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First Reading: Ezekiel Chapter 21 and 22
21:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, set your face against
Jerusalem and preach against the sanctuary. Prophesy against the land of Israel
3 and say to her: 'This is what the LORD says: I am against you. I will draw
my sword from its scabbard and cut off from you both the righteous and the wicked.
4 Because I am going to cut off the righteous and the wicked, my sword will
be unsheathed against everyone from south to north. 5 Then all people will know
that I the LORD have drawn my sword from its scabbard; it will not return again.'
6 "Therefore groan, son of man! Groan before them with broken heart and bitter grief. 7 And when they ask you, 'Why are you groaning?' you shall say, 'Because of the news that is coming. Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water.' It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD."
8 The word of the LORD came to me: 9 "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'This is what the Lord says:
"'A sword, a sword, sharpened and polished- 10 sharpened for the slaughter, polished to flash like lightning!
"'Shall we rejoice in the scepter of my son [ Judah]? The sword despises every such stick.
11 "'The sword is appointed to be polished, to be grasped with the hand; it is sharpened and polished, made ready for the hand of the slayer. 12 Cry out and wail, son of man, for it is against my people; it is against all the princes of Israel. They are thrown to the sword along with my people. Therefore beat your breast.
13 "'Testing will surely come. And what if the scepter [of Judah], which the sword despises, does not continue? declares the Sovereign LORD.'
14 "So then, son of man, prophesy and strike your hands together. Let the sword strike twice, even three times. It is a sword for slaughter- a sword for great slaughter, closing in on them from every side. 15 So that hearts may melt and the fallen be many, I have stationed the sword for slaughter at all their gates. Oh! It is made to flash like lightning, it is grasped for slaughter. 16 O sword, slash to the right, then to the left, wherever your blade is turned. 17 I too will strike my hands together, and my wrath will subside. I the LORD have spoken."
18 The word of the LORD came to me: 19 "Son of man, mark out two roads for the sword of the king of Babylon to take, both starting from the same country. Make a signpost where the road branches off to the city. 20 Mark out one road for the sword to come against Rabbah of the Ammonites and another against Judah and fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver. 22 Into his right hand will come the lot for Jerusalem, where he is to set up battering rams, to give the command to slaughter, to sound the battle cry, to set battering rams against the gates, to build a ramp and to erect siege works. 23 It will seem like a false omen to those who have sworn allegiance to him, but he will remind them of their guilt and take them captive.
24 "Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because you people have brought to mind your guilt by your open rebellion, revealing your sins in all that you do-because you have done this, you will be taken captive.
25 "'O profane and wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose time of punishment has reached its climax, 26 this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Take off the turban, remove the crown. It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted will be brought low. 27 A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! It will not be restored until he comes to whom it rightfully belongs; to him I will give it.'
28 "And you, son of man, prophesy and say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says about the Ammonites and their insults:
"'A sword, a sword, drawn for the slaughter, polished to consume and to flash like lightning! 29 Despite false visions concerning you and lying divinations about you, it will be laid on the necks of the wicked who are to be slain, whose day has come,whose time of punishment has reached its climax. 30 Return the sword to its scabbard. In the place where you were created, in the land of your ancestry, I will judge you. 31 I will pour out my wrath upon you and breathe out my fiery anger against you; I will hand you over to brutal men, men skilled in destruction. 32 You will be fuel for the fire, your blood will be shed in your land, you will be remembered no more; for I the LORD have spoken.'"
22:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, will you judge her?
Will you judge this city of bloodshed? Then confront her with all her detestable
practices 3 and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O city that brings
on herself doom by shedding blood in her midst and defiles herself by making
idols, 4 you have become guilty because of the blood you have shed and have
become defiled by the idols you have made. You have brought your days to a close,
and the end of your years has come. Therefore I will make you an object of scorn
to the nations and a laughingstock to all the countries. 5 Those who are near
and those who are far away will mock you, O infamous city, full of turmoil.
6 "'See how each of the princes of Israel who are in you uses his power to shed blood. 7 In you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have oppressed the alien and mistreated the fatherless and the widow. 8 You have despised my holy things and desecrated my Sabbaths. 9 In you are slanderous men bent on shedding blood; in you are those who eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts. 10 In you are those who dishonor their fathers' bed; in you are those who violate women during their period, when they are ceremonially unclean. 11 In you one man commits a detestable offense with his neighbor's wife, another shamefully defiles his daughter-in-law, and another violates his sister, his own father's daughter. 12 In you men accept bribes to shed blood; you take usury and excessive interest and make unjust gain from your neighbors by extortion. And you have forgotten me, declares the Sovereign LORD.
13 "'I will surely strike my hands together at the unjust gain you have made and at the blood you have shed in your midst. 14 Will your courage endure or your hands be strong in the day I deal with you? I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it. 15 I will disperse you among the nations and scatter you through the countries; and I will put an end to your uncleanness. 16 When you have been defiled in the eyes of the nations, you will know that I am the LORD.'"
17 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 18 "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to me; all of them are the copper, tin, iron and lead left inside a furnace. They are but the dross of silver. 19 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: 'Because you have all become dross, I will gather you into Jerusalem. 20 As men gather silver, copper, iron, lead and tin into a furnace to melt it with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. 21 I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her. 22 As silver is melted in a furnace, so you will be melted inside her, and you will know that I the LORD have poured out my wrath upon you.'"
23 Again the word of the LORD came to me: 24 "Son of man, say to the land, 'You are a land that has had no rain or showers in the day of wrath.' 25 There is a conspiracy of her princes within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her. 26 Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. 28 Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says'-when the LORD has not spoken. 29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the alien, denying them justice.
30 "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD."
4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.
And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come
up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." 2 At once
I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone
sitting on it. 3 And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and
carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. 4 Surrounding
the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four
elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. 5
From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before
the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. 6
Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
"Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come."
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
Part 3 of 4
The next sections continue in the symbolic style with various judgments of God's wrath on the earth. It describes various plagues which remind the reader of the plagues against Egypt in the book of Exodus. These plagues are against the enemies of God and specifically "Babylon". These sections cover chapters 8 through 19:5:
1. The seven trumpets - Ch 8-11
2. The woman and the dragon - Ch 12
3. The two beasts - Ch 13
4. The lamb and the harvest of the earth - Ch 14
5. The seven bowls - Ch 15-16
6. The fall of Babylon - Ch 17-19:5
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