Then one of the angel-seraphs flew to me. He held a live coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.
He touched my mouth with the coal and said, "Look. This coal has touched your lips. Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out."
And then I heard the voice of the Master: "Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" I spoke up, "I'll go. Send me!"
He said, "Go and tell this people: "'Listen hard, but you aren't going to get it; look hard, but you won't catch on.'
Make these people blockheads, with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes, So they won't see a thing, won't hear a word, So they won't have a clue about what's going on and, yes, so they won't turn around and be made whole."
Astonished, I said, "And Master, how long is this to go on?" He said, "Until the cities are emptied out, not a soul left in the cities - Houses empty of people, countryside empty of people.
Until I, God, get rid of everyone, sending them off, the land totally empty.
And even if some should survive, say a tenth, the devastation will start up again. The country will look like pine and oak forest with every tree cut down - Every tree a stump, a huge field of stumps. But there's a holy seed in those stumps."
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)