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First Reading: Ezekiel Chapter 17 and 18

Ezekiel 17

17:1 The Eagles and the Vine

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 "Son of man, pose a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel, 3 and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD:
"A great eagle with large wings and long pinions,Full of feathers of various colors,Came to LebanonAnd took from the cedar the highest branch. 4 He cropped off its topmost young twig And carried it to a land of trade;He set it in a city of merchants. 5 Then he took some of the seed of the land And planted it in a fertile field;He placed it by abundant waters And set it like a willow tree. 6 And it grew and became a spreading vine of low stature;Its branches turned toward him,But its roots were under it.So it became a vine,Brought forth branches,And put forth shoots.
7 "But there was another great eagle with large wings and many feathers;And behold, this vine bent its roots toward him,And stretched its branches toward him,From the garden terrace where it had been planted,That he might water it. 8 It was planted in good soil by many waters,To bring forth branches, bear fruit,And become a majestic vine."'
9 "Say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD:
"Will it thrive?Will he not pull up its roots,Cut off its fruit,And leave it to wither?All of its spring leaves will wither,And no great power or many people Will be needed to pluck it up by its roots. 10 Behold, it is planted,Will it thrive?Will it not utterly wither when the east wind touches it?It will wither in the garden terrace where it grew."'"
11 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 12 "Say now to the rebellious house: 'Do you not know what these things mean?' Tell them, 'Indeed the king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and took its king and princes, and led them with him to Babylon. 13 And he took the king's offspring, made a covenant with him, and put him under oath. He also took away the mighty of the land, 14 that the kingdom might be brought low and not lift itself up, but that by keeping his covenant it might stand. 15 But he rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that they might give him horses and many people. Will he prosper? Will he who does such things escape? Can he break a covenant and still be delivered?
16'As I live,' says the Lord GOD, 'surely in the place where the king dwells who made him king, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke — with him in the midst of Babylon he shall die. 17 Nor will Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company do anything in the war, when they heap up a siege mound and build a wall to cut off many persons. 18 Since he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and in fact gave his hand and still did all these things, he shall not escape.'"
19 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "As I live, surely My oath which he despised, and My covenant which he broke, I will recompense on his own head. 20 I will spread My net over him, and he shall be taken in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon and try him there for the treason which he committed against Me. 21 All his fugitives with all his troops shall fall by the sword, and those who remain shall be scattered to every wind; and you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken."
22 Israel Exalted at Last
(cf. Ezek 31:1-9)

Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it."

Ezekiel 18

18:1 A False Proverb Refuted

The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, 2 "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying:
'The fathers have eaten sour grapes,And the children's teeth are set on edge'?
3 "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.
4 "Behold, all souls are Mine;The soul of the father As well as the soul of the son is Mine;The soul who sins shall die. 5 But if a man is just And does what is lawful and right; 6 If he has not eaten on the mountains,Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,Nor defiled his neighbor's wife,Nor approached a woman during her impurity; 7 If he has not oppressed anyone,But has restored to the debtor his pledge;Has robbed no one by violence,But has given his bread to the hungry And covered the naked with clothing; 8 If he has not exacted usury Nor taken any increase,But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity And executed true judgment between man and man; 9 If he has walked in My statutes And kept My judgments faithfully — He is just;He shall surely live!"Says the Lord GOD.
10 "If he begets a son who is a robber Or a shedder of blood,Who does any of these things 11 And does none of those duties,But has eaten on the mountains Or defiled his neighbor's wife; 12 If he has oppressed the poor and needy,Robbed by violence,Not restored the pledge,Lifted his eyes to the idols,Or committed abomination; 13 If he has exacted usury Or taken increase — Shall he then live?He shall not live!If he has done any of these abominations,He shall surely die;His blood shall be upon him.
14 "If, however, he begets a son Who sees all the sins which his father has done,And considers but does not do likewise; 15 Who has not eaten on the mountains,Nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,Nor defiled his neighbor's wife; 16 Has not oppressed anyone,Nor withheld a pledge,Nor robbed by violence,But has given his bread to the hungry And covered the naked with clothing; 17 Who has withdrawn his hand from the poor And not received usury or increase,But has executed My judgments And walked in My statutes — He shall not die for the iniquity of his father;He shall surely live!
18 "As for his father,Because he cruelly oppressed,Robbed his brother by violence,And did what is not good among his people,Behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
19 Turn and Live

"Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?' Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
21 "But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. 23 Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "and not that he should turn from his ways and live?
24 "But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.
25 "Yet you say,'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair? 26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?
30 "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD."Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!"

Second Reading: Revelation Chapter 2

Revelation 2

2:1 The Loveless Church

"To the angel of the church of Ephesus write,
'These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent. 6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
7 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God."'
8 The Persecuted Church

"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,
'These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 "I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."'
12 The Compromising Church

"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,
'These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 "I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
17 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."'
18 The Corrupt Church

"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
24 "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations —
27'He shall rule them with a rod of iron;They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' —
as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'

Bible Background

BOOKS OF THE BIBLE

REVELATION

Part 1 of 4

The first verse of Revelation states that it is a revelation of Jesus Christ concerning what must soon take place. The revelation was given to the servants of Jesus through John. It is commonly believed that this John is the apostle John who also wrote the gospel of John and the three letters. The time frame is debated but most scholars date it around 95 A.D. making it the last book chronologically of the Bible. Most of Revelation is apocalyptic and highly symbolic. However, many of the symbols and other concepts can be found in other parts of the Bible such as in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. Some parallels can be drawn between Genesis and Revelation. The number 7 is used repeatedly throughout the book. The number 7 is understood to stand for completeness.

The first two sections of Revelation are:

INTRODUCTION:

1) Prologue - Ch 1:1-3

2) Greetings - Ch 1:4-8

3) The Son of Man - Ch 1:8-20

THE LETTERS TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES - Chapters 2-3

Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea

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