Lament for the Leaders of Israel
19 “And you, raise a lament about the leaders of Israel, 2 and you must say,
‘What a lioness was your mother
among the lions.
She lay down in the midst of young lions,
and she reared her lion cubs.
3 And she raised up one from her cubs;
he became a fierce lion,
and he learned to tear prey;
he ate humans.
4 And nations heard about him;
in their pit he was caught,
and they brought him with hooks
to the land of Egypt.
5 And she saw that she was waiting in vain;
her hope was destroyed,
and she took one from her cubs,
and she made him a fierce lion.
6 And he walked about in the midst of lions;
he became a fierce lion,
and he learned to tear prey;
he ate humans.
7 And he knew their widows,
and he devastated their cities,
and the land was appalled, and everyone in it
at the sound of his roar.
8 And nations set out against him
from the surrounding provinces,
and they spread their net over him,
and he was caught in their pit.
9 And they put him in a collar with hooks,
and they brought him to the king of Babylon;
they brought him into a prison,
so that his voice would not be heard any longer
on the mountains of Israel.
10 Your mother was like the vine in your vineyard;
planted fruitfully beside water,
and it was full of branches
from many waters.
11 And she produced branches of strength
to scepters of rulers;
its height became tall
between thick foliage,
and it was seen because of its tallness
among the abundance of its branches.
12 But it was uprooted in rage;
it was thrown to the earth,
and the east wind dried up its fruit;
they were stripped off,
and its strong branch dried up;
fire consumed it.
13 And now it is planted in the desert,
in a dry and thirsty land.
14 And so fire has gone out from the stem of its branches;
its fruit it has consumed,
and there was not in it a strong branch,
a scepter for ruling.’ ”
This is a lament, and it will be used as a lament.
God’s Dealings with Israel for His Name’s Sake
20 And then in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, men from the elders of Israel came to consult Yahweh, and they sat before me. 2 And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 3 “Son of man, speak with the elders of Israel, and you must say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Are you coming to consult me? As I live, I will surely not allow myself to be consulted by you!” ’ declares the Lord Yahweh. 4 Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man? Make known to them the detestable things of their ancestors. 5 And you must say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “On the day of my choosing Israel I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob, and I made myself known to them in the land of Egypt, and I swore to them, saying, ‘I am Yahweh your God.’ 6 On that day I swore to them to bring them out from the land of Egypt to the land that I had searched out for them, flowing with milk and honey—it is the most beautiful of all of the lands. 7 Then I said to them, ‘Let each one throw away the detestable things of his eyes, and you must not make yourselves unclean with the idols of Egypt! I am Yahweh your God.’ 8 But they rebelled against me, and they were not willing to listen to me; each one did not throw away the detestable things of their eyes; and they did not abandon the idols of Egypt, and I decided to pour out my rage on them, to fully vent my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.
9 “But I acted for the sake of my name to keep it from being profaned before the eyes of the nations among whom they lived, where I made known to them before their eyes, to bring them out from the land of Egypt. 10 And I brought them out from the land of Egypt, and I brought them to the desert, 11 and I gave my statutes to them, and my regulations I made known to them, which, if a person does them, then he will live by them. 12 And also my Sabbaths I gave to them to be a sign between me and between them so they would know that I, Yahweh, am the one sanctifying them.
13 “But in the desert the house of Israel rebelled against me; they did not walk in my statutes, and they rejected my regulations, which, if a person does them, he will live by them, and they greatly profaned my Sabbaths, and I decided to pour out my rage on them in the desert to destroy them, 14 and I acted for the sake of my name, that it not be profaned before the eyes of the nations before whom I brought them out. 15 And also I myself swore to them in the desert not to bring them into the land that I had given to them, flowing with milk and honey—it is the most beautiful of all of the lands— 16 because they despised my judgments, and they did not walk in my statutes, and my Sabbaths they profaned, for their heart was going after their idols. 17 But my eye took pity on them by not destroying them, and I did not completely destroy them in the desert.
18 “And I said to their children in the desert, ‘You must not go in the statutes of your parents; you must not keep their regulations, and you must not make yourself unclean with their idols. 19 I, Yahweh, am your God, so go in my statutes and keep my regulations and do them. 20 And treat my Sabbaths as holy, and they will be a sign between me and between you that you may know that I, Yahweh, am your God.’ 21 But the children rebelled against me; they did not walk in my statutes, and they did not observe my regulations, which if a person does them, then he will live by them. My Sabbaths they desecrated, and I decided to pour out my rage on them, to finish my anger against them in the desert. 22 But I withheld my hand, and I acted for the sake of my name not to be profaned before the eyes of the nations before whom I had brought them out before their eyes. 23 What is more, I swore to them in the desert to scatter them among the nations and to disperse them in the lands, 24 because they did not do my regulations, and my statutes they despised, and my Sabbaths they profaned, and their eyes were after the idols of their ancestors. 25 And in turn I gave to them rules that were not good and regulations by which they will not live. 26 And I defiled them through their gifts in sacrificing all of the first offspring of the womb, in order that I will cause them to be stunned, so that they will know that I am Yahweh.
27 “Therefore speak to the house of Israel, son of man, and you must say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Again in this your ancestors blasphemed me at their display of infidelity toward me.” ’ 28 And I brought them to the land that I swore to give to them, and they saw every high hill and every leafy tree, and they offered their sacrifices, and they presented there the provocation of their offering, and they gave there their fragrant incense offering, and they poured out their libations there. 29 And I said to them, ‘What is the high place to which you are going?’ And it is called Bamah until this day. 30 Therefore thus say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “In the way of your ancestors will you defile yourself, and after their vile idols will you prostitute yourselves? 31 And when you lift up your gifts, sacrificing your children through the fire, you are defiling yourself through all of your idols until today, and will I let myself be consulted by you, house of Israel?” ’ As I live,” declares the Lord Yahweh, “I will not let myself be consulted by you! 32 And what you are planning, surely it will not be—that you are saying, ‘Let us be like the nations, like the clans of the lands, serving wood and stone!’
33 “As I live,” declares the Lord Yahweh, “surely with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with rage pouring forth I will reign as king over you! 34 And I will bring you from the peoples, and I will gather you from the countries to which you were scattered with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm and with rage poured out. 35 Then I will bring you to the desert of the peoples, and I will execute justice on you there face to face. 36 Just as I executed justice on your ancestors in the desert of the land of Egypt, likewise I will execute justice on you!” declares the Lord Yahweh. 37 “And I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. 38 And I will purge the rebels from among you and the ones transgressing against me; I will bring them out from the land where they are living as aliens, but into the land of Israel they will not come, and then you will know that I am Yahweh.
39 And you, house of Israel, thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Let each one go serve his idols now and after, if you are not listening to me, but my holy name you will not profane any longer with your gifts and with your idols.
40 “For on my holy mountain, on the mountain of the height of Israel,” declares the Lord Yahweh, “there all of the house of Israel will serve me, all of them, in the land. I will take pleasure in them, and there I will accept your contributions and the best of your portions with all of your holy objects. 41 I will accept you as a fragrant incense offering when I bring you out from the peoples and I gather you from the lands to which you were scattered, and I will show myself holy among you before the eyes of the nations. 42 And you will know that I am Yahweh when I bring you to the land of Israel, to the land that I swore to give to your ancestors. 43 And you will remember there your ways, and all of your deeds by which you were made unclean, and you will feel a loathing for yourself for all of your evils that you have done. 44 And you will know that I am Yahweh when I deal with you for the sake of my name and not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupted deeds, house of Israel,” declares the Lord Yahweh.
45 And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, 46 “Son of man, set your face toward the way of the south, and preach to the south, and prophesy against the forest of the territory of the Negev. 47 And you must say to the forest of the Negev, ‘Hear the word of Yahweh, thus says the Lord Yahweh: “Look! I am kindling against you a fire, and it will devour in you every fresh tree and every dry tree; the blaze of the flame will not be quenched, and all the surfaces from the south to the north will be scorched by it. 48 And all creatures will see that I, Yahweh, I kindled it—it will not be quenched!” ’ ” 49 Then I said, “Ah, Lord Yahweh, they are saying about me, ‘Is he not posing a parable?’ ”
Tormenting Locusts from the Abyss
9 And the fifth angel blew the trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to the earth, and the key of the shaft of the abyss was given to him. 2 And he opened the shaft of the abyss, and smoke went up from the shaft like smoke from a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened by the smoke from the shaft. 3 And out of the smoke locusts came to the earth, and power was given to them like the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 And it was told to them that they should not damage the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, except those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And it was granted to them that they should not kill them, but that they would be tormented five months, and their torment is like the torment of a scorpion when it stings a person. 6 And in those days people will seek death and will never find it, and they will long to die, and death will flee from them.
7 And the appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle, and on their heads were something like crowns similar in appearance to gold, and their faces were like men’s faces, 8 and they had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions, 9 and they had breastplates like iron breastplates, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of many horse-drawn chariots running into battle. 10 And they have tails similar in appearance to scorpions, and stings, and their power to injure people for five months is in their tails. 11 They have as king over them the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he has the name Apollyon.
12 The first woe has passed. Behold, two woes are still coming after these things.
A Third of Humanity Killed by Plagues
13 And the sixth angel blew the trumpet, and I heard one voice from the horns of the golden altar that is before God 14 saying to the sixth angel, the one who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who have been bound at the great river Euphrates!” 15 And the four angels who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year were released, in order that they should kill a third of humanity. 16 And the number of the troops of the cavalry was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. 17 And in this way I saw the horses in the vision, and those seated on them, who had fiery red and hyacinth-colored and sulphurous yellow breastplates, and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions, and out of their mouths came fire and smoke and sulphur. 18 By these three plagues a third of humanity was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the sulphur that came out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails, for their tails are similar in appearance to snakes, having heads, and with them they cause injury.
20 And the rest of humanity who were not killed by these plagues did not repent of the works of their hands, in order not to worship the demons and the gold and silver and bronze and stone and wooden idols, which are able neither to see nor to hear nor to walk, 21 and they did not repent of their murders or of their magic spells or of their sexual immorality or of their thefts.
31 “Indeed, does anyone say to God, ‘I have endured chastisement;
I will not act corruptly again;
32 teach me yourself what I cannot see;
if I have done wrong, I will not repeat it’?
33 According to your judgment, must he repay it because you rejected this?
Indeed, you must choose, and not I, so declare what you know.
34 Those who have sense say to me,
and the wise man hearing me says:
35 ‘Job speaks without knowledge,
and his words are without insight.
36 Would that Job were tested up to the end
because his answers are like those from men of mischief,
37 for he adds transgression to his sin;
he claps hands among us,
and he multiplies his words against God.’ ”
Judgment is both a curse and a blessing. If you judge others, you might be judged yourself—especially if you judge them incorrectly. Yet if you know how to judge right from wrong, you can discern truth from fiction.
Although judgment can be a wretched thing, there is a time for it: When God has confirmed something in your heart, and the Bible verifies your view, you must stand up for it. When Jesus tells us not to judge, He is not declaring that we should be passive (see Matt 7:1–6; see also Matt 7:15–23, where He condemns false prophets and false followers). Instead, Jesus is saying that we should be careful about what we say and do, for we could be the one at fault.
Ezekiel also deals with the very fine line of judgment. Yahweh says to him, “Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man?” (Ezek 20:4). This question implies the very point Jesus makes: Is Ezekiel capable of dealing out judgment? Certainly not, but with the power of Yahweh, he can speak the truth. Yahweh goes on, “Make known to them the detestable things of their ancestors” (Ezek 20:4). He follows this with a commentary on “the detestable things” accompanied by a comparison to how Yahweh has treated His people despite their disobedience (Ezek 20:5–8).
Judgment is tricky, but fear of “getting it wrong” should not keep us quiet in the midst of misdeeds and misconduct. Instead, we must speak up—let’s just be sure that we first pray and examine our thoughts in light of the Bible.
What have you previously been quiet about that you should speak up against?
Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord
Publisher: Lexham Press
Publication Date: 2012
This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.