Today our passages are Ezekiel 31:1–32:32; Hebrews 12:14-29; Psalm 113:1–114:8; and Proverbs 27:18-20. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Ezekiel 31-32:32 (Contemporary English Version)
Egypt's King Will Be Chopped Down like a Cedar Tree1Eleven years after King Jehoiachin and the rest of us had been led away as prisoners to Babylonia, the LORD spoke to me on the first day of the third month.a] He said: 2Ezekiel, son of man, tell the king of Egypt and his people that I am saying:
You are more powerful
than anyone on earth.
Now listen to this.
3There was once a cedar tree
with large, strong branches
reaching to the sky. b] 4This tree had plenty of water
to help it grow tall,
and nearby streams watered
the other trees
in the forest.
5But this tree towered over
those other trees,
and its branches
grew long and thick.
6Birds built nests
in its branches,
and animals were born
People from all nations
lived in the shade
of this strong tree.
7It had beautiful,
and its roots found water
deep in the soil.
8None of the cedar trees
in my garden of Eden
were as beautiful
as this tree;
no tree of any kind
had such long branches.
9I, the LORD, gave this tree
and I helped the branches
All other trees in Eden
wanted to be just like it.
10King of Egypt, now listen to what I, the LORD God, am saying about that tree:
The tree grew so tall that it reached the sky c] and became very proud and arrogant. 11So I, the LORD God, will reject the tree and hand it over to a foreign ruler, who will punish it for its wickedness. 12Cruel foreigners will chop it down and leave it wherever it falls. Branches and broken limbs will be scattered over the mountains and in the valleys. The people living in the shade of those branches will go somewhere else. 13Birds will then nest on the stump of the fallen tree, and wild animals will trample its branches. 14Never again will any tree dare to grow as tall as this tree, no matter how much water it has. Every tree must die, just as humans die and go down to the world of the dead.
15On the day this tree dies and goes to the world below, I, the LORD God, will command rivers and streams to mourn its death. Every underground spring of water and every river will stop flowing. d] The mountains in Lebanon will be covered with darkness as a sign of their sorrow, and all the trees in the forest will wither. 16This tree will crash to the ground, and I will send it to the world below. Then the nations of the earth will tremble. The trees from Eden and the choice trees from Lebanon are now in the world of the dead, and they will be comforted when this tree falls. 17Those people who found protection in its shade will also be sent to the world below, where they will join the dead. e] 18King of Egypt, all these things will happen to you and your people! You were like this tree at one time--taller and stronger than anyone on earth. But now you will be chopped down, just as every tree in the garden of Eden must die. You will be sent down to the world of the dead, where you will join the godless and the other victims of violent death. I, the LORD God, have spoken.
A Funeral Song for the King of Egypt1Twelve years after King Jehoiachin and the rest of us had been led away as prisoners to Babylonia, the LORD spoke to me on the first day of the twelfth month. f] He said: 2Ezekiel, son of man, condemn the king of Egypt and tell him I am saying:
You act like a lion
roaming the earth;
but you are nothing more than
a crocodile in a river,
churning up muddy water
with your feet.
3King of Egypt, listen to me. I, the LORD God, will catch you in my net and let a crowd of foreigners drag you to shore. 4I will throw you into an open field, where birds and animals will come to feed on your body. 5I will spread your rotting flesh g] over the mountains and in the valleys, 6and your blood will flow throughout the land and fill up the streams. 7I will cover the whole sky and every star with thick clouds, so that the sun and moon will stop shining. 8The heavens will become black, leaving your country in total darkness. I, the LORD, have spoken. 9Foreign nations you have never heard of will be shocked when I tell them how I destroyed you. h] 10They will be horrified, and when I flash my sword in victory on the day of your death, their kings will tremble in the fear of what could happen to them. 11The king of Babylonia is coming to attack you, king of Egypt! 12Your soldiers will be killed by the cruelest army in the world, and everything you take pride in will be crushed. 13I will slaughter your cattle that graze by the river, i] and no people or livestock will be left to muddy its water.14The water will be clear, and streams will be calm. I, the LORD God, have spoken. 15Egypt will become a barren wasteland, and no living thing will ever survive there. Then you and your people will know that I am the LORD.
16This is your warning, and it will be used as a funeral song by foreign women to mourn the death of your people. I, the LORD God, have spoken.
A Sad Ending for Egypt17On the fifteenth day of that same month, j] the LORD said: 18Ezekiel, son of man, mourn for the Egyptians and condemn them to the world of the dead, where they will be buried alongside the people of other powerful nations. k] 19Say to them: You may be more beautiful
than the people
of other nations,
but you will also die
and join the godless
in the world below.
20You cannot escape! The enemy's sword is ready to slaughter every one of you. l] 21Brave military leaders killed in battle will gladly welcome you and your allies into the world of the dead. 22-23The graves of soldiers from Assyria are there. They once terrified people, but they were killed in battle and now lie deep in the world of the dead. m] 24-25The graves of soldiers from Elam are there. The very sight of those godless soldiers once terrified their enemies and made them panic. But now they are disgraced and ashamed as they lie in the world of the dead, alongside others who were killed in battle.
26The graves of soldiers from Meshech and Tubal are there. These godless soldiers who terrified people were all killed in battle. 27They were not given a proper burial like the heroes of long ago, n] who were buried with their swords under their heads and with their shields o] over their bodies. These were the heroes who made their enemies panic. 28You Egyptians will be cruelly defeated, and you will be buried alongside these other godless soldiers who died in battle.
29The graves of kings and leaders from Edom are there. They were powerful at one time. Now they are buried in the world of the dead with other godless soldiers killed in battle.
30The graves of the rulers of the north p] are there, as well as those of the Sidonians. Their powerful armies once terrified enemies. Now they lie buried in the world of the dead, where they are disgraced like other soldiers killed in battle. 31The LORD God says:
When your king of Egypt sees all of these graves, he and his soldiers will be glad they are not the only ones suffering. 32I sent him to terrify people all over the earth. But he and his army will be killed and buried alongside other godless soldiers in the world of the dead. I, the LORD God, have spoken.
- Ezekiel 31:1 Eleven years. . . third month: Probably May of 587 B.C.
- Ezekiel 31:3 sky: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 3.
- Ezekiel 31:10 the sky: One ancient translation; Hebrew "over the thick branches."
- Ezekiel 31:15 rivers and streams. . . stop flowing: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Ezekiel 31:17 dead: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 17.
- Ezekiel 32:1 Twelve years. . . twelfth month: Probably February of 585 B.C.
- Ezekiel 32:5 rotting flesh: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Ezekiel 32:9 when I tell them how I destroyed you: Hebrew; one ancient translation "when I scatter you like prisoners among them."
- Ezekiel 32:13 the river: This possibly refers to the Nile River.
- Ezekiel 32:17 that same month: See verse 1.
- Ezekiel 32:18 where they will be buried. . . powerful nations: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Ezekiel 32:20 The enemy's sword. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Ezekiel 32:22 deep in the world of the dead: The place of greatest dishonor.
- Ezekiel 32:27 heroes of long ago: One ancient translation; Hebrew "godless heroes."
- Ezekiel 32:27 shields: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Ezekiel 32:30 the rulers of the north: Probably the Phoenicians.
Hebrews 12:14-29 (Contemporary English Version)
Warning against Turning from God14Try to live at peace with everyone! Live a clean life. If you don't, you will never see the Lord. 15Make sure that no one misses out on God's wonderful kindness. Don't let anyone become bitter and cause trouble for the rest of you. 16Watch out for immoral and ungodly people like Esau, who sold his future blessing a] for only one meal. 17You know how he later wanted it back. But there was nothing he could do to change things, even though he begged his father and cried. 18You have not come to a place like Mount Sinai b] that can be seen and touched. There is no flaming fire or dark cloud or storm 19or trumpet sound. The people of Israel heard a voice speak. But they begged it to stop, 20because they could not obey its commands. They were even told to kill any animal that touched the mountain. 21The sight was so frightening that Moses said he shook with fear. 22You have now come to Mount Zion and to the heavenly Jerusalem. This is the city of the living God, where thousands and thousands of angels have come to celebrate. 23Here you will find all of God's dearest children, c] whose names are written in heaven. And you will find God himself, who judges everyone. Here also are the spirits of those good people who have been made perfect.24And Jesus is here! He is the one who makes God's new agreement with us, and his sprinkled blood says much better things than the blood of Abel. d] 25Make sure that you obey the one who speaks to you. The people did not escape, when they refused to obey the one who spoke to them at Mount Sinai. Do you think you can possibly escape, if you refuse to obey the one who speaks to you from heaven? 26When God spoke the first time, his voice shook only the earth. This time he has promised to shake the earth once again, and heaven too.
27The words "once again" mean that these created things will someday be shaken and removed. Then what cannot be shaken will last. 28We should be grateful that we were given a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And in this kingdom we please God by worshiping him and by showing him great honor and respect. 29Our God is like a destructive fire!
- Hebrews 12:16 sold his future blessing: As the first-born son, Esau had certain privileges that were known as a "birthright."
- Hebrews 12:18 a place like Mount Sinai: The Greek text has "a place," but the writer is referring to the time that the Lord spoke to the people of Israel from Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19.16-25).
- Hebrews 12:23 all of God's dearest children: The Greek text has "the gathering of the first-born children" (see the note at 1.6).
- Hebrews 12:24 blood of Abel: Cain and Abel were the two sons of Adam and Eve. Cain murdered Abel (see Genesis 4.1-16).
Psalm 113-114:8 (Contemporary English Version)
The LORD Helps People in Need1Shout praises to the LORD!
Everyone who serves him,
come and praise his name.
2Let the name of the LORD
be praised now and forever.
3From dawn until sunset
the name of the LORD
deserves to be praised.
4The LORD is far above
all of the nations;
he is more glorious
than the heavens.
5No one can compare
with the LORD our God.
His throne is high above,
6and he looks down to see
the heavens and the earth.
7God lifts the poor and needy
from dust and ashes,
8and he lets them take part
in ruling his people.
9When a wife has no children,
he blesses her with some,
and she is happy.
Shout praises to the LORD!
The LORD Works Wonders1God brought his people
out of Egypt,
with a strange language.
2He made Judah his holy place
and ruled over Israel.
3When the sea looked at God,
it ran away,
and the Jordan River
4The mountains and the hills
skipped around like goats.
5Ask the sea why it ran away
or ask the Jordan
why it flowed upstream.
6Ask the mountains and the hills
why they skipped like goats!
7Earth, you will tremble,
when the Lord God of Jacob
8because he turns solid rock
into flowing streams
and pools of water.
Proverbs 27:18-20 (Contemporary English Version)
18Take care of a tree,
and you will eat its fruit;
look after your master,
and you will be praised.
19You see your face in a mirror
and your thoughts
in the minds of others.
20Death and the grave
are never satisfied,
and neither are we.
Verse of the Day
“I am in deep distress, but I love your teachings.” - Psalm 119:143
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American author, Anaïs Nin wrote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”