Monday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Ezekiel 19-21 (NKJV)
19:1 “Moreover take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,
2 “and say: ‘What is your mother? A lioness: She lay down among the lions; Among the young lions she nourished her cubs. 3 She brought up one of her cubs, and he became a young lion; He learned to catch prey, and he devoured men. 4 The nations also heard of him; He was trapped in their pit, and they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt.
5 ‘When she saw that she waited, that her hope was lost, she took another of her cubs and made him a young lion. 6 He roved among the lions, and became a young lion; He learned to catch prey; He devoured men. 7 He knew their desolate places, and laid waste their cities; The land with its fullness was desolated by the noise of his roaring. 8 Then the nations set against him from the provinces on every side, and spread their net over him; He was trapped in their pit. 9 They put him in a cage with chains, and brought him to the king of Babylon; They brought him in nets, that his voice should no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel.
10 ‘Your mother was like a vine in your bloodline, planted by the waters, fruitful and full of branches because of many waters. 11 She had strong branches for scepters of rulers. She towered in stature above the thick branches, and was seen in her height amid the dense foliage. 12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried her fruit. Her strong branches were broken and withered; The fire consumed them. 13 And now she is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land. 14 Fire has come out from a rod of her branches and devoured her fruit, so that she has no strong branch—a scepter for ruling.'”
This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.
20:1 It came to pass in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, that certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me.
2 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Have you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you.”‘
4 “Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? Then make known to them the abominations of their fathers. 5 Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “On the day when I chose Israel and raised My hand in an oath to the descendants of the house of Jacob, and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I raised My hand in an oath to them, saying, ‘I am the LORD your God.’ 6 On that day I raised My hand in an oath to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands. 7 Then I said to them, ‘Each of you, throw away the abominations which are before his eyes, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’
8 “But they rebelled against Me and would not obey Me. They did not all cast away the abominations which were before their eyes, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said, ‘I will pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.’ 9 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles among whom they were, in whose sight I had made Myself known to them, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. 10 Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’ 12 Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.
13 “Yet the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness; they did not walk in My statutes; they despised My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; and they greatly defiled My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them in the wilderness, to consume them. 14 But I acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned before the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out. 15 So I also raised My hand in an oath to them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands, 16 because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. 17 Nevertheless My eye spared them from destruction. I did not make an end of them in the wilderness. 18 But I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 ‘I am the LORD your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them; 20 hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’
21 “Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, and were not careful to observe My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them’; but they profaned My Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out My fury on them and fulfill My anger against them in the wilderness. 22 Nevertheless I withdrew My hand and acted for My name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the Gentiles, in whose sight I had brought them out. 23 Also I raised My hand in an oath to those in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the Gentiles and disperse them throughout the countries, 24 because they had not executed My judgments, but had despised My statutes, profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols. 25 Therefore I also gave them up to statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they could not live; 26 and I pronounced them unclean because of their ritual gifts, in that they caused all their firstborn to pass through the fire, that I might make them desolate and that they might know that I am the LORD.”‘
27 “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “In this too your fathers have blasphemed Me, by being unfaithful to Me. 28 When I brought them into the land concerning which I had raised My hand in an oath to give them, and they saw all the high hills and all the thick trees, there they offered their sacrifices and provoked Me with their offerings. There they also sent up their sweet aroma and poured out their drink offerings. 29 Then I said to them, ‘What is this high place to which you go?’ So its name is called Bamah to this day.”‘
30 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Are you defiling yourselves in the manner of your fathers, and committing harlotry according to their abominations? 31 For when you offer your gifts and make your sons pass through the fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols, even to this day. So shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you.
32 “What you have in your mind shall never be, when you say, ‘We will be like the Gentiles, like the families in other countries, serving wood and stone.’ 33 As I live,” says the Lord GOD, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. 36 Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord GOD. 37 “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
39 “As for you, O house of Israel,” thus says the Lord GOD: “Go, serve every one of you his idols—and hereafter—if you will not obey me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols. 40 For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel,” says the Lord GOD, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things. 41 I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. 42 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers. 43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. 44 Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,” says the Lord GOD.'”
45 Furthermore the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 46 “Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest land, the South, 47 and say to the forest of the South, ‘Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be scorched by it. 48 All flesh shall see that I, the LORD, have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.”‘”
49 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! They say of me, ‘Does he not speak parables?'”
21:1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, preach against the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel;
3 “and say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off both righteous and wicked from you.
4 “Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you, therefore My sword shall go out of its sheath against all flesh from south to north, 5 that all flesh may know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath; it shall not return anymore.”‘
6 “Sigh therefore, son of man, with a breaking heart, and sigh with bitterness before their eyes. 7 And it shall be when they say to you, ‘Why are you sighing?’ that you shall answer, ‘Because of the news; when it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord GOD.”
8 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the LORD!’ Say:
‘A sword, a sword is sharpened and also polished! 10 Sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter, polished to flash like lightning! Should we then make mirth? It despises the scepter of My Son, as it does all wood.
11 ‘And He has given it to be polished, that it may be handled; This sword is sharpened, and it is polished to be given into the hand of the slayer.’ 12 Cry and wail, son of man; For it will be against My people, against all the princes of Israel. Terrors including the sword will be against My people; Therefore strike your thigh.
13 “Because it is a testing, and what if the sword despises even the scepter? The scepter shall be no more,” says the Lord GOD.
14 “You therefore, son of man, prophesy, and strike your hands together. The third time let the sword do double damage. It is the sword that slays, the sword that slays the great men, that enters their private chambers. 15 I have set the point of the sword against all their gates, that the heart may melt and many may stumble. Ah! It is made bright; It is grasped for slaughter: 16 Swords at the ready! Thrust right! Set your blade! Thrust left—wherever your edge is ordered! 17 I also will beat My fists together, and I will cause My fury to rest; I, the LORD, have spoken.”
18 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying: 19 “And son of man, appoint for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to go; both of them shall go from the same land. Make a sign; put it at the head of the road to the city. 20 Appoint a road for the sword to go to Rabbah of the Ammonites, and to Judah, into fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver. 22 In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem: to set up battering rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall. 23 And it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken.
24 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your doings your sins appear—because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand.
25 ‘Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, 26 thus says the Lord GOD: “Remove the turban, and take off the crown; Nothing shall remain the same. Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted. 27 Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, until He comes whose right it is, and I will give it to Him.”‘
28 “And you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach,’ and say:
‘A sword, a sword is drawn, polished for slaughter, for consuming, for flashing—29 while they see false visions for you, while they divine a lie to you, to bring you on the necks of the wicked, the slain whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end.
30 ‘Return it to its sheath. I will judge you in the place where you were created, in the land of your nativity. 31 I will pour out My indignation on you; I will blow against you with the fire of My wrath, and deliver you into the hands of brutal men who are skillful to destroy. 32 You shall be fuel for the fire; Your blood shall be in the midst of the land. You shall not be remembered, for I the LORD have spoken.'”
A recurring theme in the unfaithfulness of Israel is that they rebelled against God and defiled His Sabbaths. False teachers twist doctrine and practice, making them focused on man’s ideas rather than God’s. This sort of rebellion was there when Satan tempted Adam and Eve, it was there when Israel strayed from God’s Word in the Old Testament, and it is there when false teachers trouble Christendom in this age.
Teaching God’s Word and observing faithful worship practices are both important components of the Church’s life. They cannot be divided and treated as optional parts. Some church bodies talk about making sound doctrine more appealing by wrapping it in worldly worship styles. Or, they emphasize keeping historical worship practices, but ignore false doctrine in their fellowship. Faithfulness involves observing all that He commands in His Word.
The Lord emphasizes that He repeatedly seeks to restore and bless Israel, even after the many times that they rebel. This is true for all mankind, all nations. All have sinned and rebelled against our Maker. For the sake of His Name as it is revealed in Jesus Christ He calls all nations to repent and believe! He wants all nations to be taught His truth and be baptized into His holy Name as Christ taught us, in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And He continues to make the point that all who are His disciples are taught to love His teachings and observe all that He commands.
We pray: O God, forasmuch as without Thee we are not able to please Thee, mercifully grant that Thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.