Ezekiel 1-2 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Ezekiel Sees the Lord’s Glory
1 1-3 I am Ezekiel—a priest and the son of Buzi.[a]
Five years after King Jehoiachin of Judah had been led away as a prisoner to Babylonia, I was living near the Chebar River among those who had been taken there with him. Then on the fifth day of the fourth month[b] of the thirtieth year,[c] the heavens suddenly opened. The Lord placed his hand upon me[d] and showed me some visions.
4 I saw a windstorm blowing in from the north. Lightning flashed from a huge cloud and lit up the whole sky with a dazzling brightness. The fiery center of the cloud was as shiny as polished metal, 5 and in that center I saw what looked like four living creatures. They were somewhat like humans, 6 except that each one had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, but their feet looked like the hoofs of calves and sparkled like bronze. 8 Under each of their wings, these creatures had a human hand. 9 The four creatures were standing back to back with the tips of their wings touching. They moved together in every direction, without turning their bodies.
10 Each creature had the face of a human in front, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of a bull on the left, and the face of an eagle in back. 11 Two wings[e] of each creature were spread out and touched the wings of the creatures on either side. The other two wings of each creature were folded against its body.
12 Wherever the four living creatures went, they moved together without turning their bodies, because each creature faced straight ahead. 13 The creatures were glowing like hot coals, and I saw something like a flaming torch moving back and forth among them. Lightning flashed from the torch every time its flame blazed up.[f] 14 The creatures themselves moved as quickly as sparks jumping from a fire.[g]
15 I then noticed that on the ground beside each of the four living creatures was a wheel,[h] 16 shining like chrysolite.[i] Each wheel was exactly the same and had a second wheel that cut through the middle of it,[j] 17 so that they could move in any direction without turning. 18 The rims of the wheels were large and had eyes all the way around them.[k] 19-21 The creatures controlled when and where the wheels moved—the wheels went wherever the four creatures went and stopped whenever they stopped. Even when the creatures flew in the air, the wheels were beside them.
22-23 Above the living creatures, I saw something that was sparkling like ice, and it reminded me of a dome. Each creature had two of its wings stretched out toward the creatures on either side, with the other two wings folded against its body. 24 Whenever the creatures flew, their wings roared like an ocean or a large army or even the voice of God All-Powerful. And whenever the creatures stopped, they folded their wings against their bodies.
25 When the creatures stopped flapping their wings, I heard a sound coming from above the dome. 26 I then saw what looked like a throne made of sapphire,[l] and sitting on the throne was a figure in the shape of a human. 27 From the waist up, it was glowing like metal in a hot furnace, and from the waist down it looked like the flames of a fire. The figure was surrounded by a bright light, 28 as colorful as a rainbow that appears after a storm.
I realized I was seeing the brightness of the Lord’s glory! So I bowed with my face to the ground, and just then I heard a voice speaking to me.
The Lord Chooses Ezekiel
3 Ezekiel, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They are just like their ancestors who rebelled against me and refused to stop. 4 They are stubborn and hardheaded. But I, the Lord God, have chosen you to tell them what I say. 5 Those rebels may not even listen, but at least they will know that a prophet has come to them.
6 Don’t be afraid of them or of anything they say. You may think you’re in the middle of a thorn patch or a bunch of scorpions. But be brave 7 and preach my message to them, whether they choose to listen or not. 8 Ezekiel, don’t rebel against me, as they have done. Instead, listen to everything I tell you.
And now, Ezekiel, open your mouth and eat what I am going to give you.
9 Just then, I saw a hand stretched out toward me. And in it was a scroll.[o] 10 The hand opened the scroll, and both sides of it were filled with words of sadness, mourning, and grief.
Hebrews 11:1-19 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
The Great Faith of God’s People
11 Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see. 2 It was their faith that made our ancestors pleasing to God.
3 Because of our faith, we know that the world was made at God’s command. We also know that what can be seen was made out of what cannot be seen.
4 Because Abel had faith, he offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. God was pleased with him and his gift, and even though Abel is now dead, his faith still speaks for him.
5 Enoch had faith and did not die. He pleased God, and God took him up to heaven. That’s why his body was never found. 6 But without faith no one can please God. We must believe that God is real and that he rewards everyone who searches for him.
7 Because Noah had faith, he was warned about something that had not yet happened. He obeyed and built a boat that saved him and his family. In this way the people of the world were judged, and Noah was given the blessings that come to everyone who pleases God.
8 Abraham had faith and obeyed God. He was told to go to the land that God had said would be his, and he left for a country he had never seen. 9 Because Abraham had faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. He lived there in a tent, and so did Isaac and Jacob, who were later given the same promise. 10 Abraham did this, because he was waiting for the eternal city that God had planned and built.
11 Even when Sarah was too old to have children, she had faith that God would do what he had promised, and she had a son. 12 Her husband Abraham was almost dead, but he became the ancestor of many people. In fact, there are as many of them as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand along the beach.
13 Every one of those people died. But they still had faith, even though they had not received what they had been promised. They were glad just to see these things from far away, and they agreed that they were only strangers and foreigners on this earth. 14 When people talk this way, it is clear that they are looking for a place to call their own. 15 If they had been talking about the land where they had once lived, they could have gone back at any time. 16 But they were looking forward to a better home in heaven. That’s why God wasn’t ashamed for them to call him their God. He even built a city for them.
17-18 Abraham had been promised that Isaac, his only son,[a] would continue his family. But when Abraham was tested, he had faith and was willing to sacrifice Isaac, 19 because he was sure that God could raise people to life. This was just like getting Isaac back from death.
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