Today our passages are Ezekiel 37:1-38:23; James 1:19–2:17; Psalm 117:1-2; and Proverbs 28:1. 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 37-38:23 (Contemporary English Version)
Dry Bones Live Again1Some time later, I felt the LORD's power take control of me, and his Spirit carried me to a valley full of bones. 2The LORD showed me all around, and everywhere I looked I saw bones that were dried out. 3He said, "Ezekiel, son of man, can these bones come back to life?" I replied, "LORD God, only you can answer that."
4He then told me to say:
Dry bones, listen to what the LORD is saying to you, 5"I, the LORD God, will put breath in you, and once again you will live. 6I will wrap you with muscles and skin and breathe life into you. Then you will know that I am the LORD."
7I did what the LORD said, but before I finished speaking, I heard a rattling noise. The bones were coming together! 8I saw muscles and skin cover the bones, but they had no life in them.
9The LORD said:
Ezekiel, now say to the wind, [a] "The LORD God commands you to blow from every direction and to breathe life into these dead bodies, so they can live again." 10As soon as I said this, the wind blew among the bodies, and they came back to life! They all stood up, and there were enough to make a large army.
11The LORD said:
Ezekiel, the people of Israel are like dead bones. They complain that they are dried up and that they have no hope for the future. 12So tell them, "I, the LORD God, promise to open your graves and set you free. I will bring you back to Israel, 13and when that happens, you will realize that I am the LORD. 14My Spirit will give you breath, and you will live again. I will bring you home, and you will know that I have kept my promise. I, the LORD, have spoken."
Judah and Israel Together Again15The LORD said: 16Ezekiel, son of man, get a stick and write on it, "The kingdom of Judah." Then get another stick and write on it, "The kingdom of Israel." [b] 17Hold these two sticks end to end, so they look like one stick. 18And when your people ask you what this means, 19tell them that I, the LORD, will join together the stick of Israel and the stick of Judah. I will hold them in my hand, and they will become one. 20Hold these two sticks where they can be seen by everyone 21and then say:
I, the LORD God, will gather the people of Israel and bring them home from the foreign nations where they now live. 22I will make them into one nation and let them once again live in the land of Israel. Only one king will rule them, and they will never again be divided into two nations. 23They will no longer worship idols and do things that make them unacceptable to me. I will wash away their sin and make them clean, and I will protect them from everything that makes them unclean. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
24-25Their king will always come from the family of my servant King David and will care for them like a shepherd. The people of Israel will faithfully obey my laws. They and their descendants will live in the land I gave my servant Jacob, just as their ancestors did. 26I solemnly promise to bless the people of Israel with unending peace. I will protect them and let them become a powerful nation. My temple will stand in Israel for all time, 27and I will live among my people and be their God. 28Every nation on earth will know that my temple is in Israel and that I have chosen the Israelites to be my people.
Gog Invades Israel1The LORD said: 2Ezekiel, son of man, condemn Gog, that wicked ruler of the kingdoms of Meshech and Tubal in the land of Magog. Tell him:
3I, the LORD God, am your enemy, 4and I will make you powerless! I will put a hook in your jaw and drag away both you and your large army. You command cavalry troops that wear heavy armor and carry shields and swords. 5Your army includes soldiers from Persia, Ethiopia, [c] and Libya, 6as well as from Gomer and Beth-Togarmah in the north. Your army is enormous! 7So keep your troops prepared to fight, 8because in a few years, I will command you to invade Israel, a country that was ruined by war. It was deserted for a long time, but its people have returned from the foreign nations where they once lived. The Israelites now live in peace in the mountains of their own land. 9But you and your army will attack them like a fierce thunderstorm and surround them like a cloud.
10When that day comes, I know that you will have an evil plan 11to take advantage of Israel, that weak and peaceful country where people live safely inside towns that have no walls or gates or locks. 12You will rob the people in towns that were once a pile of rubble. These people lived as prisoners in foreign nations, but they have returned to Israel, the most important place in the world, and they own livestock and property. 13The people of Sheba and Dedan, along with merchants from villages in [d] southern Spain, [e] will be your allies. They will want some of the silver and gold, as well as the livestock and property that your army takes from Israel. 14I, the LORD God, know that when you see [f] my people Israel living in peace, 15you will lead your powerful cavalry from your kingdom in the north. 16You will attack my people like a storm-cloud that covers their land. I will let you invade my country Israel, so that every nation on earth will know that I, the LORD, am holy.
Judgment on Gog17The LORD said to Gog: Long ago, I had my prophets warn the people of Israel that someday I would send an enemy to attack them. You, Gog, are that enemy, and that day is coming. 18When you invade Israel, I will become furious, 19and in my anger I will send a terrible earthquake to shake Israel. 20Every living thing on earth will tremble in fear of me--every fish and bird, every wild animal and reptile, and every human. Mountains will crumble, cliffs will fall, and cities will collapse. 21I, the LORD, will make the mountains of Israel turn against you. [g] Your troops will be so terrified that they will attack each other. 22I will strike you with diseases and punish you with death. You and your army will be pounded with rainstorms, hailstones, and burning sulfur. 23I will do these things to show the world that I, the LORD, am holy.
- Ezekiel 37:9 wind: Or "breath." The Hebrew word may mean either.
- Ezekiel 37:16 Israel: The Hebrew text has "Joseph, that is, Ephraim," the leading tribe in the northern kingdom.
- Ezekiel 38:5 Ethiopia: See the note at 29.10.
- Ezekiel 38:13 from villages in: One ancient translation; Hebrew "and soldiers from."
- Ezekiel 38:13 southern Spain: See the note at 27.12.
- Ezekiel 38:14 when you see: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Ezekiel 38:21 I, the LORD. . . against you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
James 1:19-2:17 (Contemporary English Version)
Hearing and Obeying19My dear friends, you should be quick to listen and slow to speak or to get angry. 20If you are angry, you cannot do any of the good things that God wants done. 21You must stop doing anything immoral or evil. Instead be humble and accept the message that is planted in you to save you. 22Obey God's message! Don't fool yourselves by just listening to it. 23If you hear the message and don't obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror 24and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. 25But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don't just hear and forget.
26If you think you are being religious, but can't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. 27Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.
Warning against Having Favorites1My friends, if you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, you won't treat some people better than others. 2Suppose a rich person wearing fancy clothes and a gold ring comes to one of your meetings. And suppose a poor person dressed in worn-out clothes also comes. 3You must not give the best seat to the one in fancy clothes and tell the one who is poor to stand at the side or sit on the floor. 4That is the same as saying that some people are better than others, and you would be acting like a crooked judge. 5My dear friends, pay attention. God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. He has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him. 6You mistreat the poor. But isn't it the rich who boss you around and drag you off to court? 7Aren't they the ones who make fun of your Lord?
8You will do all right, if you obey the most important law [a] in the Scriptures. It is the law that commands us to love others as much as we love ourselves. 9But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned. 10If you obey every law except one, you are still guilty of breaking them all. 11The same God who told us to be faithful in marriage also told us not to murder. So even if you are faithful in marriage, but murder someone, you still have broken God's Law.
12Speak and act like people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. 13Do this, because on the day of judgment there will be no pity for those who have not had pity on others. But even in judgment, God is merciful! [b]
Faith and Works14My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don't do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? 15If you know someone who doesn't have any clothes or food, 16you shouldn't just say, "I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat." What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? 17Faith that doesn't lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!
Psalm 117:1-2 (Contemporary English Version)
Come Praise the LORD1All of you nations, come praise the LORD!
Let everyone praise him.
2His love for us is wonderful;
his faithfulness never ends.
Shout praises to the LORD!
Proverbs 28:1 (Contemporary English Version)
Thought for the Day
German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, composer, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.”