Ezekiel might be one of the hardest prophets to study because it is highly interpreted and debated. For instance, in Ezekiel 40, God gives Ezekiel a very detailed vision of a new temple (the temple in Jerusalem had just been destroyed by the Babylonians). But this temple he saw wasn’t ever rebuilt according to the details of the vision. So is it yet to be fulfilled, or is there even a need for a physical temple anyway since the body of Christ is God’s temple, according to Revelation 21:22? For me it doesn’t matter too much, but I would still like to come to an informed decision about it eventually.
To start off the book, God gives Ezekiel this amazing vision of His glory.
We learned about one possible and very interesting interpretation for this vision:
As I looked, a stormy wind came out of the north: a great cloud with brightness around it and fire flashing forth continually, and in the middle of the fire, something like gleaming amber. In the middle of it was something like four living creatures.
This was their appearance: they were of human form. Each had four faces…As for the appearance of their faces: the four had the face of a human being, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle…Their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies…Each moved straight ahead; wherever the spirit would go, they went…
In the middle of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire…the fire was bright, and lightning issued from the fire…
The creatures with the four faces could be interpreted as God’s servants with each of the creatures representing the strongest of their kind (man, eagle, ox and lion). Perhaps this can mean that the strongest are those who come under God to do His will and not the ones who do life without the fear of God.
The fire in the center could represent God’s holiness that the creatures were guarding. It would have made since to the original readers since inside the temple before it was destroyed, God’s presence was in the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies, which was protected (even though truthfully God was/is everywhere). There were also cherubim on the veil that separated this room from the rest of the temple, which directly parallels the creatures protecting God’s holiness.
It would have also reminded the original readers of the cherubim that God placed in the Garden of Eden to protect the holy from the unholy. Therefore using creatures to protect His holiness would have made sense to them and would have reminded them of their original purpose.
As I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them…Wherever the spirit would go, they went, and the wheels rose along with them; for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels…
Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome…And there came a voice from above the dome over their heads; when they stopped, they let down their wings…And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne…seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form…Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
The wheels that moved with the creatures could represent the unification of the creatures under God’s will. They never turned aside from their path (this was repeated twice in the vision, perhaps to emphasize the point of their dedication to God’s will). This was what God’s chosen people were to do – serve Him and His will without veering off the path. They also weren’t supposed to be territorial – they were meant to point toward God’s holiness to all the nations and not hoard His blessings to themselves.
The fact that the one who sat on the throne “seemed like a human form” would have confirmed the creation account given in Genesis (that man was created in His image) assuming God was this one in “human form” sitting upon the throne.
Here’s one interpreted Google image of Ezekiel’s vision:
Although this is obviously just an interpretation, to me, it seems fair. From Ezekiel’s vision of God’s glory, a certain worldview emerges:
- All creation is under God
- All creation was meant to serve God
- God is purposeful in all that He does (the wheels and the creatures were determined to fulfill their task)
- God is directly involved in His creation’s lives (He was above the creatures but directed their steps
Through studying the prophets, God keeps highlighting this idea of servant hood, and how serving Him no matter where doing no matter what is my highest calling. Where and what that looks like after CSBS is yet to be determined 🙂
Aside from the cool vision of God’s glory that I loved was the theme throughout His promises for restoration. He was going to restore them as a people by giving them His spirit. They had proved unable to do His will and believe the truth without His very spirit in them. So He promised them, if they turned to God, then that one act alone would mean the forgiveness of all their sins:
But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live.
Reading this out of context you would think that God counts someone as “righteous” just by their good deeds, but later He reveals that the righteousness was actually just trusting God:
Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die…Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed against me, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God. Turn, then, and live.
All they had to do was repent and they would receive a new heart and spirit. That’s it. God would do the rest for them since He knew they were unable to do it for themselves. The only thing they were responsible for was to decide to trust God with their lives, but they didn’t have to try on their own to become righteous because that simply didn’t work. In fact, God warned against trusting their own righteousness:
Though I say to the righteous that they shall surely live, yet if they trust in their righteousness and commit iniquity, none of their righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that they have committed they shall die.
Even believers have a hard time trusting God even if we do trust Him for eternal life. God wants us to trust Him with everything in this life, too.
The one thing we have to do though is truly repent from whatever it is that we’re worrying about, big or small, because God will always come through with a much better solution than ours. There are some things we just can’t do and figure out on our own, and this is where trusting God and sticking it out will help us experience God the way He wants us to. But we have to truly set our minds to trusting God and not looking at the problem in order to start trusting Him more and more, because otherwise it’s just a “nice idea” that doesn’t actually work in practice.
This has definitely been the biggest breakthrough for me over the past few months. Learning, through experience, that I can trust God with every single problem, concern or desire has been so life-changing!