Today our passages are Ezekiel 21:1–22:31; Hebrews 10:1-17; Psalm 108:1-13; and Proverbs 27:12. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
Ezekiel 21-22:31 (The Message)
A Sword! A Sword!1-5 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, now face Jerusalem and let the Message roll out against the Sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel. Say, 'God's Message: I'm against you. I'm pulling my sword from its sheath and killing both the wicked and the righteous. Because I'm treating everyone the same, good and bad, everyone from south to north is going to feel my sword! Everyone will know that I mean business.' 6 "So, son of man, groan! Double up in pain. Make a scene!
7 "When they ask you, 'Why all this groaning, this carrying on?' say, 'Because of the news that's coming. It'll knock the breath out of everyone. Hearts will stop cold, knees turn to rubber. Yes, it's coming. No stopping it. Decree of God, the Master.'"
8-10 God's Message to me: "Son of man, prophesy. Tell them, 'The Master says:
"'A sword! A sword!
razor-sharp and polished,
Sharpened to kill,
polished to flash like lightning!
"'My child, you've despised the scepter of Judah
by worshiping every tree-idol.
11"'The sword is made to glisten,
to be held and brandished.
It's sharpened and polished,
ready to be brandished by the killer.'
12"Yell out and wail, son of man.
The sword is against my people!
The princes of Israel
and my people—abandoned to the sword!
Wring your hands!
Tear out your hair!
Why have you despised discipline?
You can't get around it.
Decree of God, the Master.'
14-17"So, prophesy, son of man!
Clap your hands. Get their attention.
Tell them that the sword's coming down
once, twice, three times.
It's a sword to kill,
a sword for a massacre,
A sword relentless,
a sword inescapable—
People collapsing right and left,
going down like dominoes.
I've stationed a murderous sword
at every gate in the city,
Flashing like lightning,
Cut to the right, thrust to the left,
murderous, sharp-edged sword!
Then I'll clap my hands,
a signal that my anger is spent.
I, God, have spoken."
18-22 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, lay out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take. Start them from the same place. Place a signpost at the beginning of each road. Post one sign to mark the road of the sword to Rabbah of the Ammonites. Post the other to mark the road to Judah and Fort Jerusalem. The king of Babylon stands at the fork in the road and he decides by divination which of the two roads to take. He draws straws, he throws god-dice, he examines a goat liver. He opens his right hand: The omen says, 'Head for Jerusalem!' So he's on his way with battering rams, roused to kill, sounding the battle cry, pounding down city gates, building siege works.
23 "To the Judah leaders, who themselves have sworn oaths, it will seem like a false divination, but he will remind them of their guilt, and so they'll be captured.
24 "So this is what God, the Master, says: 'Because your sin is now out in the open so everyone can see what you've been doing, you'll be taken captive.
25-27 "'O Zedekiah, blasphemous and evil prince of Israel: Time's up. It's "punishment payday." God says, Take your royal crown off your head. No more "business as usual." The underdog will be promoted and the top dog will be demoted. Ruins, ruins, ruins! I'll turn the whole place into ruins. And ruins it will remain until the one comes who has a right to it. Then I'll give it to him.'
28-32 "But, son of man, your job is to prophesy. Tell them, 'This is the Message from God, the Master, against the Ammonites and against their cruel taunts:
"'A sword! A sword!
Bared to kill,
Sharp as a razor,
flashing like lightning.
Despite false sword propaganda
circulated in Ammon,
The sword will sever Ammonite necks,
for whom it's punishment payday.
Return the sword to the sheath! I'll judge you in your home country,
in the land where you grew up.
I'll empty out my wrath on you,
breathe hot anger down your neck.
I'll give you to vicious men
skilled in torture.
You'll end up as stove-wood.
Corpses will litter your land.
Not so much as a memory will be left of you.
I, God, have said so.'"
The Scarecrow of the Nations1-5 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, are you going to judge this bloody city or not? Come now, are you going to judge her? Do it! Face her with all her outrageous obscenities. Tell her, 'This is what God, the Master, says: You're a city murderous at the core, just asking for punishment. You're a city obsessed with no-god idols, making yourself filthy. In all your killing, you've piled up guilt. In all your idol-making, you've become filthy. You've forced a premature end to your existence. I'll put you on exhibit as the scarecrow of the nations, the world's worst joke. From far and near they'll deride you as infamous in filth, notorious for chaos. 6-12 "'Your leaders, the princes of Israel among you, compete in crime. You're a community that's insolent to parents, abusive to outsiders, oppressive against orphans and widows. You treat my holy things with contempt and desecrate my Sabbaths. You have people spreading lies and spilling blood, flocking to the hills to the sex shrines and fornicating unrestrained. Incest is common. Men force themselves on women regardless of whether they're ready or willing. Sex is now anarchy. Anyone is fair game: neighbor, daughter-in-law, sister. Murder is for hire, usury is rampant, extortion is commonplace.
"'And you've forgotten me. Decree of God, the Master.
13-14 "'Now look! I've clapped my hands, calling everyone's attention to your rapacious greed and your bloody brutalities. Can you stick with it? Will you be able to keep at this once I start dealing with you?
14-16 "'I, God, have spoken. I'll put an end to this. I'll throw you to the four winds. I'll scatter you all over the world. I'll put a full stop to your filthy living. You will be defiled, spattered with your own mud in the eyes of the nations. And you'll recognize that I am God.'"
17-22 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, the people of Israel are slag to me, the useless byproduct of refined copper, tin, iron, and lead left at the smelter—a worthless slag heap. So tell them, 'God, the Master, has spoken: Because you've all become worthless slag, you're on notice: I'll assemble you in Jerusalem. As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin into a furnace and blow fire on it to melt it down, so in my wrath I'll gather you and melt you down. I'll blow on you with the fire of my wrath to melt you down in the furnace. As silver is melted down, you'll be melted down. That should get through to you. Then you'll recognize that I, God, have let my wrath loose on you.'"
23-25 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, tell her, 'You're a land that during the time I was angry with you got no rain, not so much as a spring shower. The leaders among you became desperate, like roaring, ravaging lions killing indiscriminately. They grabbed and looted, leaving widows in their wake.
26-29 "'Your priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things. They can't tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there's no difference between right and wrong. They're contemptuous of my holy Sabbaths, profaning me by trying to pull me down to their level. Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, "This is what God, the Master, says..." when God hasn't said so much as one word. Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.'
30-31 "I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn't have to destroy it. I couldn't find anyone. Not one. So I'll empty out my wrath on them, burn them to a crisp with my hot anger, serve them with the consequences of all they've done. Decree of God, the Master."
Hebrews 10:1-17 (The Message)
The Sacrifice of Jesus1-10The old plan was only a hint of the good things in the new plan. Since that old "law plan" wasn't complete in itself, it couldn't complete those who followed it. No matter how many sacrifices were offered year after year, they never added up to a complete solution. If they had, the worshipers would have gone merrily on their way, no longer dragged down by their sins. But instead of removing awareness of sin, when those animal sacrifices were repeated over and over they actually heightened awareness and guilt. The plain fact is that bull and goat blood can't get rid of sin. That is what is meant by this prophecy, put in the mouth of Christ:
You don't want sacrifices and offerings year after year;
you've prepared a body for me for a sacrifice.
It's not fragrance and smoke from the altar
that whet your appetite.
So I said, "I'm here to do it your way, O God,
the way it's described in your Book."
When he said, "You don't want sacrifices and offerings," he was referring to practices according to the old plan. When he added, "I'm here to do it your way," he set aside the first in order to enact the new plan—God's way—by which we are made fit for God by the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. 11-18Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. The Holy Spirit confirms this:
This new plan I'm making with Israel
isn't going to be written on paper,
isn't going to be chiseled in stone;
This time "I'm writing out the plan in them,
carving it on the lining of their hearts."
I'll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.
Once sins are taken care of for good, there's no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.
Psalm 108:1-13 (The Message)
A David Prayer1-2 I'm ready, God, so ready,
ready from head to toe.
Ready to sing,
ready to raise a God-song:
"Wake, soul! Wake, lute!
Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!"
3-6 I'm thanking you, God, out in the streets,
singing your praises in town and country.
The deeper your love, the higher it goes;
every cloud's a flag to your faithfulness.
Soar high in the skies, O God!
Cover the whole earth with your glory!
And for the sake of the one you love so much,
reach down and help me—answer me!
7-9 That's when God spoke in holy splendor:
"Brimming over with joy,
I make a present of Shechem,
I hand out Succoth Valley as a gift.
Gilead's in my pocket,
to say nothing of Manasseh.
Ephraim's my hard hat,
Judah my hammer.
Moab's a scrub bucket—
I mop the floor with Moab,
Spit on Edom,
rain fireworks all over Philistia."
10-11 Who will take me to the thick of the fight?
Who'll show me the road to Edom?
You aren't giving up on us, are you, God?
refusing to go out with our troops?
12-13 Give us help for the hard task;
human help is worthless.
In God we'll do our very best;
he'll flatten the opposition for good.
Proverbs 27:12 (The Message)
12 A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks;
a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.
Verse of the Day
“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’” - Job 37:5-6
Today's passage is from the New International Version.
American baseball player who pitched in the Negro leagues and in Major League Baseball (MLB), Satchel Paige wrote, “Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.”