Read the Bible | November 18th
The Soul Who Sins Shall Die
 The word of the LORD came to me:  “What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?  As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.  Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
 “If a man is righteous and does what is just and right— if he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife or approach a woman in her time of menstrual impurity,  does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,  does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man,  walks in my statutes, and keeps my rules by acting faithfully—he is righteous; he shall surely live, declares the Lord GOD.
 “If he fathers a son who is violent, a shedder of blood, who does any of these things  (though he himself did none of these things), who even eats upon the mountains, defiles his neighbor’s wife,  oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore the pledge, lifts up his eyes to the idols, commits abomination,  lends at interest, and takes profit; shall he then live? He shall not live. He has done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon himself.
 “Now suppose this man fathers a son who sees all the sins that his father has done; he sees, and does not do likewise:  he does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, does not defile his neighbor’s wife,  does not oppress anyone, exacts no pledge, commits no robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment,  withholds his hand from iniquity, takes no interest or profit, obeys my rules, and walks in my statutes; he shall not die for his father’s iniquity; he shall surely live.  As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother, and did what is not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.
 “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live.  The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live.  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?  But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.
 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?  When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die.  Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life.  Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.  Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?
 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.  Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live.” (ESV)
A Lament for the Princes of Israel
 And you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel,  and say:
What was your mother? A lioness!
Among lions she crouched;
in the midst of young lions
she reared her cubs.
 And she brought up one of her cubs;
he became a young lion,
and he learned to catch prey;
he devoured men.
 The nations heard about him;
he was caught in their pit,
and they brought him with hooks
to the land of Egypt.
 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.
 He prowled among the lions;
he became a young lion,
and he learned to catch prey;
he devoured men,
 and seized their widows.
He laid waste their cities,
and the land was appalled and all who were in it
at the sound of his roaring.
 Then the nations set against him
from provinces on every side;
they spread their net over him;
he was taken in their pit.
 With hooks they put him in a cage
and brought him to the king of Babylon;
they brought him into custody,
that his voice should no more be heard
on the mountains of Israel.
 Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard
planted by the water,
fruitful and full of branches
by reason of abundant water.
 Its strong stems became
it towered aloft
among the thick boughs;
it was seen in its height
with the mass of its branches.
 But the vine was plucked up in fury,
cast down to the ground;
the east wind dried up its fruit;
they were stripped off and withered.
As for its strong stem,
fire consumed it.
 Now it is planted in the wilderness,
in a dry and thirsty land.
 And fire has gone out from the stem of its shoots,
has consumed its fruit,
so that there remains in it no strong stem,
no scepter for ruling.
This is a lamentation and has become a lamentation. (ESV)
Israel’s Continuing Rebellion
 In the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month, certain of the elders of Israel came to inquire of the LORD, and sat before me.  And the word of the LORD came to me:  “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD, Is it to inquire of me that you come? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you.  Will you judge them, son of man, will you judge them? Let them know the abominations of their fathers,  and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob, making myself known to them in the land of Egypt; I swore to them, saying, I am the LORD your God.  On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands.  And I said to them, ‘Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.’  But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt.
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.  But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt.  So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.  I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live.  Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.  But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned.
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them in the wilderness, to make a full end of them.  But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.  Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land that I had given them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands,  because they rejected my rules and did not walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols.  Nevertheless, my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them in the wilderness.
 “And I said to their children in the wilderness, ‘Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols.  I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules,  and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’  But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes and were not careful to obey my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; they profaned my Sabbaths.
“Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the wilderness.  But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out.  Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the countries,  because they had not obeyed my rules, but had rejected my statutes and profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were set on their fathers’ idols.  Moreover, I gave them statutes that were not good and rules by which they could not have life,  and I defiled them through their very gifts in their offering up all their firstborn, that I might devastate them. I did it that they might know that I am the LORD.
 “Therefore, son of man, speak to the house of Israel and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: In this also your fathers blasphemed me, by dealing treacherously with me.  For when I had brought them into the land that I swore to give them, then wherever they saw any high hill or any leafy tree, there they offered their sacrifices and there they presented the provocation of their offering; there they sent up their pleasing aromas, and there they poured out their drink offerings.  (I said to them, ‘What is the high place to which you go?’ So its name is called Bamah to this day.)
 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Will you defile yourselves after the manner of your fathers and go whoring after their detestable things?  When you present your gifts and offer up your children in fire, you defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I will not be inquired of by you.
 “What is in your mind shall never happen—the thought, ‘Let us be like the nations, like the tribes of the countries, and worship wood and stone.’
The LORD Will Restore Israel
 “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out I will be king over you.  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out.  And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face.  As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord GOD.  I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.  I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
 “As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord GOD: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols.
 “For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, declares the Lord GOD, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land. There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings.  As a pleasing aroma I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered. And I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations.  And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country that I swore to give to your fathers.  And there you shall remember your ways and all your deeds with which you have defiled yourselves, and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed.  And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, declares the Lord GOD.”
 And the word of the LORD came to me:  “Son of man, set your face toward the southland; preach against the south, and prophesy against the forest land in the Negeb.  Say to the forest of the Negeb, Hear the word of the LORD: Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall devour every green tree in you and every dry tree. The blazing flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from south to north shall be scorched by it.  All flesh shall see that I the LORD have kindled it; it shall not be quenched.”  Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! They are saying of me, ‘Is he not a maker of parables?’” (ESV)
The Sin of Partiality
 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,  and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,”  have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?  But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?  Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.  For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.  So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Faith Without Works Is Dead
 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!  Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;  and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (ESV)