Ezekiel 37; Ezekiel 38; Ezekiel 39; 2 Peter 2 (The Message)

1 God grabbed me. God's Spirit took me up and sat me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. 2 He led me around and among them - a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain - dry bones, bleached by the sun. 3 He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "Master God, only you know that." 4 He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'" 5 God, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life. 6 I'll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You'll come alive and you'll realize that I am God!" 7 I prophesied just as I'd been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. 8 I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them. 9 He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, 'God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!'" 10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army. 11 Then God said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they're saying: 'Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there's nothing left of us.' 12 "Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, 'God, the Master, says: I'll dig up your graves and bring you out alive - O my people! Then I'll take you straight to the land of Israel. 13 When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you'll realize that I am God. 14 I'll breathe my life into you and you'll live. Then I'll lead you straight back to your land and you'll realize that I am God. I've said it and I'll do it. God's Decree.'" 15 God's Message came to me: 16 "You, son of man: Take a stick and write on it, 'For Judah, with his Israelite companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph - Ephraim's stick, together with all his Israelite companions.' 17 Then tie the two sticks together so that you're holding one stick. 18 "When your people ask you, 'Are you going to tell us what you're doing?' 19 tell them, 'God, the Master, says, Watch me! I'll take the Joseph stick that is in Ephraim's hand, with the tribes of Israel connected with him, and lay the Judah stick on it. I'll make them into one stick. I'm holding one stick.' 20 "Then take the sticks you've inscribed and hold them up so the people can see them. 21 Tell them, 'God, the Master, says, Watch me! I'm taking the Israelites out of the nations in which they've been exiled. I'll gather them in from all directions and bring them back home. 22 I'll make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and give them one king - one king over all of them. Never again will they be divided into two nations, two kingdoms. 23 Never again will they pollute their lives with their no-god idols and all those vile obscenities and rebellions. I'll save them out of all their old sinful haunts. I'll clean them up. They'll be my people! I'll be their God! 24 My servant David will be king over them. They'll all be under one shepherd. 25 They'll live in the same land I gave my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their grandchildren will live there forever, and my servant David will be their prince forever. 26 I'll make a covenant of peace with them that will hold everything together, an everlasting covenant. I'll make them secure and place my holy place of worship at the center of their lives forever. 27 I'll live right there with them. I'll be their God! They'll be my people! 28 "'The nations will realize that I, God, make Israel holy when my holy place of worship is established at the center of their lives forever.'" 1 God's Message came to me: 2 "Son of man, confront Gog from the country of Magog, head of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him. 3 Say, 'God, the Master, says: Be warned, Gog. I am against you, head of Meshech and Tubal. 4 I'm going to turn you around, put hooks in your jaws, and drag you off with your whole army, your horses and riders in full armor - all those shields and bucklers and swords - fighting men armed to the teeth! 5 Persia and Cush and Put will be in the ranks, also well-armed, as will 6 Gomer and its army and Beth-togarmah out of the north with its army. Many nations will be with you! 7 "'Get ready to fight, you and the whole company that's been called out. Take charge and wait for orders. 8 After a long time, you'll be given your orders. In the distant future you'll arrive at a country that has recovered from a devastating war. People from many nations will be gathered there on the mountains of Israel, for a long time now a wasteland. These people have been brought back from many countries and now live safe and secure. 9 You'll rise like a thunderstorm and roll in like clouds and cover the land, you and the massed troops with you. 10 "'Message of God, the Master: At that time you'll start thinking things over and cook up an evil plot. 11 You'll say, "I'm going to invade a country without defenses, attack an unsuspecting, carefree people going about their business - no gates to their cities, no locks on their doors. 12 And I'm going to plunder the place, march right in and clean them out, this rebuilt country risen from the ashes, these returned exiles and their booming economy centered down at the navel of the earth." 13 "'Sheba and Dedan and Tarshish, traders all out to make a fast buck, will say, "So! You've opened a new market for plunder! You've brought in your troops to get rich quick!"' 14 "Therefore, son of man, prophesy! Tell Gog, 'A Message from God, the Master: When my people Israel are established securely, will you make your move? 15 Will you come down out of the far north, you and that mob of armies, charging out on your horses like a tidal wave across the land, 16 and invade my people Israel, covering the country like a cloud? When the time's ripe, I'll unleash you against my land in such a way that the nations will recognize me, realize that through you, Gog, in full view of the nations, I am putting my holiness on display. 17 "'A Message of God, the Master: Years ago when I spoke through my servants, the prophets of Israel, wasn't it you I was talking about? Year after year they prophesied that I would bring you against them. 18 And when the day comes, Gog, you will attack that land of Israel. Decree of God, the Master. My raging anger will erupt. 19 Fueled by blazing jealousy, I tell you that then there will be an earthquake that rocks the land of Israel. 20 Fish and birds and wild animals - even ants and beetles! - and every human being will tremble and shake before me. Mountains will disintegrate, terraces will crumble. 21 I'll order all-out war against you, Gog - Decree of God, the Master - Gog killing Gog on all the mountains of Israel. 22 I'll deluge Gog with judgment: disease and massacre, torrential rain and hail, volcanic lava pouring down on you and your mobs of troops and people. 23 "'I'll show you how great I am, how holy I am. I'll make myself known all over the world. Then you'll realize that I am God.' 1 "Son of man, prophesy against Gog. Say, 'A Message of God, the Master: I'm against you, Gog, head of Meshech and Tubal. 2 I'm going to turn you around and drag you out, drag you out of the far north and down on the mountains of Israel. 3 Then I'll knock your bow out of your left hand and your arrows from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you'll be slaughtered, you and all your troops and the people with you. I'll serve you up as a meal to carrion birds and scavenging animals. 5 You'll be killed in the open field. I've given my word. Decree of God, the Master.' 6 "I'll set fire to Magog and the far-off islands, where people are so seemingly secure. And they'll realize that I am God. 7 "I'll reveal my holy name among my people Israel. Never again will I let my holy name be dragged in the mud. Then the nations will realize that I, God, am The Holy in Israel. 8 "It's coming! Yes, it will happen! This is the day I've been telling you about. 9 "People will come out of the cities of Israel and make a huge bonfire of the weapons of war, piling on shields large and small, bows and arrows, clubs and spears, a fire they'll keep going for seven years. 10 They won't need to go into the woods to get fuel for the fire. There'll be plenty of weapons to keep it going. They'll strip those who stripped them. They'll rob those who robbed them. Decree of God, the Master. 11 "At that time I'll set aside a burial ground for Gog in Israel at Traveler's Rest, just east of the sea. It will obstruct the route of travelers, blocking their way, the mass grave of Gog and his mob of an army. They'll call the place Gog's Mob. 12 "Israel will bury the corpses in order to clean up the land. It will take them seven months. 13 All the people will turn out to help with the burials. It will be a big day for the people when it's all done and I'm given my due. 14 Men will be hired full-time for the cleanup burial operation and will go through the country looking for defiling, decomposing corpses. At the end of seven months, there'll be an all-out final search. 15 Anyone who sees a bone will mark the place with a stick so the buriers can get it and bury it in the mass burial site, Gog's Mob. 16 (A town nearby is called Mobville, or Hamonah.) That's how they'll clean up the land. 17 "Son of man, God, the Master, says: Call the birds! Call the wild animals! Call out, 'Gather and come, gather around my sacrificial meal that I'm preparing for you on the mountains of Israel. You'll eat meat and drink blood. 18 You'll eat off the bodies of great heroes and drink the blood of famous princes as if they were so many rams and lambs, goats and bulls, the choicest grain-fed animals of Bashan. 19 At the sacrificial meal I'm fixing for you, you'll eat fat till you're stuffed and drink blood till you're drunk. 20 At the table I set for you, you'll stuff yourselves with horses and riders, heroes and fighters of every kind.' Decree of God, the Master. 21 "I'll put my glory on display among the nations and they'll all see the judgment I execute, see me at work handing out judgment. 22 From that day on, Israel will realize that I am their God. 23 And the nations will get the message that it was because of their sins that Israel went into exile. They were disloyal to me and I turned away from them. I turned them over to their enemies and they were all killed. 24 I treated them as their polluted and sin-sated lives deserved. I turned away from them, refused to look at them. 25 "But now I will return Jacob back from exile, I'll be compassionate with all the people of Israel, and I'll be zealous for my holy name. 26 Eventually the memory will fade, the memory of their shame over their betrayals of me when they lived securely in their own land, safe and unafraid. 27 Once I've brought them back from foreign parts, gathered them in from enemy territories, I'll use them to demonstrate my holiness with all the nations watching. 28 Then they'll realize for sure that I am their God, for even though I sent them off into exile, I will gather them back to their own land, leaving not one soul behind. 29 After I've poured my Spirit on Israel, filled them with my life, I'll no longer turn away. I'll look them full in the face. Decree of God, the Master." 1 But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They'll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other - biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They've put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, 2 but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can't tell right from wrong. 3 They're only out for themselves. They'll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won't, of course, get by with it. They'll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on. 4 God didn't let the rebel angels off the hook, but jailed them in hell till Judgment Day. 5 Neither did he let the ancient ungodly world off. He wiped it out with a flood, rescuing only eight people - Noah, the sole voice of righteousness, was one of them. 6 God decreed destruction for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. A mound of ashes was all that was left - grim warning to anyone bent on an ungodly life. 7 But that good man Lot, driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity, was rescued. 8 Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day, that righteous man was in constant torment. 9 So God knows how to rescue the godly from evil trials. And he knows how to hold the feet of the wicked to the fire until Judgment Day. 10 God is especially incensed against these "teachers" who live by lust, addicted to a filthy existence. They despise interference from true authority, preferring to indulge in self-rule. Insolent egotists, they don't hesitate to speak evil against the most splendid of creatures. 11 Even angels, their superiors in every way, wouldn't think of throwing their weight around like that, trying to slander others before God. 12 These people are nothing but brute beasts, born in the wild, predators on the prowl. In the very act of bringing down others with their ignorant blasphemies, they themselves will be brought down, losers in the end. 13 Their evil will boomerang on them. They're so despicable and addicted to pleasure that they indulge in wild parties, carousing in broad daylight. 14 They're obsessed with adultery, compulsive in sin, seducing every vulnerable soul they come upon. Their specialty is greed, and they're experts at it. Dead souls! 15 They've left the main road and are directionless, having taken the way of Balaam, son of Beor, the prophet who turned profiteer, a connoisseur of evil. 16 But Balaam was stopped in his wayward tracks: A dumb animal spoke in a human voice and prevented the prophet's craziness. 17 There's nothing to these people - they're dried-up fountains, storm-scattered clouds, headed for a black hole in hell. 18 They are loudmouths, full of hot air, but still they're dangerous. Men and women who have recently escaped from a deviant life are most susceptible to their brand of seduction. 19 They promise these newcomers freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, for if they're addicted to corruption - and they are - they're enslaved. 20 If they've escaped from the slum of sin by experiencing our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ, and then slid back into that same old life again, they're worse than if they had never left. 21 Better not to have started out on the straight road to God than to start out and then turn back, repudiating the experience and the holy command. 22 They prove the point of the proverbs, "A dog goes back to its own vomit," and, "A scrubbed-up pig heads for the mud."
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