Ezekiel 1-4 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.
3 The Lord said, “Ezekiel, son of man, after you eat this scroll, go speak to the people of Israel.”
2-3 He handed me the scroll and said, “Eat this and fill up on it.” So I ate the scroll, and it tasted sweet as honey.
4 The Lord said:
Ezekiel, I am sending you to your own people. 5-6 They are Israelites, not some strangers who speak a foreign language you can’t understand. If I were to send you to foreign nations, they would listen to you. 7 But the people of Israel will refuse to listen, because they have refused to listen to me. All of them are stubborn and hardheaded, 8 so I will make you as stubborn as they are. 9 You will be so determined to speak my message that nothing will stop you. I will make you hard like a diamond, and you’ll have no reason to be afraid of those arrogant rebels.
10 Listen carefully to everything I say and then think about it. 11 Then go to the people who were brought here to Babylonia with you and tell them you have a message from me, the Lord God. Do this, whether they listen to you or not.
12 The Spirit[p] lifted me up, and as the glory of the Lord started to leave,[q] I heard a loud, thundering noise behind me. 13 It was the sound made by the creatures' wings as they brushed against each other, and by the rumble of the wheels beside them. 14 Then the Spirit carried me away.
The Lord’s power had taken complete control of me, and I was both annoyed and angry.
15 When I was back with the others living at Abib Hill near the Chebar River, I sat among them for seven days, shocked at what had happened to me.
The Lord Appoints Ezekiel To Stand Watch
16 Seven days after I had seen the brightness of the Lord’s glory, the Lord said:
17 Ezekiel, son of man, I have appointed you to stand watch for the people of Israel. So listen to what I say, then warn them for me. 18 When I tell wicked people they will die because of their sins, you must warn them to turn from their sinful ways so they won’t be punished. If you refuse, you are responsible for their death. 19 However, if you do warn them, and they keep on sinning, they will die because of their sins, and you will be innocent.
20 Now suppose faithful people start sinning, and I decide to put stumbling blocks in their paths to make them fall. They deserve to die because of their sins. So if you refuse to warn them, I will forget about the times they were faithful, and I will hold you responsible for their death. 21 But if you do warn them, and they listen to you and stop sinning, I will let them live. And you will be innocent.
Ezekiel Cannot Talk
22 The Lord took control of me and said, “Stand up! Go into the valley, and I will talk with you there.”
23 I immediately went to the valley, where I saw the brightness of the Lord’s glory, just as I had seen near the Chebar River, and I bowed with my face to the ground. 24 His Spirit took control of me and lifted me to my feet. Then the Lord said:
Go back and lock yourself in your house! 25 You will be tied up to keep you inside, 26 and I will make you unable to talk or to warn those who have rebelled against me. 27 But the time will come, when I will tell you what to say, and you will again be able to speak my message.[r] Some of them will listen; others will be stubborn and refuse to listen.
Ezekiel Acts Out an Attack on Jerusalem
The Lord said:
4 Ezekiel, son of man, find a brick and sketch a picture of Jerusalem on it. 2 Then prepare to attack the brick as if it were a real city. Build a dirt mound and a ramp up to the top and surround the brick with enemy camps. On every side put large wooden poles as though you were going to break down the gate to the city. 3 Set up an iron pan like a wall between you and the brick. All this will be a warning for the people of Israel.
4-5 After that, lie down on your left side and stay there for three hundred ninety days as a sign of Israel’s punishment[s]—one day for each year of its suffering. 6 Then turn over and lie on your right side forty more days. That will be a sign of Judah’s punishment—one day for each year of its suffering.
7 The brick stands for Jerusalem, so attack it! Stare at it and shout angry warnings. 8 I will tie you up, so you can’t leave until your attack has ended.
9 Get a large bowl. Then mix together wheat, barley, beans, lentils, and millet, and make some bread. This is what you will eat for the three hundred ninety days you are lying down. 10 Eat only a small loaf of bread each day 11 and drink only two large cups of water. 12 Use dried human waste to start a fire, then bake the bread on the coals where everyone can watch you. 13 When I scatter the people of Israel among the nations, they will also have to eat food that is unclean, just as you must do.[t]
14 I said, “Lord God, please don’t make me do that! Never in my life have I eaten food that would make me unacceptable to you. I’ve never eaten anything that died a natural death or was killed by a wild animal or that you said was unclean.”
15 The Lord replied, “Instead of human waste, I will let you bake your bread on a fire made from cow manure. 16 Ezekiel, the people of Jerusalem will starve. They will have so little food and water that they will be afraid and hopeless. 17 Everyone will be shocked at what is happening, and, because of their sins, they will die a slow death.”
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