Tuesday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Ezekiel 22-24 (NKJV)
22:1 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
2 “Now, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Yes, show her all her abominations! 3 Then say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “The city sheds blood in her own midst, that her time may come; and she makes idols within herself to defile herself. 4 You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and have defiled yourself with the idols which you have made. You have caused your days to draw near, and have come to the end of your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all countries. 5 Those near and those far from you will mock you as infamous and full of tumult.
6 “Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you. 7 In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. 8 You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. 9 In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness. 10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten Me,” says the Lord GOD.
13 “Behold, therefore, I beat My fists at the dishonest profit which you have made, and at the bloodshed which has been in your midst. 14 Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the LORD, have spoken, and will do it. 15 I will scatter you among the nations, disperse you throughout the countries, and remove your filthiness completely from you. 16 You shall defile yourself in the sight of the nations; then you shall know that I am the LORD.”‘”
17 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. 21 Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. 22 As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out My fury on you.'”
23 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’ 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.
30 “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.
23:1 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying: 2 “Son of man, there were two women, the daughters of one mother. 3 They committed harlotry in Egypt, they committed harlotry in their youth; Their breasts were there embraced, their virgin bosom was there pressed. 4 Their names: Oholah the elder and Oholibah her sister; They were Mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem is Oholibah.
5 “Oholah played the harlot even though she was Mine; And she lusted for her lovers, the neighboring Assyrians, 6 who were clothed in purple, captains and rulers, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. 7 Thus she committed her harlotry with them, all of them choice men of Assyria; And with all for whom she lusted, with all their idols, she defiled herself. 8 She has never given up her harlotry brought from Egypt, for in her youth they had lain with her, pressed her virgin bosom, and poured out their immorality upon her.
9 “Therefore I have delivered her Into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. 10 They uncovered her nakedness, took away her sons and daughters, and slew her with the sword; She became a byword among women, for they had executed judgment on her.
11 “Now although her sister Oholibah saw this, she became more corrupt in her lust than she, and in her harlotry more corrupt than her sister’s harlotry. 12 She lusted for the neighboring Assyrians, captains and rulers, clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding on horses, all of them desirable young men. 13 Then I saw that she was defiled; Both took the same way.
14 “But she increased her harlotry; She looked at men portrayed on the wall, images of Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, 15 girded with belts around their waists, flowing turbans on their heads, all of them looking like captains, in the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea, the land of their nativity. 16 As soon as her eyes saw them, she lusted for them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea. 17 Then the Babylonians came to her, into the bed of love, and they defiled her with their immorality; So she was defiled by them, and alienated herself from them. 18 She revealed her harlotry and uncovered her nakedness. Then I alienated Myself from her, as I had alienated Myself from her sister. 19 Yet she multiplied her harlotry in calling to remembrance the days of her youth, when she had played the harlot in the land of Egypt. 20 For she lusted for her paramours, whose flesh is like the flesh of donkeys, and whose issue is like the issue of horses. 21 Thus you called to remembrance the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians pressed your bosom because of your youthful breasts.
22 “Therefore, Oholibah, thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will stir up your lovers against you, from whom you have alienated yourself, and I will bring them against you from every side: 23 The Babylonians, all the Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, Koa, all the Assyrians with them, all of them desirable young men, governors and rulers, captains and men of renown, all of them riding on horses. 24 And they shall come against you with chariots, wagons, and war-horses, with a horde of people. They shall array against you buckler, shield, and helmet all around. I will delegate judgment to them, and they shall judge you according to their judgments. 25 I will set My jealousy against you, and they shall deal furiously with you; They shall remove your nose and your ears, and your remnant shall fall by the sword; They shall take your sons and your daughters, and your remnant shall be devoured by fire. 26 They shall also strip you of your clothes and take away your beautiful jewelry. 27 Thus I will make you cease your lewdness and your harlotry brought from the land of Egypt, so that you will not lift your eyes to them, nor remember Egypt anymore.’
28 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Surely I will deliver you into the hand of those you hate, into the hand of those from whom you alienated yourself. 29 They will deal hatefully with you, take away all you have worked for, and leave you naked and bare. The nakedness of your harlotry shall be uncovered, both your lewdness and your harlotry. 30 I will do these things to you because you have gone as a harlot after the Gentiles, because you have become defiled by their idols. 31 You have walked in the way of your sister; therefore I will put her cup in your hand.’
32 “Thus says the Lord GOD:
‘You shall drink of your sister’s cup, the deep and wide one; You shall be laughed to scorn and held in derision; It contains much. 33 You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, the cup of horror and desolation, the cup of your sister Samaria. 34 You shall drink and drain it, you shall break its shards, and tear at your own breasts; For I have spoken,’ says the Lord GOD.
35 “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry.'”
36 The LORD also said to me: “Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then declare to them their abominations. 37 For they have committed adultery, and blood is on their hands. They have committed adultery with their idols, and even sacrificed their sons whom they bore to Me, passing them through the fire, to devour them. 38 Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths. 39 For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house.
40 “Furthermore you sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and there they came. And you washed yourself for them, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments. 41 You sat on a stately couch, with a table prepared before it, on which you had set My incense and My oil.
42 “The sound of a carefree multitude was with her, and Sabeans were brought from the wilderness with men of the common sort, who put bracelets on their wrists and beautiful crowns on their heads. 43 Then I said concerning her who had grown old in adulteries, ‘Will they commit harlotry with her now, and she with them?’ 44 Yet they went in to her, as men go in to a woman who plays the harlot; thus they went in to Oholah and Oholibah, the lewd women. 45 But righteous men will judge them after the manner of adulteresses, and after the manner of women who shed blood, because they are adulteresses, and blood is on their hands.
46 “For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Bring up an assembly against them, give them up to trouble and plunder. 47 The assembly shall stone them with stones and execute them with their swords; they shall slay their sons and their daughters, and burn their houses with fire.
48 ‘Thus I will cause lewdness to cease from the land, that all women may be taught not to practice your lewdness. 49 They shall repay you for your lewdness, and you shall pay for your idolatrous sins. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.'”
24:1 Again, in the ninth year, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, write down the name of the day, this very day—the king of Babylon started his siege against Jerusalem this very day. 3 And utter a parable to the rebellious house, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD:
“Put on a pot, set it on, and also pour water into it. 4 Gather pieces of meat in it, every good piece, the thigh and the shoulder. Fill it with choice cuts; 5 Take the choice of the flock. Also pile fuel bones under it, make it boil well, and let the cuts simmer in it.”
6 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“Woe to the bloody city, to the pot whose scum is in it, and whose scum is not gone from it! Bring it out piece by piece, on which no lot has fallen.
7 “For her blood is in her midst; She set it on top of a rock; She did not pour it on the ground, to cover it with dust. 8 That it may raise up fury and take vengeance, I have set her blood on top of a rock, that it may not be covered.”
9 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“Woe to the bloody city! I too will make the pyre great. 10 Heap on the wood, kindle the fire; Cook the meat well, mix in the spices, and let the cuts be burned up. 11 Then set the pot empty on the coals, that it may become hot and its bronze may burn, that its filthiness may be melted in it, that its scum may be consumed. 12 She has grown weary with lies, and her great scum has not gone from her. Let her scum be in the fire!
13 “In your filthiness is lewdness. Because I have cleansed you, and you were not cleansed, you will not be cleansed of your filthiness anymore, till I have caused My fury to rest upon you.
14 “I, the LORD, have spoken it; It shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not hold back, nor will I spare, nor will I relent; According to your ways and according to your deeds they will judge you,” says the Lord GOD.'”
15 Also the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 16 “Son of man, behold, I take away from you the desire of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh in silence, make no mourning for the dead; bind your turban on your head, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your lips, and do not eat man’s bread of sorrow.”
18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died; and the next morning I did as I was commanded.
19 And the people said to me, “Will you not tell us what these things signify to us, that you behave so?”
20 Then I answered them, “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 21 ‘Speak to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will profane My sanctuary, your arrogant boast, the desire of your eyes, the delight of your soul; and your sons and daughters whom you left behind shall fall by the sword. 22 And you shall do as I have done; you shall not cover your lips nor eat man’s bread of sorrow. 23 Your turbans shall be on your heads and your sandals on your feet; you shall neither mourn nor weep, but you shall pine away in your iniquities and mourn with one another. 24 Thus Ezekiel is a sign to you; according to all that he has done you shall do; and when this comes, you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.'”
25 ‘And you, son of man—will it not be in the day when I take from them their stronghold, their joy and their glory, the desire of their eyes, and that on which they set their minds, their sons and their daughters: 26 that on that day one who escapes will come to you to let you hear it with your ears? 27 On that day your mouth will be opened to him who has escaped; you shall speak and no longer be mute. Thus you will be a sign to them, and they shall know that I am the LORD.'”
These chapters from the book of Ezekiel contain some jarring signs and comparisons. But the seriousness of sin and Israel’s persistent unfaithfulness are grave matters. These people give little thought to the profound consequences that come with their wickedness, so these words are one more example of the Lord’s benevolent efforts to call them back and save them.
In our age people act as though they are easily off ended when they hear strong words from the Church. Faithful pastors and members may try to confront their brothers and sisters with the seriousness of God’s Law and Church discipline, but it is not uncommon for the hearers to claim that they are being attacked by such words. Unfortunately, the current society has fostered such psychological games. People are taught to think they are victims when they are simply being held accountable for their rebellion or negligence.
The Lord calls His people to turn from their sin because the results of wickedness are far worse than the unpleasantness of correction. Our wicked hearts are eager to ignore it all and pretend that everything is OK. But thanks be to God that He continues to call us from our sin. Even more, He gives us His Word and His Spirit, which are the only source of help and power that can bring us from the cowardice and delusions of our otherwise evil hearts. By these He creates faith in us and truly makes us His people in Jesus Christ, our Lord!
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.