Idolatrous Elders Condemned
1Then certain of the elders of Israel came to me [seeking an oracle from God] and sat down before me. 2 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, these men have set up [and honored] their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the [vile] stumbling block of their wickedness and guilt; should I [permit Myself to] be consulted by them at all? 4 Therefore speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who takes his idols [of rebellion] into his heart, and puts the [vile] stumbling block of his wickedness and guilt [images of silver and gold] before his face, and yet comes to the prophet [to ask of him], I the Lord will answer him, [but I will answer him] in accordance with the number of his idols, 5 in order that I may take hold of the heart (mind) of the house of Israel who are all estranged from Me because of their idols.”’
6 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your disgusting and vile acts. 7 For anyone of the house of Israel or among the strangers who immigrate to Israel who separates himself from Me, taking his idols into his heart, and puts right before his face the [vile] stumbling block of his wickedness and guilt, and [then] comes to the prophet to ask of Me for himself, I the Lord will answer him Myself. 8 I will set My face against that man [that hypocrite] and will make him a [a]sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people; and you will know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.
9 “But if the prophet [who speaks without My authority] is enticed to speak a word [of his own], it is I the Lord who have caused that prophet [to speak falsely to please the inquirer, thus allowing himself to be a party to the inquirer’s sin], and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. 10 They [both] will bear the punishment of their wickedness; the sin of the [counterfeit] prophet will be the same as the sin of the [hypocritical] inquirer, 11 so that the house of Israel may no longer drift away from Me and no longer defile themselves with all their transgressions, but they will be My people, and I will be their God,”’ says the Lord God.”
The City Will Not Be Spared
12 The word of the Lord came [again] to me, saying, 13 “Son of man, if a land sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it and destroy its source of bread and send famine on it and cut off from it both man and animal, 14 even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in that land, by their own righteousness (right standing with God) they could only save (deliver) themselves,” says the Lord God. 15 “If I were to cause predatory beasts to pass through the land and they ravaged it and depopulated it of children, and it became desolate so that no one would pass through because of the predators, 16 though these three men were in the land, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they could not save either their sons or their daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate (ruined, deserted). 17 Or if I were to bring a sword on that land and say, ‘Let a sword go through the land and cut off man and animal from it,’ 18 even though these three men were in the land, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they could not save either their sons or their daughters, but they alone would be saved. 19 Or if I should send a virulent disease into that land and pour out My wrath in blood on it to cut off man and animal from it, 20 even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in the land, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they could not save either their son or their daughter; they would save only themselves by their righteousness [that is, their right-standing with God—their moral and spiritual integrity].”
21 For thus says the Lord God, “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem—sword, famine, predatory beasts, and virulent disease—to cut off man and animal from it! 22 Yet, behold, survivors will be left in it [escaping the judgments], both sons and daughters. Listen carefully, they are going to come out to you [in Babylon] and you will see their [wicked] conduct and [despicable] actions; then you will be at peace in regard to the disaster which I have brought against Jerusalem for everything which I have brought on it [has been deserved]. 23 Then they will reassure [b]you [in regard to the appropriateness of the judgments] when you see their [heinous] conduct and actions, for you will know that I have not done without cause whatever I did to it,” declares the Lord God.