Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Notes on Ezekiel, 4: Chapter 1 continued

The vision moves from the living creatures to the wheels. The key verse here is vs 18, "And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around." The wheels, which are clearly means of locomotion, demonstrate two things: first, the omnipresence of God. He is not limited as to location. It is hard for us to imagine, but in the Old Testament, though the omnipresence of God is a given (see Ps 139), there was a sense in which he had "attached" himself to the temple in Jerusalem. Thus, the mobile throne is a radical departure. Second, the plethora of eyes indicate his omniscience. In a pictorial way, this says the same thing as Ex 2:25, "God saw the people of Israel, and God knew."

The final element of the vision is the throne above the creatures. It rests on an "expanse" (same word as in Gen 1:6). The allusion to the creation narrative is deliberate. The God whom Ezekiel sees is the creator of heaven and earth. Ezekiel sees a human-like figure, but all he can describe is brightness, and a rainbow. Again, the allusion to Genesis 9 is deliberate. The figure represents God coming in judgment, but not without mercy.

"Such was the likeness of the appearance of the glory of the Lord." Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord, but at best he is able to describe it only indirectly. The vision overwhelmed him, and he ended up on his face. This reminds us that we are never to take God for granted (which the Israelites had done, assuming that because they had the temple, God would not let Jerusalem fall). Nor are we to think of God as our good buddy. He is the maker of heaven and earth, judge and savior, and were we to have Ezekiel's vision, we would respond in like fashion. In some sense, Christ bridges the gap between us and God (there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim 2:5), but one day to him every knee shall bow (Phil 2:10-11)

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