The Word Made Fresh
1The word of the LORD said to me,
2“Son of man, turn towards Israel’s mountains and prophesy toward them. 3Tell them, ‘Listen to the word of the LORD, mountains of Israel.
The LORD God announces to you
and to the valleys and ravines:
I am about to bring the sword against you
to destroy your shrines.
4Your altars and incense altars will be smashed.
You will fall slain in front of your idols.
5I will throw the dead bodies of Israelites in front of their idols
and scatter your bones around their altars.
6Whatever cities you live in will be ruined
and your shrines godforsaken, completely destroyed.
Your altars will be denounced, your incense altars broken to pieces,
and everything you’ve built torn apart.
7The dead will fall in your midst,
and you will know that I am the LORD.
8But I will spare some of you,
and you will escape the enemies’ weapons
when you are scattered around their territories.
9Your scattered ones will remember me
wherever they have been taken.
They will remember how disappointed I was
when their hearts turned away from me
and they only had eyes for their idols.
They will be disgusted with their own treachery and deceit.
10Then they will know that I am the LORD.
I did not threaten them in vain.’”
11The LORD God says, “Clap your hands and stomp your feet. Cry ‘Horror!’ over the abominable acts of the people of Israel. They will die, killed by the sword, by famine and by plague. 12Those who are far away will die from the plague. Those who live nearby will fall to the sword, and famine will take those who find a refuge. My anger will be satisfied. 13When their dead fall around their idols and altars they will know that I am the LORD. They will die wherever they burn pleasing aromas on every hilltop and mountain to honor their idols, and under every leafy tree and every tall tree. 14The power of my anger will be directed at them wherever they may be, and the land will become even emptier than the Riblah desert. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”
1-7: Obviously their worship of idols is the primary sin for which God will punish them. The land will be overrun and the “high places,” the altars on which sacrifices were being made to other gods, will be thrown down and sacked and the people slaughtered around them.
8-10: A remnant will be preserved, however, because God wants someone left who will be able to remember what has happened — what God has done to them.
11-14: These verses basically repeat the calamities described in 1-10.
When we forsake God’s presence in our lives and in the world, we are setting ourselves up for the world’s punishment to fall on us. God is not the one punishing Israel here, though God has allowed it to happen. The cause of their punishment is their sinfulness.