Today our passages are Ezekiel 10:1–11:25; Hebrews 6:1-20; Psalm 105:16-36; and Proverbs 27:1-2. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. 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 by using the link below.
Ezekiel 10-11:25 (The Message)
The Temple, Filled with the Presence of God1 When I next looked, oh! Above the dome over the heads of the cherubim-angels was what looked like a throne, sky-blue, like a sapphire! 2-5 God said to the man dressed in linen, "Enter the place of the wheels under the cherubim-angels. Fill your hands with burning coals from beneath the cherubim and scatter them over the city." I watched as he entered. The cherubim were standing on the south side of the Temple when the man entered. A cloud filled the inside courtyard. Then the Glory of God ascended from the cherubim and moved to the threshold of the Temple. The cloud filled the Temple. Court and Temple were both filled with the blazing presence of the Glory of God. And the sound! The wings of the cherubim were audible all the way to the outer court—the sound of the voice was like The Strong God in thunder.
6-8 When God commanded the man dressed in linen, "Take fire from among the wheels, from between the cherubim," he went in and stood beside a wheel. One of the cherubim reached into the fire, took some coals, and put them in the hands of the man dressed in linen. He took them and went out. Something that looked like a human hand could be seen under the wings of the cherubim.
9-13 And then I saw four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub. The wheels radiating were sparkling like diamonds in the sun. All four wheels looked alike, each like a wheel within a wheel. When they moved, they went in any of the four directions but in a perfectly straight line. Where the cherubim went, the wheels went straight ahead. The cherubim were full of eyes in their backs, hands, and wings. The wheels likewise were full of eyes. I heard the wheels called "wheels within wheels."
14 Each of the cherubim had four faces: the first, of an angel; the second, a human; the third, a lion; the fourth, an eagle.
15-17 Then the cherubim ascended. They were the same living creatures I had seen at the Kebar River. When the cherubim moved, the wheels beside them moved. When the cherubim spread their wings to take off from the ground, the wheels stayed right with them. When the cherubim stopped, the wheels stopped. When the cherubim rose, the wheels rose, because the spirit of the living creatures was also in the wheels.
18-19 Then the Glory of God left the Temple entrance and hovered over the cherubim. I watched as the cherubim spread their wings and left the ground, the wheels right with them. They stopped at the entrance of the east gate of the Temple. The Glory of the God of Israel was above them.
20-22 These were the same living creatures I had seen previously beneath the God of Israel at the Kebar River. I recognized them as cherubim. Each had four faces and four wings. Under their wings were what looked like human hands. Their faces looked exactly like those I had seen at the Kebar River. Each went straight ahead.
A New Heart and a New Spirit1 Then the Spirit picked me up and took me to the gate of the Temple that faces east. There were twenty-five men standing at the gate. I recognized the leaders, Jaazaniah son of Azzur and Pelatiah son of Benaiah. 2-3 God said, "Son of man, these are the men who draw up blueprints for sin, who think up new programs for evil in this city. They say, 'We can make anything happen here. We're the best. We're the choice pieces of meat in the soup pot.'
4 "Oppose them, son of man. Preach against them."
5-6 Then the Spirit of God came upon me and told me what to say: "This is what God says: 'That's a fine public speech, Israel, but I know what you are thinking. You've murdered a lot of people in this city. The streets are piled high with corpses.'
7-12 "Therefore this is what God, the Master, says: 'The corpses that you've piled in the streets are the meat and this city is the soup pot, and you're not even in the pot! I'm throwing you out! You fear war, but war is what you're going to get. I'm bringing war against you. I'm throwing you out of this city, giving you over to foreigners, and punishing you good. You'll be killed in battle. I'll carry out judgment on you at the borders of Israel. Then you'll realize that I am God. This city will not be your soup pot and you won't be the choice pieces of meat in it either. Hardly. I will carry out judgment on you at the borders of Israel and you'll realize that I am God, for you haven't followed my statutes and ordinances. Instead of following my ways, you've sunk to the level of the laws of the nations around you.'"
13 Even while I was preaching, Pelatiah son of Benaiah died. I fell down, face to the ground, and prayed loudly, "O Master, God! Will you completely wipe out what's left of Israel?"
14-15 The answer from God came back: "Son of man, your brothers—I mean the whole people of Israel who are in exile with you—are the people of whom the citizens of Jerusalem are saying, 'They're in the far country, far from God. This land has been given to us to own.'
16-20 "Well, tell them this, 'This is your Message from God, the Master. True, I sent you to the far country and scattered you through other lands. All the same, I've provided you a temporary sanctuary in the countries where you've gone. I will gather you back from those countries and lands where you've been scattered and give you back the land of Israel. You'll come back and clean house, throw out all the rotten images and obscene idols. I'll give you a new heart. I'll put a new spirit in you. I'll cut out your stone heart and replace it with a red-blooded, firm-muscled heart. Then you'll obey my statutes and be careful to obey my commands. You'll be my people! I'll be your God!
21 "'But not those who are self-willed and addicted to their rotten images and obscene idols! I'll see that they're paid in full for what they've done.' Decree of God, the Master."
22-23 Then the cherubim spread their wings, with the wheels beside them and the Glory of the God of Israel hovering over them. The Glory of God ascended from within the city and rested on the mountain to the east of the city.
24-25 Then, still in the vision given me by the Spirit of God, the Spirit took me and carried me back to the exiles in Babylon. And then the vision left me. I told the exiles everything that God had shown me.
Put the Bundle on Your Shoulderand Walk into the Night
Hebrews 6:1-20 (The Message)
Hebrews 61-3So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on "salvation by self-help" and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we'll stay true to all that. But there's so much more. Let's get on with it! 4-8Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, once they've personally experienced the sheer goodness of God's Word and the powers breaking in on us—if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can't start over as if nothing happened. That's impossible. Why, they've re-crucified Jesus! They've repudiated him in public! Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and corn for its gardener gets God's "Well done!" But if it produces weeds and thistles, it's more likely to get cussed out. Fields like that are burned, not harvested.
9-12I'm sure that won't happen to you, friends. I have better things in mind for you—salvation things! God doesn't miss anything. He knows perfectly well all the love you've shown him by helping needy Christians, and that you keep at it. And now I want each of you to extend that same intensity toward a full-bodied hope, and keep at it till the finish. Don't drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them.
God Gave His Word13-18When God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. He said, "I promise that I'll bless you with everything I have—bless and bless and bless!" Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they'll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. 18-20We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.
Psalm 105:16-36 (The Message)
16-22 Then he called down a famine on the country,
he broke every last blade of wheat.
But he sent a man on ahead:
Joseph, sold as a slave.
They put cruel chains on his ankles,
an iron collar around his neck,
Until God's word came to the Pharaoh,
and God confirmed his promise.
God sent the king to release him.
The Pharaoh set Joseph free;
He appointed him master of his palace,
put him in charge of all his business
To personally instruct his princes
and train his advisors in wisdom.
23-42 Then Israel entered Egypt,
Jacob immigrated to the Land of Ham.
God gave his people lots of babies;
soon their numbers alarmed their foes.
He turned the Egyptians against his people;
they abused and cheated God's servants.
Then he sent his servant Moses,
and Aaron, whom he also chose.
They worked marvels in that spiritual wasteland,
miracles in the Land of Ham.
He spoke, "Darkness!" and it turned dark—
they couldn't see what they were doing.
He turned all their water to blood
so that all their fish died;
He made frogs swarm through the land,
even into the king's bedroom;
He gave the word and flies swarmed,
gnats filled the air.
He substituted hail for rain,
he stabbed their land with lightning;
He wasted their vines and fig trees,
smashed their groves of trees to splinters;
With a word he brought in locusts,
millions of locusts, armies of locusts;
They consumed every blade of grass in the country
and picked the ground clean of produce;
He struck down every firstborn in the land,
the first fruits of their virile powers.
He led Israel out, their arms filled with loot,
and not one among his tribes even stumbled.
Egypt was glad to have them go—
they were scared to death of them.
God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day
and a fire to light their way through the night;
They prayed and he brought quail,
filled them with the bread of heaven;
He opened the rock and water poured out;
it flowed like a river through that desert—
All because he remembered his Covenant,
his promise to Abraham, his servant.
Proverbs 27:1-2 (The Message)
You Don't Know Tomorrow1 Don't brashly announce what you're going to do tomorrow; you don't know the first thing about tomorrow.
2 Don't call attention to yourself;
let others do that for you.
Verse of the Day
Thought for the Day
American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years (1962–81), Walter Cronkite wrote, “In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.”