SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
33:1 The Lord’s message came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people, and say to them, ‘Suppose I bring a sword against the land, and the people of the land take one man from their borders and make him their watchman. 3 He sees the sword coming against the land, blows the trumpet, and warns the people, 4 but there is one who hears the sound of the trumpet yet does not heed the warning. Then the sword comes and sweeps him away. He will be responsible for his own death. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, so he is responsible for himself. If he had heeded the warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But suppose the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people. Then the sword comes and takes one of their lives. He is swept away for his iniquity, but I will hold the watchman accountable for that person’s death.’
7 “As for you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you must warn them on my behalf. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you must certainly die,’ and you do not warn the wicked about his behavior, the wicked man will die for his iniquity, but I will hold you accountable for his death. 9 But if you warn the wicked man to change his behavior, and he refuses to change, he will die for his iniquity, but you have saved your own life.
10 “And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you have said: “Our rebellious acts and our sins have caught up with us, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but prefer that the wicked change his behavior and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil deeds! Why should you die, O house of Israel?’
12 “And you, son of man, say to your people, ‘The righteousness of the righteous will not deliver him if he rebels. As for the wicked, his wickedness will not make him stumble if he turns from it. The righteous will not be able to live by his righteousness if he sins.’ 13 Suppose I tell the righteous that he will certainly live, but he becomes confident in his righteousness and commits iniquity. None of his righteous deeds will be remembered; because of the iniquity he has committed he will die. 14 Suppose I say to the wicked, ‘You must certainly die,’ but he turns from his sin and does what is just and right. 15 He returns what was taken in pledge, pays back what he has stolen, and follows the statutes that give life, committing no iniquity. He will certainly live—he will not die. 16 None of the sins he has committed will be counted against him. He has done what is just and right; he will certainly live.
17 “Yet your people say, ‘The behavior of the Lord is not right,’ when it is their behavior that is not right. 18 When a righteous man turns from his godliness and commits iniquity, he will die for it. 19 When the wicked turns from his sin and does what is just and right, he will live because of it. 20 Yet you say, ‘The behavior of the Lord is not right.’ House of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his behavior.”
21 In the twelfth year of our exile, in the tenth month, on the fifth of the month, a refugee came to me from Jerusalem saying, “The city has been defeated!” 22 Now the hand of the Lord had been on me the evening before the refugee reached me, but the Lord opened my mouth by the time the refugee arrived in the morning; he opened my mouth and I was able to speak once more. 23 The Lord’s message came to me: 24 “Son of man, the ones living in these ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land, but we are many; surely the land has been given to us for a possession.’ 25 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You eat the meat with the blood still in it, pray to your idols, and shed blood. Do you really think you will possess the land? 26 You rely on your swords and commit abominable deeds; each of you defiles his neighbor’s wife. Will you possess the land?’
27 “This is what you must say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, those living in the ruins will die by the sword, those in the open field I will give to the wild beasts for food, and those who are in the strongholds and caves will die of disease. 28 I will turn the land into a desolate ruin; her confident pride will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be so desolate no one will pass through them. 29 Then they will know that I am the Lord when I turn the land into a desolate ruin because of all the abominable deeds they have committed.’
30 “But as for you, son of man, your people (who are talking about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses) say to one another, ‘Come hear the word that comes from the Lord.’ 31 They come to you in crowds, and they sit in front of you as my people. They hear your words, but do not obey them. For they talk lustfully, and their heart is set on their own advantage. 32 Realize that to them you are like a sensual song, a beautiful voice, and skilled musician. They hear your words, but they do not obey them. 33 When all this comes true—and it certainly will—then they will know that a prophet was among them.”
34:1 The Lord’s message came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not shepherds feed the flock? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the choice animals, but you do not feed the sheep! 4 You have not strengthened the weak, healed the sick, bandaged the injured, brought back the strays, or sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled over them. 5 They were scattered because they had no shepherd, and they became food for every wild beast. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over the entire face of the earth with no one looking or searching for them.
7 “‘Therefore, you shepherds, listen to the Lord’s message: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, my sheep have become prey and have become food for all the wild beasts. There was no shepherd, and my shepherds did not search for my flock, but fed themselves and did not feed my sheep. 9 Therefore, you shepherds, listen to the Lord’s message. 10 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand my sheep from their hand. I will no longer let them be shepherds; the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, so that they will no longer be food for them.
11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look, I myself will search for my sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will seek out my flock. I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy, dark day. 13 I will bring them out from among the peoples and gather them from foreign countries; I will bring them to their own land. I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the streams and all the inhabited places of the land. 14 In a good pasture I will feed them; the mountain heights of Israel will be their pasture. There they will lie down in a lush pasture, and they will feed on rich grass on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will feed my sheep and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. 16 I will seek the lost and bring back the strays; I will bandage the injured and strengthen the sick, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them—with judgment!
17 “‘As for you, my sheep, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look, I am about to judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture that you must trample the rest of your pastures with your feet? When you drink clean water, must you muddy the rest of the water by trampling it with your feet? 19 As for my sheep, they must eat what you trampled with your feet and drink what you have muddied with your feet!
20 “‘Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: Look, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with your side and your shoulder, and thrust your horns at all the weak sheep until you scatter them abroad, 22 I will save my sheep; they will no longer be prey. I will judge between one sheep and another.
23 “‘I will set one shepherd over them, and he will feed them—namely, my servant David. He will feed them and will be their shepherd. 24 I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken!
25 “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and will rid the land of wild beasts, so that they can live securely in the wilderness and even sleep in the woods. 26 I will turn them and the regions around my hill into a blessing. I will make showers come down in their season; they will be showers that bring blessing. 27 The trees of the field will yield their fruit and the earth will yield its crops. They will live securely on their land; they will know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke and rescue them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They will no longer be prey for the nations, and the wild beasts will not devour them. They will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. 29 I will prepare for them a healthy planting. They will no longer be victims of famine in the land and will no longer bear the insults of the nations. 30 Then they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them and that they are my people, the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord. 31 And you, my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are my people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”