Daily Reading: 4-11-16
Ezekiel 1:1-25 New Living Translation (NLT)
Ezekiel (name translates God is strong) is called to be a prophet of God during Israel’s exile in Babylon around 571BC. Ezekiel, approximately 30 years old, has several visions that reveal God’s absolute moral perfection. The purpose of the vision(s) is to help Israel understand their sin or rebellion against God (why they have been taken captive), God’s greatness (draw them to divine dependence), as well as His power to help them overcome sin and reflect His holiness (a message of truth and hope).
The vision Ezekiel has is categorized as apocalyptic (symbolic pictures that vividly convey an idea). If you choose to do so, you can read a similar vision the Apostle John has in Revelation 4:6-7. Read the passage below several times; don’t get too bogged down in the symbolism.
1 On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. 2 This happened during the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity. 3 (The LORD gave this message to Ezekiel son of Buzi, a priest, beside the Kebar River in the land of the Babylonians, and he felt the hand of the LORD take hold of him.) 4 As I looked, I saw a great storm coming from the north, driving before it a huge cloud that flashed with lightning and shone with brilliant light. There was fire inside the cloud, and in the middle of the fire glowed something like gleaming amber. 5 From the center of the cloud came four living beings that looked human, 6 except that each had four faces and four wings. 7 Their legs were straight, and their feet had hooves like those of a calf and shone like burnished bronze. 8 Under each of their four wings I could see human hands. So each of the four beings had four faces and four wings. 9 The wings of each living being touched the wings of the beings beside it. Each one moved straight forward in any direction without turning around. 10 Each had a human face in the front, the face of a lion on the right side, the face of an ox on the left side, and the face of an eagle at the back. 11 Each had two pairs of outstretched wings—one pair stretched out to touch the wings of the living beings on either side of it, and the other pair covered its body. 12 They went in whatever direction the spirit chose, and they moved straight forward in any direction without turning around. 13 The living beings looked like bright coals of fire or brilliant torches, and lightning seemed to flash back and forth among them. 14 And the living beings darted to and fro like flashes of lightning. 15 As I looked at these beings, I saw four wheels touching the ground beside them, one wheel belonging to each. 16 The wheels sparkled as if made of beryl. All four wheels looked alike and were made the same; each wheel had a second wheel turning crosswise within it. 17 The beings could move in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved. 18 The rims of the four wheels were tall and frightening, and they were covered with eyes all around. 19 When the living beings moved, the wheels moved with them. When they flew upward, the wheels went up, too. 20 The spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. So wherever the spirit went, the wheels and the living beings also went. 21 When the beings moved, the wheels moved. When the beings stopped, the wheels stopped. When the beings flew upward, the wheels rose up, for the spirit of the living beings was in the wheels. 22 Spread out above them was a surface like the sky, glittering like crystal. 23 Beneath this surface the wings of each living being stretched out to touch the others’ wings, and each had two wings covering its body. 24 As they flew, their wings sounded to me like waves crashing against the shore or like the voice of the Almighty or like the shouting of a mighty army. When they stopped, they let down their wings. 25 As they stood with wings lowered, a voice spoke from beyond the crystal surface above them.
The four faces of the living creatures more than likely symbolize God’s perfect nature. Some theologians believe the lion represents strength, the ox represents diligent service, the man represents intelligence, and the eagle represents divinity. Perhaps they represent the majesty of God’s creation as a whole. Early church fathers made the following connection between the beings and the four Gospels: Lion in Matthew—Christ the Lion of Judah; Ox in Mark—Christ the Servant; Human in Luke—Christ the perfect human being; Eagle in John—Christ the exalted Son of God. The wheels may represent that God is everywhere—omnipresent, in control, and moving.
What is the lesson? For me, I constantly need to be reminded that God sees and knows not only my heart but everything about me. He will allow me to make my own choices on how I am going to live, move, and have my being. I am responsible before God for those choices. When I choose to follow the Spirit, I am gathered and covered by holy wings. When I find myself lacking peace, I must turn to God knowing He will restore me as I follow His lead. A great deal of Scripture teaches as we connect to Christ we can live in the strength of God, as servants of God, operate in the wisdom of God, and reflect the holiness of God. This passage is just another reminder of Truth for me.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for this nutritious breakfast with Your Word. Holy Spirit, please help me to stay focused today on being strong in the power of Your love, be willing to extend a servant’s heart and hand to others, make good life decisions in every direction, and grow in how I reflect Your holy glory. I love You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.