The Crimes of Jerusalem
1The LORD spoke to me. 2“Mortal man,” he said, “are you ready to judge the city that is full of murderers? Make clear to her all the disgusting things she has done. 3Tell the city what I, the Sovereign LORD, am saying: because you have murdered so many of your own people and have defiled yourself by worshipping idols, your time is coming. 4You are guilty of those murders and are defiled by the idols you made, and so your day is coming, your time is up! That is why I have let the nations mock you and all the countries sneer at you. 5Countries near by and countries far away sneer at you because of your lawlessness. 6All Israel's leaders trust in their own strength and commit murder. 7#Ex 20.12; 22.21–22; Deut 5.16; 24.17You people in the city do not honour your parents. You cheat foreigners and take advantage of widows and orphans. 8#Lev 19.30; 26.2You have no respect for the holy places, and you don't keep the Sabbath. 9Some of your people tell lies about others in order to have them put to death. Some of them eat sacrifices offered to idols. Some are always satisfying their lusts. 10#Lev 18.7–20Some of them sleep with their father's wife. Some force women to have intercourse with them during their period. 11Some commit adultery, and others seduce their daughters-in-law or their half-sisters. 12#Ex 22.25; 23.8; Lev 25.36–37; Deut 16.19; 23.19Some of your people murder for pay. Some charge interest on the loans they make to their fellow-Israelites and get rich by taking advantage of them. They have forgotten me.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.
13“I will bring my fist down on your robberies and murders. 14Do you think you will have any courage left or have strength enough to lift your hand when I am finished with you? I, the LORD, have spoken, and I keep my word. 15I will scatter your people to every country and nation and will put an end to your evil actions. 16And so the other nations will dishonour you, but you will know that I am the LORD.”
God's Refining Furnace
17The LORD said to me, 18“Mortal man, the Israelites are of no use to me. They are like the waste metal — copper, tin, iron, and lead — left over after silver has been refined in a furnace. 19So now I, the Sovereign LORD, am telling them that they are just as useless as that. I will bring them all together in Jerusalem 20in the same way that the ore of silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin is put in a refining furnace. My anger and rage will melt them just as fire melts ore. 21Yes, I will gather them in Jerusalem, build a fire under them, and melt them with my anger. 22They will be melted in Jerusalem just as silver is melted in a furnace, and then they will know that they are feeling the anger of the LORD.”
The Sins of Israel's Leaders
23The LORD spoke to me again. 24“Mortal man,” he said, “tell the Israelites that their land is unholy, and so I am punishing it in my anger. 25The leaders#22.25 One ancient translation The leaders; Hebrew A conspiracy of her prophets. are like lions roaring over the animals they have killed. They kill the people, take all the money and property they can get, and by their murders leave many widows. 26#Lev 10.10The priests break my law and have no respect for what is holy. They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not. They do not teach the difference between clean and unclean things, and they ignore the Sabbath. As a result the people of Israel do not respect me. 27The government officials are like wolves tearing apart the animals they have killed. They commit murder in order to get rich. 28The prophets have hidden these sins like those covering a wall with whitewash. They see false visions and make false predictions. They claim to speak the word of the Sovereign LORD, but I, the LORD, have not spoken to them. 29The wealthy cheat and rob. They ill-treat the poor and take advantage of foreigners. 30I looked for someone who could build a wall, who could stand in the places where the walls have crumbled and defend the land when my anger is about to destroy it, but I could find no one. 31So I will turn my anger loose on them, and like a fire I will destroy them for what they have done.” The Sovereign LORD has spoken.