Wheels Within Wheels, Like a Gyroscope
1 When I was thirty years of age, I was living with the exiles on the Kebar River. On the fifth day of the fourth month, the sky opened up and I saw visions of God.
2-3 (It was the fifth day of the month in the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin that God’s Word came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, on the banks of the Kebar River in the country of Babylon. God’s hand came upon him that day.)
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4-9 I looked: I saw an immense dust storm come from the north, an immense cloud with lightning flashing from it, a huge ball of fire glowing like bronze. Within the fire were what looked like four creatures vibrant with life. Each had the form of a human being, but each also had four faces and four wings. Their legs were as sturdy and straight as columns, but their feet were hoofed like those of a calf and sparkled from the fire like burnished bronze. On all four sides under their wings they had human hands. All four had both faces and wings, with the wings touching one another. They turned neither one way nor the other; they went straight forward.
10-12 Their faces looked like this: In front a human face, on the right side the face of a lion, on the left the face of an ox, and in back the face of an eagle. So much for the faces. The wings were spread out with the tips of one pair touching the creature on either side; the other pair of wings covered its body. Each creature went straight ahead. Wherever the spirit went, they went. They didn’t turn as they went.
13-14 The four creatures looked like a blazing fire, or like fiery torches. Tongues of fire shot back and forth between the creatures, and out of the fire, bolts of lightning. The creatures flashed back and forth like strikes of lightning.
15-16 As I watched the four creatures, I saw something that looked like a wheel on the ground beside each of the four-faced creatures. This is what the wheels looked like: They were identical wheels, sparkling like diamonds in the sun. It looked like they were wheels within wheels, like a gyroscope.
17-21 They went in any one of the four directions they faced, but straight, not veering off. The rims were immense, circled with eyes. When the living creatures went, the wheels went; when the living creatures lifted off, the wheels lifted off. Wherever the spirit went, they went, the wheels sticking right with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. When the creatures went, the wheels went; when the creatures stopped, the wheels stopped; when the creatures lifted off, the wheels lifted off, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.
22-24 Over the heads of the living creatures was something like a dome, shimmering like a sky full of cut glass, vaulted over their heads. Under the dome one set of wings was extended toward the others, with another set of wings covering their bodies. When they moved I heard their wings—it was like the roar of a great waterfall, like the voice of The Strong God, like the noise of a battlefield. When they stopped, they folded their wings.
25-28 And then, as they stood with folded wings, there was a voice from above the dome over their heads. Above the dome there was something that looked like a throne, sky-blue like a sapphire, with a humanlike figure towering above the throne. From what I could see, from the waist up he looked like burnished bronze and from the waist down like a blazing fire. Brightness everywhere! The way a rainbow springs out of the sky on a rainy day—that’s what it was like. It turned out to be the Glory of God!
When I saw all this, I fell to my knees, my face to the ground. Then I heard a voice.
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2 It said, “Son of man, stand up. I have something to say to you.”
2 The moment I heard the voice, the Spirit entered me and put me on my feet. As he spoke to me, I listened.
3-7 He said, “Son of man, I’m sending you to the family of Israel, a rebellious nation if there ever was one. They and their ancestors have fomented rebellion right up to the present. They’re a hard case, these people to whom I’m sending you—hardened in their sin. Tell them, ‘This is the Message of God, the Master.’ They are a defiant bunch. Whether or not they listen, at least they’ll know that a prophet’s been here. But don’t be afraid of them, son of man, and don’t be afraid of anything they say. Don’t be afraid when living among them is like stepping on thorns or finding scorpions in your bed. Don’t be afraid of their mean words or their hard looks. They’re a bunch of rebels. Your job is to speak to them. Whether they listen is not your concern. They’re hardened rebels.
8 “Only take care, son of man, that you don’t rebel like these rebels. Open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
9-10 When I looked he had his hand stretched out to me, and in the hand a book, a scroll. He unrolled the scroll. On both sides, front and back, were written lamentations and mourning and doom.
Warn These People
3 He told me, “Son of man, eat what you see. Eat this book. Then go and speak to the family of Israel.”
2-3 As I opened my mouth, he gave me the scroll to eat, saying, “Son of man, eat this book that I am giving you. Make a full meal of it!”
So I ate it. It tasted so good—just like honey.
4-6 Then he told me, “Son of man, go to the family of Israel and speak my Message. Look, I’m not sending you to a people who speak a hard-to-learn language with words you can hardly pronounce. If I had sent you to such people, their ears would have perked up and they would have listened immediately.
7-9 “But it won’t work that way with the family of Israel. They won’t listen to you because they won’t listen to me. They are, as I said, a hard case, hardened in their sin. But I’ll make you as hard in your way as they are in theirs. I’ll make your face as hard as rock, harder than granite. Don’t let them intimidate you. Don’t be afraid of them, even though they’re a bunch of rebels.”
10-11 Then he said, “Son of man, get all these words that I’m giving you inside you. Listen to them obediently. Make them your own. And now go. Go to the exiles, your people, and speak. Tell them, ‘This is the Message of God, the Master.’ Speak your piece, whether they listen or not.”
12-13 Then the Spirit picked me up. Behind me I heard a great commotion—“Blessed be the Glory of God in his Sanctuary!”—the wings of the living creatures beating against each other, the whirling wheels, the rumble of a great earthquake.
14-15 The Spirit lifted me and took me away. I went bitterly and angrily. I didn’t want to go. But God had me in his grip. I arrived among the exiles who lived near the Kebar River at Tel Aviv. I came to where they were living and sat there for seven days, appalled.
16 At the end of the seven days, I received this Message from God:
17-19 “Son of man, I’ve made you a watchman for the family of Israel. Whenever you hear me say something, warn them for me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You are going to die,’ and you don’t sound the alarm warning them that it’s a matter of life or death, they will die and it will be your fault. I’ll hold you responsible. But if you warn the wicked and they keep right on sinning anyway, they’ll most certainly die for their sin, but you won’t die. You’ll have saved your life.
20-21 “And if the righteous turn back from living righteously and take up with evil when I step in and put them in a hard place, they’ll die. If you haven’t warned them, they’ll die because of their sins, and none of the right things they’ve done will count for anything—and I’ll hold you responsible. But if you warn these righteous people not to sin and they listen to you, they’ll live because they took the warning—and again, you’ll have saved your life.”
22 God grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “Get up. Go out on the plain. I want to talk with you.”
23 So I got up and went out on the plain. I couldn’t believe my eyes: the Glory of God! Right there! It was like the Glory I had seen at the Kebar River. I fell to the ground, prostrate.
24-26 Then the Spirit entered me and put me on my feet. He said, “Go home and shut the door behind you.” And then something odd: “Son of man: They’ll tie you hand and foot with ropes so you can’t leave the house. I’ll make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so you won’t be able to talk and tell the people what they’re doing wrong, even though they are a bunch of rebels.
27 “But then when the time is ripe, I’ll free your tongue and you’ll say, ‘This is what God, the Master, says: . . .’ From then on it’s up to them. They can listen or not listen, whichever they like. They are a bunch of rebels!”