Today our passages are Ezekiel 7:1–9:11; Hebrews 5:1-14; Psalm 105:1-15; and Proverbs 26:28. 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 7-9:11 (The Message)
Fate Has Caught Up with You1-4 God's Word came to me, saying, "You, son of man—God, the Master, has this Message for the land of Israel: "'Endtime.
The end of business as usual for everyone.
It's all over. The end is upon you.
I've launched my anger against you.
I've issued my verdict on the way you live.
I'll make you pay for your disgusting obscenities.
I won't look the other way,
I won't feel sorry for you.
I'll make you pay for the way you've lived:
Your disgusting obscenities will boomerang on you,
and you'll realize that I am God.' 5-9"I, God, the Master, say:
'Disaster after disaster! Look, it comes!
the end comes.
The end is ripe. Watch out, it's coming!
This is your fate, you who live in this land.
It's zero hour.
No dragging of feet now,
no bargaining for more time.
Soon now I'll pour my wrath on you,
pay out my anger against you,
Render my verdict on the way you've lived,
make you pay for your disgusting obscenities.
I won't look the other way,
I won't feel sorry for you.
I'll make you pay for the way you've lived.
Your disgusting obscenities will boomerang on you.
Then you'll realize
that it is I, God, who have hit you.
Fate has caught up with you.
The scepter outsized and pretentious,
pride bursting all bounds,
brandishing the evil scepter.
But there's nothing to them,
and nothing will be left of them.
Countdown: five, four, three, two...
Buyer, don't crow; seller, don't worry:
Judgment wrath has turned the world topsy-turvy.
The bottom has dropped out of buying and selling.
It will never be the same again.
But don't fantasize an upturn in the market.
The country is bankrupt because of its sins,
and it's not going to get any better.
14-16"'The trumpet signals the call to battle:
But no one marches into battle.
My wrath has them paralyzed!
On the open roads you're killed,
or else you go home and die of hunger and disease.
Either get murdered out in the country
or die of sickness or hunger in town.
Survivors run for the hills.
They moan like doves in the valleys,
Each one moaning
for his own sins.
17-18"'Every hand hangs limp,
every knee turns to rubber.
They dress in rough burlap—
Shifty and shamefaced,
with their heads shaved bald.
19-27"'They throw their money into the gutters.
Their hard-earned cash stinks like garbage.
They find that it won't buy a thing
they either want or need on Judgment Day.
They tripped on money
and fell into sin.
Proud and pretentious with their jewels,
they deck out their vile and vulgar no-gods in finery.
I'll make those god-obscenities a stench in their nostrils.
I'll give away their religious junk—
strangers will pick it up for free,
the godless spit on it and make jokes.
I'll turn my face so I won't have to look
as my treasured place and people are violated,
As violent strangers walk in
and desecrate place and people—
A bloody massacre,
as crime and violence fill the city.
I'll bring in the dregs of humanity
to move into their houses.
I'll put a stop to the boasting and strutting
of the high-and-mighty,
And see to it that there'll be nothing holy
left in their holy places.
Catastrophe descends. They look for peace,
but there's no peace to be found—
Disaster on the heels of disaster,
one rumor after another.
They clamor for the prophet to tell them what's up,
but nobody knows anything.
Priests don't have a clue;
the elders don't know what to say.
The king holds his head in despair;
the prince is devastated.
The common people are paralyzed.
Gripped by fear, they can't move.
I'll deal with them where they are,
judge them on their terms.
They'll know that I am God.'"
The Spirit Carried Me in Visions1-4 In the sixth year, in the sixth month and the fifth day, while I was sitting at home meeting with the leaders of Judah, it happened that the hand of my Master, God, gripped me. When I looked, I was astonished. What I saw looked like a man—from the waist down like fire and from the waist up like highly burnished bronze. He reached out what looked like a hand and grabbed me by the hair. The Spirit swept me high in the air and carried me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the Temple's inside court where the image of the sex goddess that makes God so angry had been set up. Right before me was the Glory of the God of Israel, exactly like the vision I had seen out on the plain. 5 He said to me, "Son of man, look north." I looked north and saw it: Just north of the entrance loomed the altar of the sex goddess, Asherah, that makes God so angry.
6 Then he said, "Son of man, do you see what they're doing? Outrageous obscenities! And doing them right here! It's enough to drive me right out of my own Temple. But you're going to see worse yet."
7 He brought me to the door of the Temple court. I looked and saw a gaping hole in the wall.
8 He said, "Son of man, dig through the wall."
I dug through the wall and came upon a door.
9 He said, "Now walk through the door and take a look at the obscenities they're engaging in."
10-11 I entered and looked. I couldn't believe my eyes: Painted all over the walls were pictures of reptiles and animals and monsters—the whole pantheon of Egyptian gods and goddesses—being worshiped by Israel. In the middle of the room were seventy of the leaders of Israel, with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing in the middle. Each held his censer with the incense rising in a fragrant cloud.
12 He said, "Son of man, do you see what the elders are doing here in the dark, each one before his favorite god-picture? They tell themselves, 'God doesn't see us. God has forsaken the country.'"
13 Then he said, "You're going to see worse yet."
14-15 He took me to the entrance at the north gate of the Temple of God. I saw women sitting there, weeping for Tammuz, the Babylonian fertility god. He said, "Have you gotten an eyeful, son of man? You're going to see worse yet."
16 Finally, he took me to the inside court of the Temple of God. There between the porch and the altar were about twenty-five men. Their backs were to God's Temple. They were facing east, bowing in worship to the sun.
17-18 He said, "Have you seen enough, son of man? Isn't it bad enough that Judah engages in these outrageous obscenities? They fill the country with violence and now provoke me even further with their obscene gestures. That's it. They have an angry God on their hands! From now on, no mercy. They can shout all they want, but I'm not listening."
A Mark on the Forehead1 Then I heard him call out loudly, "Executioners, come! And bring your deadly weapons with you." 2 Six men came down the road from the upper gate that faces north, each carrying his lethal weapon. With them was a man dressed in linen with a writing case slung from his shoulder. They entered and stood by the bronze altar. 3-4 The Glory of the God of Israel ascended from his usual place above the cherubim-angels, moved to the threshold of the Temple, and called to the man with the writing case who was dressed in linen: "Go through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is in anguish over the outrageous obscenities being done in the city."
5-6 I listened as he went on to address the executioners: "Follow him through the city and kill. Feel sorry for no one. Show no compassion. Kill old men and women, young men and women, mothers and children. But don't lay a hand on anyone with the mark. Start at my Temple."
They started with the leaders in front of the Temple.
7-8 He told the executioners, "Desecrate the Temple. Fill it with corpses. Then go out and continue the killing." So they went out and struck the city.
While the massacre went forward, I was left alone. I fell on my face in prayer: "Oh, oh, God, my Master! Are you going to kill everyone left in Israel in this pouring out of your anger on Jerusalem?"
9-10 He said, "The guilt of Israel and Judah is enormous. The land is swollen with murder. The city is bloated with injustice. They all say, 'God has forsaken the country. He doesn't see anything we do.' Well, I do see, and I'm not feeling sorry for any of them. They're going to pay for what they've done."
11 Just then, the man dressed in linen and carrying the writing case came back and reported, "I've done what you told me."
Hebrews 5:1-14 (The Message)
Hebrews 51-3Every high priest selected to represent men and women before God and offer sacrifices for their sins should be able to deal gently with their failings, since he knows what it's like from his own experience. But that also means that he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins as well as the peoples'. 4-6No one elects himself to this honored position. He's called to it by God, as Aaron was. Neither did Christ presume to set himself up as high priest, but was set apart by the One who said to him, "You're my Son; today I celebrate you!" In another place God declares, "You're a priest forever in the royal order of Melchizedek."
7-10While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. Though he was God's Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity and having been announced by God as high priest in the order of Melchizedek, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him.
Re-Crucifying Jesus11-14I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you've picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby's milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God's ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.
Psalm 105:1-15 (The Message)
Tell everyone you meet what he has done!
Sing him songs, belt out hymns,
translate his wonders into music!
Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs,
you who seek God. Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;
be alert for signs of his presence.
Remember the world of wonders he has made,
his miracles, and the verdicts he's rendered—
O seed of Abraham, his servant,
O child of Jacob, his chosen.
7-15 He's God, our God,
in charge of the whole earth.
And he remembers, remembers his Covenant—
for a thousand generations he's been as good as his word.
It's the Covenant he made with Abraham,
the same oath he swore to Isaac,
The very statute he established with Jacob,
the eternal Covenant with Israel,
Namely, "I give you the land.
Canaan is your hill-country inheritance."
When they didn't count for much,
a mere handful, and strangers at that,
Wandering from country to country,
drifting from pillar to post,
He permitted no one to abuse them.
He told kings to keep their hands off:
"Don't you dare lay a hand on my anointed,
don't hurt a hair on the heads of my prophets."
Proverbs 26:28 (The Message)
Thought for the Day
French philosopher, author, and journalist, Albert Camus wrote, “Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.”