Today our passages are Ezekiel 24:1–26:21; Hebrews 11:1-16; Psalm 110:1-7; and Proverbs 27:14. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. 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 by using the link below.
Ezekiel 24-26:21 (The Message)
Bring the Pot to a Boil1-5 The Message of God came to me in the ninth year, the tenth month, and the tenth day of the month: "Son of man, write down this date. The king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day. Tell this company of rebels a story: "'Put on the soup pot.
Fill it with water.
Put chunks of meat into it,
all the choice pieces—loin and brisket.
Pick out the best soup bones
from the best of the sheep in the flock.
Pile wood beneath the pot.
Bring it to a boil
and cook the soup.
6"'God, the Master, says:
"'Doom to the city of murder,
to the pot thick with scum,
thick with a filth that can't be scoured.
Empty the pot piece by piece;
don't bother who gets what.
7-8"'The blood from murders
has stained the whole city;
Blood runs bold on the street stones,
with no one bothering to wash it off—
Blood out in the open to public view
to provoke my wrath,
to trigger my vengeance.
9-12"'Therefore, this is what God, the Master, says:
"'Doom to the city of murder!
I, too, will pile on the wood.
Stack the wood high,
light the match,
Cook the meat, spice it well, pour out the broth,
and then burn the bones.
Then I'll set the empty pot on the coals
and heat it red-hot so the bronze glows,
So the germs are killed
and the corruption is burned off.
But it's hopeless. It's too far gone.
The filth is too thick.
13-14 "'Your encrusted filth is your filthy sex. I wanted to clean you up, but you wouldn't let me. I'll make no more attempts at cleaning you up until my anger quiets down. I, God, have said it, and I'll do it. I'm not holding back. I've run out of compassion. I'm not changing my mind. You're getting exactly what's coming to you. Decree of God, the Master.'"
No Tears15-17 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, I'm about to take from you the delight of your life—a real blow, I know. But, please, no tears. Keep your grief to yourself. No public mourning. Get dressed as usual and go about your work—none of the usual funeral rituals." 18 I preached to the people in the morning. That evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I'd been told.
19 The people came to me, saying, "Tell us why you're acting like this. What does it mean, anyway?"
20-21 So I told them, "God's Word came to me, saying, 'Tell the family of Israel, This is what God, the Master, says: I will desecrate my Sanctuary, your proud impregnable fort, the delight of your life, your heart's desire. The children you left behind will be killed.
22-24 "'Then you'll do exactly as I've done. You'll perform none of the usual funeral rituals. You'll get dressed as usual and go about your work. No tears. But your sins will eat away at you from within and you'll groan among yourselves. Ezekiel will be your example. The way he did it is the way you'll do it.
"'When this happens you'll recognize that I am God, the Master.'"
25-27 "And you, son of man: The day I take away the people's refuge, their great joy, the delight of their life, what they've most longed for, along with all their children—on that very day a survivor will arrive and tell you what happened to the city. You'll break your silence and start talking again, talking to the survivor. Again, you'll be an example for them. And they'll recognize that I am God."
Acts of Vengeance1-5 God's Message came to me: "Son of man, face Ammon and preach against the people: Listen to the Message of God, the Master. This is what God has to say: Because you cheered when my Sanctuary was desecrated and the land of Judah was devastated and the people of Israel were taken into exile, I'm giving you over to the people of the east. They'll move in and make themselves at home, eating the food right off your tables and drinking your milk. I'll turn your capital, Rabbah, into pasture for camels and all your villages into corrals for flocks. Then you'll realize that I am God. 6-7 "God, the Master, says, Because you clapped and cheered, venting all your malicious contempt against the land of Israel, I'll step in and hand you out as loot—first come, first served. I'll cross you off the roster of nations. There'll be nothing left of you. And you'll realize that I am God."
8-11 "God, the Master, says: Because Moab said, 'Look, Judah's nothing special,' I'll lay wide open the flank of Moab by exposing its lovely frontier villages to attack: Beth-jeshimoth, Baal-meon, and Kiriathaim. I'll lump Moab in with Ammon and give them to the people of the east for the taking. Ammon won't be heard from again. I'll punish Moab severely. And they'll realize that I am God."
12-14 "God, the Master, says: Because Edom reacted against the people of Judah in spiteful revenge and was so criminally vengeful against them, therefore I, God, the Master, will oppose Edom and kill the lot of them, people and animals both. I'll waste it—corpses stretched from Teman to Dedan. I'll use my people Israel to bring my vengeance down on Edom. My wrath will fuel their action. And they'll realize it's my vengeance. Decree of God the Master."
15-17 "God, the Master, says: Because the Philistines were so spitefully vengeful—all those centuries of stored-up malice!—and did their best to destroy Judah, therefore I, God, the Master, will oppose the Philistines and cut down the Cretans and anybody else left along the seacoast. Huge acts of vengeance, massive punishments! When I bring vengeance, they'll realize that I am God."
As the Waves of the Sea, Surging Against the Shore1-2 In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, God's Message came to me: "Son of man, Tyre cheered when they got the news of Jerusalem, exclaiming, "'Good! The gateway city is smashed!
Now all her business comes my way.
She's in ruins
and I'm in clover.'
3-6"Therefore, God, the Master, has this to say:
"'I'm against you, Tyre,
and I'll bring many nations surging against you,
as the waves of the sea surging against the shore.
They'll smash the city walls of Tyre
and break down her towers.
I'll wash away the soil
and leave nothing but bare rock.
She'll be an island of bare rock in the ocean,
good for nothing but drying fishnets.
Yes, I've said so.' Decree of God, the Master.
'She'll be loot, free pickings for the nations!
Her surrounding villages will be butchered.
Then they'll realize that I am God.'
7-14 "God, the Master, says: Look! Out of the north I'm bringing Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, a king's king, down on Tyre. He'll come with chariots and horses and riders—a huge army. He'll massacre your surrounding villages and lay siege to you. He'll build siege ramps against your walls. A forest of shields will advance against you! He'll pummel your walls with his battering rams and shatter your towers with his iron weapons. You'll be covered with dust from his horde of horses—a thundering herd of war horses pouring through the breaches, pulling chariots. Oh, it will be an earthquake of an army and a city in shock! Horses will stampede through the streets. Your people will be slaughtered and your huge pillars strewn like matchsticks. The invaders will steal and loot—all that wealth, all that stuff! They'll knock down your fine houses and dump the stone and timber rubble into the sea. And your parties, your famous good-time parties, will be no more. No more songs, no more lutes. I'll reduce you to an island of bare rock, good for nothing but drying fishnets. You'll never be rebuilt. I, God, have said so. Decree of God, the Master.
Introduced to the Terrors of Death15 "This is the Message of God, the Master, to Tyre: Won't the ocean islands shake at the crash of your collapse, at the groans of your wounded, at your mayhem and massacre? 16-18 "All up and down the coast, the princes will come down from their thrones, take off their royal robes and fancy clothes, and wrap themselves in sheer terror. They'll sit on the ground, shaken to the core, horrified at you. Then they'll begin chanting a funeral song over you:
"'Sunk! Sunk to the bottom of the sea,
famous city on the sea!
Power of the seas,
you and your people,
who lived in your shadows.
But now the islands are shaking
at the sound of your crash,
Ocean islands in tremors
from the impact of your fall.'
19-21 "The Message of God, the Master: 'When I turn you into a wasted city, a city empty of people, a ghost town, and when I bring up the great ocean deeps and cover you, then I'll push you down among those who go to the grave, the long, long dead. I'll make you live there, in the grave in old ruins, with the buried dead. You'll never see the land of the living again. I'll introduce you to the terrors of death and that'll be the end of you. They'll send out search parties for you, but you'll never be found. Decree of God, the Master.'"
Hebrews 11:1-16 (The Message)
Faith in What We Don't See1-2The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. 3By faith, we see the world called into existence by God's word, what we see created by what we don't see.
4By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That's what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice.
5-6By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. "They looked all over and couldn't find him because God had taken him." We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken "he pleased God." It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
7By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn't see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.
8-10By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God's call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
11-12By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That's how it happened that from one man's dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions.
13-16Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.
Psalm 110:1-7 (The Message)
A David Prayer1-3 The word of God to my Lord: "Sit alongside me here on my throne
until I make your enemies a stool for your feet."
You were forged a strong scepter by God of Zion;
now rule, though surrounded by enemies!
Your people will freely join you, resplendent in holy armor
on the great day of your conquest,
Join you at the fresh break of day,
join you with all the vigor of youth.
4-7 God gave his word and he won't take it back:
you're the permanent priest, the Melchizedek priest.
The Lord stands true at your side,
crushing kings in his terrible wrath,
Bringing judgment on the nations,
handing out convictions wholesale,
crushing opposition across the wide earth.
The King-Maker put his King on the throne;
the True King rules with head held high!
Proverbs 27:14 (The Message)
14 If you wake your friend in the early morning
by shouting "Rise and shine!"
It will sound to him
more like a curse than a blessing.
Verse of the Day
“[The Person and Work of Christ]We have not stopped praying for you since the first day we heard about you. In fact, we always pray that God will show you everything he wants you to do and that you may have all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives.” - Colossians 1:9
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
French literary theorist, philosopher, linguist, critic, and semiotician, Roland Barthes wrote, “There is only one way left to escape the alienation of present day society: to retreat ahead of it.”