Ezekiel 16; Ezekiel 17; James 3

1 The Lord spoke to me again. 2 "Mortal man," he said, "point out to Jerusalem what disgusting things she has done. 3 Tell Jerusalem what the Sovereign Lord is saying to her: "You were born in the land of Canaan. Your father was an Amorite, and your mother was a Hittite. 4 When you were born, no one cut your umbilical cord or washed you or rubbed you with salt or wrapped you in cloths. 5 No one took enough pity on you to do any of these things for you. When you were born, no one loved you. You were thrown out in an open field. 6 "Then I passed by and saw you squirming in your own blood. You were covered with blood, but I wouldn't let you die. 7 I made you grow like a healthy plant. You grew strong and tall and became a young woman. Your breasts were well-formed, and your hair had grown, but you were naked. 8 "As I passed by again, I saw that the time had come for you to fall in love. I covered your naked body with my coat and promised to love you. Yes, I made a marriage covenant with you, and you became mine." This is what the Sovereign Lord says. 9 "Then I took water and washed the blood off you. I rubbed olive oil on your skin. 10 I dressed you in embroidered gowns and gave you shoes of the best leather, a linen headband, and a silk cloak. 11 I put jewels on you - bracelets and necklaces. 12 I gave you a nose ring and earrings and a beautiful crown to wear. 13 You had ornaments of gold and silver, and you always wore clothes of embroidered linen and silk. You ate bread made from the best flour, and had honey and olive oil to eat. Your beauty was dazzling, and you became a queen. 14 You became famous in every nation for your perfect beauty, because I was the one who made you so lovely." This is what the Sovereign Lord says. 15 "But you took advantage of your beauty and fame to sleep with everyone who came along. 16 You used some of your clothes to decorate your places of worship, and just like a prostitute, you gave yourself to everyone. 17 You took the silver and gold jewelry that I had given you, used it to make male images, and committed adultery with them. 18 You took the embroidered clothes I gave you and put them on the images, and you offered to the images the olive oil and incense I had given you. 19 I gave you food - the best flour, olive oil, and honey - but you offered it as a sacrifice to win the favor of idols." This is what the Sovereign Lord says. 20 "Then you took the sons and the daughters you had borne me and offered them as sacrifices to idols. Wasn't it bad enough to be unfaithful to me, 21 without taking my children and sacrificing them to idols? 22 During your disgusting life as a prostitute you never once remembered your childhood - when you were naked, squirming in your own blood." 23 The Sovereign Lord said, "You are doomed! Doomed! You did all that evil, and then 24 by the side of every road you built places to worship idols and practice prostitution. 25 You dragged your beauty through the mud. You offered yourself to everyone who came by, and you were more of a prostitute every day. 26 You let your lustful neighbors, the Egyptians, go to bed with you, and you used your prostitution to make me angry. 27 "Now I have raised my hand to punish you and to take away your share of my blessing. I have handed you over to the Philistines, who hate you and are disgusted with your immoral actions. 28 "Because you were not satisfied by the others, you went running after the Assyrians. You were their prostitute, but they didn't satisfy you either. 29 You were also a prostitute for the Babylonians, that nation of merchants, but they didn't satisfy you either." 30 This is what the Sovereign Lord is saying: "You have done all this like a shameless prostitute. 31 On every street you built places to worship idols and practice prostitution. But you are not out for money like a common prostitute. 32 You are like a woman who commits adultery with strangers instead of loving her husband. 33 A prostitute is paid, but you gave presents to all your lovers and bribed them to come from everywhere to sleep with you. 34 You are a special kind of prostitute. No one forced you to become one. You didn't get paid; you paid them! Yes, you are different." 35 Now then, Jerusalem, you whore! Hear what the Lord is saying. 36 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "You stripped off your clothes, and like a prostitute, you gave yourself to your lovers and to all your disgusting idols, and you killed your children as sacrifices to idols. 37 Because of this I will bring all your former lovers together - the ones you liked and the ones you hated. I will bring them around you in a circle, and then I will strip off your clothes and let them see you naked. 38 I will condemn you for adultery and murder, and in my anger and fury I will punish you with death. 39 I will put you in their power, and they will tear down the places where you engage in prostitution and worship idols. They will take away your clothes and jewels and leave you completely naked. 40 "They will stir up a crowd to stone you, and they will cut you to pieces with their swords. 41 They will burn your houses down and let crowds of women see your punishment. I will make you stop being a prostitute and make you stop giving gifts to your lovers. 42 Then my anger will be over, and I will be calm. I will not be angry or jealous any more. 43 You have forgotten how I treated you when you were young, and you have made me angry by all the things you did. That is why I have made you pay for them all. Why did you add sexual immorality to all the other disgusting things you did?" The Sovereign Lord has spoken. 44 The Lord said, "People will use this proverb about you, Jerusalem: "Like mother, like daughter.' 45 You really are your mother's daughter. She detested her husband and her children. You are like your sisters, who hated their husbands and their children. You and your sister cities had a Hittite mother and an Amorite father. 46 "Your older sister, with her villages, is Samaria, in the north. Your younger sister, with her villages, is Sodom, in the south. 47 Were you satisfied to follow in their footsteps and copy their disgusting actions? No, in only a little while you were acting worse than they were in everything you did. 48 "As surely as I am the living God," the Sovereign Lord says, "your sister Sodom and her villages never did the evil that you and your villages have done. 49 She and her daughters were proud because they had plenty to eat and lived in peace and quiet, but they did not take care of the poor and the underprivileged. 50 They were proud and stubborn and did the things that I hate, so I destroyed them, as you well know. 51 "Samaria did not sin half as much as you have. You have acted more disgustingly than she ever did. Your corruption makes your sisters look innocent by comparison. 52 And now you will have to endure your disgrace. Your sins are so much worse than those of your sisters that they look innocent beside you. Now blush and bear your shame, because you make your sisters look pure." 53 The Lord said to Jerusalem, "I will make them prosperous again - Sodom and her villages and Samaria and her villages. Yes, I will make you prosperous too. 54 You will be ashamed of yourself, and your disgrace will show your sisters how well-off they are. 55 They will become prosperous again, and you and your villages will also be restored. 56 Didn't you joke about Sodom in those days when you were proud 57 and before the evil you did had been exposed? Now you are just like her - a joke to the Edomites, the Philistines, and your other neighbors who hate you. 58 You must suffer for the obscene, disgusting things you have done." The Lord has spoken. 59 The Sovereign Lord says, "I will treat you the way you deserve, because you ignored your promises and broke the covenant. 60 But I will honor the covenant I made with you when you were young, and I will make a covenant with you that will last forever. 61 You will remember how you have acted, and be ashamed of it when you get your older sister and your younger sister back. I will let them be like daughters to you, even though this was not part of my covenant with you. 62 I will renew my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. 63 I will forgive all the wrongs you have done, but you will remember them and be too ashamed to open your mouth." The Sovereign Lord has spoken.
1 The Lord spoke to me. 2 "Mortal man," he said, "tell the Israelites a parable 3 to let them know what I, the Sovereign Lord, am saying to them: There was a giant eagle with beautiful feathers and huge wings, spread wide. He flew to the Lebanon Mountains and broke off the top of a cedar tree, 4 which he carried to a land of commerce and placed in a city of merchants. 5 Then he took a young plant from the land of Israel and planted it in a fertile field, where there was always water to make it grow. 6 The plant sprouted and became a low, wide-spreading grapevine. The branches grew upward toward the eagle, and the roots grew deep. The vine was covered with branches and leaves. 7 "There was another giant eagle with huge wings and thick plumage. And now the vine sent its roots toward him and turned its leaves toward him, in the hope that he would give it more water than there was in the garden where it was growing. 8 But the vine had already been planted in a fertile, well-watered field so that it could grow leaves and bear grapes and be a magnificent vine. 9 "So I, the Sovereign Lord, ask: Will this vine live and grow? Won't the first eagle pull it up by its roots, pull off the grapes, and break off the branches and let them wither? It will not take much strength or a mighty nation to pull it up. 10 Yes, it is planted, but will it live and grow? Won't it wither when the east wind strikes it? Won't it wither there where it is growing?" 11 The Lord said to me, 12 "Ask these rebels if they know what the parable means. Tell them that the king of Babylonia came to Jerusalem and took the king and his officials back with him to Babylonia. 13 He took one of the king's family, made a treaty with him, and made him swear to be loyal. He took important men as hostages 14 to keep the nation from rising again and to make sure that the treaty would be kept. 15 But the king of Judah rebelled and sent agents to Egypt to get horses and a large army. Will he succeed? Can he get away with that? He cannot break the treaty and go unpunished! 16 "As surely as I am the living God," says the Sovereign Lord, "this king will die in Babylonia because he broke his oath and the treaty he had made with the king of Babylonia, who put him on the throne. 17 Even the powerful army of the king of Egypt will not be able to help him fight when the Babylonians build earthworks and dig trenches in order to kill many people. 18 He broke his oath and the treaty he had made. He did all these things, and now he will not escape." 19 The Sovereign Lord says, "As surely as I am the living God, I will punish him for breaking the treaty which he swore in my name to keep. 20 I will spread out a hunter's net and catch him in it. I will take him to Babylonia and punish him there, because he was unfaithful to me. 21 His best soldiers will be killed in battle, and the survivors will be scattered in every direction. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken." 22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: "I will take the top of a tall cedar and break off a tender sprout; I will plant it on a high mountain, 23 on Israel's highest mountain. It will grow branches and bear seed and become a magnificent cedar. Birds of every kind will live there and find shelter in its shade. 24 All the trees in the land will know that I am the Lord. I cut down the tall trees and make small trees grow tall. I wither up the green trees and make the dry trees become green. I, the Lord, have spoken. I will do what I have said I would do."
1 My friends, not many of you should become teachers. As you know, we teachers will be judged with greater strictness than others. 2 All of us often make mistakes. But if a person never makes a mistake in what he says, he is perfect and is also able to control his whole being. 3 We put a bit into the mouth of a horse to make it obey us, and we are able to make it go where we want. 4 Or think of a ship: big as it is and driven by such strong winds, it can be steered by a very small rudder, and it goes wherever the pilot wants it to go. 5 So it is with the tongue: small as it is, it can boast about great things. Just think how large a forest can be set on fire by a tiny flame! 6 And the tongue is like a fire. It is a world of wrong, occupying its place in our bodies and spreading evil through our whole being. It sets on fire the entire course of our existence with the fire that comes to it from hell itself. 7 We humans are able to tame and have tamed all other creatures - wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 8 But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison. 9 We use it to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse other people, who are created in the likeness of God. 10 Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth. My friends, this should not happen! 11 No spring of water pours out sweet water and bitter water from the same opening. 12 A fig tree, my friends, cannot bear olives; a grapevine cannot bear figs, nor can a salty spring produce sweet water. 13 Are there any of you who are wise and understanding? You are to prove it by your good life, by your good deeds performed with humility and wisdom. 14 But if in your heart you are jealous, bitter, and selfish, don't sin against the truth by boasting of your wisdom. 15 Such wisdom does not come down from heaven; it belongs to the world, it is unspiritual and demonic. 16 Where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is also disorder and every kind of evil. 17 But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. 18 And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace.
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