9 Then he called loudly in my hearing, “Come near, executioners of the city, each of you with a destructive weapon in his hand.” 2 And I saw six men coming from the direction of the Upper Gate, which faces north, each with a war club in his hand. There was another man among them, clothed in linen, carrying writing equipment. They came and stood beside the bronze altar.
3 Then the glory of the God of Israel rose from above the cherub where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. He called to the man clothed in linen and carrying writing equipment. 4 “Pass throughout the city of Jerusalem,” the Lord said to him, “and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the detestable practices committed in it.”
5 He spoke to the others in my hearing: “Pass through the city after him and start killing; do not show pity or spare them! 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, as well as the children and older women, but do not come near anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple. 7 Then he said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out killing people in the city.
8 While they were killing, I was left alone. And I fell facedown and cried out, “Oh, Lord God! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel when you pour out your wrath on Jerusalem?”
9 He answered me, “The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is extremely great; the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity. For they say, ‘The Lord has abandoned the land; he does not see.’ 10 But as for me, I will not show pity or spare them. I will bring their conduct down on their own heads.”
11 Then the man clothed in linen and carrying writing equipment reported back, “I have done all that you commanded me.”
God’s Glory Leaves the Temple
10 Then I looked, and there above the expanse over the heads of the cherubim was something like a throne with the appearance of lapis lazuli. 2 The Lord spoke to the man clothed in linen and said, “Go inside the wheelwork beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with blazing coals from among the cherubim and scatter them over the city.” So he went in as I watched.
3 Now the cherubim were standing to the south of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court. 4 Then the glory of the Lord rose from above the cherub to the threshold of the temple. The temple was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the Lord’s glory. 5 The sound of the cherubim’s wings could be heard as far as the outer court; it was like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.
6 After the Lord commanded the man clothed in linen, saying, “Take fire from inside the wheelwork, from among the cherubim,” the man went in and stood beside a wheel. 7 Then the cherub reached out his hand to the fire that was among them. He took some and put it into the hands of the man clothed in linen, who took it and went out. 8 The cherubim appeared to have the form of human hands under their wings.
9 I looked, and there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one wheel beside each cherub. The luster of the wheels was like the gleam of beryl. 10 In appearance, all four looked alike, like a wheel within a wheel. 11 When they moved, they would go in any of the four directions, without pivoting as they moved. But wherever the head faced, they would go in that direction, without pivoting as they went. 12 Their entire bodies, including their backs, hands, wings, and the wheels that the four of them had, were full of eyes all around. 13 As I listened the wheels were called “the wheelwork.” 14 Each one had four faces: one was the face of a cherub, the second the face of a human, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.
15 The cherubim ascended; these were the living creatures I had seen by the Chebar Canal. 16 When the cherubim moved, the wheels moved beside them, and when they lifted their wings to rise from the earth, even then the wheels did not veer away from them. 17 When the cherubim stopped, the wheels stood still, and when they ascended, the wheels ascended with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in them.
18 Then the glory of the Lord moved away from the threshold of the temple and stopped above the cherubim. 19 The cherubim lifted their wings and ascended from the earth right before my eyes; the wheels were beside them as they went. The glory of the God of Israel was above them, and it stopped at the entrance to the eastern gate of the Lord’s house.
20 These were the living creatures I had seen beneath the God of Israel by the Chebar Canal, and I recognized that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces and each had four wings, with what looked something like human hands under their wings. 22 Their faces looked like the same faces I had seen by the Chebar Canal. Each creature went straight ahead.
Vision of Israel’s Corrupt Leaders
11 The Spirit then lifted me up and brought me to the eastern gate of the Lord’s house, which faces east, and at the gate’s entrance were twenty-five men. Among them I saw Jaazaniah son of Azzur, and Pelatiah son of Benaiah, leaders of the people. 2 The Lord[a] said to me, “Son of man, these are the men who plot evil and give wicked advice in this city. 3 They are saying, ‘Isn’t the time near to build houses?[b] The city is the pot, and we are the meat.’ 4 Therefore, prophesy against them. Prophesy, son of man!”
5 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on me, and he told me, “You are to say, ‘This is what the Lord says: That is what you are thinking, house of Israel; and I know the thoughts that arise in your mind. 6 You have multiplied your slain in this city, filling its streets with them.
7 “‘Therefore, this is what the Lord God says: The slain you have put within it are the meat, and the city is the pot, but I[c] will take you out of it. 8 You fear the sword, so I will bring the sword against you. This is the declaration of the Lord God. 9 I will take you out of the city and hand you over to foreigners; I will execute judgments against you. 10 You will fall by the sword, and I will judge you at the border of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord. 11 The city will not be a pot for you, and you will not be the meat within it. I will judge you at the border of Israel, 12 so you will know that I am the Lord, whose statutes you have not followed and whose ordinances you have not practiced. Instead, you have acted according to the ordinances of the nations around you.’”
13 Now while I was prophesying, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. Then I fell facedown and cried out loudly, “Oh, Lord God! You are bringing the remnant of Israel to an end!”
Promise of Israel’s Restoration
14 The word of the Lord came to me again: 15 “Son of man, your own relatives, those who have the right to redeem your property,[d][e] along with the entire house of Israel—all of them—are those to whom the residents of Jerusalem have said, ‘You are far from the Lord; this land has been given to us as a possession.’
16 “Therefore say, ‘This is what the Lord God says: Though I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.’
17 “Therefore say, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’
18 “When they arrive there, they will remove all its abhorrent acts and detestable practices from it. 19 I will give them integrity of[f] heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies[g] and give them a heart of flesh, 20 so that they will follow my statutes, keep my ordinances, and practice them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts pursue their desire for abhorrent acts and detestable practices, I will bring their conduct down on their own heads.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.
God’s Glory Leaves Jerusalem
22 Then the cherubim, with the wheels beside them, lifted their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. 23 The glory of the Lord rose up from within the city and stopped on the mountain east of the city.[h] 24 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to Chaldea and to the exiles in a vision from the Spirit of God. After the vision I had seen left me, 25 I spoke to the exiles about all the things the Lord had shown me.
Ezekiel Dramatizes the Exile
12 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, you are living among a rebellious house. They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear, for they are a rebellious house.
3 “Now you, son of man, get your bags ready for exile and go into exile in their sight during the day. You will go into exile from your place to another place while they watch; perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house. 4 During the day, bring out your bags like an exile’s bags while they look on. Then in the evening go out in their sight like those going into exile. 5 As they watch, dig through the wall and take the bags out through it. 6 And while they look on, lift the bags to your shoulder and take them out in the dark; cover your face so that you cannot see the land. For I have made you a sign to the house of Israel.”
7 So I did just as I was commanded. In the daytime I brought out my bags like an exile’s bags. In the evening I dug through the wall by hand; I took them out in the dark, carrying them on my shoulder in their sight.
8 In the morning the word of the Lord came to me: 9 “Son of man, hasn’t the house of Israel, that rebellious house, asked you, ‘What are you doing?’ 10 Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: This pronouncement concerns the prince[i] in Jerusalem and the whole house of Israel living there.’[j] 11 You are to say, ‘I am a sign for you. Just as I have done, it will be done to them; they will go into exile, into captivity.’ 12 The prince who is among them will lift his bags to his shoulder in the dark and go out. They[k] will dig through the wall to bring him out through it. He will cover his face so he cannot see the land with his eyes. 13 But I will spread my net over him, and he will be caught in my snare. I will bring him to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, yet he will not see it, and he will die there. 14 I will also scatter all the attendants who surround him and all his troops to every direction of the wind, and I will draw a sword to chase after them. 15 They will know that I am the Lord when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them among the countries. 16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, famine, and plague, so that among the nations where they go they can tell about all their detestable practices. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”
Ezekiel Dramatizes Israel’s Anxiety
17 The word of the Lord came to me: 18 “Son of man, eat your bread with trembling and drink your water with anxious shaking. 19 Then say to the people of the land, ‘This is what the Lord God says about the residents of Jerusalem in the land of Israel: They will eat their bread with anxiety and drink their water in dread, for their[l][m] land will be stripped of everything in it because of the violence of all who live there. 20 The inhabited cities will be destroyed, and the land will become dreadful. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
A Deceptive Proverb Stopped
21 Again the word of the Lord came to me: 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb you people have about the land of Israel, which goes, ‘The days keep passing by, and every vision fails’? 23 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: I will put a stop to this proverb, and they will not use it again in Israel.’ But say to them, ‘The days have arrived, as well as the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For there will no longer be any false vision or flattering divination within the house of Israel. 25 But I, the Lord, will speak whatever message I will speak, and it will be done. It will no longer be delayed. For in your days, rebellious house, I will speak a message and bring it to pass. This is the declaration of the Lord God.’”
26 The word of the Lord came to me: 27 “Son of man, notice that the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision that he sees concerns many years from now; he prophesies about distant times.’ 28 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: None of my words will be delayed any longer. The message I speak will be fulfilled. This is the declaration of the Lord God.’”
Since the gift of the Holy Spirit had not been given yet, the Israelites had prophets to deliver the messages from God. But somewhere along the way, the Israelites had stopped listening to the prophecies. Maybe they grew arrogant or simply tired of hearing things that weren’t happening in their desired time frames. They even had a proverb that grew from this complacency- “the days keep passing by, and every vision fails.” Today we have more than a prophet, we are given the Holy Spirit to convict us and lead us. May we never grow so tired or arrogant that we stop listening to the Holy Spirit’s conviction in our lives.