Today our passages are Ezekiel 12:1–14:11; Hebrews 7:1-17; Psalm 105:37-45; and Proverbs 27:3. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.
Ezekiel 12-14:11 (The Message)
Ezekiel 121-6 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, you're living with a bunch of rebellious people. They have eyes but don't see a thing, they have ears but don't hear a thing. They're rebels all. So, son of man, pack up your exile duffel bags. Leave in broad daylight with everyone watching and go off, as if into exile. Maybe then they'll understand what's going on, rebels though they are. You'll take up your baggage while they watch, a bundle of the bare necessities of someone going into exile, and toward evening leave, just like a person going off into exile. As they watch, dig through the wall of the house and carry your bundle through it. In full sight of the people, put the bundle on your shoulder and walk out into the night. Cover your face so you won't have to look at what you'll never see again. I'm using you as a sign for the family of Israel." 7 I did exactly as he commanded me. I got my stuff together and brought it out in the street where everyone could see me, bundled it up the way someone being taken off into exile would, and then, as the sun went down, made a hole in the wall of the house with my hands. As it grew dark and as they watched, I left, throwing my bundle across my shoulders.
8-10 The next morning God spoke to me: "Son of man, when anyone in Israel, that bunch of rebels, asks you, 'What are you doing?' Tell them, 'God, the Master, says that this Message especially concerns the prince in Jerusalem—Zedekiah—but includes all the people of Israel.'
11 "Also tell them, 'I am drawing a picture for you. As I am now doing, it will be done to all the people of Israel. They will go into exile as captives.'
12-15 "The prince will put his bundle on his shoulders in the dark and leave. He'll dig through the wall of the house, covering his face so he won't have to look at the land he'll never see again. But I'll make sure he gets caught and is taken to Babylon. Blinded, he'll never see that land in which he'll die. I'll scatter to the four winds those who helped him escape, along with his troops, and many will die in battle. They'll realize that I am God when I scatter them among foreign countries.
16 "I'll permit a few of them to escape the killing, starvation, and deadly sickness so that they can confess among the foreign countries all the disgusting obscenities they've been involved in. They will realize that I am God."
17-20 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, eat your meals shaking in your boots, drink your water trembling with fear. Tell the people of this land, everyone living in Jerusalem and Israel, God's Message: 'You'll eat your meals shaking in your boots and drink your water in terror because your land is going to be stripped bare as punishment for the brutality rampant in it. All the cities and villages will be emptied out and the fields destroyed. Then you'll realize that I am God.'"
21-22 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, what's this proverb making the rounds in the land of Israel that says, 'Everything goes on the same as ever; all the prophetic warnings are false alarms'?
23-25 "Tell them, 'God, the Master, says, This proverb's going to have a short life!'
"Tell them, 'Time's about up. Every warning is about to come true. False alarms and easygoing preaching are a thing of the past in the life of Israel. I, God, am doing the speaking. What I say happens. None of what I say is on hold. What I say, I'll do—and soon, you rebels!' Decree of God the Master."
26-28 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, do you hear what Israel is saying: that the alarm the prophet raises is for a long time off, that he's preaching about the far-off future? Well, tell them, 'God, the Master, says, "Nothing of what I say is on hold. What I say happens."' Decree of God, the Master."
People Who Love Listening to Lies1-2 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, preach against the prophets of Israel who are making things up out of their own heads and calling it 'prophesying.' 2-6 "Preach to them the real thing. Tell them, 'Listen to God's Message!' God, the Master, pronounces doom on the empty-headed prophets who do their own thing and know nothing of what's going on! Your prophets, Israel, are like jackals scavenging through the ruins. They haven't lifted a finger to repair the defenses of the city and have risked nothing to help Israel stand on God's Day of Judgment. All they do is fantasize comforting illusions and preach lying sermons. They say 'God says...' when God hasn't so much as breathed in their direction. And yet they stand around thinking that something they said is going to happen.
7-9 "Haven't you fantasized sheer nonsense? Aren't your sermons tissues of lies, saying 'God says...' when I've done nothing of the kind? Therefore—and this is the Message of God, the Master, remember—I'm dead set against prophets who substitute illusions for visions and use sermons to tell lies. I'm going to ban them from the council of my people, remove them from membership in Israel, and outlaw them from the land of Israel. Then you'll realize that I am God, the Master.
10-12 "The fact is that they've lied to my people. They've said, 'No problem; everything's just fine,' when things are not at all fine. When people build a wall, they're right behind them slapping on whitewash. Tell those who are slapping on the whitewash, 'When a torrent of rain comes and the hailstones crash down and the hurricane sweeps in and the wall collapses, what's the good of the whitewash that you slapped on so liberally, making it look so good?'
13-14 "And that's exactly what will happen. I, God, the Master, say so: 'I'll let the hurricane of my wrath loose, a torrent of my hailstone-anger. I'll make that wall you've slapped with whitewash collapse. I'll level it to the ground so that only the foundation stones will be left. And in the ruin you'll all die. You'll realize then that I am God.
15-16 "'I'll dump my wrath on that wall, all of it, and on those who plastered it with whitewash. I will say to them, There is no wall, and those who did such a good job of whitewashing it wasted their time, those prophets of Israel who preached to Jerusalem and announced all their visions telling us things were just fine when they weren't at all fine. Decree of God, the Master.'
17-19 "And the women prophets—son of man, take your stand against the women prophets who make up stuff out of their own minds. Oppose them. Say 'Doom' to the women who sew magic bracelets and head scarves to suit every taste, devices to trap souls. Say, 'Will you kill the souls of my people, use living souls to make yourselves rich and popular? You have profaned me among my people just to get ahead yourselves, used me to make yourselves look good—killing souls who should never have died and coddling souls who shouldn't live. You've lied to people who love listening to lies.'
20-21 "Therefore God says, 'I am against all the devices and techniques you use to hunt down souls. I'll rip them out of your hands. I'll free the souls you're trying to catch. I'll rip your magic bracelets and scarves to shreds and deliver my people from your influence so they'll no longer be victimized by you. That's how you'll come to realize that I am God.
22-23 "'Because you've confounded and confused good people, unsuspecting and innocent people, with your lies, and because you've made it easy for others to persist in evil so that it wouldn't even dawn on them to turn to me so I could save them, as of now you're finished. No more delusion-mongering from you, no more sermonic lies. I'm going to rescue my people from your clutches. And you'll realize that I am God.'"
Idols in Their Hearts1-5 Some of the leaders of Israel approached me and sat down with me. God's Message came to me: "Son of Man, these people have installed idols in their hearts. They have embraced the wickedness that will ruin them. Why should I even bother with their prayers? Therefore tell them, 'The Message of God, the Master: All in Israel who install idols in their hearts and embrace the wickedness that will ruin them and still have the gall to come to a prophet, be on notice: I, God, will step in and personally answer them as they come dragging along their mob of idols. I am ready to go to work on the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom have left me for their idols.' 6-8 "Therefore, say to the house of Israel: 'God, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities. To every last person from the house of Israel, including any of the resident aliens who live in Israel—all who turn their backs on me and embrace idols, who install the wickedness that will ruin them at the center of their lives and then have the gall to go to the prophet to ask me questions—I, God, will step in and give the answer myself. I'll oppose those people to their faces, make an example of them—a warning lesson—and get rid of them so you will realize that I am God.
9-11 "'If a prophet is deceived and tells these idolaters the lies they want to hear, I, God, get blamed for those lies. He won't get by with it. I'll grab him by the scruff of the neck and get him out of there. They'll be equally guilty, the prophet and the one who goes to the prophet, so that the house of Israel will never again wander off my paths and make themselves filthy in their rebellions, but will rather be my people, just as I am their God. Decree of God, the Master.'"
Hebrews 7:1-17 (The Message)
Melchizedek, Priest of God1-3Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Highest God. He met Abraham, who was returning from "the royal massacre," and gave him his blessing. Abraham in turn gave him a tenth of the spoils. "Melchizedek" means "King of Righteousness." "Salem" means "Peace." So, he is also "King of Peace." Melchizedek towers out of the past—without record of family ties, no account of beginning or end. In this way he is like the Son of God, one huge priestly presence dominating the landscape always. 4-7You realize just how great Melchizedek is when you see that Father Abraham gave him a tenth of the captured treasure. Priests descended from Levi are commanded by law to collect tithes from the people, even though they are all more or less equals, priests and people, having a common father in Abraham. But this man, a complete outsider, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him, the one to whom the promises had been given. In acts of blessing, the lesser is blessed by the greater.
8-10Or look at it this way: We pay our tithes to priests who die, but Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, the Scripture says, "lives." Ultimately you could even say that since Levi descended from Abraham, who paid tithes to Melchizedek, when we pay tithes to the priestly tribe of Levi they end up with Melchizedek.
A Permanent Priesthood11-14If the priesthood of Levi and Aaron, which provided the framework for the giving of the law, could really make people perfect, there wouldn't have been need for a new priesthood like that of Melchizedek. But since it didn't get the job done, there was a change of priesthood, which brought with it a radical new kind of law. There is no way of understanding this in terms of the old Levitical priesthood, which is why there is nothing in Jesus' family tree connecting him with that priestly line. 15-19But the Melchizedek story provides a perfect analogy: Jesus, a priest like Melchizedek, not by genealogical descent but by the sheer force of resurrection life—he lives!—"priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek." The former way of doing things, a system of commandments that never worked out the way it was supposed to, was set aside; the law brought nothing to maturity. Another way—Jesus!—a way that does work, that brings us right into the presence of God, is put in its place.
Psalm 105:37-45 (The Message)
23-42 Then Israel entered Egypt,
Jacob immigrated to the Land of Ham.
God gave his people lots of babies;
soon their numbers alarmed their foes.
He turned the Egyptians against his people;
they abused and cheated God's servants.
Then he sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron, whom he also chose.
They worked marvels in that spiritual wasteland,
miracles in the Land of Ham.
He spoke, "Darkness!" and it turned dark—
they couldn't see what they were doing.
He turned all their water to blood
so that all their fish died;
He made frogs swarm through the land,
even into the king's bedroom;
He gave the word and flies swarmed,
gnats filled the air.
He substituted hail for rain,
he stabbed their land with lightning;
He wasted their vines and fig trees,
smashed their groves of trees to splinters;
With a word he brought in locusts,
millions of locusts, armies of locusts;
They consumed every blade of grass in the country
and picked the ground clean of produce;
He struck down every firstborn in the land,
the first fruits of their virile powers.
He led Israel out, their arms filled with loot,
and not one among his tribes even stumbled.
Egypt was glad to have them go—
they were scared to death of them.
God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day
and a fire to light their way through the night;
They prayed and he brought quail,
filled them with the bread of heaven;
He opened the rock and water poured out;
it flowed like a river through that desert—
All because he remembered his Covenant,
his promise to Abraham, his servant.
43-45 Remember this! He led his people out singing for joy;
his chosen people marched, singing their hearts out!
He made them a gift of the country they entered,
helped them seize the wealth of the nations
So they could do everything he told them—
could follow his instructions to the letter.
Proverbs 27:3 (The Message)
3 Carrying a log across your shoulders
while you're hefting a boulder with your arms
Is nothing compared to the burden
of putting up with a fool.
Verse of the Day
“You must also pay your taxes. The authorities are God's servants, and it is their duty to take care of these matters.” - Romans 13:6
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Columnist and editor for the Door County Advocate (1953-1964) and wrote a daily column for the Green Bay Press-Gazette (1964-1988), Doug Larson wrote, “Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.”