Ezekiel’s first chapter is truly amazing, maybe thrilling too!
It records a “vision” Ezekiel is given, one depicting Almighty God!
It’s a “theophany,” in theological terms, an appearance of the Lord!
The Books first sentence helps here: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” Ezekiel 1:1
Ezekiel is thirty years of age when his “ministry” officially begins, seems like we are being told.
Ezekiel identifies himself as being among the “captives” (slaves) … Jews relocated to Babylon by a military action. The Holy Land, invaded and overrun and stripped (with much more devastation to come, even by the Babylonians) … because of the sins of the people!
“Chebar” is the name of part of a canal system, an irrigation plan, that crisscrossed the City of Babylon. The name may mean “far-off!” We have just been given accurate historical information about one of the many “rivers” of the Bible.
But here’s the “key” to the chapter: Ezekiel saw that “the heavens were opened.” And thereafter he beheld “visions of God.” Using a synonym: “sightings” of God!
Then for the next 27 verses … God is depicted!
One of the fullest descriptions of His Majesty in all the Bible! (If not THE fullest!)
A cloud of fire … a whirlwind, glowing and bright!
Four living creatures, “cherubims” he calls them later. See Ezekiel 10:20.
And above them a “Figure” … radiant in Glory!
Then, a “Voice!”
Followed by the grandeur of a Throne!
Like a rainbow, Ezekiel reported!
(Sounds a lot like what John saw in the opening chapters of his Book of Revelation! In fact … the very Same God!)
Folks, this Vision of God deserves hours of study and chapters of writing. Read it today, several times if you can. I’m on my fifth time now.
But the chapter’s last verse has “arrested” me this morning.
“This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.” Ezekiel 1:28
Moses wanted to see God’s Glory! (Exodus 33:18)
Ezekiel DID SEE God’s Glory!
(How about this? God’s Glory appeared in the darkest of circumstances! In captivity! Under divine chastisement! Danger everywhere!)
Note however what Ezekiel did, his response, to God’s Glory!
“And when I saw it, I fell upon my face.”
So did Daniel!
So did Peter, James and John!
And so shall we, some day!
On our faces, in adoration and worship and praise!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell