Ezekiel 5-7The Message (MSG)
A Jealous God, Not to Be Trifled With
5 1-2 “Now, son of man, take a sharp sword and use it as a straight razor, shaving your head and your beard. Then, using a set of balancing scales, divide the hair into thirds. When the days of the siege are over, take one-third of the hair and burn it inside the city. Take another third, chop it into bits with the sword and sprinkle it around the city. The final third you’ll throw to the wind. Then I’ll go after them with a sword.
3-4 “Retrieve a few of the hairs and slip them into your pocket. Take some of them and throw them into the fire—burn them up. From them, fire will spread to the whole family of Israel.
5-6 “This is what God, the Master, says: This means Jerusalem. I set her at the center of the world, all the nations ranged around her. But she rebelled against my laws and ordinances, rebelled far worse than the nations ranged around her—sheer wickedness!—refused my guidance, ignored my directions.
7 “Therefore this is what God, the Master, says: You’ve been more headstrong and willful than any of the nations around you, refusing my guidance, ignoring my directions. You’ve sunk to the gutter level of those around you.
8-10 “Therefore this is what God, the Master, says: I’m setting myself against you—yes, against you, Jerusalem. I’m going to punish you in full sight of the nations. Because of your disgusting no-god idols, I’m going to do something to you that I’ve never done before and will never do again: turn families into cannibals—parents eating children, children eating parents! Punishment indeed. And whoever’s left over I’ll throw to the winds.
11-12 “Therefore, as sure as I am the living God—Decree of God, the Master—because you’ve polluted my Sanctuary with your obscenities and disgusting no-god idols, I’m pulling out. Not an ounce of pity will I show you. A third of your people will die of either disease or hunger inside the city, a third will be killed outside the city, and a third will be thrown to the winds and chased by killers.
13 “Only then will I calm down and let my anger cool. Then you’ll know that I was serious about this all along, that I’m a jealous God and not to be trifled with.
14-15 “When I get done with you, you’ll be a pile of rubble. Nations who walk by will make coarse jokes. When I finish my angry punishment and searing rebukes, you’ll be reduced to an object of ridicule and mockery, turned into a horror story circulating among the surrounding nations. I, God, have spoken.
16-17 “When I shoot my lethal famine arrows at you, I’ll shoot to kill. Then I’ll step up the famine and cut off food supplies. Famine and more famine—and then I’ll send in the wild animals to finish off your children. Epidemic disease, unrestrained murder, death—and I will have sent it! I, God, have spoken.”
Turn Israel into Wasteland
6 1-7 Then the Word of God came to me: “Son of man, now turn and face the mountains of Israel and preach against them: ‘O Mountains of Israel, listen to the Message of God, the Master. God, the Master, speaks to the mountains and hills, to the ravines and the valleys: I’m about to destroy your sacred god and goddess shrines. I’ll level your altars, bust up your sun-god pillars, and kill your people as they bow down to your no-god idols. I’ll stack the dead bodies of Israelites in front of your idols and then scatter your bones around your shrines. Every place where you’ve lived, the towns will be torn down and the pagan shrines demolished—altars busted up, idols smashed, all your custom-made sun-god pillars in ruins. Corpses everywhere you look! Then you’ll know that I am God.
8-10 “‘But I’ll let a few escape the killing as you are scattered through other lands and nations. In the foreign countries where they’re taken as prisoners of war, they’ll remember me. They’ll realize how devastated I was by their betrayals, by their voracious lust for gratifying themselves in their idolatries. They’ll be disgusted with their evil ways, disgusting to God in the way they’ve lived. They’ll know that I am God. They’ll know that my judgment against them was no empty threat.
11-14 “‘This is what God, the Master, says: Clap your hands, stamp your feet, yell out, “No, no, no!” because of all the evil obscenities rife in Israel. They’re going to be killed, dying of hunger, dying of disease—death everywhere you look, people dropping like flies, people far away dying, people nearby dying, and whoever’s left in the city starving to death. Why? Because I’m angry, furiously angry. They’ll realize that I am God when they see their people’s corpses strewn over and around all their ruined sex-and-religion shrines on the bare hills and in the lush fertility groves, in all the places where they indulged their sensual rites. I’ll bring my hand down hard on them, demolish the country wherever they live, turn it into wasteland from one end to the other, from the wilderness to Riblah. Then they’ll know that I am God!’”
Fate Has Caught Up with You
7 1-4 God’s Word came to me, saying, “You, son of man—God, the Master, has this Message for the land of Israel:
5-9 “I, God, the Master, say:
10-13 “‘Judgment Day!
14-16 “‘The trumpet signals the call to battle:
17-18 “‘Every hand hangs limp,
19-27 “‘They throw their money into the gutters.
Hebrews 12The Message (MSG)
Discipline in a Long-Distance Race
12 1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
4-11 In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?
My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline,
God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.
12-13 So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!
14-17 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.
An Unshakable Kingdom
18-21 Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified.
22-24 No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace.
25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.
28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!