If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In the seventh year, in the fifth month on the tenth day, some of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and they sat down in front of me.
Then the word of the LORD came to me:
"Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Have you come to inquire of me? As surely as I live, I will not let you inquire of me, declares the Sovereign LORD.'
"Will you judge them? Will you judge them, son of man? Then confront them with the detestable practices of their fathers
and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore with uplifted hand to the descendants of the house of Jacob and revealed myself to them in Egypt. With uplifted hand I said to them, "I am the LORD your God."
On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.
And I said to them, "Each of you, get rid of the vile images you have set your eyes on, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God."
" 'But they rebelled against me and would not listen to me; they did not get rid of the vile images they had set their eyes on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and spend my anger against them in Egypt.
But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations they lived among and in whose sight I had revealed myself to the Israelites by bringing them out of Egypt.
Therefore I led them out of Egypt and brought them into the desert.
I gave them my decrees and made known to them my laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.
Also I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the LORD made them holy.
" 'Yet the people of Israel rebelled against me in the desert. They did not follow my decrees but rejected my laws--although the man who obeys them will live by them--and they utterly desecrated my Sabbaths. So I said I would pour out my wrath on them and destroy them in the desert.
But for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would not bring them into the land I had given them--a land flowing with milk and honey, most beautiful of all lands--
because they rejected my laws and did not follow my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths. For their hearts were devoted to their idols.
Yet I looked on them with pity and did not destroy them or put an end to them in the desert.
I said to their children in the desert, "Do not follow the statutes of your fathers or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols.
I am the LORD your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Keep my Sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God."
" 'But the children rebelled against me: They did not follow my decrees, they were not careful to keep my laws--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 anger against them in the desert.
But I withheld my hand, and for the sake of my name I did what would keep it from being profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
Also with uplifted hand I swore to them in the desert that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries,
because they had not obeyed my laws but had rejected my decrees and desecrated my Sabbaths, and their eyes [lusted] after their fathers' idols.
I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by;
I let them become defiled through their gifts--the sacrifice of every firstborn--that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the LORD.'
"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 fathers blasphemed me by forsaking me:
When I brought them into the land 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.
Then I said to them: What is this high place you go to?' " (It is called Bamah to this day.)
"Therefore say to the house of Israel: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Will you defile yourselves the way your fathers did and lust after their vile images?
When you offer your gifts--the sacrifice of your sons 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.
" '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 arm and with outpoured wrath.
I will bring you from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered--with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with outpoured wrath.
I will bring you into the desert of the nations and there, face to face, I will execute judgment upon you.
As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign LORD.
I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.
I will purge 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.
" 'As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols.
For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, 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 offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices.
I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will show myself holy among you in the sight of the nations.
Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers.
There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done.
You will know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name's sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.' "
The word of the LORD came to me:
"Son of man, set your face toward the south; preach against the south and prophesy against the forest of the southland.
Say to the southern forest: 'Hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to set fire to you, and it will consume all your trees, both green and dry. The blazing flame will not be quenched, and every face from south to north will be scorched by it.
Everyone will see that I the LORD have kindled it; it will not be quenched.' "
Then I said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! They are saying of me, 'Isn't he just telling parables?' "
Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor."
But I said, "I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God."
And now the LORD says-- he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength--
he says: "It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth."
This is what the LORD says-- the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel-- to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: "Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
This is what the LORD says: "In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
to say to the captives, 'Come out,' and to those in darkness, 'Be free!' "They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill.
They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.
I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up.
See, they will come from afar-- some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan. "
Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.
Your sons hasten back, and those who laid you waste depart from you.
Lift up your eyes and look around; all your sons gather and come to you. As surely as I live," declares the LORD, "you will wear them all as ornaments; you will put them on, like a bride.
"Though you were ruined and made desolate and your land laid waste, now you will be too small for your people, and those who devoured you will be far away.
The children born during your bereavement will yet say in your hearing, 'This place is too small for us; give us more space to live in.'
Then you will say in your heart, 'Who bore me these? I was bereaved and barren; I was exiled and rejected. Who brought these up? I was left all alone, but these--where have they come from?' "
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "See, I will beckon to the Gentiles, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.
Kings will be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground; they will lick the dust at your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed."
Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives rescued from the fierce ?
But this is what the LORD says: "Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save.
I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine. Then all mankind will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."