because they rejected my laws1 and did not follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths. For their hearts2 were devoted to their idols.3
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Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy4 them or put an end to them in the desert.
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I said to their children in the desert, "Do not follow the statutes of your fathers5 or keep their laws or defile yourselves6 with their idols.
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I am the LORD your God;7 follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.8
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Keep my Sabbaths9 holy, that they may be a sign10 between us. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.11"
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" 'But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws12--although the man who obeys them will live by them--and they desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger13 against them in the desert.14
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But I withheld15 my hand, and for the sake of my name16 I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
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Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter17 them through the countries,
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because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees18 and desecrated my Sabbaths,19 and their eyes [lusted] after20 their fathers' idols.21
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I also gave them over22 to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by;23
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I let them become defiled through their gifts--the sacrifice24 of every firstborn--that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.25'
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"Therefore, son of man, speak to the people of Israel and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In this also your fathers26 blasphemed27 me by forsaking me:28
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When I brought them into the land29 I had sworn to give them and they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices, made offerings that provoked me to anger, presented their fragrant incense and poured out their drink offerings.30
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Then I said to them: What is this high place31 you go to?' " (It is called Bamah to this day.)
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"Therefore say to the house of Israel: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Will you defile yourselves32 the way your fathers did and lust after their vile images?33
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When you offer your gifts--the sacrifice of your sons34 in the fire--you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, O house of Israel? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will not let you inquire of me.35
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" 'You say, "We want to be like the nations, like the peoples of the world, who serve wood and stone." But what you have in mind will never happen.
As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will rule over you with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm36 and with outpoured wrath.37
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I will bring you from the nations38 and gather39 you from the countries where you have been scattered--with a mighty hand40 and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.41
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I will bring you into the desert42 of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment43 upon you.
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As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD.44
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I will take note of you as you pass under my rod,45 and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.46
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I will purge47 you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.48
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" 'As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Go and serve your idols,49 every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name50 with your gifts and idols.51
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For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel,52 declares the Sovereign LORD, there in the land the entire house of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings53 and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices.54
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I will accept you as fragrant incense55 when I bring you out from the nations and gather56 you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will show myself holy57 among you in the sight of the nations.58
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Then you will know that I am the LORD,59 when I bring you into the land of Israel,60 the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers.61
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There you will remember your conduct62 and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves63 for all the evil you have done.64
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You will know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name's sake65 and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.66' "
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The word of the LORD came to me:
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"Son of man, set your face toward67 the south; preach against the south and prophesy against68 the forest of the southland.69
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Say to the southern forest:70 'Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume71 all your trees, both green and dry. The blazing flame will not be quenched, and every face from south to north72 will be scorched by it.73
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Everyone will see that I the LORD have kindled it; it will not be quenched.74' "
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Then I said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD!75 They are saying of me, 'Isn't he just telling parables?76' "
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