Ezekiel 20

1 In the tenth (10th) day of the fifth (5th) month some of Israel's leaders came to me. That was in the seventh (7th) year in Babylon. They sat in front of me. They wanted me to ask the LORD for his help.

20:1The 5th month in the calendar of Israel is July to August in our calendar.

2 Then the LORD spoke to me. 3 ‘Son of man, say this to the leaders of Israel. “This is what the LORD God, says. I see that you have come to ask for my help. Be sure that I am alive. But I will not let you ask me anything” ’, he says.

4 You must be a judge for them, son of man. Make them remember all the wrong things that their fathers did.

5 Say to them: ‘On the day that I chose Israel's people, I the LORD God said: I made a promise to all Jacob's sons and their sons. I showed myself to them in Egypt. I promised to be the LORD their God. 6 I said that I would take them out of Egypt.

And I promised to take them to a country that I had chosen for them. It was a most beautiful country and it would give them milk and sweet food. 7 I said to them: You must each destroy the idols that you worshipped in Egypt. You are not clean. I am the LORD, your God.

8 But your fathers would not obey me. They would not listen to me, and they did not destroy their idols. They continued to worship the idols of Egypt. So I was very angry. I said that I would punish them there in Egypt. 9 But the people who lived near to Egypt knew about me. They had seen that I had taken the Israelites out of Egypt. I did not want them to say bad things about me. 10 So I took the people out of Egypt. Then I led them into the desert. 11 I gave them my rules. I told them how I wanted them to live. The man that obeys my rules will live a good life. 12 And I gave them the Sabbath, the seventh (7th) day of the week. This special day showed them that I had chosen them to be my holy people. It helped them to remember our promises to each other.

13 But when Israel's people were in the desert, they did not obey me. They did not obey my rules. I told them what they should do. But they did not do those things. (But the man that does these things will stay alive.) And they did not obey my rules about the Sabbath. I was very angry. So I said that I would destroy them there in the desert. 14 I wanted the nations who had seen me take them from Egypt to give me honour. I did not want them to think that I could not save my people. 15 But I spoke to my people in the desert. I had chosen a beautiful country that gave milk and sweet food for them. But I said that I would not bring my people into their country. 16 I would not do this because they had not obeyed my rules. And they had done so many wrong things. They wanted to worship their idols and not to worship me. 17 But I was kind to them. I did not kill them in the desert. 18 I spoke to their children in the desert. “Do not do the wrong things that your fathers do”, I said. “Do not obey their rules or worship their idols. 19 I am the LORD your God, so obey my rules. Be careful to do the things that give me pleasure. 20 Make the Sabbath a holy day. Then I will know that you remember my promises. You will know that I am the LORD your God.”

21 But the children did not obey my rules. They did not do the things that give me pleasure. (But people who obey my rules will stay alive.) And they did not make the Sabbath day a holy day. So I showed them there in the desert that I was angry. 22 But I did not kill them. All the nations round Israel had seen me take my people out of Egypt. I wanted the nations to give me honour. I did not want them to say bad things about me. 23 There in the desert I made a strong promise to my people. I said that I would send them to many different countries. 24 This was because they had not obeyed my rules. Nor had they made the Sabbath a holy day. And they had chosen to worship their father's idols. 25 So I let them obey their own rules. They were bad rules and they could not give life. 26 I let them kill their first-born children to offer to idols. This would make them so sad that they would be sorry. Then they would know that I am the LORD.’

27 Son of man, you must speak to Israel's people and say, ‘This is what the LORD God says, “This is how your fathers took away my honour. They stopped obeying me. 28 They came to the country that I had promised to give them. They looked at the mountains and high hills When I took them there they offered gifts to idols on those high hills. They offered them gifts under the tall trees. This made me angry. And they made sweet smells and they gave food and drink to those idols. 29 They did this on the high places that they all turn to.”’

30 Say this to Israel's people. ‘This is what the LORD God says: The things that you are doing are not right. They are quite as bad as the wrong things that your fathers did. You still want to worship things that they made out of wood and stone (idols). 31 You offer your sons to them in the fire as gifts. This shows how bad you are. You must see that. But you still do it even to this day. I cannot let you ask me for help. I am surely alive and I will not let you do this.

32 You say: “We want to be like people in other countries. They worship things that they have made out of wood and stone (idols).” But I will not let this happen.

33 I am alive’, says the LORD God.

‘I will rule over you. I will rule you with my strong power. And I will punish you when you make me angry. 34 I will bring you back from the nations where I sent you. I will do this with my strong power. I am still angry with you. 35 I will take you away to a desert where I will punish you. 36 As I punished your fathers in the desert of Egypt, so I will punish you’, says the LORD God.

37 ‘I will look at each of you and I will remember my covenant with you. 38 I will remove those who will not obey my rules. I will bring them out of the country where they are living. But I will not bring them into the country called Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’

39 Israel's people, this is what the LORD God says: ‘Go, every one of you, to be servants to your idols! But after you have gone to do it you will listen to me. I am sure about that. And you will no longer give gifts to idols. You will no longer give them honour. You should give me that honour. 40 The high mountain of Israel is my holy mountain, says the LORD God. There in the country called Israel you will all be my servants. This will give me pleasure. There you will bring me your good gifts. I want you to offer me your holy gifts there. And you will burn them on my altar. 41 You will be like a sweet smell to me when I bring you home. I will bring you back from all the nations. I will bring you back from all the countries to which I sent you. I will show you that I am holy. And those nations will also see that I am holy. 42 Then you will know that I am the LORD. You will know this when I bring you into the country. I promised to give your fathers that country. 43 Then you will remember all the wrong things that you did. You will be sorry. You will be ashamed of the evil things that you have done. 44 Then I will be good to you. And you will know that I am the LORD. I will forget the bad things that you did and your wrong thoughts. This will bring honour to me, you Israel's people,’ says the LORD God.

45 The LORD spoke to me again.

46 ‘Son of man’, he said. ‘Turn and look towards the south. Speak my words to the people there. Prophesy against the forests in the south. 47 Say this to those forests: “Listen to what the LORD says. I am going to make you burn with fire. The fire will destroy all the young trees and the dry trees. You will not be able to stop the fire. It will burn the faces of people. It will burn those in the south and in the north. 48 Everyone will see that I, the LORD, started the fire. Nobody will put it out.” ’

49 Then I told the LORD God what the people thought. They said that I was only telling them stories.