Today our passages are Ezekiel 1:1–3:15; Hebrews 3:1-19; Psalm 104:1-23; and Proverbs 26:24-26. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Ezekiel 1-3:15 (Contemporary English Version)
Ezekiel Sees the LORD's Glory1-3I 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. 4I 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, 5and in that center I saw what looked like four living creatures. They were somewhat like humans, 6except that each one had four faces and four wings. 7Their legs were straight, but their feet looked like the hoofs of calves and sparkled like bronze. 8Under each of their wings, these creatures had a human hand. 9The four creatures were standing back to back with the tips of their wings touching. They moved together in every direction, without turning their bodies.
10Each 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. 11Two 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. 12Wherever the four living creatures went, they moved together without turning their bodies, because each creature faced straight ahead. 13The 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] 14The creatures themselves moved as quickly as sparks jumping from a fire. [g] 15I then noticed that on the ground beside each of the four living creatures was a wheel, [h] 16shining like chrysolite. [i] Each wheel was exactly the same and had a second wheel that cut through the middle of it, [j] 17so that they could move in any direction without turning. 18The rims of the wheels were large and had eyes all the way around them. [k] 19-21The 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. 22-23Above 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. 24Whenever 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.
25When the creatures stopped flapping their wings, I heard a sound coming from above the dome. 26I 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. 27From 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, 28as 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 Ezekiel1The LORD [m] said, "Ezekiel, son of man, [n] I want you to stand up and listen." 2After he said this, his Spirit took control of me and lifted me to my feet. Then the LORD said: 3Ezekiel, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They are just like their ancestors who rebelled against me and refused to stop. 4They are stubborn and hardheaded. But I, the LORD God, have chosen you to tell them what I say. 5Those rebels may not even listen, but at least they will know that a prophet has come to them.
6Don'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 7and preach my message to them, whether they choose to listen or not. 8Ezekiel, 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.
9Just then, I saw a hand stretched out toward me. And in it was a scroll. [o] 10The hand opened the scroll, and both sides of it were filled with words of sadness, mourning, and grief.
Ezekiel 31The LORD said, "Ezekiel, son of man, after you eat this scroll, go speak to the people of Israel."
2-3He handed me the scroll and said, "Eat this and fill up on it." So I ate the scroll, and it tasted sweet as honey.
4The LORD said:
Ezekiel, I am sending you to your own people. 5-6They 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. 7But the people of Israel will refuse to listen, because they have refused to listen to me. All of them are stubborn and hardheaded, 8so I will make you as stubborn as they are. 9You 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.
10Listen carefully to everything I say and then think about it. 11Then 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.
12The Spirit [p] lifted me up, and as the glory of the LORD started to leave, [q] I heard a loud, thundering noise behind me. 13It was the sound made by the creatures' wings as they brushed against each other, and by the rumble of the wheels beside them. 14Then the Spirit carried me away. The LORD's power had taken complete control of me, and I was both annoyed and angry.
15When 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.
- Ezekiel 1:1 a priest and the son of Buzi: Or "the son of Buzi the priest."
- Ezekiel 1:1 Five years. . . prisoner. . . fourth month: Probably July of 593 B.C.
- Ezekiel 1:1 thirtieth year: The event from which this date is figured is unknown.
- Ezekiel 1:1 The LORD placed his hand upon me: This was a sign that the LORD had chosen Ezekiel to be his prophet.
- Ezekiel 1:11 Two wings: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- Ezekiel 1:13 up: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 13.
- Ezekiel 1:14 as sparks jumping from a fire: Or "as flashes of lightning."
- Ezekiel 1:15 wheel: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 15.
- Ezekiel 1:16 chrysolite: A precious stone that has an olive green color.
- Ezekiel 1:16 a second wheel that cut through the middle of it: Or "a smaller wheel inside it."
- Ezekiel 1:18 them: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 18.
- Ezekiel 1:26 sapphire: A precious stone that has a blue color.
- Ezekiel 2:1 The LORD: Hebrew "The voice."
- Ezekiel 2:1 Ezekiel, son of man: The Hebrew text has "Son of man," which is often used in this book when the LORD speaks directly to Ezekiel. It means that Ezekiel is a mere human, yet he is the one the LORD has chosen to be his prophet who speaks for him to the people of Israel.
- Ezekiel 2:9 scroll: A roll of paper or special leather used for writing on.
- Ezekiel 3:12 The Spirit: Or "A wind."
- Ezekiel 3:12 as the glory of the LORD started to leave: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Hebrews 3:1-19 (Contemporary English Version)
Jesus Is Greater than Moses1My friends, God has chosen you to be his holy people. So think about Jesus, the one we call our apostle and high priest! 2Jesus was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in serving all of [a] God's people. 3But Jesus deserves more honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves more honor than the house. 4Of course, every house is built by someone, and God is really the one who built everything. 5Moses was a faithful servant and told God's people what would be said in the future. 6But Christ is the Son in charge of God's people. And we are those people, if we keep on being brave and don't lose hope.
A Rest for God's People7It is just as the Holy Spirit says,
"If you hear God's voice today,
8don't be stubborn!
Don't rebel like those people
who were tested
in the desert.
9For forty years your ancestors
the things he did.
10"Then God got tired of them
`You people never
show good sense,
and you don't understand
what I want you to do.'
11God became angry
and told the people,
`You will never enter
my place of rest!' "
12My friends, watch out! Don't let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. 13You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called "today." If you don't, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. 14We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let's hold tightly to our faith until the end. 15The Scriptures say,
"If you hear his voice today,
don't be stubborn
like those who rebelled."
16Who were those people that heard God's voice and rebelled? Weren't they the same ones that came out of Egypt with Moses? 17Who were the people that made God angry for forty years? Weren't they the ones that sinned and died in the desert? 18And who did God say would never enter his place of rest? Weren't they the ones that disobeyed him? 19We see that those people did not enter the place of rest because they did not have faith.
- Hebrews 3:2 all of: Some manuscripts do not have these words.
Psalm 104:1-23 (Contemporary English Version)
The LORD Takes Care of His Creation1I praise you, LORD God,
with all my heart.
You are glorious and majestic,
dressed in royal robes
2and surrounded by light.
You spread out the sky
like a tent,
3and you built your home
over the mighty ocean.
The clouds are your chariot
with the wind as its wings.
4The winds are your messengers,
and flames of fire
are your servants.
5You built foundations
for the earth,
will never be shaken.
6You covered the earth
with the ocean
above the mountains.
7Then your voice thundered!
And the water flowed
8down the mountains
and through the valleys
to the place you prepared.
9Now you have set boundaries,
so that the water will never
flood the earth again.
10You provide streams of water
in the hills and valleys,
11so that the donkeys
and other wild animals
can satisfy their thirst.
12Birds build their nests nearby
and sing in the trees.
13From your home above
you send rain on the hills
and water the earth.
14You let the earth produce
grass for cattle,
plants for our food,
15wine to cheer us up,
olive oil for our skin,
and grain for our health.
16Our LORD, your trees
always have water,
and so do the cedars
you planted in Lebanon.
17Birds nest in those trees,
and storks make their home
in the fir trees.
18Wild goats find a home
in the tall mountains,
and small animals can hide
between the rocks.
19You created the moon
to tell us the seasons.
The sun knows when to set,
20and you made the darkness,
so the animals in the forest
could come out at night.
21Lions roar as they hunt
for the food you provide.
22But when morning comes,
they return to their dens,
23then we go out to work
until the end of day.
Proverbs 26:24-26 (Contemporary English Version)
24The pleasant talk
of an enemy
hides more evil plans
25than can be counted--
so don't believe a word!
26Everyone will see through
those evil plans.
Verse of the Day
“My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God's people.” - Ephesians 1:18
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician, Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton wrote, “Talent does what it can; genius does what it must.”