Some of the leaders of Israel approached me and sat down with me.
God's Message came to me:
"Son of Man, these people have installed idols in their hearts. They have embraced the wickedness that will ruin them. Why should I even bother with their prayers?
Therefore tell them, 'The Message of God, the Master: All in Israel who install idols in their hearts and embrace the wickedness that will ruin them and still have the gall to come to a prophet, be on notice: I, God, will step in and personally answer them as they come dragging along their mob of idols.
I am ready to go to work on the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom have left me for their idols.'
"Therefore, say to the house of Israel: 'God, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities.
To every last person from the house of Israel, including any of the resident aliens who live in Israel - all who turn their backs on me and embrace idols, who install the wickedness that will ruin them at the center of their lives and then have the gall to go to the prophet to ask me questions - I, God, will step in and give the answer myself.
I'll oppose those people to their faces, make an example of them - a warning lesson - and get rid of them so you will realize that I am God.
"'If a prophet is deceived and tells these idolaters the lies they want to hear, I, God, get blamed for those lies. He won't get by with it. I'll grab him by the scruff of the neck and get him out of there.
They'll be equally guilty, the prophet and the one who goes to the prophet,
so that the house of Israel will never again wander off my paths and make themselves filthy in their rebellions, but will rather be my people, just as I am their God. Decree of God, the Master.'"
God's Message came to me:
"Son of man, when a country sins against me by living faithlessly and I reach out and destroy its food supply by bringing on a famine, wiping out humans and animals alike,
even if Noah, Daniel, and Job - the Big Three - were alive at the time, it wouldn't do the population any good. Their righteousness would only save their own lives." Decree of God, the Master.
"Or, if I make wild animals go through the country so that everyone has to leave and the country becomes wilderness and no one dares enter it anymore because of the wild animals,
even if these three men were living there, as sure as I am the living God, neither their sons nor daughters would be rescued, but only those three, and the country would revert to wilderness.
"Or, if I bring war on that country and give the order, 'Let the killing begin!' leaving both people and animals dead,
even if those three men were alive at the time, as sure as I am the living God, neither sons nor daughters would be rescued, but only these three.
"Or, if I visit a deadly disease on that country, pouring out my lethal anger, killing both people and animals,
and Noah, Daniel, and Job happened to be alive at the time, as sure as I am the living God, not a son, not a daughter, would be rescued. Only these three would be delivered because of their righteousness.
"Now then, that's the picture," says God, the Master, "once I've sent my four catastrophic judgments on Jerusalem - war, famine, wild animals, disease - to kill off people and animals alike. But look!
Believe it or not, there'll be survivors. Some of their sons and daughters will be brought out. When they come out to you and their salvation is right in your face, you'll see for yourself the life they've been saved from. You'll know that this severe judgment I brought on Jerusalem was worth it, that it had to be.
Yes, when you see in detail the kind of lives they've been living, you'll feel much better. You'll see the reason behind all that I've done in Jerusalem." Decree of God, the Master.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)