9 August 2010

Ezekiel 1:1-28

"As I was among the exiles by the river Chebar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God." (v.1)


It would not be difficult for the film makers of today, with their sophisticated techniques of graphics and animation, to portray the Ezekiel vision in all its splendour. Awesome creatures swoop in to attack or defend the hero of the story.

What Ezekiel saw was fearsome. Not a fear that frightened but a fear that prompts awe and wonder. The vision was awesome. The vision was scary, but not one to be scared of. These quoted words find popular usage today. 'Scary' describes the slightly different, the 'edgy' and 'awesome' as something splendid or superb. This is the nature of Ezekiel's vision but what was it telling him?

Firstly, note where it happened - in Babylon. Ezekiel had been deported when Jerusalem was capture by Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BC, the first of two attacks and deportations. Suddenly the Lord God is in Babylon, not in the Temple in Jerusalem, but with Israel in captive exile. The Lord is with them even at one of the lowest points in the nation's history.

Next, the Lord has wheels! God rides with them and keeps an eye, actually many eyes, on them. The wheels move in harmony with the awesome creatures and with the spirit of the Lord carrying a throne on which there is one like a man, yet in radiance and splendour - the glory of the Lord. The people of Israel knew all about the glory of the Lord. It was no less than the very presence of God that went before them in the desert; it was with them in the Temple of Jerusalem and now, yes now, in Babylon, it was still travelling with them even in such desperate times.

Finally, the creatures lower their wings and there is the glory of the Lord: radiant, splendid, scary, awesome - these all add up to one word - holy. Ezekiel now sees and then hears the voice of the holy Lord God.

To Ponder

Can you think of occasions when you have sensed the holy in the scary and the awesome. What happened?

Think of the low points you may have had when the all-seeing God rode into your life. What did God say to you at the time?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr John CA Emmett

John worked as a research physicist in the nuclear power industry before ordination and circuit appointments in Swindon and Bath. He is currently director of programmes and research at Wesley College, Bristol.