Ezekiel's Vision

bibleScripture Reading: Ezekiel 1

“As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28, NASB).

The vision Ezekiel experiences in the first chapter of the book that bears his name is incredible. It’s not hard to see the prophet struggling to put it all into words. It all begins with a storm cloud coming out of the north. The cloud comes complete with fire flashing from it, bright lights, and something that appears like glowing metal from the midst of the fire (v. 4). God’s abode was often described as coming from the north (see Psalm 48:2, Isaiah 14:13) and the implication was God was staging an invasion from the north just as the Babylonians had done.

Within the cloud were four beings – each with four wings and four faces – named Cherubim (see Ezekiel 10:15). The creatures had four sides, each with a wing, a human hand, and a face. This allowed for maximum mobility and awareness. They could move in any direction without turning. Their faces represented what were traditionally the four most impressive of God’s creations; man – chief over all, lion – chief over wild animals, bull – chief over domesticated animals, and the eagle – chief over all the birds. These faces may have been meant to demonstrate the strength, intelligence, majesty, and speed of the Cherubim along with the notion that God is the Lord over all creation.

These Cherubim were led by the Holy Spirit (v. 12) and beside each of them, Ezekiel saw a wheel of sorts (v. 15). These wheels were skillfully made and each had another wheel inside of them (v. 16) and they could move in any of the four directions without turning (v. 17) like spherical casters. All four of the wheels had eyes all the way around their rim (v. 18) and they moved in sequence with the Cherubim (v. 19). It is possible the eyes represent God’s omniscience for He “sees anything” while the ease of motion represented God’s omnipresence. Meanwhile the elevated presence of the Cherubim represent God’s omnipotence.

Over the heads of the Cherubim and supported by their wings was a large platform or expanse (v. 22). Many scholars believe that Ezekiel was describing God’s chariot because above the platform was a throne made of precious materials. And sitting on the throne was a “figure with the appearance of a man” who radiated like hot metal (v. 26-27).

Ezekiel was seeing firsthand the “likeness of the glory of the Lord” (v. 28)! His immediate response was to fall on his face. He was seeing a representation of God Almighty and what I believe was the preincarnate Christ and “all the prophet could do to show his awe was to fall on his face in the dust before his God[1]”.

How has God demonstrated Himself in your life? How did you respond? Today’s reading suggests there is one appropriate response to being in God’s presence … falling prostrate before Him in awe of His glory! We should be humbled and awed when God reveals Himself to us. Too often, however, I fear we ignore His majesty … may we all gain a sense of the emotion Ezekiel must have felt!

[1] From John B. Taylor’s commentary.