Ezekiel Sees the Lord's Glory
1-3 I am Ezekiel—a priest and the son of Buzi.
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 of the thirtieth year, the heavens suddenly opened. The Lord placed his hand upon me 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, 5 and 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.
10 Each 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 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.
12The four living creatures went wherever the Spirit led them, and they moved together without turning their bodies, because each creature faced straight ahead. 13 The 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. 14The creatures themselves moved as quickly as sparks jumping from a fire.
15 I then noticed that on the ground beside each of the four living creatures was a wheel, 16shining like chrysolite. Each wheel was exactly the same and had a second wheel that cut through the middle of it, 17so that they could move in any direction without turning. 18 The rims of the wheels were large and frightening, and they had eyes all the way around them. 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.
22-23 Above 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. 24 Whenever 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. 26 I then saw what looked like a throne made of sapphire, and sitting on the throne was a figure in the shape of a human. 27 From 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.
Ezekiel receives a spectacular vision of the Lord on the throne, transported by a chariot-type conveyance composed of four faced, winged, composite (human and animal) living creatures (later identified as cherubim), and wheels. All of it displays a dazzling brilliance. Although the “strangeness” of this vision strikes us and raises questions for further exploration, the vision is part of the larger literary unit of 1:1-3:15. The point of the unit is that the Lord is commissioning Ezekiel to be a prophet – a spokesperson of the revelations and messages of God. This vision is a necessary preliminary experience before Ezekiel can begin his ministry. Ezekiel is being called to say, “Thus says the Lord.” And one cannot speak for another person without knowing that person. So Ezekiel first needs to fully know for whom he will be speaking. Ezekiel first needs to have a direct encounter with the Lord in all of his glory, splendor, majesty, and kingly authority. Only after he has humbly recognized who the Lord is, and taken a posture of worship of falling on his face, can he then rise to serve the Lord, and with full integrity be able to affirm that God has sent him.
In our serving God, in whatever capacity that might be, it all begins with a believing encounter with God, in which we experience God breaking through into our lives. In the New Testament, as God called Paul to be an evangelist to the Gentiles (Acts 9), it too began with a dramatic light filled encounter of the appearance of the resurrected Jesus. Our experiencing God as a prerequisite to serving him need not in any way duplicate the dramatic nature of Ezekiel’s or Paul’s, but it nonetheless needs to result in our full acknowledging of who God is and our unwavering, worshipful commitment to serving him.
Lord, may I experience you in your majesty, glory, and kingly splendour. May I understand more fully who you are, and what your call on my life is. May my experience of you empower me to serve you in the way that you desire me to. Amen.