August 8, 2010

Ezekiel 1

Exiled in Babylon following the siege of Jerusalem in 597BC, a priest and prophet named Ezekiel communicates the message of God for his people Israel through the usage of prophecies, parables, signs, and symbols. Preceding the exile into Babylon, it had been the main custom of Israel to worship God at the temple, but now that they were exiled in a distant land was it still possible to worship God? Ezekiel, whose name means "God strengthens" or "Strengthened by God", is indeed infused with strength through visions to reveal to the people of Israel that God is still with them in their captivity.


Ezekiel's inaugural vision of God is nothing out of the ordinary, a descriptive majestic drama outside of the normal realm of thought written down. He describes four living creatures with four faces and four wings, surrounded by two moving beryl (Neptune, sea blue) wheels and moving like the appearance of lightning and fire. Above these creatures is expanse of crystal of which sits the appearance of God on a throne like that of a cloud on a rainy day.

A terrific animated description can be found here, with the help of some animated graphics and the chapter being read in the background.

A key verse I found here is in verse 20:
"Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels."

The picture here is of God in his heavenly like chariot, although his chariot sounds like an army, coming in an orderly fashion and moving as the spirit directed. In a sense the wheels, of which one wheel is inside and controlled in the other wheel, is like God's providence and direction controlling the circumstances of events here on earth in precise, orderly fashion. From our perspective it seems like his chariot is moving disorderly; however, what we fail to see is that every action of the chariot is being controlled by Divine will and moves guided by the Spirit of God.

The outer wheel is God's perfect steady providence. Vs. 18 mentions that the rims of the wheels 'were awesome, and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them." God is an infinite, all knowing omniscient God who moves as his Spirit directs. Matthew Henry's commentary states," The issues of things are not determined by a blind fortune, but by those eyes of the Lord which run to and fro through the earth, and are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." It is not by some blind ignorant act of God that evil occurs, although we often treat the judgement of God like death, a future event that will never happen to us. The passage also describes the crystal layer above the spinning wheels upon which God sits and directs. While it may appear as a cloud from below, to God it is a crystal structure like clear glass for which God can see right through.

God is not slow in keeping his promise, as some count slowness but is patient with, not wanting anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance.

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