Ezekiel 16-17The Message (MSG)
Your Beauty Went to Your Head
16 1-3 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her outrageous violations. Say this: ‘The Message of God, the Master, to Jerusalem: You were born and bred among Canaanites. Your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
4-5 “‘On the day you were born your umbilical cord was not cut, you weren’t bathed and cleaned up, you weren’t rubbed with salt, you weren’t wrapped in a baby blanket. No one cared a fig for you. No one did one thing to care for you tenderly in these ways. You were thrown out into a vacant lot and left there, dirty and unwashed—a newborn nobody wanted.
6-7 “‘And then I came by. I saw you all miserable and bloody. Yes, I said to you, lying there helpless and filthy, “Live! Grow up like a plant in the field!” And you did. You grew up. You grew tall and matured as a woman, full-breasted, with flowing hair. But you were naked and vulnerable, fragile and exposed.
8-14 “‘I came by again and saw you, saw that you were ready for love and a lover. I took care of you, dressed you and protected you. I promised you my love and entered the covenant of marriage with you. I, God, the Master, gave my word. You became mine. I gave you a good bath, washing off all that old blood, and anointed you with aromatic oils. I dressed you in a colorful gown and put leather sandals on your feet. I gave you linen blouses and a fashionable wardrobe of expensive clothing. I adorned you with jewelry: I placed bracelets on your wrists, fitted you out with a necklace, emerald rings, sapphire earrings, and a diamond tiara. You were provided with everything precious and beautiful: with exquisite clothes and elegant food, garnished with honey and oil. You were absolutely stunning. You were a queen! You became world-famous, a legendary beauty brought to perfection by my adornments. Decree of God, the Master.
15-16 “‘But your beauty went to your head and you became a common whore, grabbing anyone coming down the street and taking him into your bed. You took your fine dresses and made “tents” of them, using them as brothels in which you practiced your trade. This kind of thing should never happen, never.
What a Sick Soul!
17-19 “‘And then you took all that fine jewelry I gave you, my gold and my silver, and made pornographic images of them for your brothels. You decorated your beds with fashionable silks and cottons, and perfumed them with my aromatic oils and incense. And then you set out the wonderful foods I provided—the fresh breads and fruits, with fine herbs and spices, which were my gifts to you—and you served them as delicacies in your whorehouses. That’s what happened, says God, the Master.
20-21 “‘And then you took your sons and your daughters, whom you had given birth to as my children, and you killed them, sacrificing them to idols. Wasn’t it bad enough that you had become a whore? And now you’re a murderer, killing my children and sacrificing them to idols.
22 “‘Not once during these years of outrageous obscenities and whorings did you remember your infancy, when you were naked and exposed, a blood-smeared newborn.
23-24 “‘And then to top off all your evil acts, you built your bold brothels in every town square. Doom! Doom to you, says God, the Master! At every major intersection you built your bold brothels and exposed your sluttish sex, spreading your legs for everyone who passed by.
25-27 “‘And then you went international with your whoring. You fornicated with the Egyptians, seeking them out in their sex orgies. The more promiscuous you became, the angrier I got. Finally, I intervened, reduced your borders and turned you over to the rapacity of your enemies. Even the Philistine women—can you believe it?—were shocked at your sluttish life.
28-29 “‘You went on to fornicate with the Assyrians. Your appetite was insatiable. But still you weren’t satisfied. You took on the Babylonians, a country of businessmen, and still you weren’t satisfied.
30-31 “‘What a sick soul! Doing all this stuff—the champion whore! You built your bold brothels at every major intersection, opened up your whorehouses in every neighborhood, but you were different from regular whores in that you wouldn’t accept a fee.
32-34 “‘Wives who are unfaithful to their husbands accept gifts from their lovers. And men commonly pay their whores. But you pay your lovers! You bribe men from all over to come to bed with you! You’re just the opposite of the regular whores who get paid for sex. Instead, you pay men for their favors! You even pervert whoredom!
35-38 “‘Therefore, whore, listen to God’s Message: I, God, the Master, say, Because you’ve been unrestrained in your promiscuity, stripped down for every lover, flaunting your sex, and because of your pornographic idols and all the slaughtered children you offered to them, therefore, because of all this, I’m going to get all your lovers together, all those you’ve used for your own pleasure, the ones you loved and the ones you loathed. I’ll assemble them as a courtroom of spectators around you. In broad daylight I’ll strip you naked before them—they’ll see what you really look like. Then I’ll sentence you to the punishment for an adulterous woman and a murderous woman. I’ll give you a taste of my wrath!
39-41 “‘I’ll gather all your lovers around you and turn you over to them. They’ll tear down your bold brothels and sex shrines. They’ll rip off your clothes, take your jewels, and leave you naked and exposed. Then they’ll call for a mass meeting. The mob will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. They’ll burn down your houses. A massive judgment—with all the women watching!
41-42 “‘I’ll have put a full stop to your whoring life—no more paying lovers to come to your bed! By then my anger will be played out. My jealousy will subside.
43 “‘Because you didn’t remember what happened when you were young but made me angry with all this behavior, I’ll make you pay for your waywardness. Didn’t you just exponentially compound your outrageous obscenities with all your sluttish ways?
44-45 “‘Everyone who likes to use proverbs will use this one: “Like mother, like daughter.” You’re the daughter of your mother, who couldn’t stand her husband and children. And you’re a true sister of your sisters, who couldn’t stand their husbands and children. Your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite.
46-48 “‘Your older sister is Samaria. She lived to the north of you with her daughters. Your younger sister is Sodom, who lived to the south of you with her daughters. Haven’t you lived just like they did? Haven’t you engaged in outrageous obscenities just like they did? In fact, it didn’t take you long to catch up and pass them! As sure as I am the living God!—Decree of God, the Master—your sister Sodom and her daughters never even came close to what you and your daughters have done.
49-50 “‘The sin of your sister Sodom was this: She lived with her daughters in the lap of luxury—proud, gluttonous, and lazy. They ignored the oppressed and the poor. They put on airs and lived obscene lives. And you know what happened: I did away with them.
51-52 “‘And Samaria. Samaria didn’t sin half as much as you. You’ve committed far more obscenities than she ever did. Why, you make your two sisters look good in comparison with what you’ve done! Face it, your sisters look mighty good compared with you. Because you’ve outsinned them so completely, you’ve actually made them look righteous. Aren’t you ashamed? But you’re going to have to live with it. What a reputation to carry into history: outsinning your two sisters!
53-58 “‘But I’m going to reverse their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters. And—get this—your fortunes right along with them! Still, you’re going to have to live with your shame. And by facing and accepting your shame, you’re going to provide some comfort to your two sisters. Your sisters, Sodom with her daughters and Samaria with her daughters, will become what they were before, and you will become what you were before. Remember the days when you were putting on airs, acting so high and mighty, looking down on sister Sodom? That was before your evil ways were exposed. And now you’re the butt of contempt, despised by the Edomite women, the Philistine women, and everybody else around. But you have to face it, to accept the shame of your obscene and vile life. Decree of God, the Master.
59-63 “‘God, the Master, says, I’ll do to you just as you have already done, you who have treated my oath with contempt and broken the covenant. All the same, I’ll remember the covenant I made with you when you were young and I’ll make a new covenant with you that will last forever. You’ll remember your sorry past and be properly contrite when you receive back your sisters, both the older and the younger. I’ll give them to you as daughters, but not as participants in your covenant. I’ll firmly establish my covenant with you and you’ll know that I am God. You’ll remember your past life and face the shame of it, but when I make atonement for you, make everything right after all you’ve done, it will leave you speechless.’” Decree of God, the Master.
The Great Tree Is Made Small and the Small Tree Great
17 1-6 God’s Message came to me: “Son of man, make a riddle for the house of Israel. Tell them a story. Say, ‘God, the Master, says:
“‘A great eagle
7-8 “‘There was another great eagle
9-10 “‘God, the Master, says,
11-12 God’s Message came to me: “Tell this house of rebels, ‘Do you get it? Do you know what this means?’
12-14 “Tell them, ‘The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and took its king and its leaders back to Babylon. He took one of the royal family and made a covenant with him, making him swear his loyalty. The king of Babylon took all the top leaders into exile to make sure that this kingdom stayed weak—didn’t get any big ideas of itself—and kept the covenant with him so that it would have a future.
15 “‘But he rebelled and sent emissaries to Egypt to recruit horses and a big army. Do you think that’s going to work? Are they going to get by with this? Does anyone break a covenant and get off scot-free?
16-18 “‘As sure as I am the living God, this king who broke his pledge of loyalty and his covenant will die in that country, in Babylon. Pharaoh with his big army—all those soldiers!—won’t lift a finger to fight for him when Babylon sets siege to the city and kills everyone inside. Because he broke his word and broke the covenant, even though he gave his solemn promise, because he went ahead and did all these things anyway, he won’t escape.
19-21 “‘Therefore, God, the Master, says, As sure as I am the living God, because the king despised my oath and broke my covenant, I’ll bring the consequences crashing down on his head. I’ll send out a search party and catch him. I’ll take him to Babylon and have him brought to trial because of his total disregard for me. All his elite soldiers, along with the rest of the army, will be killed in battle, and whoever is left will be scattered to the four winds. Then you’ll realize that I, God, have spoken.
22-24 “‘God, the Master, says, I personally will take a shoot from the top of the towering cedar, a cutting from the crown of the tree, and plant it on a high and towering mountain, on the high mountain of Israel. It will grow, putting out branches and fruit—a majestic cedar. Birds of every sort and kind will live under it. They’ll build nests in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will recognize that I, God, made the great tree small and the small tree great, made the green tree turn dry and the dry tree sprout green branches. I, God, said it—and I did it.’”
James 3The Message (MSG)
When You Open Your Mouth
3 1-2 Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.
3-5 A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
5-6 It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
7-10 This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
10-12 My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don’t bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don’t bear apples, do they? You’re not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
Live Well, Live Wisely
13-16 Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.
17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.