Ezequiel 20

1 Seven years after King Jehoiachin and the rest of us had been led away as prisoners to Babylon, some of Israel's leaders came to me on the tenth day of the fifth month. They sat down and asked for a message from Jehovah.

2 Just then, Jehovah said:

3 »Son of man, these elders have come to find out what I want them to do. As surely as I live, I will not give them an answer of any kind.

4 »Are you willing to warn them, Ezekiel? Then remind them of the disgusting sins of their ancestors.

5 »Tell them what the Lord Jehovah said: ‘When I chose Israel, I made them a promise. I revealed myself to them in Egypt and told them: ‘I am Jehovah your God.’

6 »It was then that I promised to take them out of Egypt and lead them to a land I had chosen for them, a rich and fertile land, the finest land of all.

7 »I told them to throw away the disgusting idols they loved and not to make themselves unclean with the false gods of Egypt. I am Jehovah their God.

8 ‘»»They defied me and refused to listen. They did not throw away their disgusting idols or give up the Egyptian gods. I was ready to let them feel the full force of my anger there in Egypt.

9 »‘»But I did not, since that would have brought dishonor to my name. In the presence of the people among whom they were living I had announced to Israel that I was going to lead them out of Egypt.

10 ‘»»So I led them out of Egypt into the desert.

11 ‘»»I gave them my laws and made my rules known to them. If people obey them they will live.

12 ‘»»I also gave them certain days to worship me as a sign between us so that they would know that I, Jehovah, made them holy.

13 ‘»»But the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not live by my laws. They rejected my rules. If people obey them, they will live. They dishonored the days to worship me. So I was going to pour out my fury on them in the desert and completely wipe them out.

14 ‘»»I acted so that my name would not be dishonored among the nations who had watched me bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

15 ‘»»I also swore an oath to them in the desert. I swore that I would not bring them into the land that I had promised to give them. This land is the most beautiful land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

16 ‘»»They rejected my rules. They did not live by my laws. They dishonored the days to worship me, because their hearts chased disgusting idols.

17 ‘»»But I had compassion on them. I did not destroy them or completely wipe them out in the desert.

18 ‘»»I said to their children in the desert: Do not live by the laws of your ancestors. Do not obey their rules or dishonor yourselves with their disgusting idols.

19 ‘»»I am Jehovah your God! Walk in my statutes and obey my ordinances.

20 ‘»»Sanctify my Sabbaths. They shall be a sign between you, and me that you may know that I am Jehovah your God.’

21 ‘»»But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes. They were not careful to obey my ordinances. If a man obeys them, he will live. They profaned my Sabbaths. So I resolved to pour out my wrath on them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness.

22 ‘»»But I withdrew my hand assistance and acted for the sake of my name. That way it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.

23 »I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them among the lands.

24 »I did this because they had rejected my commands, broken my laws, profaned the Sabbath, and worshiped the same idols their ancestors had served.

25 »Then I gave them laws that are not good and commandments that do not bring life.

26 »I let them defile themselves with their own offerings, and I let them sacrifice their first-born sons. This was to punish them and show them that I am Jehovah.« ’

27 »Now then, son of man, tell the Israelites what I, the Lord Jehovah, am saying to them. This is another way their ancestors insulted me by their unfaithfulness.

28 »I brought them to the land I had promised to give them. When they saw the high hills and green trees, they offered sacrifices at all of them. They made me angry by the sacrifices they burned and by the wine they brought as offerings.

29 »Then I asked them: ‘What is this worship site you are going to? So it is still called a worship site today.’«

30 »Tell the nation of Israel: ‘This is what the Lord Jehovah says: »Will you dishonor yourselves the way your ancestors did? Will you chase their detestable idols like a prostitute?

31 ‘»You offer your children as sacrifices by burning them alive. You dishonor yourselves with all your disgusting idols to this day. Should you be allowed to ask me for help, nation of Israel? As I am alive, declares the Lord Jehovah, you will not be allowed to ask me for help.« ’

32 ‘»What you have in mind heart will never happen. You think that you want to be like other nations, like the different people in other countries. You want to serve wood and stone.« ’

33 ‘»As I am alive,’ declares the Lord Jehovah, ‘I will rule you with a mighty hand and a powerful arm. I will pour out my fury.

34 ‘»I will bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where I have scattered you with my mighty hand and powerful arm. I will pour out my fury.

35 ‘»I will bring you into the wilderness of the nations. There I will put you on trial face to face.

36 I will now condemn you just as I condemned your ancestors in the Sinai Desert,’ says the Lord Jehovah.

37 ‘I will take firm control of you and make you obey my covenant.

38 ‘I will take away from among you those who are rebellious and sinful. I will take them out of the lands where they are living now, but I will not let them return to the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am Jehovah.’

39 »The Lord Jehovah says: ‘The Lord Jehovah tells all you Israelites to suit yourselves! Go on and serve your idols! But I warn you that after this you will have to obey me and stop dishonoring my holy name by offering gifts to your idols.’

40 »There in the land, on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, all you people of Israel will worship me. I will be pleased with you and will expect you to bring me your sacrifices, your best offerings, and your holy gifts.

41 ‘After I bring you out of the countries where you have been scattered and gather you together, I will accept the sacrifices that you burn, and the nations will see that I am holy.’

42 ‘»When I bring you back to Israel, the land that I promised I would give to your ancestors, you will know that I am Jehovah.

43 ‘»There you will remember the way you lived and everything you did to dishonor yourselves. You will be disgusted by every wrong thing that you did.

44 ’»You will know that I am Jehovah, because I will deal with you for the sake of my name. I will not deal with you based on the evil and corrupt things that you have done, O nation of Israel, declares the Lord Jehovah!

45 Jehovah spoke his word to me, He said:

46 »Son of man, turn to the south, preach against the south, and prophesy against the forest in the Negev.

47 »Tell the forest in the Negev: ‘Listen to the word of Jehovah. This is what the Lord Jehovah says: »I am about to set fire to you to destroy all your green trees and all your dry trees. The blazing fire will not be put out. It will burn the whole land from the south to the north.

48 »Then everyone will know that I, Jehovah, started the fire. It will never be put out.« ’«

49 Then I said: Oh no! Lord Jehovah, no! The people already say that I am only telling stories a figure of speech or a parable.