Get Rid of All the Things You’ve Become Addicted To

20 In the seventh year, the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, some of the leaders of Israel came to ask for guidance from God. They sat down before me.

2-3 Then God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, talk with the leaders of Israel. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says, “Have you come to ask me questions? As sure as I am the living God, I’ll not put up with questions from you. Decree of God, the Master.”’

4-5 “Son of man, why don’t you do it? Yes, go ahead. Hold them accountable. Confront them with the outrageous obscenities of their parents. Tell them that God, the Master, says:

5-6 “‘On the day I chose Israel, I revealed myself to them in the country of Egypt, raising my hand in a solemn oath to the people of Jacob, in which I said, “I am God, your personal God.” On the same day that I raised my hand in the solemn oath, I promised them that I would take them out of the country of Egypt and bring them into a country that I had searched out just for them, a country flowing with milk and honey, a jewel of a country.

“‘At that time I told them, “Get rid of all the vile things that you’ve become addicted to. Don’t make yourselves filthy with the Egyptian no-god idols. I alone am God, your God.”

8-10 “‘But they rebelled against me, wouldn’t listen to a word I said. None got rid of the vile things they were addicted to. They held on to the no-gods of Egypt as if for dear life. I seriously considered inflicting my anger on them in force right there in Egypt. Then I thought better of it. I acted out of who I was, not by how I felt. And I acted in a way that would evoke honor, not blasphemy, from the nations around them, nations who had seen me reveal myself by promising to lead my people out of Egypt. And then I did it: I led them out of Egypt into the desert.

11-12 “‘I gave them laws for living, showed them how to live well and obediently before me. I also gave them my weekly holy rest days, my “Sabbaths,” a kind of signpost erected between me and them to show them that I, God, am in the business of making them holy.

13-17 “‘But Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They didn’t follow my statutes. They despised my laws for living well and obediently in the ways I had set out. And they totally desecrated my holy Sabbaths. I seriously considered unleashing my anger on them right there in the desert. But I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations who had seen me bring them out. But I did lift my hand in a solemn oath there in the desert and promise them that I would not bring them into the country flowing with milk and honey that I had chosen for them, that jewel among all lands. I canceled my promise because they despised my laws for living obediently, wouldn’t follow my statutes, and went ahead and desecrated my holy Sabbaths. They preferred living by their no-god idols. But I didn’t go all the way: I didn’t wipe them out, didn’t finish them off in the desert.

18-20 “‘Then I addressed myself to their children in the desert: “Don’t do what your parents did. Don’t take up their practices. Don’t make yourselves filthy with their no-god idols. I myself am God, your God: Keep my statutes and live by my laws. Keep my Sabbaths as holy rest days, signposts between me and you, signaling that I am God, your God.”

21-22 “‘But the children also rebelled against me. They neither followed my statutes nor kept my laws for living upright and well. And they desecrated my Sabbaths. I seriously considered dumping my anger on them, right there in the desert. But I thought better of it and acted out of who I was, not by what I felt, so that I might be honored and not blasphemed by the nations who had seen me bring them out.

23-26 “‘But I did lift my hand in solemn oath there in the desert, and swore that I would scatter them all over the world, disperse them every which way because they didn’t keep my laws nor live by my statutes. They desecrated my Sabbaths and remained addicted to the no-god idols of their parents. Since they were determined to live bad lives, I myself gave them statutes that could not produce goodness and laws that did not produce life. I abandoned them. Filthy in the gutter, they perversely sacrificed their firstborn children in the fire. The very horror should have shocked them into recognizing that I am God.’

27-29 “Therefore, speak to Israel, son of man. Tell them that God says, ‘As if that wasn’t enough, your parents further insulted me by betraying me. When I brought them into that land that I had solemnly promised with my upraised hand to give them, every time they saw a hill with a sex-and-religion shrine on it or a grove of trees where the sacred whores practiced, they were there, buying into the whole pagan system. I said to them, “What hill do you go to?”’ (It’s still called ‘Whore Hills.’)

30-31 “Therefore, say to Israel, ‘The Message of God, the Master: You’re making your lives filthy by copying the ways of your parents. In repeating their vile practices, you’ve become whores yourselves. In burning your children as sacrifices, you’ve become as filthy as your no-god idols—as recently as today!

“‘Am I going to put up with questions from people like you, Israel? As sure as I am the living God, I, God, the Master, refuse to be called into question by you!

32 “‘What you’re secretly thinking is never going to happen. You’re thinking, “We’re going to be like everybody else, just like the other nations. We’re going to worship gods we can make and control.”

33-35 “‘As sure as I am the living God, says God, the Master, think again! With a mighty show of strength and a terrifying rush of anger, I will be King over you! I’ll bring you back from the nations, collect you out of the countries to which you’ve been scattered, with a mighty show of strength and a terrifying rush of anger. I’ll bring you to the desert of nations and haul you into court, where you’ll be face-to-face with judgment.

36-38 “‘As I faced your parents with judgment in the desert of Egypt, so I’ll face you with judgment. I’ll scrutinize and search every person as you arrive, and I’ll bring you under the bond of the covenant. I’ll cull out the rebels and traitors. I’ll lead them out of their exile, but I won’t bring them back to Israel.

“‘Then you’ll realize that I am God.

39-43 “‘But you, people of Israel, this is the Message of God, the Master, to you: Go ahead, serve your no-god idols! But later, you’ll think better of it and quit throwing filth and mud on me with your pagan offerings and no-god idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, I, God, the Master, tell you that the entire people of Israel will worship me. I’ll receive them there with open arms. I’ll demand your best gifts and offerings, all your holy sacrifices. What’s more, I’ll receive you as the best kind of offerings when I bring you back from all the lands and countries in which you’ve been scattered. I’ll demonstrate in the eyes of the world that I am The Holy. When I return you to the land of Israel, the land that I solemnly promised with upraised arm to give to your parents, you’ll realize that I am God. Then and there you’ll remember all that you’ve done, the way you’ve lived that has made you so filthy—and you’ll loathe yourselves.

44 “‘But, dear Israel, you’ll also realize that I am God when I respond to you out of who I am, not by what I feel about the evil lives you’ve lived, the corrupt history you’ve compiled. Decree of God, the Master.’”

Nobody Will Put Out the Fire

45-46 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, face south. Let the Message roll out against the south. Prophesy against the wilderness forest of the south.

47-48 “Tell the forest of the south, ‘Listen to the Message of God! God, the Master, says, I’ll set a fire in you that will burn up every tree, dead trees and live trees alike. Nobody will put out the fire. The whole country from south to north will be blackened by it. Everyone is going to see that I, God, started the fire and that it’s not going to be put out.’”

49 And I said, “O God, everyone is saying of me, ‘He just makes up stories.’”

A Sword! A Sword!

21 1-5 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, now face Jerusalem and let the Message roll out against the Sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel. Say, ‘God’s Message: I’m against you. I’m pulling my sword from its sheath and killing both the wicked and the righteous. Because I’m treating everyone the same, good and bad, everyone from south to north is going to feel my sword! Everyone will know that I mean business.’

“So, son of man, groan! Double up in pain. Make a scene!

“When they ask you, ‘Why all this groaning, this carrying on?’ say, ‘Because of the news that’s coming. It’ll knock the breath out of everyone. Hearts will stop cold, knees turn to rubber. Yes, it’s coming. No stopping it. Decree of God, the Master.’”

* * *

8-10 God’s Message to me: “Son of man, prophesy. Tell them, ‘The Master says:

“‘A sword! A sword!
    razor-sharp and polished,
Sharpened to kill,
    polished to flash like lightning!

“‘My child, you’ve despised the scepter of Judah
    by worshiping every tree-idol.

11 “‘The sword is made to glisten,
    to be held and brandished.
It’s sharpened and polished,
    ready to be brandished by the killer.’

12 “Yell out and wail, son of man.
    The sword is against my people!
The princes of Israel
    and my people—abandoned to the sword!
Wring your hands!
    Tear out your hair!

13 “‘Testing comes.
    Why have you despised discipline?
You can’t get around it.
    Decree of God, the Master.’

14-17 “So, prophesy, son of man!
    Clap your hands. Get their attention.
Tell them that the sword’s coming down
    once, twice, three times.
It’s a sword to kill,
    a sword for a massacre,
A sword relentless,
    a sword inescapable—
People collapsing right and left,
    going down like dominoes.
I’ve stationed a murderous sword
    at every gate in the city,
Flashing like lightning,
    brandished murderously.
Cut to the right, thrust to the left,
    murderous, sharp-edged sword!
Then I’ll clap my hands,
    a signal that my anger is spent.
        I, God, have spoken.”

* * *

18-22 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, lay out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take. Start them from the same place. Place a signpost at the beginning of each road. Post one sign to mark the road of the sword to Rabbah of the Ammonites. Post the other to mark the road to Judah and Fort Jerusalem. The king of Babylon stands at the fork in the road and he decides by divination which of the two roads to take. He draws straws, he throws god-dice, he examines a goat liver. He opens his right hand: The omen says, ‘Head for Jerusalem!’ So he’s on his way with battering rams, roused to kill, sounding the battle cry, pounding down city gates, building siege works.

23 “To the Judah leaders, who themselves have sworn oaths, it will seem like a false divination, but he will remind them of their guilt, and so they’ll be captured.

24 “So this is what God, the Master, says: ‘Because your sin is now out in the open so everyone can see what you’ve been doing, you’ll be taken captive.

25-27 “‘O Zedekiah, blasphemous and evil prince of Israel: Time’s up. It’s “punishment payday.” God says, Take your royal crown off your head. No more “business as usual.” The underdog will be promoted and the top dog will be demoted. Ruins, ruins, ruins! I’ll turn the whole place into ruins. And ruins it will remain until the one comes who has a right to it. Then I’ll give it to him.’

28-32 “But, son of man, your job is to prophesy. Tell them, ‘This is the Message from God, the Master, against the Ammonites and against their cruel taunts:

“‘A sword! A sword!
    Bared to kill,
Sharp as a razor,
    flashing like lightning.
Despite false sword propaganda
    circulated in Ammon,
The sword will sever Ammonite necks,
    for whom it’s punishment payday.
Return the sword to the sheath! I’ll judge you in your home country,
    in the land where you grew up.
I’ll empty out my wrath on you,
    breathe hot anger down your neck.
I’ll give you to vicious men
    skilled in torture.
You’ll end up as stove-wood.
    Corpses will litter your land.
Not so much as a memory will be left of you.
    I, God, have said so.’”

The Scarecrow of the Nations

22 1-5 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, are you going to judge this bloody city or not? Come now, are you going to judge her? Do it! Face her with all her outrageous obscenities. Tell her, ‘This is what God, the Master, says: You’re a city murderous at the core, just asking for punishment. You’re a city obsessed with no-god idols, making yourself filthy. In all your killing, you’ve piled up guilt. In all your idol-making, you’ve become filthy. You’ve forced a premature end to your existence. I’ll put you on exhibit as the scarecrow of the nations, the world’s worst joke. From far and near they’ll deride you as infamous in filth, notorious for chaos.

6-12 “‘Your leaders, the princes of Israel among you, compete in crime. You’re a community that’s insolent to parents, abusive to outsiders, oppressive against orphans and widows. You treat my holy things with contempt and desecrate my Sabbaths. You have people spreading lies and spilling blood, flocking to the hills to the sex shrines and fornicating unrestrained. Incest is common. Men force themselves on women regardless of whether they’re ready or willing. Sex is now anarchy. Anyone is fair game: neighbor, daughter-in-law, sister. Murder is for hire, usury is rampant, extortion is commonplace.

“‘And you’ve forgotten me. Decree of God, the Master.

13-14 “‘Now look! I’ve clapped my hands, calling everyone’s attention to your rapacious greed and your bloody brutalities. Can you stick with it? Will you be able to keep at this once I start dealing with you?

14-16 “‘I, God, have spoken. I’ll put an end to this. I’ll throw you to the four winds. I’ll scatter you all over the world. I’ll put a full stop to your filthy living. You will be defiled, spattered with your own mud in the eyes of the nations. And you’ll recognize that I am God.’”

17-22 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, the people of Israel are slag to me, the useless byproduct of refined copper, tin, iron, and lead left at the smelter—a worthless slag heap. So tell them, ‘God, the Master, has spoken: Because you’ve all become worthless slag, you’re on notice: I’ll assemble you in Jerusalem. As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin into a furnace and blow fire on it to melt it down, so in my wrath I’ll gather you and melt you down. I’ll blow on you with the fire of my wrath to melt you down in the furnace. As silver is melted down, you’ll be melted down. That should get through to you. Then you’ll recognize that I, God, have let my wrath loose on you.’”

23-25 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, tell her, ‘You’re a land that during the time I was angry with you got no rain, not so much as a spring shower. The leaders among you became desperate, like roaring, ravaging lions killing indiscriminately. They grabbed and looted, leaving widows in their wake.

26-29 “‘Your priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things. They can’t tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there’s no difference between right and wrong. They’re contemptuous of my holy Sabbaths, profaning me by trying to pull me down to their level. Your politicians are like wolves prowling and killing and rapaciously taking whatever they want. Your preachers cover up for the politicians by pretending to have received visions and special revelations. They say, “This is what God, the Master, says . . .” when God hasn’t said so much as one word. Extortion is rife, robbery is epidemic, the poor and needy are abused, outsiders are kicked around at will, with no access to justice.’

30-31 “I looked for someone to stand up for me against all this, to repair the defenses of the city, to take a stand for me and stand in the gap to protect this land so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. I couldn’t find anyone. Not one. So I’ll empty out my wrath on them, burn them to a crisp with my hot anger, serve them with the consequences of all they’ve done. Decree of God, the Master.”

Wild with Lust

23 1-4 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother. They became whores in Egypt, whores from a young age. Their breasts were fondled, their young bosoms caressed. The older sister was named Oholah, the younger was Oholibah. They were my daughters, and they gave birth to sons and daughters.

“Oholah is Samaria and Oholibah is Jerusalem.

5-8 “Oholah started whoring while she was still mine. She lusted after Assyrians as lovers: military men smartly uniformed in blue, ambassadors and governors, good-looking young men mounted on fine horses. Her lust was unrestrained. She was a whore to the Assyrian elite. She compounded her filth with the idols of those to whom she gave herself in lust. She never slowed down. The whoring she began while young in Egypt she continued, sleeping with men who played with her breasts and spent their lust on her.

9-10 “So I left her to her Assyrian lovers, for whom she was so obsessed with lust. They ripped off her clothes, took away her children, and then, the final indignity, killed her. Among women her name became Shame—history’s judgment on her.

11-18 “Her sister Oholibah saw all this, but she became even worse than her sister in lust and whoring, if you can believe it. She also went crazy with lust for Assyrians: ambassadors and governors, military men smartly dressed and mounted on fine horses—the Assyrian elite. And I saw that she also had become incredibly filthy. Both women followed the same path. But Oholibah surpassed her sister. When she saw figures of Babylonians carved in relief on the walls and painted red, fancy belts around their waists, elaborate turbans on their heads, all of them looking important—famous Babylonians!—she went wild with lust and sent invitations to them in Babylon. The Babylonians came on the run, fornicated with her, made her dirty inside and out. When they had thoroughly debased her, she lost interest in them. Then she went public with her fornication. She exhibited her sex to the world.

18-21 “I turned my back on her just as I had on her sister. But that didn’t slow her down. She went at her whoring harder than ever. She remembered when she was young, just starting out as a whore in Egypt. That whetted her appetite for more virile, vulgar, and violent lovers—stallions obsessive in their lust. She longed for the sexual prowess of her youth back in Egypt, where her firm young breasts were caressed and fondled.

22-27 “‘Therefore, Oholibah, this is the Message from God, the Master: I will incite your old lovers against you, lovers you got tired of and left in disgust. I’ll bring them against you from every direction, Babylonians and all the Chaldeans, Pekod, Shoa, and Koa, and all Assyrians—good-looking young men, ambassadors and governors, elite officers and celebrities—all of them mounted on fine, spirited horses. They’ll come down on you out of the north, armed to the teeth, bringing chariots and troops from all sides. I’ll turn over the task of judgment to them. They’ll punish you according to their rules. I’ll stand totally and relentlessly against you as they rip into you furiously. They’ll mutilate you, cutting off your ears and nose, killing at random. They’ll enslave your children—and anybody left over will be burned. They’ll rip off your clothes and steal your jewelry. I’ll put a stop to your sluttish sex, the whoring life you began in Egypt. You won’t look on whoring with fondness anymore. You won’t think back on Egypt with stars in your eyes.

28-30 “‘A Message from God, the Master: I’m at the point of abandoning you to those you hate, to those by whom you’re repulsed. They’ll treat you hatefully, leave you publicly naked, your whore’s body exposed in the cruel glare of the sun. Your sluttish lust will be exposed. Your lust has brought you to this condition because you whored with pagan nations and made yourself filthy with their no-god idols.

31-34 “‘You copied the life of your sister. Now I’ll let you drink the cup she drank.

“‘This is the Message of God, the Master:

“‘You’ll drink your sister’s cup,
    a cup canyon-deep and ocean-wide.
You’ll be shunned and taunted
    as you drink from that cup, full to the brim.
You’ll be falling-down-drunk and the tears will flow
    as you drink from that cup titanic with terror:
    It’s the cup of your sister Samaria.
You’ll drink it dry,
    then smash it to bits and eat the pieces,
    and end up tearing at your breasts.
I’ve given the word—
    Decree of God, the Master.

35 “‘Therefore God, the Master, says, Because you’ve forgotten all about me, pushing me into the background, you now must pay for what you’ve done—pay for your sluttish sex and whoring life.’”

36-39 Then God said to me, “Son of man, will you confront Oholah and Oholibah with what they’ve done? Make them face their outrageous obscenities, obscenities ranging from adultery to murder. They committed adultery with their no-god idols, sacrificed the children they bore me in order to feed their idols! And there is also this: They’ve defiled my holy Sanctuary and desecrated my holy Sabbaths. The same day that they sacrificed their children to their idols, they walked into my Sanctuary and defiled it. That’s what they did—in my house!

40-42 “Furthermore, they even sent out invitations by special messenger to men far away—and, sure enough, they came. They bathed themselves, put on makeup and provocative lingerie. They reclined on a sumptuous bed, aromatic with incense and oils—my incense and oils! The crowd gathered, jostling and pushing, a drunken rabble. They adorned the sisters with bracelets on their arms and tiaras on their heads.

43-44 “I said, ‘She’s burned out on sex!’ but that didn’t stop them. They kept banging on her doors night and day as men do when they’re after a whore. That’s how they used Oholah and Oholibah, the worn-out whores.

45 “Righteous men will pronounce judgment on them, giving out sentences for adultery and murder. That was their lifework: adultery and murder.”

46-47 God says, ‘Let a mob loose on them: Terror! Plunder! Let the mob stone them and hack them to pieces—kill all their children, burn down their houses!

48-49 “‘I’ll put an end to sluttish sex in this country so that all women will be well warned and not copy you. You’ll pay the price for all your obsessive sex. You’ll pay in full for your promiscuous affairs with idols. And you’ll realize that I am God, the Master.’”

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