Some messages are easy to deliver! Some directions are easy to follow! But what if the message you had to deliver was hard? What if the instructions you were given were difficult? Would you be obedient? Fully obedient? Partial obedience isn’t obedience at all! Partial obedience is disobedience! So what would you do? How would you respond? How will you answer the call on your life?
Today’s reading starts in Ezekiel 24…
The Corroded Cooking Pot
1On the tenth day of the tenth month of the ninth year of our exile, the Lord spoke to me. 2 “Mortal man,” he said, “write down today’s date, because this is the day that the king of Babylonia is beginning the siege of Jerusalem. 3Tell my rebellious people this parable that I, the Sovereign Lord, have for them: Set the pot on the fire and fill it up with water.4Put in the best pieces of meat—the shoulders and the legs—fill it with choice bony pieces too.
5Use the meat of the finest sheep; pile the wood under the pot. Let the water boil; boil the bones and the meat.”
6This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: “The city of murderers is doomed! It is like a corroded pot that is never cleaned. Piece after piece of meat is taken out, and not one is left. 7There was murder in the city, but the blood was not spilled on the ground where the dust could hide it; it was spilled on a bare rock. 8I have left the blood there, where it cannot be hidden, where it demands angry revenge.”
9This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: “The city of murderers is doomed! I myself will pile up the firewood. 10Bring more wood! Fan the flames! Cook the meat! Boil away the broth! Burn up the bones! 11Now set the empty bronze pot on the coals and let it get red-hot. Then the pot will be ritually pure again after the corrosion is burned off, 12although all that corrosion will not disappear in the flames. 13Jerusalem, your immoral actions have defiled you. Although I tried to purify you, you remained defiled. You will not be pure again until you have felt the full force of my anger. 14I, the Lord, have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not ignore your sins or show pity or be merciful. You will be punished for what you have done.” The Sovereign Lord has spoken.
The Death of the Prophet’s Wife
15The Lord spoke to me. 16“Mortal man,” he said, “with one blow I am going to take away the person you love most. You are not to complain or cry or shed any tears. 17Don’t let your sobbing be heard. Do not go bareheaded or barefoot as a sign of mourning. Don’t cover your face or eat the food that mourners eat.”
18Early in the day I was talking with the people. That evening my wife died, and the next day I did as I had been told. 19The people asked me, “Why are you acting like this?”
20So I said to them, “The Lord spoke to me and told me 21to give you Israelites this message: You are proud of the strength of the Temple. You like to look at it and to visit it, but the Lord is going to profane it. And the younger members of your families who are left in Jerusalem will be killed in war. 22Then you will do what I have done. You will not cover your faces or eat the food that mourners eat. 23You will not go bareheaded or barefoot or mourn or cry. You will waste away because of your sins, and you will groan to one another. 24Then I will be a sign to you; you will do everything I have done. The Lord says that when this happens, you will know that he is the Sovereign Lord.”
25The Lord said, “Now, mortal man, I will take away from them the strong Temple that was their pride and joy, which they liked to look at and to visit. And I will take away their sons and daughters. 26On the day that I do this, some who escape the destruction will come and tell you about it. 27That same day you will get back the power of speech which you had lost, and you will talk with them. In this way you will be a sign to the people, and they will know that I am the Lord.”
–from Ezekiel 24
What is it going to take? Would seeing others suffer make you feel better? Or would you have compassion? Would you celebrate someone else’s pain and suffering? Ever heard that misery likes company? Be careful how you live! Be careful how you respond!
Prophecy against Ammon
1The Lord spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “denounce the country of Ammon. 3Tell them to listen to what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying: You were delighted to see my Temple profaned, to see the land of Israel devastated, to see the people of Judah go into exile. 4Because you were glad, I will let the tribes from the eastern desert conquer you. They will set up their camps in your country and settle there. They will eat the fruit and drink the milk that should have been yours. 5I will turn the city of Rabbah into a place to keep camels, and the whole country of Ammon will become a place to keep sheep, so that you will know I am the Lord.
6“This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: You clapped your hands and jumped for joy. You despised the land of Israel. 7Because you did, I will hand you over to other nations who will rob you and plunder you. I will destroy you so completely that you will not be a nation any more or have a country of your own. Then you will know that I am the Lord.”
Prophecy against Moab
8The Sovereign Lord said, “Because Moab has said that Judah is like all the other nations, 9I will let the cities that defend the border of Moab be attacked, including even the finest cities—Beth Jeshimoth, Baal Meon, and Kiriathaim. 10I will let the tribes of the eastern desert conquer Moab, together with Ammon, so that Moab will no longer be a nation. 11I will punish Moab, and they will know that I am the Lord.”
Prophecy against Edom
12The Sovereign Lord said, “The people of Edom took cruel revenge on Judah, and that revenge has brought lasting guilt on Edom. 13Now I announce that I will punish Edom and kill every person and animal there. I will make it a wasteland, from the city of Teman to the city of Dedan, and the people will be killed in battle. 14My people Israel will take revenge on Edom for me, and they will make Edom feel my furious anger. Edom will know what it means to be the object of my revenge.” The Sovereign Lord has spoken.
Prophecy against Philistia
15The Sovereign Lord said, “The Philistines have taken cruel revenge on their agelong enemies and destroyed them in their hate. 16And so I am announcing that I will attack the Philistines and wipe them out. I will destroy everyone left living there on the Philistine Plain. 17I will punish them severely and take full revenge on them. They will feel my anger. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
–from Ezekiel 24
Be careful how you live! Be careful how you react! There will be judgment for God is a just God!
Prophecy against Tyre
1On the first day of the … month of the eleventh year of our exile, the Lord spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “this is what the people in the city of Tyre are cheering about. They shout, ‘Jerusalem is shattered! Her commercial power is gone! She won’t be our rival any more!’
3“Now then, this is what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying: I am your enemy, city of Tyre. I will bring many nations to attack you, and they will come like the waves of the sea. 4They will destroy your city walls and tear down your towers. Then I will sweep away all the dust and leave only a bare rock. 5Fishermen will dry their nets on it, there where it stands in the sea. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken. The nations will plunder Tyre, 6and with their swords they will kill those who live in her towns on the mainland. Then Tyre will know that I am the Lord.”
7The Sovereign Lord says, “I am going to bring the greatest king of all—King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia—to attack Tyre. He will come from the north with a huge army, with horses and chariots and with cavalry. 8Those who live in the towns on the mainland will be killed in the fighting. The enemy will dig trenches, build earthworks, and make a solid wall of shields against you. 9They will pound in your walls with battering rams and tear down your towers with iron bars. 10The clouds of dust raised by their horses will cover you. The noise of their horses pulling wagons and chariots will shake your walls as they pass through the gates of the ruined city. 11Their cavalry will storm through your streets, killing your people with their swords. Your mighty pillars will be thrown to the ground. 12Your enemies will help themselves to your wealth and merchandise. They will pull down your walls and shatter your luxurious houses. They will take the stones and wood and all the rubble, and dump them into the sea. 13 I will put an end to all your songs, and I will silence the music of your harps. 14I will leave only a bare rock where fishermen can dry their nets. The city will never be rebuilt. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken.”
15The Sovereign Lord has this to say to the city of Tyre: “When you are being conquered, the people who live along the coast will be terrified at the screams of those who are slaughtered. 16 All the kings of the seafaring nations will come down from their thrones. They will take off their robes and their embroidered clothes and sit trembling on the ground. They will be so terrified at your fate that they will not be able to stop trembling. 17They will sing this funeral song for you: The famous city is destroyed! Her ships have been swept from the seas. The people of this city ruled the seas And terrified all who lived on the coast. 18Now, on the day it has fallen, The islands are trembling, And their people are shocked at such destruction.”
19The Sovereign Lord says: “I will make you as desolate as ruined cities where no one lives. I will cover you with the water of the ocean depths. 20I will send you down to the world of the dead to join the people who lived in ancient times. I will make you stay in that underground world among eternal ruins, keeping company with the dead. As a result you will never again be inhabited and take your place in the land of the living. 21 I will make you a terrifying example, and that will be the end of you. People may look for you, but you will never be found.” The Sovereign Lord has spoken.
–from Ezekiel 26