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Ezekiel 35-36

35 The word of the Eternal came to me with a message for Edom.

Eternal One: Son of man, turn toward Mount Seir and preach against it. Tell the Edomites that this is what the Eternal Lord has to say:

    Pay attention! I oppose you, Mount Seir!
        I will raise My hand against you, strike you,
        and leave you an empty wasteland.
    I will turn your cities to rubble,
        and you will lie desolate and deserted.
    Then you will know that I am the Eternal One.

You held an old grudge against the Israelites, and you handed them over to death and defeat when they were in the midst of disaster, at a crucial moment of their final punishment.

Israel has no more implacable enemy than Edom. As the descendants of Esau, whose brother Jacob stole his birthright and his father’s blessing, the Edomites view the Israelites as illegitimate rulers and thieves. So shortly after Nebuchadnezzar razes Jerusalem in 586 b.c., Edom seizes its opportunity for revenge and swoops in to fill the political vacuum that results. The Edomites are not operating as God’s instruments. They attack Israel out of their own greed, thinking no one is left to oppose them. They are wrong. The land of Israel never belongs to the people themselves; it belongs to God. When the Edomites sneak in to pillage the land of Israel, they find the stewards of the land gone or severely weakened, but the true Owner is at home and is ready to prosecute them for their actions.

Eternal One: As surely as I, the Eternal Lord, live, what you have given, you will receive! I will hand you over to bloodshed, and it will come after you. Because you have been quick to shed blood, I will make your blood flow! I will leave Mount Seir an empty wasteland and destroy any who come and go. I will spread your corpses upon the mountains; all those slaughtered in battle will fill the hills and valleys and riverbeds! I will turn you into an eternal wasteland; your cities and towns will lie empty and silent. Then you will know that I am the Eternal.

10 You keep saying, “We will take possession of these two countries and two nations—Israel and Judah. We will own them.” And you have the nerve to say this right in front of Me! 11 Consequently, as surely as I, the Eternal Lord, live, the rage and jealousy you have shown as a result of your hatred of them will be returned to you. When I judge you, I will show them who I am and remind them they are still mine. 12 When that day arrives, you will know that I, the Eternal One, have overheard all the despicable threats you made against Israel’s mountains: “They’re nothing but rubble! They’re as good as ours; let’s take what we want!” 13 You said so many haughty things against Me, and I heard every word of it.

14 This is what the Eternal God has to say.

Eternal One: While everyone else in the world sings songs and has happy feasts, I will leave you empty and desolate. 15 Since you celebrated the destruction of the land Israel was meant to inherit, I’m going to treat you the same way. O Mount Seir, you and the rest of Edom will be turned into an empty wasteland! Then you will know that I am the Eternal One.

36 Eternal One: Son of man, preach to Israel’s mountains. Tell them to heed the word of the Eternal.

Here is what the Eternal Lord has to say:

Eternal One: The enemy rejoiced over you and said, “Finally! The ancient highlands are ours.” Because they rejoiced, I, the Eternal Lord, say, “Your enemies crushed you from every side and left you nothing but an empty wasteland. They have carried you off in pieces, divided you up, and made you a remnant among the nations; and you became the topic of everyone’s gossip and malicious attacks.”

Because of this, you mountains of Israel, heed the word of the Eternal Lord. The Eternal Lord says this to the ancient mountains and hills, to the riverbeds and valleys, and to the empty wasteland and deserted cities that have been plundered and mocked by every nation around you.

Eternal One: With fiery passion I have spoken against the rest of the nations, but most especially to Edom, who with malicious joy took My precious land for themselves and divided it up as their spoil. Therefore speak out about the land of Israel to the ancient mountains and hills and rivers and valleys.

The Eternal Lord gave this message to me.

Eternal One: Look! I have spoken with fiery anger and jealousy because you have been scoffed at by the nations. Therefore, I, the Eternal Lord, lift My hand and swear to you that those nations around you will suffer as you have; they’ll be mocked and put to shame.

But you, Israel’s mountains, will shoot forth new branches and bear fruit for My people Israel. They will be home soon. I, of course, care about you and will turn My attention on you. Therefore, your soil will be plowed and your fields sown. 10 I will increase the population and replenish the whole community of Israel. I will bring life back into the desolate cities, and heaps of rubble will be turned into grand structures. 11 I will increase the population of people and animals that live on your slopes once again; they will be more numerous, and you will become more productive than ever before! After all these things come to pass, you will know that I am the Eternal. 12 I will settle My people Israel on you, and they will possess you, and you will be the land they pass from one generation to the next. You will never again take their children.

13 This is what the Eternal Lord said.

Eternal One: Because some say, “The land of Israel is known for devouring its people and depriving them of their children,” 14 I declare that you will never devour any of My people again or deprive them of their children. 15 I will see to it that you do not have to listen to the other nations scoff at you anymore, and you will no longer suffer humiliation or be the cause of your own nation’s faltering.

So said the Eternal.

16 Again the word of the Eternal came to me.

Eternal One: 17 Son of man, when Israel’s people lived in their own land, they desecrated it with their foul lifestyles. Their actions were as impure as a woman’s menstrual cycle. 18 Because they infected the land, pouring out innocent blood and filling their hearts and homes with idols, I poured out My wrath upon them. 19 I scattered them among the nations and dispersed them through many lands. I judged them based on their lifestyles and actions. 20 Whenever they settled among the nations of their exile, they defiled My sacred name. Everywhere they went people were saying, “These are the Eternal’s people, yet they have been forced out of His land.” 21 I became concerned for My sacred name, for everywhere they went the people of Israel were giving Me a bad name.

22 Consequently, tell the people of Israel that the Eternal Lord says, “When I act, people of Israel, it won’t be for your own good, but for the sake of salvaging My own reputation, which you have slandered in front of those outside our covenant.[a] 23 I will restore My great name to its holy state which has been desecrated in every nation by you! After all these things come to pass and I reveal My holiness through you right before their eyes, then these nations will know that I am the Eternal. 24 I will take you away from the nations, gather you from all the foreign soils, and bring you back to your own land. 25 I will sprinkle you with clean water, and you will be clean. I will wash away all of your dirtiness, and you will be clean and pure, free from the taint of idols. 26 I will plant a new heart and new spirit inside of you. I will take out your stubborn, stony heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit inside of you and inspire you to live by My statutes and follow My laws. 28 Then you will live in the same land I gave your ancestors; you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29-30 I will rescue you from your impurity. I will summon the grain to produce large harvests and never bring a famine upon you again. I will increase your harvests of fruit and grain, so that you will never have to face the disgrace of famine again among the nations. 31 Then you will recall your evil ways and wicked deeds. You will recognize how bad they were and hate yourselves for all the shocking and despicable things you did! 32 But I, the Eternal Lord, am not doing this for your own good. You should still feel shame and humiliation for all you’ve done, people of Israel!”

33 This is what the Eternal Lord has to say.

Eternal One: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will bring people back into your desolate cities, and heaps of rubble will be turned into grand structures. 34 The wasteland will be plowed and sown—a vast change from the emptiness those passing by are used to seeing. 35 They will be amazed, saying, “This place used to be an empty wasteland. Now it’s like the garden of Eden! The cities were demolished, lying in ruins and completely abandoned. Now they are all restored, strong and full of people!” 36 Then the nations near you will know that I, the Eternal, am the One who rebuilt and restored the ruined cities and replanted the empty wilderness. I, the Eternal One, promise to do exactly what I’ve said.

37 This is what the Eternal Lord has to say.

Eternal One: I will soothe Israel’s desire and do as they have asked Me to do: I will make their population grow like a flock of sheep. 38 Just as flocks of sheep fill Jerusalem before the sacrifices at the public feasts, the cities filled with rubble will be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Eternal One.

Footnotes:

  1. 36:22 Romans 2:24
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James 1:1-18

James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, to the twelve tribes of Israel who are spread across the earth: I send you my warmest welcome!

2-4 Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.

Wisdom, as James understands it, is the ability to live life well and make good decisions. Wisdom doesn’t come from old age or hard knocks. Wisdom begins with knowing and depending absolutely on God, who is never stingy when it comes to wisdom for those who seek it. He supplies all the wisdom we need when we ask. But when we try to go it alone—without God—trouble is around the corner.

The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.

If you are a brother of humble means, celebrate the fact that God has raised you up. 10 If you are rich and seemingly invincible, savor the humble reality that you are a mere mortal who will vanish like a flower that withers in the field. 11 The sun rises with a blazing heat that dries the earth and causes the flower to wither and fall to the ground and its beauty to fade and die. In the same way, the rich will fall and die in the midst of their busy lives.

12 Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him.

13 No one who is tempted should ever be confused and say that God is testing him. The One who created us is free from evil and can’t be tempted, so He doesn’t tempt anyone. 14-15 When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin. When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death.

If you give in to temptation and desire, then sin is born. If you give in to sin long enough, it overpowers you and costs you your life.

16 My dearly loved brothers and sisters, don’t be misled. 17 Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won’t change His mind or play tricks in the shadows. 18 We have a special role in His plan. He calls us to life by His message of truth so that we will show the rest of His creatures His goodness and love.

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Psalm 116

Psalm 116

I love the Eternal; for not only does He hear
    my voice, my pleas for mercy,
But He leaned down when I was in trouble and brought His ear close to me.
    So as long as I have breath, I will call on Him.
Once I was wound in the wrappings of death;
    the terror of dying and the grave had a grip on me;
    I could not get away, for I was entombed in distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Eternal:
    “O Eternal One—I am begging You—save me!”

The Eternal is full of grace and naturally just;
    our God is compassionate and merciful.
And the Eternal watches over the naive.
    Whenever I was knocked down, He reached down and saved me.
O my soul! Return and relax. Come to your true rest,
    for the Eternal has showered you with His favor.

God, You alone rescued my soul from the grips of death,
    my eyes from weeping,
    and my feet from slipping.
I will come before the Eternal
    as long as I journey in the land of the living.
10 I believed Your promise; therefore I spoke,
    “I am in deep trouble.”
11 In my confusion I blurted out,
    “All people are liars!”

12 How will I pay back the Eternal
    for all His graciousness toward me?
13 I will raise the cup of deliverance
    and call out the name of the Eternal.
14 I will fulfill the promises I made to Him
    here as a witness to all His people.

15 Precious in the eyes of the Eternal
    are the deaths of those who follow after Him.
16 O Eternal One, You know I am Your servant.
    I am Your servant, a child of Your maidservant, devoted to You;
    You have cut me loose from the chains of death that bind me.
17 And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude
    and call on the name of the Eternal.
18 I will fulfill the promises I made to Him
    here as a witness to all His people
19 In the courts of the Eternal’s temple,
    among the people of God’s city, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Eternal!

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Proverbs 27:23-27

23 Pay careful attention to your flocks,
    and see to the welfare of your herds
24 Because riches do not last forever,
    nor does one dynasty retain power through all generations.
25 When the hay is harvested and the autumn grasses begin to grow
    and the herbs of the mountains are gathered,
26 Then the lambs will provide wool for your clothing,
    young goats can be sold to buy a new field,
27 And there will be enough milk from your goats
    to sustain you, your family, and your serving girls.

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The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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