Ezekiel 33:21-33

In the twelfth year of our exile, on the fifth day of the tenth month, a survivor from Jerusalem came to me and said, “The city’s fallen.”

The evening before the survivor arrived, the hand of God had been on me and restored my speech. By the time he arrived in the morning I was able to speak. I could talk again.

God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, those who are living in the ruins back in Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man and he owned the whole country. But there are lots of us. Our ownership is even more certain.’

“So tell them, ‘God the Master says, You eat flesh that contains blood, you worship no-god idols, you murder at will—and you expect to own this land? You rely on the sword, you engage in obscenities, you indulge in sex at random—anyone, anytime. And you still expect to own this land?’

“Tell them this, Ezekiel: ‘The Message of God, the Master. As sure as I am the living God, those who are still alive in the ruins will be killed. Anyone out in the field I’ll give to wild animals for food. Anyone hiding out in mountain forts and caves will die of disease. I’ll make this country an empty wasteland—no more arrogant bullying! Israel’s mountains will become dangerously desolate. No one will dare pass through them.’

“They’ll realize that I am God when I devastate the country because of all the obscenities they’ve practiced.

“As for you, son of man, you’ve become quite the talk of the town. Your people meet on street corners and in front of their houses and say, ‘Let’s go hear the latest news from God.’ They show up, as people tend to do, and sit in your company. They listen to you speak, but don’t do a thing you say. They flatter you with compliments, but all they care about is making money and getting ahead. To them you’re merely entertainment—a country singer of sad love songs, playing a guitar. They love to hear you talk, but nothing comes of it.

“But when all this happens—and it is going to happen!—they’ll realize that a prophet was among them.”

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Ezekiel 34

When the Sheep Get Scattered

God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes. Scattered—my sheep!—exposed and vulnerable across mountains and hills. My sheep scattered all over the world, and no one out looking for them!

“‘Therefore, shepherds, listen to the Message of God: As sure as I am the living God—Decree of God, the Master—because my sheep have been turned into mere prey, into easy meals for wolves because you shepherds ignored them and only fed yourselves, listen to what God has to say:

“‘Watch out! I’m coming down on the shepherds and taking my sheep back. They’re fired as shepherds of my sheep. No more shepherds who just feed themselves! I’ll rescue my sheep from their greed. They’re not going to feed off my sheep any longer!

“‘God, the Master, says: From now on, I myself am the shepherd. I’m going looking for them. As shepherds go after their flocks when they get scattered, I’m going after my sheep. I’ll rescue them from all the places they’ve been scattered to in the storms. I’ll bring them back from foreign peoples, gather them from foreign countries, and bring them back to their home country. I’ll feed them on the mountains of Israel, along the streams, among their own people. I’ll lead them into lush pasture so they can roam the mountain pastures of Israel, graze at leisure, feed in the rich pastures on the mountains of Israel. And I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep. I myself will make sure they get plenty of rest. I’ll go after the lost, I’ll collect the strays, I’ll doctor the injured, I’ll build up the weak ones and oversee the strong ones so they’re not exploited.

“‘And as for you, my dear flock, I’m stepping in and judging between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. Aren’t you satisfied to feed in good pasture without taking over the whole place? Can’t you be satisfied to drink from the clear stream without muddying the water with your feet? Why do the rest of my sheep have to make do with grass that’s trampled down and water that’s been muddied?

“‘Therefore, God, the Master, says: I myself am stepping in and making things right between the plump sheep and the skinny sheep. Because you forced your way with shoulder and rump and butted at all the weaker animals with your horns till you scattered them all over the hills, I’ll come in and save my dear flock, no longer let them be pushed around. I’ll step in and set things right between one sheep and another.

“‘I’ll appoint one shepherd over them all: my servant David. He’ll feed them. He’ll be their shepherd. And I, God, will be their God. My servant David will be their prince. I, God, have spoken.

“‘I’ll make a covenant of peace with them. I’ll banish fierce animals from the country so the sheep can live safely in the wilderness and sleep in the forest. I’ll make them and everything around my hill a blessing. I’ll send down plenty of rain in season—showers of blessing! The trees in the orchards will bear fruit, the ground will produce, they’ll feel content and safe on their land, and they’ll realize that I am God when I break them out of their slavery and rescue them from their slave masters.

“‘No longer will they be exploited by outsiders and ravaged by fierce beasts. They’ll live safe and sound, fearless and free. I’ll give them rich gardens, lavish in vegetables—no more living half-starved, no longer taunted by outsiders.

“‘They’ll know, beyond doubting, that I, God, am their God, that I’m with them and that they, the people Israel, are my people. Decree of God, the Master:

You are my dear flock,
    the flock of my pasture, my human flock,
And I am your God.
    Decree of God, the Master.’”

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Ezekiel 35

A Pile of Rubble

God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, confront Mount Seir. Prophesy against it! Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says:

“‘I’m coming down hard on you, Mount Seir.
    I’m stepping in and turning you to a pile of rubble.
I’ll reduce your towns to piles of rocks.
    There’ll be nothing left of you.
    Then you’ll realize that I am God.

“‘I’m doing this because you’ve kept this age-old grudge going against Israel: You viciously attacked them when they were already down, looking their final punishment in the face. Therefore, as sure as I am the living God, I’m lining you up for a real bloodbath. Since you loved blood so much, you’ll be chased by rivers of blood. I’ll reduce Mount Seir to a heap of rubble. No one will either come or go from that place! I’ll blanket your mountains with corpses. Massacred bodies will cover your hills and fill up your valleys and ditches. I’ll reduce you to ruins and all your towns will be ghost towns—population zero. Then you’ll realize that I am God.

“‘Because you said, “These two nations, these two countries, are mine. I’m taking over” (even though God is right there watching, right there listening), I’ll turn your hate-bloated anger and rage right back on you. You’ll know I mean business when I bring judgment on you. You’ll realize then that I, God, have overheard all the vile abuse you’ve poured out against the mountains of Israel, saying, “They’re roadkill and we’re going to eat them up.” You’ve strutted around, talking so big, insolently pitting yourselves against me. And I’ve heard it all.

“‘This is the verdict of God, the Master: With the whole earth applauding, I’ll demolish you. Since you danced in the streets, thinking it was so wonderful when Israel’s inheritance was demolished, I’ll give you the same treatment: demolition. Mount Seir demolished—yes, every square inch of Edom. Then they’ll realize that I am God!’”

Read More of Ezekiel 35