September 6, Ezekiel 34-36

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34 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says to the shepherds: Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have been feeding themselves! Shouldn’t the shepherds feed their flock? You eat the fat, wear the wool, and butcher the fattened animals, but you do not tend the flock. You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost. Instead, you have ruled them with violence and cruelty. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd; they became food for all the wild animals when they were scattered. My flock went astray on all the mountains and every high hill. My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and there was no one searching or seeking for them.

“‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. As I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—because my flock, lacking a shepherd, has become prey and food for every wild animal, and because my shepherds do not search for my flock, and because the shepherds feed themselves rather than my flock, therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord!

10 “‘This is what the Lord God says: Look, I am against the shepherds. I will demand my flock from them[a] and prevent them from shepherding the flock. The shepherds will no longer feed themselves, for I will rescue my flock from their mouths so that they will not be food for them.

11 “‘For this is what the Lord God says: See, I myself will search for my flock and look for them. 12 As a shepherd looks for his sheep on the day he is among his scattered flock, so I will look for my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and total darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the peoples, gather them from the countries, and bring them to their own soil. I will shepherd them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the land. 14 I will tend them in good pasture, and their grazing place will be on Israel’s lofty mountains. There they will lie down in a good grazing place; they will feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I will tend my flock and let them lie down. This is the declaration of the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, bring back the strays, bandage the injured, and strengthen the weak, but I will destroy[b] the fat and the strong. I will shepherd them with justice.

17 “‘As for you, my flock, the Lord God says this: Look, I am going to judge between one sheep and another, between the rams and goats. 18 Isn’t it enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of the pasture with your feet? Or isn’t it enough that you drink the clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? 19 Yet my flock has to feed on what your feet have trampled, and drink what your feet have muddied.

20 “‘Therefore, this is what the Lord God says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Since you have pushed with flank and shoulder and butted all the weak ones with your horns until you scattered them all over, 22 I will save my flock. They will no longer be prey, and I will judge between one sheep and another. 23 I will establish over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will shepherd them. He will tend them himself and will be their shepherd. 24 I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among them. I, the Lord, have spoken.

25 “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and eliminate dangerous creatures from the land, so that they may live securely in the wilderness and sleep in the forest. 26 I will make them and the area around my hill a blessing: I will send down showers in their season; they will be showers of blessing. 27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit, and the land will yield its produce; my flock will be secure in their land. They will know that I am the Lord when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the power of those who enslave them. 28 They will no longer be prey for the nations, and the wild creatures of the earth will not consume them. They will live securely, and no one will frighten them. 29 I will establish for them a place renowned for its agriculture,[c] and they will no longer be victims of famine in the land. They will no longer endure the insults of the nations. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people. This is the declaration of the Lord God. 31 You are my flock, the human flock of my pasture, and I am your God. This is the declaration of the Lord God.’”

A Prophecy against Edom

35 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, face Mount Seir and prophesy against it. Say to it, ‘This is what the Lord God says:

Look! I am against you, Mount Seir.
I will stretch out my hand against you
and make you a desolate waste.
I will turn your cities into ruins,
and you will become a desolation.
Then you will know that I am the Lord.

“‘Because you maintained a perpetual hatred and gave the Israelites over to the power of the sword in the time of their disaster, the time of final punishment, therefore, as I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—I will destine you for bloodshed, and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, it will pursue you. I will make Mount Seir a desolate waste and will cut off from it those who come and go. I will fill its mountains with the slain; those slain by the sword will fall on your hills, in your valleys, and in all your ravines. I will make you a perpetual desolation; your cities will not be inhabited. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

10 “‘Because you said, “These two nations and two lands will be mine, and we will possess them”—though the Lord was there— 11 therefore, as I live—this is the declaration of the Lord God—I will treat you according to the anger and jealousy you showed in your hatred of them. I will make myself known among them[d] when I judge you. 12 Then you will know that I, the Lord, have heard all the blasphemies you uttered against the mountains of Israel, saying, “They are desolate. They have been given to us to devour!” 13 You boasted against me with your mouth, and spoke many words against me. I heard it myself!

14 “‘This is what the Lord God says: While the whole world rejoices, I will make you a desolation. 15 Just as you rejoiced over the inheritance of the house of Israel because it became a desolation, I will deal the same way with you: you will become a desolation, Mount Seir, and so will all Edom in its entirety. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’

Restoration of Israel’s Mountains

36 “Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘Mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the Lord God says: Because the enemy has said about you, “Aha! The ancient heights have become our possession,”’ therefore, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Lord God says: Because they have made you desolate and have trampled you from every side, so that you became a possession for the rest of the nations and an object of people’s gossip and slander, therefore, mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord God. This is what the Lord God says to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys, to the desolate ruins and abandoned cities, which have become plunder and a mockery to the rest of the nations all around.

“‘This is what the Lord God says: Certainly in my burning zeal I speak against the rest of the nations and all of Edom, who took[e] my land as their own possession with wholehearted rejoicing and utter contempt so that its pastureland became[f] plunder. Therefore, prophesy concerning Israel’s land, and say to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and valleys: This is what the Lord God says: Look, I speak in my burning zeal because you have endured the insults of the nations. Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: I swear[g] that the nations all around you will endure their own insults.

“‘You, mountains of Israel, will produce your branches and bear your fruit for my people Israel, since their arrival is near. Look! I am on your side; I will turn toward you, and you will be tilled and sown. 10 I will fill you with people, with the whole house of Israel in its entirety. The cities will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. 11 I will fill you with people and animals, and they will increase and be fruitful. I will make you inhabited as you once were and make you better off than you were before. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 12 I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk on you; they will possess you, and you will be their inheritance. You will no longer deprive them of their children.

13 “‘This is what the Lord God says: Because some are saying to you, “You devour people and deprive your nation of children,” 14 therefore, you will no longer devour people and deprive your nation of children.[h] This is the declaration of the Lord God. 15 I will no longer allow the insults of the nations to be heard against you, and you will not have to endure the reproach of the peoples anymore; you will no longer cause your nation to stumble.[i] This is the declaration of the Lord God.’”

Restoration of Israel’s People

16 The word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, while the house of Israel lived in their land, they defiled it with their conduct and actions. Their behavior before me was like menstrual impurity. 18 So I poured out my wrath on them because of the blood they had shed on the land, and because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 I dispersed them among the nations, and they were scattered among the countries. I judged them according to their conduct and actions. 20 When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned my holy name, because it was said about them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, yet they had to leave his land in exile.’ 21 Then I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel profaned among the nations where they went.

22 “Therefore, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Lord God says: It is not for your sake that I will act, house of Israel, but for my holy name, which you profaned among the nations where you went. 23 I will honor the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations—the name you have profaned among them. The nations will know that I am the Lord—this is the declaration of the Lord God—when I demonstrate my holiness through you in their sight.

24 “‘For I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone[j] and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will summon the grain and make it plentiful, and I will not bring famine on you. 30 I will also make the fruit of the trees and the produce of the field plentiful, so that you will no longer experience reproach among the nations on account of famine.

31 “‘You will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and detestable practices. 32 It is not for your sake that I will act—this is the declaration of the Lord God—let this be known to you. Be ashamed and humiliated because of your ways, house of Israel!

33 “‘This is what the Lord God says: On the day I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the ruins will be rebuilt. 34 The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of everyone who passes by. 35 They will say, “This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden. The cities that were once ruined, desolate, and demolished are now fortified and inhabited.” 36 Then the nations that remain around you will know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt what was demolished and have replanted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken and I will do it.

37 “‘This is what the Lord God says: I will respond to the house of Israel and do this for them: I will multiply them in number like a flock.[k] 38 So the ruined cities will be filled with a flock of people, just as Jerusalem is filled with a flock of sheep for sacrifice[l] during its appointed festivals. Then they will know that I am the Lord.’”

Grace is being given something that we don’t deserve.  Ezekiel 36:23-33, is a wonderful picture of God’s grace.  We see a long list of things God promises He will do for the Israelites… ‘I will gather, I will cleanse, I will give a new heart and a new spirit, I will make plentiful’

At any point God could have turned his back on Israel and used another nation to proclaim his glory and holiness throughout the world. But God graciously and lovingly desires to bring the people of Israel back into a relationship with Him.  

If God’s grace can remove Israel’s heart of stone (36:26), then what can God’s grace do in your life?

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