Ezekiel “saw visions of God.” These came to him at a particular time in the history of Jehovah’s people, “the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin.” The Word of the Lord recorded in Ezekiel 1 was given after the beginning of the exile to Babylon, but before Jerusalem had been destroyed. False prophets were suggesting that good times would soon return to Judah, but they were very wrong.
During that important moment when some were certain of an almost immediate deliverance, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the majesty of the Almighty. The prophet saw angelic creatures bearing a “human likeness” with faces, wings, feet, and hands. Their appearance was “like burning coals of fire.” A frightening heavenly chariot of God was very closely associated with those amazing creatures. Even the rims of the wheels were overwhelming to Ezekiel, for they were “full of eyes.” Everything in this other-worldly transportation system was alive, since “the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.”
Above the Lord’s conveyance was an “awe-inspiring” expanse. When the angelic beings moved their wings, the noise they made was deeply impressive, “like the sound of the Almighty.” But greater still was the throne of God above the expanse, and “the likeness with a human appearance” with fire and great brightness seated above all of creation.
Ezekiel concluded his description of the vision with these words: “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” What was the prophet’s reaction? “When I saw it, I fell on my face.”
Throughout the history of God’s revelation of His judgments and mercies there have often been those who insisted that we should have all of the Lord’s blessings right now. Satan tried to entice even Jesus with this tactic. Our Redeemer secured the greatest of all kingdoms not through any quick get-rich scheme, but by His own death and resurrection. The devil’s claim was that the Son of God gain everything that He could ever want immediately by disobeying the Word of the Father. There would be no cross, no burial, no persecution, and no centuries of sacrificial mission in bringing the gospel to the world. The Lord’s plan was far better.
The suffering we experience now is not a mistake, but is actually part of a larger divine purpose. One day Jesus will come again in glory. We will see Him in all His power and dominion, we will worship Him forever, and He will wipe away every tear from the eyes of His beloved children who face much suffering in this present evil age.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Glorious Lord, You are with Your people in the place of exile and suffering. Your Word comes to us even there. You grant to us messages from Your heavenly courts to encourage us even in a land of imprisonment. Thank You for the work of Your angels, who are before Your holy presence continually. There is so much that we do not understand. We ask that You would help us to know what we should know, and to have peace regarding those things that we cannot know at present. You go where You will, O God. We are confined to a place. We face limitations. You are different. You are a fiery presence of purity. We are afraid as we hear Your Word, and are comforted by our remembrance of Your Son’s death for sinners.