have gone. 23When I demonstrate to the nations the holiness of my great name — the name you disgraced among them — then they will know that I am the LORD. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. I will use you to show the nations that I am holy. 24I will take you from every nation and country and bring you back to your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water on you and make you clean from all your idols and everything else that has defiled you. 26I will give you a new heart and a new mind. I will take away your stubborn heart of stone and give you an obedient heart. 27I will put my spirit in you and I will see to it that you follow my laws and keep all the commands I have given you. 28Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors. You will be my people, and I will be your God. 29I will save you from everything that defiles you. I will command the corn to be plentiful, so that you will not have any more famines. 30I will increase the yield of your fruit trees and your fields, so that there will be no more famines to disgrace you among the nations. 31You will remember your evil conduct and the wrongs that you committed, and you will be disgusted with yourselves because of your sins and your iniquities. 32Israel, I want you to know that I am not doing all this for your sake. I want you to feel the shame and disgrace of what you are doing. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.”

33The Sovereign LORD says, “When I make you clean from all your sins, I will let you live in your cities again and let you rebuild the ruins. 34Everyone who used to walk by your fields saw how overgrown and wild they were, but I will let you farm them again. 35Everyone will say how this land, which was once a wilderness, has become like the Garden of Eden, and how the cities which were torn down, looted, and left in ruins, are now inhabited and fortified. 36Then the neighbouring nations that have survived will know that I, the LORD, rebuild ruined cities and replant waste fields. I, the LORD, have promised that I would do this — and I will.”

37The Sovereign LORD says, “I will once again let the Israelites ask me for help, and I will let them increase in numbers like a flock of sheep. 38The cities that are now in ruins will then be as full of people as Jerusalem was once full of the sheep which were offered as sacrifices at a festival. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 36GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Valley of Dry Bones

1I felt the powerful presence of the LORD, and his Spirit took me and set me down in a valley where the ground was covered with bones. 2He led me all round the valley, and I could see that there were very many bones and that they were very dry. 3He said to me, “Mortal man, can these bones come back to life?”

I replied, “Sovereign LORD, only you can answer that!”

4He said, “Prophesy to the bones. Tell these dry bones to listen to the word of the LORD. 5Tell them that I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying to them: I am going to put breath into you and bring you back to life. 6I will give you sinews and muscles, and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you and bring you back to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

7So I prophesied as I had been told. While I was speaking, I heard a rattling noise, and the bones began to join together. 8While I watched, the bones were covered with sinews and muscles, and then with skin. But there was no breath in the bodies.

9God said to me, “Mortal man, prophesy to the wind. Tell the wind that the Sovereign LORD commands it to come from every direction, to breathe into these dead bodies, and to bring them back to life.”

10So I prophesied as I had been told. Breath entered the bodies, and they came to life and stood up. There were enough of them to form an army.

11God said to me, “Mortal man, the people of Israel are like these bones. They say that they are dried up, without any hope and with no future. 12So prophesy to my people Israel and tell them that I, the Sovereign LORD, am going to open their graves. I am going to take them out and bring them back to the land of Israel. 13When I open the graves where my people are buried and bring them out, they will know that I am the LORD. 14I will put my breath in them, bring them back to life, and let them live in their own land. Then they will know that I am the LORD. I have promised that I would do this — and I will. I, the LORD, have spoken.”

Judah and Israel in One Kingdom

15The LORD spoke to me again.

16“Mortal man,” he said, “take a wooden stick and write on it the words, ‘The kingdom of Judah’. Then take another stick and write on it the words, ‘The kingdom of Israel’. 17Then hold the two sticks end to end in your hand so that they look like one stick. 18When your people ask you to tell them what this means, 19tell them that I, the Sovereign LORD, am going to take the stick representing Israel and put it with the one that represents Judah. Out of the two I will make one stick and hold it in my hand.

20“Hold in your hand the two sticks and let the people see them. 21Then tell them that I, the Sovereign LORD, am going to take all my people out of the nations where they have gone, gather them together, and bring them back to their own land. 22I will unite them into one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. They will have one king to rule over them, and they will no longer be divided into two nations or split into two kingdoms. 23They will not defile themselves with disgusting idols any more or corrupt themselves with sin. I will free them from all the ways in which they sin and betray me. I will purify them; they will be my people, and I will be their God. 24A king like my servant David will be their king. They will all be united under one ruler and will obey my laws faithfully. 25They will live on the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where their ancestors lived. They will live there for ever, and so will their children and all their descendants. A king like my servant David will rule over them for ever. 26I will make a covenant with them that guarantees their security for ever. I will establish them and increase their population, and put my Temple in their land, where it will stay for ever. 27I will live there with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28When I place my Temple there to be among them for ever, then the nations will know that I, the LORD, have chosen Israel to be my own people.”

Ezekiel 37GNBOpen in Bible reader

Gog as the Instrument of God

1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “denounce Gog, chief ruler of the nations of Meshech and Tubal in the land of Magog. Denounce him, 3and tell him that I, the Sovereign LORD, am his enemy. 4I will turn him round, put hooks in his jaws, and drag him and all his troops away. His army, with its horses and uniformed riders, is enormous, and every soldier carries a shield and is armed with a sword. 5Men from Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with him, and all have shields and helmets. 6All the fighting men of the lands of Gomer and Beth Togarmah in the north are with him, and so are men from many other nations. 7Tell him to get ready and have all his troops ready at his command. 8After many years I will order him to invade a country where the people were brought back together from many nations and have lived without fear of war. He will invade the mountains of Israel, which were desolate and deserted so long, but where all the people now live in safety. 9He and his army and the many nations with him will attack like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.”

10This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Gog: “When that time comes, you will start thinking up an evil plan. 11You will decide to invade a helpless country where the people live in peace and security in unwalled towns that have no defences. 12You will plunder and loot the people who live in cities that were once in ruins. They have been gathered from the nations, and now they have livestock and property and live at the crossroads of the world. 13The people of Sheba and Dedan and the merchants from the towns of Spain will ask you, ‘Have you assembled your army and attacked in order to loot and plunder? Do you intend to get silver and gold, livestock and property, and to march off with all those spoils?’ ”

14So the Sovereign LORD sent me to tell Gog what he was saying to him: “Now while my people Israel live in security, you will set out 15from your place in the far north, leading a large, powerful army of soldiers from many nations, all of them on horseback. 16You will attack my people Israel like a storm moving across the land. When the time comes, I will send you to invade my land in order to show the nations who I am, to show my holiness by what I do through you. 17You are the one I was talking about long ago, when I announced through my servants, the prophets of Israel, that in days to come I would bring someone to attack Israel.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

God's Punishment of Gog

18The Sovereign LORD says, “On the day when Gog invades Israel, I will be furious. 19I declare in the heat of my anger that on that day there will be a severe earthquake in the land of Israel. 20Every fish and bird, every animal large and small, and every human being on the face of the earth will tremble for fear of me. Mountains will fall, cliffs will crumble, and every wall will collapse. 21I will terrify Gog with all sorts of calamities. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. His men will turn their swords against one another. 22I will punish him with disease and bloodshed. Torrents of rain and hail, together with fire and sulphur, will pour down on him and his army and on the many nations that are on his side. 23In this way I will show all the nations that I am great and that I am holy. They will know then that I am the LORD.”

Ezekiel 38GNBOpen in Bible reader

The Defeat of Gog

1The Sovereign LORD said, “Mortal man, denounce Gog, the chief ruler of the nations of Meshech and Tubal, and tell him that I am his enemy. 2I will turn him in a new direction and lead him out of the far north until he comes to the mountains of Israel. 3Then I will knock his bow out of his left hand and his arrows out of his right hand. 4Gog and his army and his allies will fall dead on the mountains of Israel, and I will let their bodies be food for all the birds and wild animals. 5They will fall dead in the open field. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. 6I will start a fire in the land of Magog and along all the coasts where people live undisturbed, and everyone will know that I am the LORD. 7I will make sure that my people Israel know my holy name, and I will not let my name be disgraced any more. Then the nations will know that I, the LORD, am the Holy God of Israel.”

8The Sovereign LORD said, “The day I spoke about is certain to come. 9The people who live in the cities of Israel will go out and collect the abandoned weapons for firewood. They will build fires with the shields, bows, arrows, spears, and clubs, and will have enough to last for seven years. 10They will not have to gather firewood in the fields or cut down trees in the forest, because they will have the abandoned weapons to burn. They will loot and plunder those who looted and plundered them.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.

The Burial of Gog

11The LORD said, “When all this happens, I will give Gog a burial ground there in Israel, in Travellers' Valley, east of the Dead Sea. Gog and all his army will be buried there, and the valley will be called ‘The Valley of Gog's Army’. 12It will take the Israelites seven months to bury all the corpses and make the land clean again. 13Everyone in the land will help to bury them, and they will be honoured for this on the day of my victory. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken. 14After the seven months are over, men will be chosen to travel through the land in order to find and bury those bodies remaining on the ground, so that they can make the land clean. 15As they go up and down the country, every time they find a human bone, they will put a marker beside it so that the grave diggers can come and bury it in the Valley of Gog's Army. 16(There will be a town near by named after the army.) And so the land will be made clean again.”

17The Sovereign LORD said to me, “Mortal man, call all the birds and animals to come from all round to eat the sacrifice I am preparing for them. It will be a huge feast on the mountains of Israel, where they can eat meat and drink blood. 18They are to eat the bodies of soldiers and drink the blood of the rulers of the earth, all of whom will be killed like rams or lambs or goats or fat bulls. 19When I kill these people like sacrifices, the birds and animals are to eat all the fat they can hold and to drink blood until they are drunk. 20At my table they will eat all they can hold of horses and their riders and of soldiers and fighting men. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.”

The Restoration of Israel

21The LORD said, “I will let the nations see my glory and show them how I use my power to carry out my just decisions. 22The Israelites will know from then on that I am the LORD their God. 23And the nations will know that the Israelites went into exile because of the sins which they committed against me. I turned away from them and let their enemies defeat them and kill them in battle. 24I gave them what they deserved for their uncleanness and their wickedness, and I turned away from them.”

25The Sovereign LORD said, “But now I will be merciful to Jacob's descendants, the people of Israel, and make them prosperous again. I will protect my holy name. 26When they are once more living in safety in their own land, with no one to threaten them, they will be able to forget how they were disgraced for having betrayed me. 27In order to show the many nations that I am holy, I will bring my people back from all the countries where their enemies live. 28Then my people will know that I am the LORD their God. They will know this, because I sent them into captivity and now gather them and bring them back into their own land, not leaving even one of them behind. 29I will pour out my spirit on the people of Israel and never again turn away from them. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken.”

Ezekiel 39GNBOpen in Bible reader

A Vision of the Future Temple

40.1—48.35

Ezekiel is Taken to Jerusalem

1It was the tenth day of the new year, which was the 25th year after we had been taken into exile and the fourteenth year after Jerusalem was captured. On that day I felt the powerful presence of the LORD, and he carried me away. 2In a vision God took me to the land of Israel and put me on a high mountain. I saw in front of me a group of buildings that looked like a city. 3He took me closer, and I saw a man who shone like bronze. He was holding a linen tape measure and a measuring rod and was standing by a gateway.

4He said to me, “Watch, mortal man. Listen carefully and pay close attention to everything I show you, because this is why you were brought here. You are to tell the people of Israel everything you see.”

The East Gate

5What I saw was the Temple, and there was a wall round it. The man took his measuring rod, which was three metres long, and measured the wall. It was three metres high and three metres thick. 6Then he went to the gateway that faced east. He went up the steps, and at the top he measured the entrance; it was three metres deep. 7Beyond it there was a passage, which had three guardrooms on each side. Each of the rooms was square, three metres on each side, and the walls between them were 2.5 metres thick. Beyond the guardrooms there was a passage three metres long that led to an entrance room which faced the Temple. 8-9He measured this room, and found it was four metres deep. It formed that end of the gateway which was nearest the Temple, and at its far end the walls were one metre thick. 10(These guardrooms on each side of the passage were all the same size, and the walls between them were all of the same thickness.)

11Next, the man measured the width of the passage in the gateway. It was 6.5 metres altogether, and the space between the open gates was five metres. 12In front of each of the guardrooms there was a low wall fifty centimetres high and fifty centimetres thick. (The rooms were three metres square.) 13Then he measured the distance from the back wall of one room to the back wall of the room across the passage from it, and it was 12.5 metres. 14The room at the far end led out to a courtyard. He measured that room and found it was ten metres wide. 15The total length of the gateway from the outside wall of the gate to the far side of the last room was 25 metres. 16There were small openings in the outside walls of all the rooms and also in the inner walls between the rooms. There were palm trees carved on the inner walls that faced the passage.

The Outer Courtyard

17The man took me through the gateway into the courtyard. There were thirty rooms built against the outer wall, and in front of them there was an area paved with stones, 18which extended round the courtyard. This outer courtyard was at a lower level than the inner courtyard.

19There was a gateway at a higher level that led to the inner courtyard. The man measured the distance between the two gateways, and it was fifty metres.

The North Gate

20Then the man measured the gateway on the north side that led into the outer courtyard. 21The three guardrooms on each side of the passage, the walls between them, and the entrance room all had the same measurements as those in the east gateway. The total length of the gateway was 25 metres and the width 12.5 metres. 22The entrance room, the windows, and the carved palm trees were like those in the east gate. Here seven steps led up to the gate, and the entrance room was at the end facing the courtyard. 23Across the courtyard from this north gateway was another gateway leading to the inner courtyard, just as there was on the east side. The man measured the distance between these two gateways, and it was fifty metres.

The South Gate

24Next, the man took me to the south side, and there we saw another gateway. He measured its inner walls and its entrance room, and they were the same as the others. 25There were windows in the rooms of this gateway just as in the others. The total length of the gateway was 25 metres, and the width 12.5 metres. 26Seven steps led up to it, and its entrance room was also at the end facing the courtyard. There were palm trees carved on the inner walls that faced the passage. 27Here, too, there was a gateway leading to the inner courtyard. The man measured the distance to this second gateway, and it was fifty metres.

The Inner Courtyard: the South Gate

28The man took me through the south gateway into the inner courtyard. He measured the gateway, and it was the same size as the gateways in the outer wall. 29-30Its guardrooms, its entrance room, and its inner walls were the same size as those in the other gateways. There were also windows in the rooms of this gateway. The total length was 25 metres and the width 12.5 metres. 31Its entrance room faced the other courtyard, and palm trees were carved on the walls along the passage. Eight steps led up to this gate.

The Inner Courtyard: the East Gate

32The man took me through the east gateway into the inner courtyard. He measured the gateway, and it was the same size as the others. 33Its guardrooms, its entrance room, and its inner walls measured the same as those in the other gateways. There were windows all round, and in the entrance room also. The total length was 25 metres and the width 12.5 metres. 34The entrance room faced the outer courtyard. Palm trees were carved on the walls along the passage. Eight steps led up to this gate.

The Inner Courtyard: the North Gate

35Then the man took me to the north gateway. He measured it, and it was the same size as the others. 36Like them, it also had guardrooms, decorated inner walls, an entrance room, and windows all round. Its total length was 25 metres and its width 12.5 metres. 37The entrance room faced the outer courtyard. Palm trees were carved on the walls along the passage. Eight steps led up to this gate.

Buildings near the North Gate

38In the outer courtyard there was an annexe attached to the inner gateway on the north side. It opened into the entrance room that faced the courtyard, and there they washed the carcasses of the animals to be burnt whole as sacrifices. 39In this entrance room there were four tables, two on each side of the room. It was on these tables that they killed the animals to be offered as sacrifices, either to be burnt whole or to be sacrifices for sin or as repayment offerings. 40Outside the room there were four similar tables, two on either side of the entrance of the north gate. 41Altogether there were eight tables on which the animals to be sacrificed were killed: four inside the room and four out in the courtyard. 42The four tables in the annexe, used to prepare the offerings to be burnt whole, were of cut stone. They were fifty centimetres high, and their tops were 75 centimetres square. All the equipment used in killing the sacrificial animals was kept on these tables. 43Ledges 25 millimetres wide ran round the edge of the tables. All the meat to be offered in sacrifice was placed on the tables.

44Then he brought me into the inner courtyard. There were two rooms opening on the inner courtyard, one facing south beside the north gateway and the other facing north beside the south gateway. 45The man told me that the room which faced south was for the priests who served in the Temple, 46and the room which faced north was for the priests who served at the altar. All the priests are descended from Zadok; they are the only members of the tribe of Levi who are permitted to go into the LORD's presence to serve him.

The Inner Courtyard and the Temple Building

47The man measured the inner courtyard, and it was fifty metres square. The Temple was on the west side, and in front of it was an altar. 48Then he took me into the entrance room of the Temple. He measured the entrance: it was 2.5 metres deep and seven metres wide, with walls 1.5 metres thick on either side. 49Steps led up to the entrance room, which was ten metres wide and six metres deep. There were two columns, one on each side of the entrance.

Ezekiel 40GNBOpen in Bible reader

Praise and Thanksgiving

1O God, it is right for us to praise you in Zion

and keep our promises to you,

2because you answer prayers.

People everywhere will come to you

3on account of their sins.

Our faults defeat us,

but you forgive them.

4Happy are those whom you choose,

whom you bring to live in your sanctuary.

We shall be satisfied with the good things of your house,

the blessings of your sacred Temple.

5You answer us by giving us victory

and you do wonderful things to save us.

People all over the world

and across the distant seas trust in you.

6You set the mountains in place by your strength,

showing your mighty power.

7You calm the roar of the seas

and the noise of the waves;

you calm the uproar of the peoples.

8The whole world stands in awe

of the great things that you have done.

Your deeds bring shouts of joy

from one end of the earth to the other.

9You show your care for the land by sending rain;

you make it rich and fertile.

You fill the streams with water;

you provide the earth with crops.

This is how you do it:

10you send abundant rain on the ploughed fields

and soak them with water;

you soften the soil with showers

and cause the young plants to grow.

11What a rich harvest your goodness provides!

Wherever you go there is plenty.

12The pastures are filled with flocks;

the hillsides are full of joy.

13The fields are covered with sheep;

the valleys are full of wheat.

Everything shouts and sings for joy.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.16.16
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