August 27, Ezekiel 5-8

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“Now you, son of man, take a sharp sword, use it as you would a barber’s razor, and shave your head and beard. Then take a set of scales and divide the hair. You are to burn a third of it in the city when the days of the siege have ended; you are to take a third and slash it with the sword all around the city; and you are to scatter a third to the wind, for I will draw a sword to chase after them. But you are to take a few strands from the hair and secure them in the folds of your robe. Take some more of them, throw them into the fire, and burn them in it. A fire will spread from it to the whole house of Israel.

“This is what the Lord God says: I have set this Jerusalem in the center of the nations, with countries all around her. She has rebelled against my ordinances with more wickedness than the nations, and against my statutes more than the countries that surround her. For her people have rejected my ordinances and have not walked in my statutes.

“Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: Because you have been more insubordinate than the nations around you—you have not walked in my statutes or kept my ordinances; you have not even kept the ordinances of the nations around you— therefore, this is what the Lord God says: See, I myself am against you, Jerusalem, and I will execute judgments within you in the sight of the nations. Because of all your detestable practices, I will do to you what I have never done before and what I will never do again. 10 As a result, fathers will eat their sons within Jerusalem,[a] and sons will eat their fathers. I will execute judgments against you and scatter all your survivors to every direction of the wind.

11 “Therefore, as I live”—this is the declaration of the Lord God—“I will withdraw and show you no pity, because you have defiled my sanctuary with all your abhorrent acts and detestable practices. Yes, I will not spare you. 12 A third of your people will die by plague and be consumed by famine within you; a third will fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter a third to every direction of the wind, and I will draw a sword to chase after them. 13 When my anger is spent and I have vented my wrath on them, I will be appeased. Then after I have spent my wrath on them, they will know that I, the Lord, have spoken in my jealousy.

14 “I will make you a ruin and a disgrace among the nations around you, in the sight of everyone who passes by. 15 So you[b] will be a disgrace and a taunt, a warning and a horror, to the nations around you when I execute judgments against you in anger, wrath, and furious rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken. 16 When I shoot deadly arrows of famine at them, arrows for destruction that I will send to destroy you, inhabitants of Jerusalem, I will intensify the famine against you and cut off your supply of bread. 17 I will send famine and dangerous animals against you. They will leave you childless. Plague and bloodshed will sweep through you, and I will bring a sword against you. I, the Lord, have spoken.”

Prophecy against Israel’s Idolatry

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, face the mountains of Israel and prophesy against them. You are to say: Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God! This is what the Lord God says to the mountains and the hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I am about to bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Your altars will be desolated and your shrines[c] smashed. I will throw down your slain in front of your idols. I will lay the corpses of the Israelites in front of their idols and scatter your bones around your altars. Wherever you live the cities will be in ruins and the high places will be desolate, so that your altars will lie in ruins and be desecrated,[d] your idols smashed and obliterated, your shrines cut down, and what you have made wiped out. The slain will fall among you, and you will know that I am the Lord.

“Yet I will leave a remnant when you are scattered among the nations, for throughout the countries there will be some of you who will escape the sword. Then your survivors will remember me among the nations where they are taken captive, how I was crushed by their promiscuous hearts that turned away from me and by their eyes that lusted after their idols. They will loathe themselves because of the evil things they did, their detestable actions of every kind. 10 And they will know that I am the Lord; I did not threaten to bring this disaster on them without a reason.

Lament over the Fall of Jerusalem

11 “This is what the Lord God says: Clap your hands, stamp your feet, and cry out over all the evil and detestable practices of the house of Israel, who will fall by the sword, famine, and plague. 12 The one who is far off will die by plague; the one who is near will fall by the sword; and the one who remains and is spared[e] will die of famine. In this way I will exhaust my wrath on them. 13 You will all know that I am the Lord when their slain lie among their idols around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountaintops, and under every green tree and every leafy oak—the places where they offered pleasing aromas to all their idols. 14 I will stretch out my hand against them, and wherever they live I will make the land a desolate waste, from the wilderness to Riblah.[f] Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Announcement of the End

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, this is what the Lord God says to the land of Israel:

An end! The end has come
on the four corners of the earth.
The end is now upon you;
I will send my anger against you
and judge you according to your ways.
I will punish you for all your detestable practices.
I will not look on you with pity or spare you,
but I will punish you for your ways
and for your detestable practices within you.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.”

This is what the Lord God says:

Look, one disaster after another is coming!
An end has come; the end has come!
It has awakened against you.
Look, it is coming!
Doom[g] has come on you,
inhabitants of the land.
The time has come; the day is near.
There will be panic on the mountains
and not celebration.

I will pour out my wrath on you very soon;
I will exhaust my anger against you
and judge you according to your ways.
I will punish you for all your detestable practices.
I will not look on you with pity or spare you.
I will punish you for your ways
and for your detestable practices within you.
Then you will know
that it is I, the Lord, who strikes.

10 Here is the day! Here it comes!
Doom is on its way.
The rod has blossomed;
arrogance has bloomed.
11 Violence has grown into a rod of wickedness.
None of them will remain:
none of that crowd,
none of their wealth,
and none of the eminent[h] among them.

12 The time has come; the day has arrived.
Let the buyer not rejoice
and the seller not mourn,
for wrath is on her whole crowd.
13 The seller will certainly not return
to what was sold
as long as he and the buyer remain alive.[i]
For the vision concerning her whole crowd
will not be revoked,
and because of the iniquity of each one,
none will preserve his life.

14 They have blown the trumpet
and prepared everything,
but no one goes to war,
for my wrath is on her whole crowd.
15 The sword is on the outside;
plague and famine are on the inside.
Whoever is in the field will die by the sword,
and famine and plague will devour
whoever is in the city.

16 The survivors among them will escape
and live on the mountains.
Like doves of the valley,
all of them will moan,
each over his own iniquity.
17 All their hands will become weak,
and all their knees will run with urine.[j]
18 They will put on sackcloth,
and horror will overwhelm them.
Shame will cover all their faces,
and all their heads will be bald.

19 They will throw their silver into the streets,
and their gold will seem like something filthy.
Their silver and gold will be unable to save them
in the day of the Lord’s wrath.
They will not satisfy their appetites
or fill their stomachs,
for these were the stumbling blocks
that brought about their iniquity.

20 He appointed his beautiful ornaments for majesty,
but[k] they made their detestable images from them,
their abhorrent things.
Therefore, I have made these
into something filthy to them.
21 I will hand these things over
to foreigners as plunder
and to the wicked of the earth as spoil,
and they will profane them.
22 I will turn my face from them
as they profane my treasured place.
Violent men will enter it and profane it.

23 Forge the chain,
for the land is filled with crimes of bloodshed,
and the city is filled with violence.
24 So I will bring the most evil of nations
to take possession of their houses.
I will put an end to the pride of the strong,
and their sacred places will be profaned.
25 Anguish is coming!
They will look for peace, but there will be none.
26 Disaster after disaster will come,
and there will be rumor after rumor.
Then they will look for a vision from a prophet,
but instruction will perish from the priests
and counsel from the elders.
27 The king will mourn;
the prince will be clothed in grief;
and the hands of the people of the land will tremble.
I will deal with them according to their own conduct,
and I will judge them by their own standards.
Then they will know that I am the Lord.

Visionary Journey to Jerusalem

In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting in front of me, and there the hand of the Lord God came down on me. I looked, and there was someone who looked like a man.[l] From what seemed to be his waist down was fire, and from his waist up was something that looked bright, like the gleam of amber. He stretched out what appeared to be a hand and took me by the hair of my head. Then the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and carried me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the inner gate that faces north, where the offensive statue that provokes jealousy was located. I saw the glory of the God of Israel there, like the vision I had seen in the plain.

Pagan Practices in the Temple

The Lord said to me, “Son of man, look toward the north.” I looked to the north, and there was this offensive statue north of the Altar Gate, at the entrance. He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing here—more detestable acts that the house of Israel is committing—so that I must depart from my sanctuary? You will see even more detestable acts.”

Then he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked there was a hole in the wall. He said to me, “Son of man, dig through the wall.” So I dug through the wall and discovered a doorway. He said to me, “Go in and see the detestable, wicked acts they are committing here.”

10 I went in and looked, and there engraved all around the wall was every kind of abhorrent thing—crawling creatures and beasts—as well as all the idols of the house of Israel. 11 Seventy elders from the house of Israel were standing before them, with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had a firepan in his hand, and a fragrant cloud of incense was rising up. 12 He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the darkness, each at the shrine of his idol? For they are saying, ‘The Lord does not see us. The Lord has abandoned the land.’” 13 Again he said to me, “You will see even more detestable acts that they are committing.”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the Lord’s house, and I saw women sitting there weeping for Tammuz. 15 And he said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see even more detestable acts than these.”

16 So he brought me to the inner court of the Lord’s house, and there were about twenty-five men at the entrance of the Lord’s temple, between the portico and the altar, with their backs to the Lord’s temple and their faces turned to the east. They were bowing to the east in worship of the sun. 17 And he said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? Is it not enough for the house of Judah to commit the detestable acts they are doing here, that they must also fill the land with violence and repeatedly anger me, even putting the branch to their nose?[m] 18 Therefore I will respond with wrath. I will not show pity or spare them. Though they call loudly in my hearing, I will not listen to them.”

Sometimes it is hard to imagine the powerful, amazing and eternal God that created the universe being able to have a broken heart; but in Ezekiel 6:9 we are told just how crushed God can become by the actions of His children. The Israelites had experienced God’s love, protection, grace and forgiveness multiple times. Yet, their envy, jealousy and pride left them longing to be more like the world around them and less like the children of God they were called to be. Their rejection crushed the heart of the God who had lovingly cared for them. How often do my choices, thoughts and actions crush the heart of God? Even through it all God still chose to send me love, grace and forgiveness.

 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in HIm will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

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