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First Reading: Ezekiel Chapter 21 and 22

Ezekiel 21

21:1 Babylon, the Sword of God

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 "Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, preach against the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel; 3 and say to the land of Israel, 'Thus says the LORD: "Behold, I am against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off both righteous and wicked from you. 4 Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you, therefore My sword shall go out of its sheath against all flesh from south to north, 5 that all flesh may know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath; it shall not return anymore."' 6 Sigh therefore, son of man, with a breaking heart, and sigh with bitterness before their eyes. 7 And it shall be when they say to you, 'Why are you sighing?' that you shall answer, 'Because of the news; when it comes, every heart will melt, all hands will be feeble, every spirit will faint, and all knees will be weak as water. Behold, it is coming and shall be brought to pass,' says the Lord GOD."
8 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 9 "Son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the LORD!' Say:
'A sword, a sword is sharpened And also polished! 10 Sharpened to make a dreadful slaughter,Polished to flash like lightning!Should we then make mirth?It despises the scepter of My son,As it does all wood. 11 And He has given it to be polished,That it may be handled;This sword is sharpened, and it is polished To be given into the hand of the slayer.'
12 "Cry and wail, son of man;For it will be against My people,Against all the princes of Israel.Terrors including the sword will be against My people;Therefore strike your thigh.
13 "Because it is a testing,And what if the sword despises even the scepter?The scepter shall be no more,"
says the Lord GOD.
14 "You therefore, son of man, prophesy,And strike your hands together.The third time let the sword do double damage.It is the sword that slays,The sword that slays the great men,That enters their private chambers. 15 I have set the point of the sword against all their gates,That the heart may melt and many may stumble.Ah! It is made bright;It is grasped for slaughter:
16 "Swords at the ready!Thrust right!Set your blade!Thrust left — Wherever your edge is ordered!
17 "I also will beat My fists together,And I will cause My fury to rest;I, the LORD, have spoken."
18 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying: 19 "And son of man, appoint for yourself two ways for the sword of the king of Babylon to go; both of them shall go from the same land. Make a sign; put it at the head of the road to the city. 20 Appoint a road for the sword to go to Rabbah of the Ammonites, and to Judah, into fortified Jerusalem. 21 For the king of Babylon stands at the parting of the road, at the fork of the two roads, to use divination: he shakes the arrows, he consults the images, he looks at the liver. 22 In his right hand is the divination for Jerusalem: to set up battering rams, to call for a slaughter, to lift the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to heap up a siege mound, and to build a wall. 23 And it will be to them like a false divination in the eyes of those who have sworn oaths with them; but he will bring their iniquity to remembrance, that they may be taken.
24 "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have made your iniquity to be remembered, in that your transgressions are uncovered, so that in all your doings your sins appear — because you have come to remembrance, you shall be taken in hand.
25'Now to you, O profane, wicked prince of Israel, whose day has come, whose iniquity shall end, 26 thus says the Lord GOD:
"Remove the turban, and take off the crown;Nothing shall remain the same.Exalt the humble, and humble the exalted. 27 Overthrown, overthrown,I will make it overthrown!It shall be no longer,Until He comes whose right it is,And I will give it to Him."'
28 A Sword Against the Ammonites

"And you, son of man, prophesy and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD concerning the Ammonites and concerning their reproach,' and say:
'A sword, a sword is drawn,Polished for slaughter,For consuming, for flashing — 29 While they see false visions for you,While they divine a lie to you,To bring you on the necks of the wicked, the slain Whose day has come,Whose iniquity shall end.
30'Return it to its sheath.I will judge you In the place where you were created,In the land of your nativity. 31 I will pour out My indignation on you;I will blow against you with the fire of My wrath,And deliver you into the hands of brutal men who are skillful to destroy. 32 You shall be fuel for the fire;Your blood shall be in the midst of the land.You shall not be remembered,For I the LORD have spoken.'"

Ezekiel 22

22:1 Sins of Jerusalem

Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 "Now, son of man, will you judge, will you judge the bloody city? Yes, show her all her abominations! 3 Then say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "The city sheds blood in her own midst, that her time may come; and she makes idols within herself to defile herself. 4 You have become guilty by the blood which you have shed, and have defiled yourself with the idols which you have made. You have caused your days to draw near, and have come to the end of your years; therefore I have made you a reproach to the nations, and a mockery to all countries. 5 Those near and those far from you will mock you as infamous and full of tumult.
6 "Look, the princes of Israel: each one has used his power to shed blood in you. 7 In you they have made light of father and mother; in your midst they have oppressed the stranger; in you they have mistreated the fatherless and the widow. 8 You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths. 9 In you are men who slander to cause bloodshed; in you are those who eat on the mountains; in your midst they commit lewdness. 10 In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. 11 One commits abomination with his neighbor's wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; and another in you violates his sister, his father's daughter. 12 In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take usury and increase; you have made profit from your neighbors by extortion, and have forgotten Me," says the Lord GOD.
13 "Behold, therefore, I beat My fists at the dishonest profit which you have made, and at the bloodshed which has been in your midst. 14 Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the LORD, have spoken, and will do it. 15 I will scatter you among the nations, disperse you throughout the countries, and remove your filthiness completely from you. 16 You shall defile yourself in the sight of the nations; then you shall know that I am the LORD."'"
17 Israel in the Furnace

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 18 "Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. 21 Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. 22 As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have poured out My fury on you.'"
23 Israel's Wicked Leaders

And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 24 "Son of man, say to her: 'You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.' 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord GOD,' when the LORD had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads," says the Lord GOD.

Second Reading: Revelation Chapter 4

Revelation 4

4:1 The Throne Room of Heaven
(Isa 6:1-3)

After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. 3 And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
6 Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,Who was and is and is to come!"
9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
11 "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power;For You created all things,And by Your will they exist and were created."

Bible Background



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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