It was the sixth year since King Jehoiachin had been brought to Babylon as a prisoner. On the fifth day of the sixth month, I was sitting in my house. The elders of Judah were sitting there with me. The LORD and King put his powerful hand on me there.
I looked up and saw a figure that appeared to be human. From his waist down he looked like fire. From his waist up he looked as bright as glowing metal.
He reached out what appeared to be a hand. He took hold of me by the hair of my head. The Spirit of the LORD lifted me up between earth and heaven. In visions God gave me, the Spirit took me to Jerusalem. He brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the inner courtyard. The statue of a god was standing there. It made God very angry.
There in front of me was the glory of the God of Israel. It looked just as it did in the vision I had seen on the flatlands.
Then the LORD said to me, "Son of man, look toward the north." So I did. I saw a statue that made God angry. It was in the entrance of the gate north of the altar.
He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the people of Israel are doing here? They are doing things I hate very much. Those things will cause me to go far away from my temple. But you will see things I hate even more."
Then he brought me to the entrance to the courtyard. I looked up and saw a hole in the wall.
He said to me, "Son of man, dig into the wall." So I did. And I saw a door there.
He continued, "Go through it. Look at the evil things they are doing here. I hate those things."
So I went in and looked. All over the walls were pictures of all kinds of crawling things and other animals. The LORD hates it when people worship those things. There were also carvings of all of the gods of the people of Israel.
In front of them stood 70 elders of Israel. Jaazaniah was standing there among them. He is the son of Shaphan. Each elder was holding a shallow cup. A sweet-smelling cloud of incense was rising from the cups.
The LORD said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of Israel are doing in the dark? Each of them is in his own room worshiping his own god. They say, 'The LORD doesn't see us. He has deserted the land.' "
He continued, "You will see them doing things I hate even more."
Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the LORD's house. I saw women sitting there. They were sobbing over the god Tammuz.
The LORD said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing? You will see things I hate even more."
Then he brought me into the inner courtyard of the LORD's house. About 25 men were there. They were at the entrance to the LORD's temple between the porch and the altar. Their backs were turned toward the temple. Their faces were turned toward the east. And they were bowing down to the sun.
He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen all of that? The people of Judah are doing things here that I hate. This is a very serious matter. They are harming one another all through the land. They continue to make me very angry. Just look at them making fun of me!
So I am angry with them. I will punish them. I will not spare them or feel sorry for them. They might even shout in my ears. But I will not listen to them."
Then I heard the LORD call out in a loud voice. He said, "Bring those who guard the city here. Make sure each of them has a weapon."
I saw six men coming from the direction of the upper gate. It faces north. Each of them had a deadly weapon. A man who was wearing linen clothes came along with them. He was carrying a writing kit at his side. They came in and stood beside the bronze altar.
The glory of the God of Israel had been above the cherubim. It moved from there to the doorway of the temple. Then the LORD called to the man who was dressed in linen clothes. He had the writing kit.
The LORD said to him, "Go all through Jerusalem. Look for those who are sad and sorry about all of the things that are being done there. I hate those things. Put a mark on the foreheads of those people."
I heard him speak to the six men. He said, "Follow him through the city. Do not show any pity or concern.
Kill old men and women, young men and women, and children. But do not touch anyone who has the mark. Start at my temple." So they began with the elders who were in front of the temple.
Then he said to the men, "Make the temple 'unclean.' Fill the courtyards with dead bodies. Go!" So they went out and started killing people all through the city.
While they were doing it, I was left alone. I fell with my face toward the ground. I cried out, "LORD and King, are you going to destroy all of the Israelites who are still left alive? Will you pour out your burning anger on all those who remain in Jerusalem?"
He answered me, "The sin of Israel and Judah is very great. The land is full of murderers. They are not being fair to one another anywhere in Jerusalem. They say, 'The LORD has deserted the land. He doesn't see us.'
So I will not spare them or feel sorry for them. Anything that happens to them will be their own fault."
Then the man who was wearing linen clothes returned. He had the writing kit. He reported, "I've done what you commanded."
I looked up and saw something that appeared to be a throne made out of sapphire. It was above the huge space that was spread out over the heads of the cherubim.
The LORD spoke to the man who was wearing linen clothes. He said, "Go in among the wheels beneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from the fire that is among the cherubim. Scatter the coals over the city." As I watched, he went in.
The cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in. A cloud filled the inner courtyard.
Then the glory of the LORD rose from above the cherubim. It moved to the doorway of the temple. The cloud filled the temple. And the courtyard was full of the brightness of the glory of the Lord.
The sound the wings of the cherubim made could be heard as far away as the outer courtyard. It was like the voice of the Mighty God when he speaks.
The LORD gave a command to the man who was dressed in linen clothes. He said, "Get some coals of fire from among the wheels. Take them from among the cherubim." So the man went in and stood beside a wheel.
Then one of the cherubim reached out his hand. He picked up some of the burning coals that were among the wheels. He handed them to the man who was wearing linen clothes. The man took them and left.
I saw what looked like a man's hands. They were under the wings of the cherubim.
I looked up and saw four wheels beside the cherubim. One wheel was beside each of them. The wheels gleamed like chrysolite.
All four of them looked alike. Each wheel appeared to be inside another wheel at right angles.
The wheels could go in any one of the four directions the cherubim faced. The wheels didn't change their direction as the cherubim moved. The cherubim went in the direction their heads faced. They didn't change their direction as they moved.
Their whole bodies were completely covered with eyes. That included their backs, hands and wings. Their four wheels were covered with eyes too.
I heard someone tell the wheels to start spinning around.
Each of the cherubim had four faces. One face was the face of a cherub. The second was a man's face. The third was the face of a lion. And the fourth was an eagle's face.
The cherubim rose from the ground. They were the same living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River.
When the cherubim moved, the wheels beside them moved. The cherubim spread their wings to rise from the ground. As they did, the wheels didn't leave their side.
When the cherubim stood still, the wheels also stood still. When the cherubim rose, the wheels rose along with them. That's because the spirits of the living creatures were in the wheels.
Then the glory of the LORD moved away from the doorway of the temple. It stopped above the cherubim.
While I watched, they spread their wings. They rose from the ground. As they went, the wheels went along with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the LORD's house. And the glory of the God of Israel was above them.
Those were the same living creatures I had seen by the Kebar River. I had seen them beneath the God of Israel. I realized that they were cherubim.
Each one had four faces and four wings. Under their wings was what looked like a man's hands.
Their faces looked the same as the ones I had seen by the Kebar River. Each of the cherubim went straight ahead.