Ezekiel 8; Ezekiel 9; Ezekiel 10; Hebrews 13

1 On the fifth day of the sixth month of the sixth year of our exile, the leaders of the exiles from Judah were sitting in my house with me. Suddenly the power of the Sovereign Lord came on me. 2 I looked up and saw a vision of a fiery human form. From the waist down his body looked like fire, and from the waist up he was shining like polished bronze. 3 He reached out what seemed to be a hand and grabbed me by the hair. Then in this vision God's spirit lifted me high in the air and took me to Jerusalem. He took me to the inner entrance of the north gate of the Temple, where there was an idol that was an outrage to God. 4 There I saw the dazzling light that shows the presence of Israel's God, just as I had seen it when I was by the Chebar River. 5 God said to me, "Mortal man, look toward the north." I looked, and there near the altar by the entrance of the gateway I saw the idol that was an outrage to God. 6 God said to me, "Mortal man, do you see what is happening? Look at the disgusting things the people of Israel are doing here, driving me farther and farther away from my holy place. You will see even more disgraceful things than this." 7 He took me to the entrance of the outer courtyard and showed me a hole in the wall. 8 He said, "Mortal man, break through the wall here." I broke through it and found a door. 9 He told me, "Go in and look at the evil, disgusting things they are doing there." 10 So I went in and looked. The walls were covered with drawings of snakes and other unclean animals, and of the other things which the Israelites were worshiping. 11 Seventy Israelite leaders were there, including Jaazaniah son of Shaphan. Each one was holding an incense burner, and smoke was rising from the incense. 12 God asked me, "Mortal man, do you see what the Israelite leaders are doing in secret? They are all worshiping in a room full of images. Their excuse is: "The Lord doesn't see us! He has abandoned the country.' " 13 Then the Lord said to me, "You are going to see them do even more disgusting things than that." 14 So he took me to the north gate of the Temple and showed me women weeping over the death of the god Tammuz. 15 He asked, "Mortal man, do you see that? You will see even more disgusting things." 16 So he took me to the inner courtyard of the Temple. There near the entrance of the sanctuary, between the altar and the porch, were about twenty-five men. They had turned their backs to the sanctuary and were bowing low toward the east, worshiping the rising sun. 17 The Lord said to me, "Mortal man, do you see that? These people of Judah are not satisfied with merely doing all the disgusting things you have seen here and with spreading violence throughout the country. No, they must come and do them right here in the Temple and make me even more angry. Look how they insult me in the most offensive way possible! 18 They will feel all the force of my anger. I will not spare them or show them any mercy. They will shout prayers to me as loud as they can, but I will not listen to them."
1 Then I heard God shout, "Come here, you men who are going to punish the city. Bring your weapons with you." 2 At once six men came from the outer north gate of the Temple, each one carrying a weapon. With them was a man dressed in linen clothes, carrying something to write with. They all came and stood by the bronze altar. 3 Then the dazzling light of the presence of the God of Israel rose up from the winged creatures where it had been, and moved to the entrance of the Temple. The Lord called to the man dressed in linen, 4 "Go through the whole city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the forehead of everyone who is distressed and troubled because of all the disgusting things being done in the city." 5 And I heard God say to the other men, "Follow him through the city and kill. Spare no one; have mercy on no one. 6 Kill the old men, young men, young women, mothers, and children. But don't touch anyone who has the mark on his forehead. Start here at my Temple." So they began with the leaders who were standing there at the Temple. 7 God said to them, "Defile the Temple. Fill its courtyards with corpses. Get to work!" So they began to kill the people in the city. 8 While the killing was going on, I was there alone. I threw myself face downward on the ground and shouted, "Sovereign Lord, are you so angry with Jerusalem that you are going to kill everyone left in Israel?" 9 God answered, "The people of Israel and Judah are guilty of terrible sins. They have committed murder all over the land and have filled Jerusalem with crime. They say that I, the Lord, have abandoned their country and that I don't see them. 10 But I will not have pity on them; I will do to them what they have done to others." 11 Then the man wearing linen clothes returned and reported to the Lord, "I have carried out your orders."
1 I looked at the dome over the heads of the living creatures and above them was something that seemed to be a throne made of sapphire. 2 God said to the man wearing linen clothes, "Go between the wheels under the creatures and fill your hands with burning coals. Then scatter the coals over the city." I watched him go. 3 The creatures were standing to the south of the Temple when he went in, and a cloud filled the inner courtyard. 4 The dazzling light of the Lord's presence rose up from the creatures and moved to the entrance of the Temple. Then the cloud filled the Temple, and the courtyard was blazing with the light. 5 The noise made by the creatures' wings was heard even in the outer courtyard. It sounded like the voice of Almighty God. 6 When the Lord commanded the man wearing linen clothes to take some fire from between the wheels that were under the creatures, the man went in and stood by one of the wheels. 7 One of the creatures reached his hand into the fire that was there among them, picked up some coals, and put them in the hands of the man in linen. The man took the coals and left. 8 I saw that each creature had what looked like a human hand under each of its wings. 9 I also saw that there were four wheels, all alike, one beside each creature. The wheels shone like precious stones, and each one had another wheel which intersected it at right angles. 11 When the creatures moved, they could go in any direction without turning. They all moved together in the direction they wanted to go, without having to turn around. 12 Their bodies, backs, hands, wings, and wheels were covered with eyes. 13 I heard a voice calling out, "Whirling wheels." 14 Each creature had four faces. The first was the face of a bull, the second a human face, the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 (They were the same creatures that I had seen by the Chebar River.) When the creatures rose in the air 16 and moved, the wheels went with them. Whenever they spread their wings to fly, the wheels still went with them. 17 When the creatures stopped, the wheels stopped; and when the creatures flew, the wheels went with them, because the creatures controlled them. 18 Then the dazzling light of the Lord's presence left the entrance of the Temple and moved to a place above the creatures. 19 They spread their wings and flew up from the earth while I was watching, and the wheels went with them. They paused at the east gate of the Temple, and the dazzling light was over them. 20 I recognized them as the same creatures which I had seen beneath the God of Israel at the Chebar River. 21 Each of them had four faces, four wings, and what looked like a human hand under each wing. 22 Their faces looked exactly like the faces I had seen by the Chebar River. Each creature moved straight ahead.
1 Keep on loving one another as Christians. 2 Remember to welcome strangers in your homes. There were some who did that and welcomed angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them. Remember those who are suffering, as though you were suffering as they are. 4 Marriage is to be honored by all, and husbands and wives must be faithful to each other. God will judge those who are immoral and those who commit adultery. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, "I will never leave you; I will never abandon you." 6 Let us be bold, then, and say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?" 7 Remember your former leaders, who spoke God's message to you. Think back on how they lived and died, and imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Do not let all kinds of strange teachings lead you from the right way. It is good to receive inner strength from God's grace, and not by obeying rules about foods; those who obey these rules have not been helped by them. 10 The priests who serve in the Jewish place of worship have no right to eat any of the sacrifice on our altar. 11 The Jewish high priest brings the blood of the animals into the Most Holy Place to offer it as a sacrifice for sins; but the bodies of the animals are burned outside the camp. 12 For this reason Jesus also died outside the city, in order to purify the people from sin with his own blood. 13 Let us, then, go to him outside the camp and share his shame. 14 For there is no permanent city for us here on earth; we are looking for the city which is to come. 15 Let us, then, always offer praise to God as our sacrifice through Jesus, which is the offering presented by lips that confess him as Lord. 16 Do not forget to do good and to help one another, because these are the sacrifices that please God. 17 Obey your leaders and follow their orders. They watch over your souls without resting, since they must give to God an account of their service. If you obey them, they will do their work gladly; if not, they will do it with sadness, and that would be of no help to you. 18 Keep on praying for us. We are sure we have a clear conscience, because we want to do the right thing at all times. 19 And I beg you even more earnestly to pray that God will send me back to you soon. 20 God has raised from death our Lord Jesus, who is the Great Shepherd of the sheep as the result of his blood, by which the eternal covenant is sealed. May the God of peace provide you with every good thing you need in order to do his will, and may he, through Jesus Christ, do in us what pleases him. And to Christ be the glory forever and ever! Amen. 22 I beg you, my friends, to listen patiently to this message of encouragement; for this letter I have written you is not very long. 23 I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been let out of prison. If he comes soon enough, I will have him with me when I see you. 24 Give our greetings to all your leaders and to all God's people. The believers from Italy send you their greetings. 25 May God's grace be with you all.
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