Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ezekiel 1 - Ezekiel's Vision and Buckle Up!

LINK: Ezekiel 1

Please read the Introduction to the Prophetical Books if you have not already done so. 

Review the Overview and Timeline to see where Ezekiel fits in chronologically.

BACKGROUND

This is where Ezekiel fits into the history:

----------------605-586 - BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY OF JUDAH (SOUTHERN KINGDOM) 

                     605-536: DANIEL 1-12
                     593-559: EZEKIEL 1-48

Overview of Ezekiel

Ezekiel prophesied among the Jewish exiles in Babylon during the last days of Judah's decline while Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem. Historically, Ezekiel falls somewhere between Daniel 3 and 4. We will read the whole book of Daniel after Ezekiel. 

Ezekiel's call came on July 31, 593 B.C., 12 years into the Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel had been taken into captivity in March of 597 B.C. and was resettled on the Kebar River - a canal off the Euphrates. He was 30 years old, the age this priest would normally have entered service, but God had a plan for Ezekiel to be a street preacher rather than a priest.

The good news about Ezekiel is that it has a fairly straight chronological arrangement as opposed to the books of Jeremiah and Daniel which do not!

If we were to contrast Jeremiah and Ezekiel, it has been said that Jeremiah was the "prophet of tears" while Ezekiel was the "prophet of vision."

Ezekiel Outline:

I. Prophecies of Judgment (1-32)
A. On Judah (1-24)
B. On foreign nations (25-32)

II. Promises of Restoration (33-48)
A. Restoring the people of God (33-39)
B. Restoring the worship of God (40-48)

(Sorry, there is more judgment. Is it any consolation that Jesus is coming in 100 days?)

Even with all the judgment, Ezekiel focused on the glory and character of God like no other prophet, he began with his original vision and continued to refer to God's glory throughout the book (1:28; 3:12, 23; 8:4; 9:3; 10:4, 18-19; 11:22-23; 39:11, 21; 43:2-5; 44:4).

God's character determined His conduct throughout the book. God stated (through Ezekiel) that He had acted so that the people would "know that I am the LORD" over 60 times! This will be a very important key repeated phrase throughout the whole book (especially in Ezekiel 6) that will be very important for you to ponder (and maybe even underline).

With that in mind, let us begin!

Ezekiel 1

God gave Ezekiel an overwhelming vision of His glory that would profoundly influence him throughout his ministry to a stubborn and obstinate people.

Ezekiel's Vision by Raphael 1518
I have been in awe all morning and into the afternoon. I am overwhelmed and terrified by it in the same breath. God is BIG!

Ezekiel saw God's glowing spender through a cloud flashing lightning surrounded by a brilliant light. From the cloud came four living creatures that showed Ezekiel that Jerusalem's impending destruction was judgment because of their sin. These same living creatures are seen in Revelation 4:6, 7.

The four living creatures are identified in Ezekiel 10 as cherubim, a special order of angelic beings who have special access to God (28:14, 16; Exodus 25:17-22; Numbers 7:89). They each had four faces, symbolizing God's perfect nature. Some interpreters think that the lion represented strength and power, the ox represented diligent service, the eagle represented swiftness or divinity, and the man represented intelligence. Others interpret them as representing God's creation. 

The early church fathers thought they presented Christ in the four gospels:

Matthew - the lion as Christ, Lion of Judah
Mark - the ox as Christ, the Servant
Luke - the man as Christ, the perfect human
John - the eagle as Christ, the Son of God, exalted and divine

The wheels moving in all directions are thought to indicate that God is present everywhere (omnipresent) and able to see all things (omniscient).

The figure "like a man" on the sapphire throne (more properly lapis lazuli, an azure-blue stone) looked like bright, glowing metal and fire. The radiance of God's glory was "like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day" (Isn't that beautiful? Check out Revelation 4:3 too!).

When Ezekiel saw the "appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD" (1:28), he fell on his face! Who wouldn't?!!!! WOW!

REFLECTION

I have been "on my face" in awe of God most of the day. Some things are happening that have His glory written all over it. That is a major reason why this post is so late: I AM UNDONE, and I cannot apologize for that!

What a vision! What a glorious and terrifying adventure Ezekiel will be for all of us. Thank you for coming along.

I want to see God. I want to have a vision of His glory that leads me to a 24/7/365 kind of worship that overflows to the lost and dying world around me. How about you?

Buckle your seat belts and armor up (Ephesians 6!). I have a feeling Ezekiel is going to be an amazing ride!

APPLICATION

The only application for this chapter is full-on, unhindered worship. Let this vision of God's glory lead you.

PRAYER

Lord, help us to see Your glory and character through the book of Ezekiel. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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