SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
17:1 The Lord’s message came to me: 2 “Son of man, offer a riddle and tell a parable to the house of Israel. 3 Say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘A great eagle with broad wings, long feathers,
with full plumage that was multihued,
came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar.
4 He plucked off its topmost shoot;
he brought it to a land of merchants
and planted it in a city of traders.
5 He took one of the seedlings of the land,
placed it in a cultivated plot;
a shoot by abundant water,
like a willow he planted it.
6 It sprouted and became a vine,
spreading low to the ground;
its branches turning toward him, its roots were under itself.
So it became a vine; it produced shoots and sent out branches.
7 “‘There was another great eagle
with broad wings and thick plumage.
Now this vine twisted its roots toward him
and sent its branches toward him
to be watered from the soil where it was planted.
8 In a good field, by abundant waters, it was planted
to grow branches, bear fruit, and become a beautiful vine.’
9 “Say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘Will it prosper?
Will he not rip out its roots
and cause its fruit to rot and wither?
All its foliage will wither.
No strong arm or large army
will be needed to pull it out by its roots.
10 Consider! It is planted, but will it prosper?
Will it not wither completely when the east wind blows on it?
Will it not wither in the soil where it sprouted?’”
11 Then the Lord’s message came to me: 12 “Say to the rebellious house of Israel: ‘Don’t you know what these things mean?’ Say: ‘See here, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and took her king and her officials prisoner and brought them to himself in Babylon. 13 He took one from the royal family, made a treaty with him, and put him under oath. He then took the leaders of the land 14 so it would be a lowly kingdom that could not rise on its own but had to keep its treaty with him in order to stand. 15 But this one from Israel’s royal family rebelled against the king of Babylon by sending his emissaries to Egypt to obtain horses and a large army. Will he prosper? Will the one doing these things escape? Can he break the covenant and escape?
16 “‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, surely in the city of the king who crowned him, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke—in the middle of Babylon he will die! 17 Pharaoh with his great army and mighty horde will not help him in battle, when siege ramps are erected and siege walls are built to kill many people. 18 He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. Take note—he gave his promise and did all these things. He will not escape!
19 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, I will certainly repay him for despising my oath and breaking my covenant! 20 I will throw my net over him and he will be caught in my snare; I will bring him to Babylon and judge him there because of the unfaithfulness he committed against me. 21 All the choice men among his troops will die by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to every wind. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken!
22 “‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘I will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and plant it.
I will pluck from the top one of its tender twigs;
I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
23 I will plant it on a high mountain of Israel,
and it will raise branches and produce fruit and become a beautiful cedar.
Every bird will live under it;
every winged creature will live in the shade of its branches.
24 All the trees of the field will know that I am the Lord.
I make the high tree low; I raise up the low tree.
I make the green tree wither, and I make the dry tree sprout.
I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it!’”
18:1 The Lord’s message came to me: 2 “What do you mean by quoting this proverb concerning the land of Israel:
“‘The fathers eat sour grapes,
And the children’s teeth become numb?’
3 “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will not quote this proverb in Israel anymore! 4 Indeed! All lives are mine—the life of the father as well as the life of the son is mine. The one who sins will die.
5 “Suppose a man is righteous. He practices what is just and right; 6 does not eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains or pray to the idols of the house of Israel; does not defile his neighbor’s wife; does not approach a woman for marital relations during her period; 7 does not oppress anyone, but gives the debtor back whatever was given in pledge; does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and clothes the naked; 8 does not engage in usury or charge interest, but refrains from wrongdoing; promotes true justice between men; 9 and follows my statutes and observes my regulations by carrying them out. That man is righteous; he will certainly live, declares the Sovereign Lord.
10 “Suppose such a man has a violent son who sheds blood and does any of these things mentioned previously 11 (though the father did not do any of them). He eats pagan sacrifices on the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife, 12 oppresses the poor and the needy, commits robbery, does not give back what was given in pledge, prays to idols, performs abominable acts, 13 engages in usury, and charges interest. Will he live? He will not! Because he has done all these abominable deeds he will certainly die. He will bear the responsibility for his own death.
14 “But suppose he in turn has a son who notices all the sins his father commits, considers them, and does not follow his father’s example. 15 He does not eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains, does not pray to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife, 16 does not oppress anyone or keep what has been given in pledge, does not commit robbery, gives his food to the hungry and clothes the naked, 17 refrains from wrongdoing, does not engage in usury or charge interest, carries out my regulations, and follows my statutes. He will not die for his father’s iniquity; he will surely live. 18 As for his father, because he practices extortion, robs his brother, and does what is not good among his people, he will die for his iniquity.
19 “Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not suffer for his father’s iniquity?’ When the son does what is just and right, and observes all my statutes and carries them out, he will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. A son will not suffer for his father’s iniquity, and a father will not suffer for his son’s iniquity; the righteous person will be judged according to his righteousness and the wicked person according to his wickedness.
21 “But if the wicked person turns from all the sin he has committed and observes all my statutes and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. 22 None of the sins he has committed will be held against him; because of the righteousness he has done, he will live. 23 Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the Sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live?
24 “But if a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing according to all the abominable practices the wicked carry out, will he live? All his righteous acts will not be remembered; because of the unfaithful acts he has done and the sin he has committed, he will die.
25 “Yet you say, ‘The Lord’s conduct is unjust!’ Hear, O house of Israel: Is my conduct unjust? Is it not your conduct that is unjust? 26 When a righteous person turns back from his righteousness and practices wrongdoing, he will die for it; because of the wrongdoing he has done, he will die. 27 When a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life. 28 Because he considered and turned from all the sins he had done, he will surely live; he will not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The Lord’s conduct is unjust!’ Is my conduct unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your conduct that is unjust?
30 “Therefore, I will judge each person according to his conduct, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and turn from all your wickedness; then it will not be an obstacle leading to iniquity. 31 Throw away all your sins you have committed and fashion yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I take no delight in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!
19:1 “And you, sing a lament for the princes of Israel, 2 and say:
“‘What a lioness was your mother among the lions!
She lay among young lions; she reared her cubs.
3 She reared one of her cubs; he became a young lion.
He learned to tear prey; he devoured people.
4 The nations heard about him; he was trapped in their pit.
They brought him with hooks to the land of Egypt.
5 “‘When she realized that she waited in vain, her hope was lost.
She took another of her cubs and made him a young lion.
6 He walked about among the lions; he became a young lion.
He learned to tear prey; he devoured people.
7 He broke down their strongholds and devastated their cities.
The land and everything in it was frightened at the sound of his roaring.
8 The nations—the surrounding regions—attacked him.
They threw their net over him; he was caught in their pit.
9 They put him in a collar with hooks;
they brought him to the king of Babylon;
they brought him to prison
so that his voice would not be heard
any longer on the mountains of Israel.
10 “‘Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard, planted by water.
It was fruitful and full of branches because it was well-watered.
11 Its boughs were strong, fit for rulers’ scepters; it reached up into the clouds.
It stood out because of its height and its many branches.
12 But it was plucked up in anger; it was thrown down to the ground.
The east wind dried up its fruit;
its strong branches broke off and withered—
a fire consumed them.
13 Now it is planted in the wilderness,
in a dry and thirsty land.
14 A fire has gone out from its branch; it has consumed its shoot and its fruit.
No strong branch was left in it, nor a scepter to rule.’
“This is a lament song, and has become a lament song.”
20:1 In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month, some of the elders of Israel came to seek the Lord, and they sat down in front of me. 2 The Lord’s message came to me: 3 “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and tell them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you coming to seek me? As surely as I live, I will not allow you to seek me, declares the Sovereign Lord.’ 4 Are you willing to pronounce judgment on them? Are you willing to pronounce judgment, son of man? Then confront them with the abominable practices of their fathers, 5 and say to them:
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I chose Israel I swore to the descendants of the house of Jacob and made myself known to them in the land of Egypt. I swore to them, “I am the Lord your God.” 6 On that day I swore to bring them out of the land of Egypt to a land that I had picked out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. 7 I said to them, “Each of you must get rid of the detestable idols you keep before you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.” 8 But they rebelled against me and refused to listen to me; no one got rid of their detestable idols, nor did they abandon the idols of Egypt. Then I decided to pour out my rage on them and fully vent my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. 9 I acted for the sake of my reputation, so that I would not be profaned before the nations among whom they lived, before whom I revealed myself by bringing them out of the land of Egypt.
10 “‘So I brought them out of the land of Egypt and led them to the wilderness. 11 I gave them my statutes and revealed my regulations to them. The one who carries them out will live by them! 12 I also gave them my Sabbaths as a reminder of our relationship, so that they would know that I, the Lord, sanctify them. 13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness; they did not follow my statutes and they rejected my regulations (the one who obeys them will live by them), and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I decided to pour out my rage on them in the wilderness and destroy them. 14 I acted for the sake of my reputation, so that I would not be profaned before the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. 15 I also swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them to the land I had given them—a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands. 16 I did this because they rejected my regulations, did not follow my statutes, and desecrated my Sabbaths; for their hearts followed their idols. 17 Yet I had pity on them and did not destroy them, so I did not make an end of them in the wilderness.
18 “‘But I said to their children in the wilderness, “Do not follow the practices of your fathers; do not observe their regulations, nor defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the Lord your God; follow my statutes, observe my regulations, and carry them out. 20 Treat my Sabbaths as holy and they will be a reminder of our relationship, and then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” 21 But the children rebelled against me, did not follow my statutes, did not observe my regulations by carrying them out (the one who obeys them will live by them), and desecrated my Sabbaths. I decided to pour out my rage on them and fully vent my anger against them in the wilderness. 22 But I refrained from doing so and acted instead for the sake of my reputation, so that I would not be profaned before the nations in whose sight I had brought them out. 23 I also swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them throughout the lands. 24 I did this because they did not observe my regulations, they rejected my statutes, they desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols. 25 I also gave them decrees that were not good and regulations by which they could not live. 26 I declared them to be defiled because of their sacrifices—they caused all their firstborn to pass through the fire—so that I might devastate them, so that they would know that I am the Lord.’
27 “Therefore, speak to the house of Israel, son of man, and tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In this way too your fathers blasphemed me when they were unfaithful to me. 28 I brought them to the land that I swore to give them, but whenever they saw any high hill or leafy tree, they offered their sacrifices there and presented the offerings that provoked me to anger. They offered their soothing aroma there and poured out their drink offerings. 29 So I said to them, “What is this high place you go to?”’ (So it is called “High Place” to this day.)
30 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will you defile yourselves like your fathers and engage in prostitution with detestable idols? 31 When you present your sacrifices—when you make your sons pass through the fire—you defile yourselves with all your idols to this very day. Will I allow you to seek me, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will not allow you to seek me!
32 “‘What you plan will never happen. You say, “We will be like the nations, like the clans of the lands, who serve gods of wood and stone.” 33 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, with a powerful hand and an outstretched arm and with an outpouring of rage, I will be king over you. 34 I will bring you out from the nations and will gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a powerful hand and an outstretched arm and with an outpouring of rage! 35 I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations, and there I will enter into judgment with you face-to-face. 36 Just as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Sovereign Lord. 37 I will make you pass under the shepherd’s staff, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. 38 I will eliminate from among you the rebels and those who revolt against me. I will bring them out from the land where they have been residing, but they will not come to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.
39 “‘As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Each of you go and serve your idols, if you will not listen to me. But my holy name will not be profaned again by your sacrifices and your idols. 40 For there on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord, all the house of Israel will serve me, all of them in the land. I will accept them there, and there I will seek your contributions and your choice gifts, with all your holy things. 41 When I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, I will accept you along with your soothing aroma. I will display my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. 42 Then you will know that I am the Lord when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land I swore to give to your fathers. 43 And there you will remember your conduct and all your deeds by which you defiled yourselves. You will despise yourselves because of all the evil deeds you have done. 44 Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for the sake of my reputation and not according to your wicked conduct and corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”
45 (21:1) The Lord’s message came to me: 46 “Son of man, turn toward the south, and speak out against the south. Prophesy against the open scrub land of the Negev, 47 and say to the scrub land of the Negev, ‘Listen to the Lord’s message! This is what the Sovereign Lord has said: Look here, I am about to start a fire in you, and it will devour every green tree and every dry tree in you. The flaming fire will not be extinguished, and the whole surface of the ground from the Negev to the north will be scorched by it. 48 And everyone will see that I, the Lord, have burned it; it will not be extinguished.’”
49 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord! They are saying of me, ‘Does he not simply speak in eloquent figures of speech?’”
21:1 (21:6) The Lord’s message came to me: 2 “Son of man, turn toward Jerusalem and speak out against the sanctuaries. Prophesy against the land of Israel 3 and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: Look, I am against you. I will draw my sword from its sheath and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked. 4 Because I will cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked, my sword will go out from its sheath against everyone from the south to the north. 5 Then everyone will know that I am the Lord, who drew my sword from its sheath—it will not be sheathed again!’
6 “And you, son of man, groan with an aching heart and bitterness; groan before their eyes. 7 When they ask you, ‘Why are you groaning?’ you will reply, ‘Because of the report that has come. Every heart will melt with fear and every hand will be limp; everyone will faint, and every knee will be wet with urine.’ Pay attention—it is coming and it will happen, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
8 The Lord’s message came to me: 9 “Son of man, prophesy and say: ‘This is what the Lord says:
“‘A sword, a sword is sharpened
and also polished.
10 It is sharpened for slaughter;
it is polished to flash like lightning!
“‘Should we rejoice in the scepter of my son? No! The sword despises every tree!
11 “‘He gave it to be polished,
to be grasped in the hand—
the sword is sharpened, it is polished—
giving it into the hand of the executioner.
12 Cry out and moan, son of man,
for it is wielded against my people,
against all the princes of Israel.
They are delivered up to the sword, along with my people.
Therefore, strike your thigh.
13 “‘For testing will come, and what will happen when the scepter, which the sword despises, is no more? declares the Sovereign Lord.’
14 “And you, son of man, prophesy,
and clap your hands together.
Let the sword strike twice, even three times!
It is a sword for slaughter,
a sword for the great slaughter surrounding them.
15 So hearts melt with fear and many stumble.
At all their gates I have stationed the sword for slaughter.
Ah! It is made to flash, it is drawn for slaughter!
16 Cut sharply on the right!
Swing to the left,
wherever your edge is appointed to strike.
17 I too will clap my hands together,
I will exhaust my rage;
I, the Lord, have spoken.”
18 The Lord’s message came to me: 19 “You, son of man, mark out two routes for the king of Babylon’s sword to take; both of them will originate in a single land. Make a signpost and put it at the beginning of the road leading to the city. 20 Mark out the routes for the sword to take: ‘Rabbah of the Ammonites’ and ‘Judah with Jerusalem in it.’ 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the fork in the road at the head of the two routes. He looks for omens: He shakes arrows, he consults idols, he examines animal livers. 22 Into his right hand comes the portent for Jerusalem—to set up battering rams, to give the signal for slaughter, to shout out the battle cry, to set up battering rams against the gates, to erect a siege ramp, and to build a siege wall. 23 But those in Jerusalem will view it as a false omen. They have sworn solemn oaths, but the king of Babylon will accuse them of violations in order to seize them.
24 “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you have brought up your own guilt by uncovering your transgressions and revealing your sins through all your actions, for this reason you will be taken by force.
25 “‘As for you, profane and wicked prince of Israel,
whose day has come, the time of final punishment,
26 this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
Tear off the turban;
take off the crown!
Things must change.
Exalt the lowly;
bring low the exalted!
27 A total ruin I will make it!
Indeed, this will not be
until he comes to whom is the right, and I will give it to him.’
28 “As for you, son of man, prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says concerning the Ammonites and their coming humiliation:
“‘A sword, a sword drawn for slaughter,
polished to consume, to flash like lightning—
29 while seeing false visions about you
and reading lying omens about you—
to place you on the necks of the profane wicked,
whose day has come,
the time of final punishment.
30 Return it to its sheath!
In the place where you were created,
in your native land, I will judge you.
31 I will pour out my anger on you;
the fire of my fury I will blow on you.
I will hand you over to brutal men,
who are skilled in destruction.
32 You will become fuel for the fire—
your blood will stain the middle of the land;
you will no longer be remembered,
for I, the Lord, have spoken.’”
22:1 The Lord’s message came to me: 2 “As for you, son of man, are you willing to pronounce judgment? Are you willing to pronounce judgment on the bloody city? Then confront her with all her abominable deeds! 3 Then say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O city, who spills blood within herself (which brings on her doom), and who makes herself idols (which results in impurity), 4 you are guilty because of the blood you shed and defiled by the idols you made. You have hastened the day of your doom; the end of your years has come. Therefore I will make you an object of scorn to the nations, an object to be mocked by all lands. 5 Those both near and far from you will mock you, you with your bad reputation, full of turmoil.
6 “‘See how each of the princes of Israel living within you has used his authority to shed blood. 7 They have treated father and mother with contempt within you; they have oppressed the resident foreigner among you; they have wronged the orphan and the widow within you. 8 You have despised my holy things and desecrated my Sabbaths! 9 Slanderous men shed blood within you. Those who live within you eat pagan sacrifices on the mountains; they commit obscene acts among you. 10 They have sexual relations with their father’s wife within you; they violate women during their menstrual period within you. 11 One commits an abominable act with his neighbor’s wife; another obscenely defiles his daughter-in-law; another violates his sister—his father’s daughter—within you. 12 They take bribes within you to shed blood. You engage in usury and charge interest; you extort money from your neighbors. You have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign Lord.
13 “‘See, I strike my hands together at the dishonest profit you have made and at the bloodshed they have done among you. 14 Can your heart endure or can your hands be strong when I deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do it! 15 I will scatter you among the nations and disperse you among various countries; I will remove your impurity from you. 16 You will be profaned within yourself in the sight of the nations; then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
17 The Lord’s message came to me: 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become slag to me. All of them are like bronze, tin, iron, and lead in the furnace; they are the worthless slag of silver. 19 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because all of you have become slag, look out! I am about to gather you in the middle of Jerusalem. 20 As silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin are gathered in a furnace so that the fire can blow on them to melt them, so I will gather you in my anger and in my rage. I will deposit you there and melt you. 21 I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of my fury, and you will be melted in it. 22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted in it, and you will know that I, the Lord, have poured out my anger on you.’”
23 The Lord’s message came to me: 24 “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that receives no rain or showers in the day of my anger.’ 25 Her princes within her are like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they have devoured lives. They take away riches and valuable things; they have made many women widows within it. 26 Her priests abuse my law and have desecrated my holy things. They do not distinguish between the holy and the profane or recognize any distinction between the unclean and the clean. They ignore my Sabbaths, and I am profaned in their midst. 27 Her officials are like wolves in her midst rending their prey—shedding blood and destroying lives—so they can get dishonest profit. 28 Her prophets coat their messages with whitewash. They see false visions and announce lying omens for them, saying, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ when the Lord has not spoken. 29 The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have wronged the poor and needy; they have oppressed the resident foreigner and denied them justice.
30 “I looked for a man from among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one. 31 So I have poured my anger on them and destroyed them with the fire of my fury. I hereby repay them for what they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”