Ezekiel 7

Fate Has Caught Up with You

God’s Word came to me, saying, “You, son of man—God, the Master, has this Message for the land of Israel:

    The end of business as usual for everyone.
It’s all over. The end is upon you.
    I’ve launched my anger against you.
I’ve issued my verdict on the way you live.
    I’ll make you pay for your disgusting obscenities.
I won’t look the other way,
    I won’t feel sorry for you.
I’ll make you pay for the way you’ve lived:
    Your disgusting obscenities will boomerang on you,
    and you’ll realize that I am God.’

“I, God, the Master, say:
    ‘Disaster after disaster! Look, it comes!
    the end comes.
The end is ripe. Watch out, it’s coming!
    This is your fate, you who live in this land.
Time’s up.
    It’s zero hour.
No dragging of feet now,
    no bargaining for more time.
Soon now I’ll pour my wrath on you,
    pay out my anger against you,
Render my verdict on the way you’ve lived,
    make you pay for your disgusting obscenities.
I won’t look the other way,
    I won’t feel sorry for you.
I’ll make you pay for the way you’ve lived.
    Your disgusting obscenities will boomerang on you.
Then you’ll realize
    that it is I, God, who have hit you.

“‘Judgment Day!
    Fate has caught up with you.
The scepter outsized and pretentious,
    pride bursting all bounds,
Violence strutting,
    brandishing the evil scepter.
But there’s nothing to them,
    and nothing will be left of them.
Time’s up.
    Countdown: five, four, three, two . . .
Buyer, don’t crow; seller, don’t worry:
    Judgment wrath has turned the world topsy-turvy.
The bottom has dropped out of buying and selling.
    It will never be the same again.
But don’t fantasize an upturn in the market.
    The country is bankrupt because of its sins,
    and it’s not going to get any better.

“‘The trumpet signals the call to battle:
    “Present arms!”
But no one marches into battle.
    My wrath has them paralyzed!
On the open roads you’re killed,
    or else you go home and die of hunger and disease.
Either get murdered out in the country
    or die of sickness or hunger in town.
Survivors run for the hills.
    They moan like doves in the valleys,
Each one moaning
    for his own sins.

“‘Every hand hangs limp,
    every knee turns to rubber.
They dress in rough burlap—
    sorry scarecrows,
Shifty and shamefaced,
    with their heads shaved bald.

“‘They throw their money into the gutters.
    Their hard-earned cash stinks like garbage.
They find that it won’t buy a thing
    they either want or need on Judgment Day.
They tripped on money
    and fell into sin.
Proud and pretentious with their jewels,
    they deck out their vile and vulgar no-gods in finery.
    I’ll make those god-obscenities a stench in their nostrils.
I’ll give away their religious junk—
    strangers will pick it up for free,
    the godless spit on it and make jokes.
I’ll turn my face so I won’t have to look
    as my treasured place and people are violated,
As violent strangers walk in
    and desecrate place and people—
A bloody massacre,
    as crime and violence fill the city.
I’ll bring in the dregs of humanity
    to move into their houses.
I’ll put a stop to the boasting and strutting
    of the high-and-mighty,
And see to it that there’ll be nothing holy
    left in their holy places.
Catastrophe descends. They look for peace,
    but there’s no peace to be found—
Disaster on the heels of disaster,
    one rumor after another.
They clamor for the prophet to tell them what’s up,
    but nobody knows anything.
Priests don’t have a clue;
    the elders don’t know what to say.
The king holds his head in despair;
    the prince is devastated.
The common people are paralyzed.
    Gripped by fear, they can’t move.
I’ll deal with them where they are,
    judge them on their terms.
    They’ll know that I am God.’”

Read More of Ezekiel 7

Ezekiel 8

The Spirit Carried Me in Visions

In the sixth year, in the sixth month and the fifth day, while I was sitting at home meeting with the leaders of Judah, it happened that the hand of my Master, God, gripped me. When I looked, I was astonished. What I saw looked like a man—from the waist down like fire and from the waist up like highly burnished bronze. He reached out what looked like a hand and grabbed me by the hair. The Spirit swept me high in the air and carried me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the Temple’s inside court where the image of the sex goddess that makes God so angry had been set up. Right before me was the Glory of the God of Israel, exactly like the vision I had seen out on the plain.

He said to me, “Son of man, look north.” I looked north and saw it: Just north of the entrance loomed the altar of the sex goddess, Asherah, that makes God so angry.

Then he said, “Son of man, do you see what they’re doing? Outrageous obscenities! And doing them right here! It’s enough to drive me right out of my own Temple. But you’re going to see worse yet.”

He brought me to the door of the Temple court. I looked and saw a gaping hole in the wall.

He said, “Son of man, dig through the wall.”

I dug through the wall and came upon a door.

He said, “Now walk through the door and take a look at the obscenities they’re engaging in.”

I entered and looked. I couldn’t believe my eyes: Painted all over the walls were pictures of reptiles and animals and monsters—the whole pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses—being worshiped by Israel. In the middle of the room were seventy of the leaders of Israel, with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing in the middle. Each held his censer with the incense rising in a fragrant cloud.

He said, “Son of man, do you see what the elders are doing here in the dark, each one before his favorite god-picture? They tell themselves, ‘God doesn’t see us. God has forsaken the country.’”

Then he said, “You’re going to see worse yet.”

He took me to the entrance at the north gate of the Temple of God. I saw women sitting there, weeping for Tammuz, the Babylonian fertility god. He said, “Have you gotten an eyeful, son of man? You’re going to see worse yet.”

Finally, he took me to the inside court of the Temple of God. There between the porch and the altar were about twenty-five men. Their backs were to God’s Temple. They were facing east, bowing in worship to the sun.

He said, “Have you seen enough, son of man? Isn’t it bad enough that Judah engages in these outrageous obscenities? They fill the country with violence and now provoke me even further with their obscene gestures. That’s it. They have an angry God on their hands! From now on, no mercy. They can shout all they want, but I’m not listening.”

Read More of Ezekiel 8

Ezekiel 9

A Mark on the Forehead

Then I heard him call out loudly, “Executioners, come! And bring your deadly weapons with you.”

Six men came down the road from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying his lethal weapon. With them was a man dressed in linen with a writing case slung from his shoulder. They entered and stood by the bronze altar.

The Glory of the God of Israel ascended from his usual place above the cherubim-angels, moved to the threshold of the Temple, and called to the man with the writing case who was dressed in linen: “Go through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is in anguish over the outrageous obscenities being done in the city.”

I listened as he went on to address the executioners: “Follow him through the city and kill. Feel sorry for no one. Show no compassion. Kill old men and women, young men and women, mothers and children. But don’t lay a hand on anyone with the mark. Start at my Temple.”

They started with the leaders in front of the Temple.

He told the executioners, “Desecrate the Temple. Fill it with corpses. Then go out and continue the killing.” So they went out and struck the city.

While the massacre went forward, I was left alone. I fell on my face in prayer: “Oh, oh, God, my Master! Are you going to kill everyone left in Israel in this pouring out of your anger on Jerusalem?”

He said, “The guilt of Israel and Judah is enormous. The land is swollen with murder. The city is bloated with injustice. They all say, ‘God has forsaken the country. He doesn’t see anything we do.’ Well, I do see, and I’m not feeling sorry for any of them. They’re going to pay for what they’ve done.”

Just then, the man dressed in linen and carrying the writing case came back and reported, “I’ve done what you told me.”

Read More of Ezekiel 9