VISIONS OF GOD
The Heavens Were Opened
Ezekiel was born during the reign of King Josiah during a time of religious reformation. The idols may have been destroyed, but the idolatry of the heart was not gone, and when King Josiah was killed in battle the people returned to their idolatrous ways. After a short-lived rebellion in Judah, Nebuchadnezzar took ten thousand leading citizens to Babylon. One of the people taken was Ezekiel. Ezekiel is very detailed about when his ministry in Babylon began. His prophetic ministry began about the time his priestly ministry would have started in the Temple if he still lived in Jerusalem. Ezekiel was among the exiles by the Chebar canal when the heavens were opened, and he saw visions of God. It was there that the word of the Lord came to him and the hand of the Lord was upon him. Ezekiel saw a storm cloud coming from the north, lightning flashing continually, brightness around it, and something like glowing metal in the midst. Ezekiel could see four living creatures in the midst which are later identified as cherubim (Ezekiel 10:20). These angelic beings are usually associated with something sacred. They were in a square formation, and they served as the base for the magnificent chariot of God. The description that Ezekiel gives stretches the limits of the human imagination, but how can Ezekiel be expected to find appropriate vocabulary or comparisons for the things which exist in the presence of God. The Cherubim are human-like with four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight with rounded feet that sparked like bronze, and they had human hands under their wings. These creatures seemed to glow, and they moved like lightning. Each of the four living creatures had a wheel beside it. These wheels were beautiful, well constructed, and they seemed to be omnidirectional. The wheels were large when compared to the rest of the vehicle, and they were full of eyes because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. They were able to move on the ground or through the air.
The Glory Of The Lord
Over the heads of these magnificent creatures was an expanse shining like crystal. Two wings covered the body of each of the living creatures, and as they moved, the sound of their wings was like the noise of many waters or the sound of the Almighty (compare Revelation 1:15). When the four living creatures came to a halt, they would let their wings down. A voice came from above from a throne-like sapphire. This is the throne of God and Ezekiel describes the one sitting on the throne with a human-like appearance but stops short of saying that he sees a human being. The one seated on the throne was similar in appearance to a human, but he was obscured by the brightness of God's glory. The radiance surrounding the one on the throne was multicolored like a rainbow. The vision of the glory of God caused Ezekiel to fall to the ground in fear, and he heard a voice speak to him.
Things To Consider:
- What do you think Ezekiel's life was like in exile?
- Do you think Ezekiel thought God had abandoned his people? Why or why not?
- Do you ever feel as if God has abandoned you when you face suffering and hardships?
- What is significant about God appearing to Ezekiel in Babylon?
- What does Ezekiel's vision teach us about God's glory?
- How does this passage connect with Revelation?
- Why do you think angelic beings are so fascinating to people?
- Why is God surrounded with brightness?
- How does this connect to Jesus being the light of the world?
- Why is God's holiness so significant?
- Why should God's holiness spark fear in us?
- Why should God's holiness spark worship in us?
- Speak to God about his holiness as you pray today.