The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD spoke to me, saying, 2“Son of man, will you judge this bloodletting city? Then tell about all its terrible deeds. 3Tell them this is what the LORD God says: If a city sheds blood within itself, its time has come. They have been making idols and defiling themselves. 4Tell them, you are guilty of the blood you have shed, and you are defiled by the idols you have made. You have brought near the end of your years. That is why I have made you a disgrace among the nations and a mockery to all your surrounding neighbors. 5They will mock you whether they are far away or near, for you have become infamous for being filled with violence.
6“Your leaders have used their influence for shedding blood. 7They treat their parents with contempt. Foreigners living within your walls undergo extortion, and the orphans and widows living there are treated wrongly. 8You have hated my holy accoutrements and cheapened my sabbaths. 9Those who slander and shed blood reside in you. Those who eat at the mountain shrines and engage in lewd acts reside in you. 10In you they expose their fathers’ nakedness, and force women to have sex with you during their menstrual cycles. 11One commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife. Another defiles his own daughter-in-law. Yet another defiles his own sister, his father’s daughter. 12In you they will commit murder for a price. Some of you demand fees in advance as well as high interest for loans. You extort your neighbors for your own personal gain. You have forgotten me,” says the LORD.
13“I clasp my hands at your dishonest gain and the blood that has been shed within you. 14Will your courage last? Can your hands be strong in the days I deal with you? I am the LORD. I have spoken and I will do it. 15I will scatter you to the nations around and throw you throughout all the countries. I will purge your filthiness from you. 16You will be cursed among the nations, and you will know that I am the LORD.”
17The LORD’s word came to me, saying, 18“Son of man, the people of Israel have become garbage to me. All of them – like silver, bronze, tin, iron, and lead in the smelter have become trash. 19The LORD God says that because you have become trash, I will make a pile of you in Jerusalem. 20Just as people collect silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin and throw them into a smelter to burn them and melt them, I will gather you in my rage and throw you in and melt you. 21I will huddle you together and blow the fire of my anger upon you and you will be melted. 22You will be like silver that has been melted and you will know that I the LORD have punished you.”
23The LORD gave me this word: 24“Son of man, say this to the land: You are a land that is filthy because it has not been rained upon in your days of outrage. 25Its royal family members act like a roaring lion attacking the prey. They have devoured people’s lives. They have stolen treasures and precious belongings. They have made many widows within the city. 26Its priests have violated my teaching and cursed my sacred things, for they make no distinction between that which is sacred and that which is common. They have not taught the difference between that which is clean and that which is unclean. They have ignored my sabbaths which cheapens me among them. 27Their officials are like wolves attacking the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives for their own personal gain. 28Their prophets have covered up their excesses, by seeing visions that are false and inventing lies. They say, ‘Thus says the LORD,’ when the LORD has not spoken. 29The people of the land have committed extortion and robbery and have oppressed the poor and needy, and have stolen from foreigners without being held accountable.
30“I searched for someone among them who is willing to repair the wall and guard the gaps in it and stand before me on behalf of the land to beg me not to destroy it. But I found no one. 31So, I have poured out my fury upon them and burned them up with the fire of my anger. I have returned their sinfulness upon their own heads,” says the LORD God.
1-5: Ezekiel is the most graphic of all the prophets, scarcely trying at all to make his descriptions respectable. Jerusalem is in for a blood bath.
6-12: A catalogue of the criminal excesses that have been taking place under Zedekiah’s rule.
13-16: God’s wrath against the city is extraordinary.
17-22: God can find no one of value in Jerusalem, nothing but impurity.
23-31: Each category of citizenry is denounced, beginning with the royal house, then on to the priests, the government functionaries, the prophets, even the common people. No one there is trying to uphold the way of the LORD.
The book of Ezekiel is disturbing for its straightforward accounting of the wickedness in Jerusalem that led to its downfall. What is our response to those today who are decrying certain aspects of our culture? Are they correct? Should pornography, sexual profligacy, subtle cheating for gain and other forms of dishonesty and wickedness be allowed to spread unchecked? And if so, what will be the cost?