Series: Thru the Bible
Message: God sets the record straight
Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:14:52 — 130.6MB)
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You prophesy what you have not heard for I have not spoken
A word to the false prophets
Integral to getting everything out of this book of prophecy as possible is staying mindful of the intended audience. The focus of these prophecies are Israel between the second and final deportation from Jerusalem to Babylon during the reign of Zedekiah, while Jeremiah the prophet is still in Jerusalem having been used by God to judge Israel there even as Ezekiel is being used by God to judge Israel in Babylon.
“(1) The word of the LORD came to me:
(2) “Son of man, pose a riddle and speak a parable to the house of Israel.
(3) You are to say: This is what the Lord GOD says: A great eagle with great wings, long pinions, and full plumage of many colors came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar.
(4) He plucked off its topmost shoot, brought it to the land of merchants, and set it in a city of traders.
(5) Then he took some of the land’s seed and put it in a fertile field; he set it like a willow, a plant by abundant waters. (6) It sprouted and became a spreading vine, low in height with its branches turned toward him, yet its roots stayed under it. So it became a vine, produced branches, and sent forth shoots.
(7) But there was another great eagle with great wings and thick plumage. And this vine bent its roots toward him! It stretched out its branches to him from its planting bed, so that he might water it.
(8) It had been planted in a good field by abundant waters in order to produce branches, bear fruit, and become a splendid vine.
(9) You are to say: This is what the Lord GOD says:
Will it flourish?
Will he not tear out its roots and strip off its fruit so that it shrivels?
All its fresh leaves will wither!
Great strength and many people will not be needed to pull it from its roots.
(10) Even though it is planted, will it flourish?
Won’t it completely wither when the east wind strikes it?
It will wither on the bed where it sprouted.”
(11) The word of the LORD came to me:
(12) “Now say to that rebellious house: Don’t you know what these things mean?
Tell them: The king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and officials, and brought them back with him to Babylon. (13) He took one of the royal family and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath. Then he took away the leading men of the land, (14) so the kingdom might be humble and not exalt itself but might keep his covenant in order to endure.”
This is of course referring to King Zedekiah who was left in Jerusalem following the second deportation to Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah king to watch over Jerusalem on his behalf and made him swear an oath to honor this agreement. In fact, at one point Nebuchadnezzar had Zedekiah swear by his God – the God of Israel [2Chron. 36:13].
Jeremiah had long prophesied that this captivity was coming and that the people should NOT resist the captivity and deportation to Babylon for it was God’s judgment upon the people. If they would surrender, they would be spared.
This King Zedekiah however, regardless of Jeremiah’s advice (whom he placed under guard in the palace prison) and regardless of his vow in the name of the God of Israel, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar and sought an alliance with Egypt. But it backfired on him. Zedekiah then called for Jeremiah to appear before him and he asked if the Lord had any word for him, to which Jeremiah essentially said, yes – YOU will be deported to Babylon and will not escape the judgment of King Nebuchadnezzar. Which is exactly what happened! [See Jeremiah 27]
“(15) However, this king revolted against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt so they might give him horses and a large army.
Will he flourish?
Will the one who does such things escape?
Can he break a covenant and still escape?
(16) “As I live”–this is the declaration of the Lord GOD–“he will die in Babylon, in the land of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke.
(17) Pharaoh will not help him with his great army and vast horde in battle, when ramps are built and siege walls constructed to destroy many lives.
(18) He despised the oath by breaking the covenant. He did all these things even though he gave his hand in pledge. He will not escape!”
(19) Therefore, this is what the Lord GOD says:
“As I live, I will bring down on his head My oath that he despised and My covenant that he broke.
(20) I will spread My net over him, and he will be captured in My snare. I will bring him to Babylon and execute judgment on him there for the treachery he committed against Me.
(21) All the fugitives among his troops will fall by the sword, and those who survive will be scattered to every direction of the wind. Then you will know that I, Yahweh, have spoken.”
(22) This is what the Lord GOD says:
I will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and plant it.
I will pluck a tender sprig from its topmost shoots, and I will plant it on a high towering mountain. (23) I will plant it on Israel’s high mountain so that it may bear branches, produce fruit, and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind will nest under it, taking shelter in the shade of its branches.
(24) Then all the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD.
I bring down the tall tree, and make the low tree tall.
I cause the green tree to wither and make the withered tree thrive. I, Yahweh, have spoken and I will do it.”
In fact, the account where Jeremiah told Zedekiah NOT to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar fills in SO MANY blanks from what we have read tonight I am going to close this evening shy of covering chapter 18 by reading Jeremiah 27. Turn with me there…
“(1) The LORD spoke to Jeremiah early in the reign of Josiah’s son, King Zedekiah of Judah.
(2) The LORD told me, “Make a yoke out of leather straps and wooden crossbars and put it on your neck. (3) Use it to send messages to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon. Send them through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to King Zedekiah of Judah.
(4) Charge them to give their masters a message from me. Tell them, ‘The LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel says to give your masters this message.
(5) “I made the earth and the people and animals on it by My mighty power and great strength, and I give it to whomever I see fit.
(6) I have at this time placed all these nations of yours under the power of my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have even made all the wild animals subject to him.
(7) All nations must serve him and his son and grandson until the time comes for his own nation to fall.
Then many nations and great kings will in turn subjugate Babylon.
(8) But suppose a nation or a kingdom will not be subject to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Suppose it will not submit to the yoke of servitude to him.
I, the LORD, affirm that I will punish that nation. I will use the king of Babylon to punish it with war, starvation, and disease until I have destroyed it.
(9) So do not listen to your prophets or to those who claim to predict the future by divination, by dreams, by consulting the dead, or by practicing magic.
They keep telling you, ‘You do not need to be subject to the king of Babylon.’
(10) Do not listen to them, because their prophecies are lies. Listening to them will only cause you to be taken far away from your native land. I will drive you out of your country and you will die in exile.
(11) Things will go better for the nation that submits to the yoke of servitude to the king of Babylon and is subject to him. I will leave that nation in its native land. Its people can continue to farm it and live in it. I, the LORD, affirm it!”’”
(12) I told King Zedekiah of Judah the same thing. I said, “Submit to the yoke of servitude to the king of Babylon. Be subject to him and his people. Then you will continue to live. (13) There is no reason why you and your people should die in war or from starvation or disease! That’s what the LORD says will happen to any nation that will not be subject to the king of Babylon.
(14) Do not listen to the prophets who are telling you that you do not need to serve the king of Babylon. For they are prophesying lies to you. (15) For I, the LORD, affirm that I did not send them. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. If you listen to them, I will drive you and the prophets who are prophesying lies out of the land and you will all die in exile.”
(16) I also told the priests and all the people, “The LORD says, ‘Do not listen to what your prophets are saying. They are prophesying to you that the valuable articles taken from the LORD’s temple will be brought back from Babylon very soon. But they are prophesying a lie to you. (17) Do not listen to them. Be subject to the king of Babylon. Then you will continue to live. Why should this city be made a pile of rubble?’”
(18) I also told them, “If they are really prophets and the LORD is speaking to them, let them pray earnestly to the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. Let them plead with him not to let the valuable articles that are still left in the LORD’s temple, in the royal palace of Judah, and in Jerusalem be taken away to Babylon. (19) For the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has already spoken about the two bronze pillars, the large bronze basin called ‘The Sea,’ and the movable bronze stands. He has already spoken about the rest of the valuable articles that are left in this city. (20) He has already spoken about these things that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not take away when he carried Jehoiakim’s son King Jeconiah of Judah and the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem away as captives from Jerusalem to Babylon.
(21) Indeed, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel has already spoken about the valuable articles that are left in the LORD’s temple, in the royal palace of Judah, and in Jerusalem. (22) He has said, ‘They will be carried off to Babylon. They will remain there until it is time for me to show consideration for them again. Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’ I, the LORD, affirm this!”~ Jer. 27:1-22
This prophecy came through Jeremiah in about 605B.C. and the chapters we read through tonight occurred in the life of Ezekiel around 592B.C. nearly 13 years later!
“(1) The word of the LORD came to me:
(2) “What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel: The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?
(3) As I live”–this is the declaration of the Lord GOD–“you will no longer use this proverb in Israel.
(4) Look, every life belongs to Me. The life of the father is like the life of the son–both belong to Me. The person who sins is the one who will die.”
This is a most egregious teaching which represents God as an evil tyrant looking for every opportunity to demand a sacrificial pound of flesh.
The Idea being set forth by this proverb is that a man’s children will be punished for the sins their father commits.
This proverb appears both here in Ezekiel and in Jeremiah 31:29-30 and in both places God sets the record straight by condemning that interpretation of His word.
This is a terrible understanding and interpretation of the Word God gave to Israel in Exodus 20:5,6 which reads like this…
Exodus 20:5-6, “(5) You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, (6) and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
To be certain this passage is difficult but only due to limitations in translation. The proper rendering of the words is key, because like in English, words can take on various shades of meaning and in this case it has led to some very unfortunate results.
The word Jealous can also be translated as Zeal or Zealous. The word describes a passionate intensity to protect or defend something that is jeopardized. In this case what would be jeopardized if idolatry remained unchecked is the entire Jewish community.
Though this word translated Jealous CAN carry the sense of “envy,” that is NOT the case here. God’s zeal or jealousy is here being set forth as protective of His people, His institutions or His honor. God’s honor is bound up with the life of His people.
In the phrase “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children”, that word “visiting” would more properly be translated as “dealing with”.
When used in the scriptures in reference to God, it essentially carries the meaning that God intervenes in the lives of people either for blessing or for cursing.
The supplemental commentary on the New English translation says this,
“Some would simply translate the participle here as “punishing” the children for the sins of the fathers (cf. Lev. 18:25; Isaiah 26:21; Jer. 29:32; Jer. 36:31; Hosea 1:4; Amos 3:2). That is workable, but may not say enough. The verse may indicate that those who hate Yahweh and do not keep His commandments will repeat the sins their fathers committed and suffer for them.”
The verse as taken alone “could” mean that the children, with a tendency they saw and inherited from their father may themselves carry on with the sins their father committed and will as a result of THEIR having continued those sins on into another generation will suffer for them. However, when taken together with ALL the scriptures say by principle or by example, we know for certain that such is the only proper way to interpret these words.
In fact, when this passage is restated in Deut. 7:9-10, it helps to clarify the meaning. It says, “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (10) and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.” Such words are a strong indicator that the one being punished is the one who hates God. This makes the case of the passage in Deut. 5 seem all the more to be saying that if the children continue in the sins of their father they will be punished – not for their father’s sins, but for themselves continuing in it.
It is a certainty that in order to best understand this or any passage, one has to compare the same situation throughout scripture. In this case, we have to look and see God’s judgment in action in other places.
While it is true that there are a few cases where details are left out and the text appears to reveal judgment for one man falling on his entire family, that does not mean that his family had not participated in the sin themselves.
It is COMMON in scripture for God to address the entire family by addressing its head, namely the husband and father. However, when details ARE mentioned, we see God distinguishing between those fathers who are wicked and whose children are righteous. He does NOT visit, judge or punish the righteous child with the results of the evil of their father.
We even see this to some degree when God judges a nation.
As we read last week. All of Israel’s sins were SO GREAT that even if Noah, Daniel & Job were to pray it would not deliver their own children, but only themselves. Even though Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah and others had not participated in Israel’s idolatry and evil, all of them but Jeremiah were taken into captivity along with Israel, but all of these also were in positions of some prominence or at very least were not ill treated.
Was it not God Who said to Abram that He would spare the entire city for the sake of just a few righteous and then, God still spared Lot and his family even though his wife and daughters were not righteous.
Now, there is of course a way in which everyone’s sin affects others – beginning with Adam and Eve. Their decisions affected the entire world, even God Himself Who would die to deal with the injustice of their treason.
Even still, though we all are born into a fallen world with a heart tendency towards sin, we do not pay for the treason of Adam and Eve. We are held accountable only for our own sins UNLESS we go to God in faith and submit to the Lordship of His Son that we might have pardon, mercy and a change of heart.
God IS more than just, He’s merciful!
The commentary notes to the New English translation has this to say as well,
“Deut. 24:16 says that individuals will die for their own sins and not their father’s sins (see also Deut. 7:10 and Ezekiel 18). It may have more to do with patterns of sin being repeated from generation to generation; if the sin and the guilt were not fully developed in the one generation, then left unchecked they would develop and continue in the next. But it may also indicate that the effects of the sins of the fathers will be experienced in the following generations, especially in the case of Israel as a national entity. God is showing here that His ethical character is displayed in how He deals with sin and righteousness, all of which He describes as giving strong motivation for loyalty to Him and for avoiding idolatry.”
It is fortuitous that we are reading this passage tonight because I just came across a defiantly belligerent rant from a self-important young lady on social media. She was spouting off half facts and character slandering things about God taken from complete misinterpretations of scriptures. It was pretty clear that she had not developed this list on her own from things she personally read. She had all the outward signs of being a college brat who was simply regurgitating the words of a professor who had said these things to his unsuspecting and naive students.
In her verbal slander of God and the Bible she claimed that God punishes children for the sins of their parents. I thought in my mind, “that poor child doesn’t have the slightest idea what she is talking about and probably hasn’t even picked up a Bible in her life!”
It would be one thing if these rants on social media were reduced to questions – even frustrated questions, but instead they are nothing more than uninformed accusations against God by uneducated angry people eager to exonerate their lives by attempting to show that they are more righteous and moral than the God of the Bible.
Evidently this misunderstanding was rampant in Ezekiel & Jeremiah’s day and God had had enough of this slander so He set the record right in NO uncertain terms.
(5) “Now suppose a man is righteous and does what is just and right: (6) He does not eat at the mountain shrines or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel.
He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or come near a woman during her menstrual impurity.
(7) He doesn’t oppress anyone but returns his collateral to the debtor.
He does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing.
(8) He doesn’t lend at interest or for profit but keeps his hand from wrongdoing and carries out true justice between men.
(9) He follows My statutes and keeps My ordinances, acting faithfully.
Such a person is righteous; he will certainly live.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(10) “Now suppose the man has a violent son, who sheds blood and does any of these things, (11) though the father has done none of them.
Indeed, when the son eats at the mountain shrines and defiles his neighbor’s wife, (12) and when he oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, and does not return collateral, and when he raises his eyes to the idols, commits abominations, (13) and lends at interest or for profit, will he live? He will not live! Since he has committed all these abominations, he will certainly die. His blood will be on him.
(14) “Now suppose he has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed, and though he sees them, he does not do likewise.
(15) He does not eat at the mountain shrines or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife. (16) He doesn’t oppress anyone, hold collateral, or commit robbery. He gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing. (17) He keeps his hand from harming the poor, not taking interest or profit on a loan. He practices My ordinances and follows My statutes. Such a person will not die for his father’s iniquity. He will certainly live.
(18) “As for his father, he will die for his own iniquity because he practiced fraud, robbed his brother, and did what was wrong among his people.
(19) But you may ask: Why doesn’t the son suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity?
Since the son has done what is just and right, carefully observing all My statutes, he will certainly live.
(20) The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity.
The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.
(21) “Now if the wicked person turns from all the sins he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is just and right, he will certainly live; he will not die.
(22) None of the transgressions he has committed will be held against him. He will live because of the righteousness he has practiced.
(23) Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD. “Instead, don’t I take pleasure when he turns from his ways and lives?
(24) But when a righteous person turns from his righteousness and practices iniquity, committing the same abominations that the wicked do, will he live?
None of the righteous acts he did will be remembered. He will die because of the treachery he has engaged in and the sin he has committed.
(25) “But you say: The Lord’s way isn’t fair.
Now listen, house of Israel: Is it My way that is unfair? Instead, isn’t it your ways that are unfair?
(26) When a righteous person turns from his righteousness and practices iniquity, he will die for this. He will die because of the iniquity he has practiced. (27) But if a wicked person turns from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will preserve his life.
(28) He will certainly live because he thought it over and turned from all the transgressions he had committed; he will not die.
(29) But the house of Israel says: The Lord’s way isn’t fair. Is it My ways that are unfair, house of Israel? Instead, isn’t it your ways that are unfair?
(30) “Therefore, house of Israel, I will judge each one of you according to his ways.” This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
“Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so they will not be a stumbling block that causes your punishment. (31) Throw off all the transgressions you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. Why should you die, house of Israel? (32) For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD. “So repent and live!”
Now in reading this next chapter I am going to give you an assignment. I want you all to determine who the players are and be ready next week to tell me who is who – WITHOUT the aid of commentators.
“(1) Now, lament for the princes of Israel (2) and say:
What was your mother? A lioness!
She lay down among the lions; she reared her cubs among the young lions. (3) She brought up one of her cubs, and he became a young lion.
After he learned to tear prey, he devoured people.
(4) When the nations heard about him, he was caught in their pit. Then they led him away with hooks to the land of Egypt.
(5) When she saw that she waited in vain, that her hope was lost, she took another of her cubs and made him a young lion. (6) He prowled among the lions, and he became a young lion. After he learned to tear prey, he devoured people. (7) He devastated their strongholds and destroyed their cities. The land and everything in it shuddered at the sound of his roaring.
(8) Then the nations from the surrounding provinces set out against him. They spread their net over him; he was caught in their pit. (9) They put a wooden yoke on him with hooks and led him away to the king of Babylon. They brought him into the fortresses so his roar could no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel.
(10) Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard, planted by the water; it was fruitful and full of branches because of plentiful waters. (11) It had strong branches, fit for the scepters of rulers; its height towered among the clouds.
So it was conspicuous for its height as well as its many branches. (12) But it was uprooted in fury, thrown to the ground, and the east wind dried up its fruit. Its strong branches were torn off and dried up; fire consumed them.
(13) Now it is planted in the wilderness, in a dry and thirsty land. (14) Fire has gone out from its main branch and has devoured its fruit, so that it no longer has a strong branch, a scepter for ruling. This is a lament and should be used as a lament.”
- Israel is the Lioness and the grape vine
- The princes and lions are her recent kings or rulers
- The first king was King Jehoahaz whom Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt took and put him in bonds at Riblah in the land of Hamath after only reigning for three months.
- The second King was …
“(1) In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, some of Israel’s elders came to consult the LORD, and they sat down in front of me.
(2) Then the word of the LORD came to me:
(3) “Son of man, speak with the elders of Israel and tell them: This is what the Lord GOD says: Are you coming to consult Me? As I live, I will not be consulted by you.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(4) “Will you pass judgment against them, will you pass judgment, son of man? Explain to them the abominations of their fathers.
(5) Say to them:
This is what the Lord GOD says: On the day I chose Israel, I swore an oath to the descendants of Jacob’s house and made Myself known to them in the land of Egypt. I swore to them, saying: I am the LORD your God.
(6) On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most beautiful of all lands.
(7) I also said to them: Each of you must throw away the detestable things that are before your eyes and not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.
(8) “But they rebelled against Me and were unwilling to listen to Me. None of them threw away the detestable things that were before their eyes, and they did not forsake the idols of Egypt.
So I considered pouring out My wrath on them, exhausting My anger against them within the land of Egypt. (9) But I acted for the sake of My name, so that it would not be profaned in the eyes of the nations they were living among, in whose sight I had made Myself known to Israel by bringing them out of Egypt.
(10) “So I brought them out of the land of Egypt and led them into the wilderness. (11) Then I gave them My statutes and explained My ordinances to them–the person who does them will live by them.
(12) I also gave them My Sabbaths to serve as a sign between Me and them, so they will know that I am the LORD who sets them apart as holy.
(13) “But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not follow My statutes and they rejected My ordinances–the person who does them will live by them.
They also completely profaned My Sabbaths. So I considered pouring out My wrath on them in the wilderness to put an end to them. (14) But I acted because of My name, so that it would not be profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out.
(15) However, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land I had given them–the most beautiful of all lands, flowing with milk and honey– (16) because they rejected My ordinances, profaned My Sabbaths, and did not follow My statutes. For their hearts went after their idols. (17) But I spared them from destruction and did not bring them to an end in the wilderness.
(18) “Then I said to their children in the wilderness: Don’t follow the statutes of your fathers, defile yourselves with their idols, or keep their ordinances.
(19) I am the LORD your God. Follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. (20) Keep My Sabbaths holy, and they will be a sign between Me and you, so you may know that I am the LORD your God.
(21) “But the children rebelled against Me. They did not follow My statutes or carefully keep My ordinances–the person who does them will live by them. They also profaned My Sabbaths. So I considered pouring out My wrath on them and exhausting My anger against them in the wilderness. (22) But I withheld My hand and acted because of My name, so that it would not be profaned in the eyes of the nations in whose sight I brought them out.
(23) However, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries. (24) For they did not practice My ordinances but rejected My statutes and profaned My Sabbaths, and their eyes were fixed on their fathers’ idols.
“(25) I also gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances that did not bring them life. (26) When they made every firstborn pass through the fire, I defiled them through their gifts in order to devastate them so they would know that I am the LORD.”
Now I’m no scholar and I am certainly not a linguist proficient in Hebrew, but I can read and it is all too plain in my mind what this is saying and was so before I ever turned to MY teachers – namely those who know the languages well.
Every time Israel sets their hearts to pursue the evil of the idolatrous ways of neighboring nations, God eventually gives them over to those nations to worship their gods and follow their ways in order to cause them to return to their senses and cry out to God in repentance.
This is no more than a unique way of saying this often repeated course of action taken by God in times of national judgment.
Guess what I discovered upon further investigation? The word “gave” if transcreated rather than translated, would say “permitted”.
The Idea of transcreate is to take the original text and make it coherent in a new language.
For example, the Wycliffe Bible translators take this approach sometimes when the meaning of a verse would be wildly misunderstood if simply translated word for word.
To illustrate, the passage found in Psalm 24:3-4 says, “(3) Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? (4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.” In the language of one of the people groups they were translating this passage into the idea of having clean hands was deeply rooted in the idea of laziness because those who worked in their village always had dirty hands. So if translated as is – these natives would understand God to honor those who are lazy. So rather than translating word for word they had to translate the ‘thought’ into their language which required that they completely avoid the use of the imagery of clean hands.
So this passage would read,
“(25) I also permitted them statutes that were not good and ordinances that did not bring them life. (26) When they made every firstborn pass through the fire, I defiled them through their gifts in order to devastate them so they would know that I am the LORD.”
The reference is obvious – it points to the worship of Moloch which the Cananites were known to worship. Notice that the passage fails to say, “My statutes” or “My ordinances” like so often is the case which too speaks to their foreign origin.
Besides this, the issue clears itself up as you keep reading as is often the case. In verse 30 God asks, “are you defiling yourselves the way your fathers did, and prostituting yourselves with their detestable things?” Where does this place the blame for the actions they are taking and the things the beliefs they are following?
It is sad that this passage is OFTEN used by those who attempt to make petty and unsubstantiated accusations against scripture. There are times when I believe God deliberately allows for passages like this to exist in order to offer fodder for such people so as to blind them even more to the truth since they take no pleasure in it.
(27) “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel, and tell them:
This is what the Lord GOD says:
In this way also your fathers blasphemed Me by committing treachery against Me: (28) When I brought them into the land that I swore to give them and they saw any high hill or leafy tree, they offered their sacrifices and presented their offensive offerings there. They also sent up their pleasing aromas and poured out their drink offerings there.
(29) So I asked them: What is this high place you are going to? And it is called High Place to this day.
(30) “Therefore say to the house of Israel: This is what the Lord GOD says:
Are you defiling yourselves the way your fathers did, and prostituting yourselves with their detestable things?
(31) When you offer your gifts, making your children pass through the fire, you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day.
So should I be consulted by you, house of Israel?
As I live”–this is the declaration of the Lord GOD–“I will not be consulted by you!
(32) “When you say: Let us be like the nations, like the peoples of other countries, worshiping wood and stone, what you have in mind will never happen.
(33) As I live”–the declaration of the Lord GOD–“I will rule over you with a strong hand, an outstretched arm, and outpoured wrath. (34) I will bring you from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you were scattered, with a strong hand, an outstretched arm, and outpoured wrath.
(35) I will lead you into the wilderness of the peoples and enter into judgment with you there FACE to FACE.
(36) Just as I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD.
(37) “I will make you pass under the rod and will bring you into the bond of the covenant. (38) And I will also purge you of those who rebel and transgress against Me. I will bring them out of the land where they live as foreign residents, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”
You see it is in THIS way that God is ZEALOUS for His people.
God exercises a passionately intense protectiveness and defense against those who would jeopardize the long term safety of His people.
(39) “As for you, house of Israel, this is what the Lord GOD says:
Go and serve your idols, each of you. But afterwards you will surely listen to Me, and you will no longer defile My holy name with your gifts and idols.
(40) For on My holy mountain, Israel’s high mountain”–the declaration of the Lord GOD–“there the entire house of Israel, all of them, will serve Me in the land. There I will accept them and will require your contributions and choicest gifts, all your holy offerings.
(41) When I bring you from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, I will accept you as a pleasing aroma. And I will demonstrate My holiness through you in the sight of the nations.
(42) When I lead you into the land of Israel, the land I swore to give your fathers, you will know that I am the LORD. (43) There you will remember your ways and all your deeds you have defiled yourselves with, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil things you have done.
(44) You will know that I am the LORD, house of Israel, when I have dealt with you because of My name rather than according to your evil ways and corrupt acts.”
This is the declaration of the Lord GOD. (45) The word of the LORD came to me:
(46) “Son of man, face the south and preach against it. Prophesy against the forest land in the Negev, (47) and say to the forest there: Hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Lord GOD says: I am about to ignite a fire in you, and it will devour every green tree and every dry tree in you.
The blazing flame will not be extinguished, and every face from the south to the north will be scorched by it. (48) Then all people will see that I, Yahweh, have kindled it. It will not be extinguished.”
(49) Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD, they are saying of me: Isn’t he just posing riddles?”