Could you deliver the message? Even it is was a hard one? Even it was a bad one? Even if it was a tough one? Could you deliver it in love?
Would it matter to you who is sending you? What if it was God? Would that make any difference to you?
Would it matter who the message was going to? What if it was a friend? What if it was family? What if it was your neighbor? What if it was your enemy? What if it was to someone in authority over you? What if it was the head of your country? What if it was the head of your church? Does it really matter who the message is going to?
Are you bold enough? Are you courageous enough? Are you confident enough? Will you trust the one who is sending you enough? Will you believe they know what they are doing?
Today’s reading starts in Ezekiel and goes like this…
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 worshiping 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 make fun of you and all the countries sneer at you. 5Countries nearby and countries far away sneer at you because of your lawlessness. 6All Israel’s leaders trust in their own strength and commit murder. 7 None of you in the city honor your parents. You cheat foreigners and take advantage of widows and orphans. 8 You 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. 10 Some 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. 12 Some of your people murder for pay. Some charge interest on the loans they make to other 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 dishonor 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 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 the way 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 the way 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. 26 The 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 workers 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 mistreat 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.
–from Ezekiel 22
Would it matter how hard, how strong, how difficult the message was on if you were/are able to deliver it? Would it matter what the topic is about? Can you still stand your ground and deliver this hard message?
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 worshiping 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 of 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 around 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 the way 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.” ( 21Oholibah, 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 Judgment 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 Judgment 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 jewelry. 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 practice 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 worshiping idols. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord.”