Back to Your Own Land
“And now, son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel. Say, ‘Mountains of Israel, listen to God’s Message. God, the Master, says, Because the enemy crowed over you, “Good! Those old hills are now ours!” now here is a prophecy in the name of God, the Master: Because nations came at you from all sides, ripping and plundering, hauling pieces of you off every which way, and you’ve become the butt of cheap gossip and jokes, therefore, Mountains of Israel, listen to the Message of God, the Master. My Message to mountains and hills, to ditches and valleys, to the heaps of rubble and the emptied towns that are looted for plunder and turned into jokes by all the surrounding nations: Therefore, says God, the Master, now I’m speaking in a fiery rage against the rest of the nations, but especially against Edom, who in an orgy of violence and shameless insolence robbed me of my land, grabbed it for themselves.’
“Therefore prophesy over the land of Israel, preach to the mountains and hills, to every ditch and valley: ‘The Message of God, the Master: Look! Listen! I’m angry—and I care. I’m speaking to you because you’ve been humiliated among the nations. Therefore I, God, the Master, am telling you that I’ve solemnly sworn that the nations around you are next. It’s their turn to be humiliated.
“‘But you, Mountains of Israel, will burst with new growth, putting out branches and bearing fruit for my people Israel. My people are coming home! Do you see? I’m back again. I’m on your side. You’ll be plowed and planted as before! I’ll see to it that your population grows all over Israel, that the towns fill up with people, that the ruins are rebuilt. I’ll make this place teem with life—human and animal. The country will burst into life, life, and more life, your towns and villages full of people just as in the old days. I’ll treat you better than I ever have. And you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll put people over you—my own people Israel! They’ll take care of you and you’ll be their inheritance. Never again will you be a harsh and unforgiving land to them.
“‘God, the Master, says: Because you have a reputation of being a land that eats people alive and makes women barren, I’m now telling you that you’ll never eat people alive again nor make women barren. Decree of God, the Master. And I’ll never again let the taunts of outsiders be heard over you nor permit nations to look down on you. You’ll no longer be a land that makes women barren. Decree of God, the Master.’”
God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, when the people of Israel lived in their land, they polluted it by the way they lived. I poured out my anger on them because of the polluted blood they poured out on the ground. And so I got thoroughly angry with them polluting the country with their wanton murders and dirty gods. I kicked them out, exiled them to other countries. I sentenced them according to how they had lived. Wherever they went, they gave me a bad name. People said, ‘These are God’s people, but they got kicked off his land.’ I suffered much pain over my holy reputation, which the people of Israel blackened in every country they entered.
“Therefore, tell Israel, ‘Message of God, the Master: I’m not doing this for you, Israel. I’m doing it for me, to save my character, my holy name, which you’ve blackened in every country where you’ve gone. I’m going to put my great and holy name on display, the name that has been ruined in so many countries, the name that you blackened wherever you went. Then the nations will realize who I really am, that I am God, when I show my holiness through you so that they can see it with their own eyes.
“‘For here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I’ll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I’ll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I’ll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that’s God-willed, not self-willed. I’ll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You’ll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You’ll be my people! I’ll be your God!
“‘I’ll pull you out of that stinking pollution. I’ll give personal orders to the wheat fields, telling them to grow bumper crops. I’ll send no more famines. I’ll make sure your fruit trees and field crops flourish. Other nations won’t be able to hold you in contempt again because of famine.
“‘And then you’ll think back over your terrible lives—the evil, the shame—and be thoroughly disgusted with yourselves, realizing how badly you’ve lived—all those obscenities you’ve carried out.
“‘I’m not doing this for you. Get this through your thick heads! Shame on you. What a mess you made of things, Israel!
“‘Message of God, the Master: On the day I scrub you clean from all your filthy living, I’ll also make your cities livable. The ruins will be rebuilt. The neglected land will be worked again, no longer overgrown with weeds and thistles, worthless in the eyes of passersby. People will exclaim, “Why, this weed patch has been turned into a Garden of Eden! And the ruined cities, smashed into oblivion, are now thriving!” The nations around you that are still in existence will realize that I, God, rebuild ruins and replant empty waste places. I, God, said so, and I’ll do it.
“‘Message of God, the Master: Yet again I’m going to do what Israel asks. I’ll increase their population as with a flock of sheep. Like the milling flocks of sheep brought for sacrifices in Jerusalem during the appointed feasts, the ruined cities will be filled with flocks of people. And they’ll realize that I am God.’”
Breath of Life
God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”
God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’
“Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it. God’s Decree.’”
God’s Message came to me: “You, son of man: Take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, with his Israelite companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph—Ephraim’s stick, together with all his Israelite companions.’ Then tie the two sticks together so that you’re holding one stick.
“When your people ask you, ‘Are you going to tell us what you’re doing?’ tell them, ‘God, the Master, says, Watch me! I’ll take the Joseph stick that is in Ephraim’s hand, with the tribes of Israel connected with him, and lay the Judah stick on it. I’ll make them into one stick. I’m holding one stick.’
“Then take the sticks you’ve inscribed and hold them up so the people can see them. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says, Watch me! I’m taking the Israelites out of the nations in which they’ve been exiled. I’ll gather them in from all directions and bring them back home. I’ll make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and give them one king—one king over all of them. Never again will they be divided into two nations, two kingdoms. Never again will they pollute their lives with their no-god idols and all those vile obscenities and rebellions. I’ll save them out of all their old sinful haunts. I’ll clean them up. They’ll be my people! I’ll be their God! My servant David will be king over them. They’ll all be under one shepherd.
“‘They’ll follow my laws and keep my statutes. They’ll live in the same land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren will live there forever, and my servant David will be their prince forever. I’ll make a covenant of peace with them that will hold everything together, an everlasting covenant. I’ll make them secure and place my holy place of worship at the center of their lives forever. I’ll live right there with them. I’ll be their God! They’ll be my people!
“‘The nations will realize that I, God, make Israel holy when my holy place of worship is established at the center of their lives forever.’”