Ezekiel 1:1-3:15; Hebrews 3:1-19;
Psalm 104:1-23; Proverbs 26:24-26
What is a rebel? A man who says no.
As we begin the book of Ezekiel, it is helpful to know the context in which Ezekiel is writing. Ezekiel is a priest who never truly takes his position in the priesthood. He is part of the group of Judeans who have been exiled to Babylon. At the time of his writing, Jerusalem has not been completely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Ezekiel is with a group of Jews who are living outside of Babylon by the Kedar River. He is a contemporary of both Daniel and Jeremiah. Jeremiah would have been a very old man at this time. Ezekiel most likely would have heard Jeremiah's prophesies while he lived in Jerusalem. Daniel is a prime minister in Babylon. More than likely, Ezekiel would have never met Daniel.
Ezekiel starts his ministry as a prophet five years after he has been taken into captivity. He is thirty years old. While Jeremiah was the weeping prophet who reflected God's sorrow over the sins of His people, Ezekiel is the prophet who reflects God's glory. Ezekiel is assigned the task of showing the people in captivity that they should not listen to the false prophets who are predicting that Jerusalem will not be destroyed and the people will quickly be returning to their land. Ezekiel confronts the rebellion of their unbelief in God's true prophecies and demonstrates God's glorious presence through his descriptions of God's majesty. Ezekiel is the prophet who reflects for us the coming glory of God in His millennial kingdom.
How in the world is it possible to explain God's glory in human terms? Ezekiel is the prophet who at thirty years old is given a tremendous vision of God's presence in heaven. The creatures and scenes that he sees in his vision are highly symbolic. They are strange and wonderful. They cause him to fall flat on his face in awe.
As we read about the creatures, we are reminded of the cherubim in the Garden of Eden, who guard the way to the Tree of Life. God's glory guards the way to eternity. We receive everlasting life in the presence of the Creator only through God's glory that we graciously receive from Christ.
In this vision, the creatures have chrysolite (diamond looking) wheels that intersect and allow movement in all directions without the creatures actually having to turn in any direction. The wheels are covered in eyes that see all things at once. The creatures are constantly moving and filled with light and filled with the spirit that keeps them moving and alive. Notice that the wheels, which move, are powered by God's Spirit. All things occur because of His Essence/Spirit. Here, we see that God is light as declared in the book of John and in many other areas of Scripture. God has an intelligent purpose for the His creation and He is not deterred in bringing about His purposes.
In the book of Revelation chapter 4, we learn that these creatures guard the throne of God by not allowing man's sin in the presence of God and by designating that man only comes to the throne through the cross of Christ. In Ezekiel's vision, the wings of the creature are large and as they move it sounds like the roar of the ocean tides or a great army of men on the move. God's movement throughout His creation is powerful. He is involved, omniscient, purposeful.
Now we have a description of God's throne as above the creatures in a sky that looks like sapphires. A beautiful jeweled sky of azure blue that sparkles. Do you love the look of sparkling jewels? It is how God's glory is described. On the throne is a man who is surrounded by the amber color of fire from the waist up. As a matter of fact, he is glowing from the waist up. From the waist down, he is shining with splendor. There is a halo of rainbow colors surrounding his presence. At this sight, Ezekiel falls down at the sight of God's glory. Wouldn't you, also?
After this experience, Ezekiel receives his call from God. He is told that he is being sent to speak to the rebellious nation of Israel. These rebels are in revolt against God, just as their ancestors were. Even if they will not listen, at least they will know there is a prophet among them. Ezekiel is called a son of man. This is a term that Jesus called himself. Daniel is also called the son of man. It is a term reserved for the prophet who suffers for God. He brings truth through trials.
Ezekiel is called to confront the rebels of Israel and to be a watchman in the long dark night of rebellion. He was to watch for the enemy and give a message of truth.
God's Spirit through the living creatures lifts Ezekiel up, even though he is going in bitterness and turmoil, God holds him strong and carries him back to his people by the river. Ezekiel sits for seven days in silence, overwhelmed by what he has seen and heard.
What does this vision mean to you? How do you feel as you contemplate God's glory?
The author of Hebrews is going to prove to the Hebrew people that Jesus is superior to everyone. Today, the author proposes and proves that Jesus is superior to Moses. From reading the Bible thus far, you know that almost no one from the nation of Israel is as highly regarded as Moses. He is the author of the first five books of the Old Testament. He received the Law from God. He led the Israelites out of Egypt. But, the book of Hebrews argues that Moses was only a servant, while Christ is the faithful Son. In God's household, the Son is to receive the glory.
The Hebrews are encouraged to listen and remember the words of Psalm 95 that encourage them to listen to Christ's voice and not rebel as their ancestors did. They must check their hearts and be sure that they are not in rebellion against God. No rebel without a cause will be welcome in God's household. Those who believe will share in all that belongs to Christ. His glory, which is revealed by Ezekiel, will be shared by those who are not rebels against God. Entering into God's rest is achieved through belief in Jesus Christ.
Have you believed in Christ or are you a rebel without a cause?
This psalm about God's glory fits nicely with Ezekiel's vision today. Just like the psalmist, the author of Hebrews declares that God made all things.
Hatred is not to be part of the believer's life. If you harbor hate, it will be revealed in the end.
What did you see today?