Ezekiel 1 — A Short Exposition

Question from a Site Viewer
What do you suppose Ezekiel 1 is all about?

Tim’s Answer
In my view, Ezekiel 1 is a peek into what it will be like to meet God. It is the best description we have of God’s throne. In Exodus 24:10, there is a vision at Mt. Sinai of the God of Israel with a paved work under Him of sapphire stone. Moses was invited up to God, in the glory cloud (Exodus 24:12-17). When Moses came down, after 80 days with God (40 the first time and 40 the second), his face reflected the glory of that image (Exodus 34:29-35). In Exodus 40:34, we are told that the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. In 1 Kings 8:11, we are told that the glory of the LORD filled the temple at its dedication. Psalm 18:7-12 speaks of God riding upon a cherub with brightness before him. Daniel speaks of God’s throne as being a fiery flame with wheels of burning fire (Daniel 7:9-10). But it is Ezekiel that gives us the fullest vision of what that glory looked like. And yet, for all that Ezekiel describes, he backs far away from saying this is what it will be like to meet God. Rather, he says that this is only an appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD (Ezekiel. 1:28).

This vision is one of the glory of God. It is this vision that permeates the book of Ezekiel. Thus, in Ezekiel 3:23, Ezekiel sees this same vision again in the land of his captivity. In Ezekiel 8:4, he sees it again in the temple in Jerusalem. In Ezekiel 10, it is this vision Ezekiel sees as God leaves the temple in Jerusalem, abandoning the temple ultimately to the Babylonians. In Ezekiel 11:22-23, Ezekiel watches as this vision moves east of the temple over the Mount of Olives. In Ezekiel 43:2-4, this same vision is seen again when God returns to the future temple.

I believe it is this vision we should have in mind when we come to Revelation 4:1-8, with the sea of glass, the lightnings, thunderings, the throne, and the rainbow.

Ezekiel 1 then is God pulling back the curtain just a bit to give us a peek at what it will be like to meet God. This is the glory of God. It is a spectacular sight. It is incredibly dynamic. To meet God is not a sedate, boring experience. It will fill your senses. The image is one of incredible imaging. We start on earth looking up and up as we go through the account. The whirlwind reminds us of God’s earlier appearance to Job (Job 38:1). Ezekiel saw this sight coming towards him. He attempted to describe what he saw, beginning with the creatures, then the wheels. But with the wheels, Ezekiel’s eyes began to rise. The wheels were so high they were awesome (Ezekiel 1:18). Then, as he continued to look higher, there above the living creatures was an expanse like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads (Ezekiel 1:22). Then, there was a voice above the expanse (Ezekiel 1:25) and Ezekiel looked on upward and saw a throne above the expanse, and as he continued looking farther up, there was a likeness of a man on the throne who had the brightness of fire (Ezekiel 1:26-27). The author of the book of Hebrews picks up on this and tells us that our God is a burning fire (Hebrews 12:29).

Thus, this image of Ezekiel 1, I believe, is an image of God’s throne. It is the place we come when we seek Him in prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16). It is an awesome place, a glorious place, a place where sin has no presence, and yet we are welcomed there when we come in humility through Jesus Christ.

Some read Ezekiel 1 and focus on the creatures and the wheels. They miss the main point. The creatures and wheels are simply the supporting cast of the One who rides on the cherub and comes to our need. He comes to us. But, the story of Ezekiel is that if we turn our backs on Him, ignore Him, and pursue our own desires, He will go away. He did then, and He will again. But, this is not at all His desire. He wants to come and be a part of His special creation. And, at the end, even in Ezekiel, the last we see of the vision is His return, a glorious return to His people.

I hope this helps. May you pursue God with all of your heart and find Him in all of His glory. And may you, through His love, serve your fellow men and women with the touch of the glory that you have received from being associated with Him. In 2 Corinthians 3, we are told that Moses, who met God at Mt. Sinai, reflected God’s glory. We are also told that we ourselves are being changed into the glory of God by the Spirit (2 Corinthians. 3:18). May we be found worthy.

A fellow sojourner and seeker of His glory,


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