Image source: BookCoverThe MessageofEzekiel
In difficult times, visionaries bring hope and lead us into the light. The prophet Ezekiel was a voice of hope for Israel in Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel was a powerful visionary guide into the light at a time when darkness blinded Israel.
Ezekiel Chapter 1:3 says Ezekiel was a priest and the son of Buzi (Ezekiel ben Buzi). A number of Bible scholars teach that he was a descendant of Zadok, the faithful priest to King David who anointed Solomon as King (1 Kings 1:38-50). The sons of Zadok remained faithful to God even when most of Israel were not (see Ezekiel 44:15). Ezekiel lived by the River Chebar (Kebar) with other jewish people, shocked that they were captives in Babylon. They wondered why this happened to them and what was their future? God provided answers through Ezekiel. The prophet speaks of his first encounter with God in Ezekiel Chapters 1 to 3.
Ezekiel 1:4-28 (Easy-to-Read Version Bible) (shortened) says: “…a big storm come in from the north… a big cloud… there was fire flashing from it… Inside the cloud, there were four living beings… [with] four faces. In the front they each had a man’s face… a lion’s face on the right.. bull’s face on the left… an eagle’s face on the back… I noticed four wheels that touched the ground… [with] eyes all over the rims of all four wheels… There was an amazing thing over the heads of the living beings. It was like a bowl turned upside down… There was something that looked like a throne on top of the bowl… There was also something that looked like a man sitting on the throne… He looked like hot metal with fire all around him… It was the Glory of the Lord. As soon as I saw that, I fell to the ground.”
Ezekiel saw God on a throne with wheels, driven by angels. In the vision, the wheels had eyes all around and could see in every direction – imagine a car with video cameras all around. Ezekiel saw a vision of God in a moving throne that saw everything; in Ezekiel Chapter 8 this moving throne transported Ezekiel back to Jerusalem to see the religious atrocities that the people left in Jerusalem were commiting at the Temple including worshipping statutes of lizards and snakes (Ezekiel 8:10).
Following this vision, God asked Ezekiel to go preach a message of punishment, destruction, repentance, forgiveness, and redemption for Israel. So we read in Ezekiel 11:16-20 (shortened): “So tell them this: The Lord God says, ‘It is true, I forced my people to go far away to other nations… but I will gather you together and bring you back… I will give the land of Israel back to you. When my people come back, they will destroy all the terrible, filthy idols that are here now… I will put a new spirit in them. I will take away that heart of stone, and I will put a real heart in its place. Then they will obey… They will be my people, and I will be their God.’”
Ezekiel was a prophet of grace by the rivers of Babylon! The prophet clearly informed Israel of God’s plans to deliver them from idolatry; the captivity was not the end of the road, it was bitter medicine to bring them back into the light. God uses this pattern in our lives too – the corrective discipline of a parent over a child.
I pray our hearts respond positively to God’s corrective discipline, Amen!