O Lord, you have searched me out and known me;
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You mark out my journeys and my resting place and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue, but you, O Lord, know it altogether.
You encompass me behind and before and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go then from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there;
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand shall lead me, your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will cover me and the light around me turn to night,’
Even darkness is no darkness with you;
the night is as clear as the day;
darkness and light to you are both alike.
For you yourself created my inmost parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
marvellous are your works, my soul knows well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my form, as yet unfinished;
already in your book were all my members written,
As day by day they were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.
How deep are your counsels to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I count them, they are more in number than the sand,
and at the end, I am still in your presence.
O that you would slay the wicked, O God,
that the bloodthirsty might depart from me!
They speak against you with wicked intent;
your enemies take up your name for evil.
Do I not oppose those, O Lord, who oppose you?
Do I not abhor those who rise up against you?
I hate them with a perfect hatred;
they have become my own enemies also.
Search me out, O God, and know my heart;
try me and examine my thoughts.
See if there is any way of wickedness in me and lead me in the way everlasting.
In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there. I looked, and there was a figure that looked like a human being; below what appeared to be its loins it was fire, and above the loins it was like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming amber. It stretched out the form of a hand, and took me by a lock of my head; and the spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven, and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, to the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. And the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I had seen in the valley.
Then God said to me, ‘O mortal, lift up your eyes now in the direction of the north.’ So I lifted up my eyes towards the north, and there, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. He said to me, ‘Mortal, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? Yet you will see still greater abominations.’
And he brought me to the entrance of the court; I looked, and there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, dig through the wall’; and when I dug through the wall, there was an entrance. He said to me, ‘Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.’ So I went in and looked; there, portrayed on the wall all round, were all kinds of creeping things, and loathsome animals, and all the idols of the house of Israel. Before them stood seventy of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the fragrant cloud of incense was ascending. Then he said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of images? For they say, “The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.” ’ He said also to me, ‘You will see still greater abominations that they are committing.’
Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord; women were sitting there weeping for Tammuz. Then he said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O mortal? You will see still greater abominations than these.’
And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord; there, at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces towards the east, prostrating themselves to the sun towards the east. Then he said to me, ‘Have you seen this, O mortal? Is it not bad enough that the house of Judah commits the abominations done here? Must they fill the land with violence, and provoke my anger still further? See, they are putting the branch to their nose! Therefore I will act in wrath; my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; and though they cry in my hearing with a loud voice, I will not listen to them.’
2 Corinthians 4
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—‘I believed, and so I spoke’—we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Almighty and everlasting God,
by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church
is governed and sanctified:
hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,
that in their vocation and ministry
they may serve you in holiness and truth
to the glory of your name;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.