Ezekiel 1 … Consider His Indescribable Glory

As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking, (1:28).

Here we go! As we spend the next forty-eight days digging into the book of Ezekiel, looking for the Lord to increase in our sight, looking for a glimpse of His Indescribable Glory in every page, there are sure to be days when we too will feel as though all we can see is a something like a whirlwind, and our heads are sure to swim.

As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire, (1:4).

So let’s start off with a little bit of background and context to help us get our bearings in the storm as we seek to consider His Indescribable Glory.

Ezekiel was included in the first deportation to Babylon in 597 B.C., along with King Jehoiachin (remember him from Jeremiah 52:31-34, who was ultimately shown favor when the new king of Babylon took the throne), and about 10,000 Jews (2 Kings 24:14).

During this first siege against Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar had taken Jerusalem’s king into exile and placed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Zedekiah, on the throne as his vassal king. But Zedekiah refused to heed the repeated warnings of Jeremiah to live in submission to Babylonian rule, which prompted another siege that ultimately resulted in the fall, and ruthless destruction of much of the city, in 586 B.C.

From the NIV Study Bible:

“…there among the exiles, [Ezekiel] received his call to become a prophet. He was of a priestly family and therefore was eligible to serve as a priest. As a priest-prophet called to minister to the exiles (separated from the temple of the Lord with its symbolism, sacrifices, priestly ministrations and worship rituals), his message had much to do with the temple… and its ceremonies.

Ezekiel was probably 30 years old when he received his call as a prophet. According to Numbers 4:3, a person entered active priestly ministry in his 30th year. Denied the ministry of the priesthood, Ezekiel received another commission —  that of a prophet.

Though Ezekiel lived with his fellow exiles in Babylonia, his divine call forced him to suppress any natural expectations he may have had of an early return to an undamaged Jerusalem. For the first seven years of his ministry (593-586 B.C) he faithfully relayed to his fellow Jews the stern, heart-rending, hope-crushing word of divine judgment: because of all her sins, Jerusalem would fall.

Once news was received that Jerusalem had fallen, Ezekiel‘s message turned to the Lord’s consoling words of hope for His people — they would experience revival, restoration and a glorious future as the redeemed and perfected kingdom of God in the world.

More than any other prophet (more than even Hosea and Jeremiah) he was directed to involve himself personally in the divine word by acting it out in prophetic symbolism.

Since the book of Ezekiel contains more dates than any other OT prophetic book, its prophecies can be dated with considerable precision… After receiving his call in July, 593 BC., Ezekiel was active for 22 years, his last dated prophecy having been received in April, 571 B.C (see 29:17).”

The book of Ezekiel is filled with symbolism, which would require much more time than we have to uncover, even partially. However, below are a few more notes taken from the NIV Study Bible to assist us in understanding some of the symbolism used.

  • 1:4 a storm cloud: often served as symbolic of God’s powerful and active presence.
  • 1:5 four living creatures: “Four,” which stands for completeness. The living creatures called cherubim in ch. 10, are throne attendants.
  • 1:6 four faces: Signifying their mobility as throne attendants of the heavenly King ever on the move through history.
  • 1:15 wheels: also symbolic of mobility.
  • 1:18 full of eyes: Symbolizes God’s all-seeing nature.
  • 1:28 the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord: When God’s glory was symbolically revealed, it took the form of brilliant light.

So while much of what was depicted in this opening chapter may leave us scratching our heads, one thing is certain, His Glory is truly Indescribable.

Consider His Indescribable Glory

In the NASB, seventeen times, the prophet describes his vision, with the word, “like,” which is also penned four times in “something like,”  and  twice in “looked like.” And ten times, Ezekiel refers to the “appearance” of his vision. It is clear that words could never accurately translate God’s Indescribable Glory!

But there is One Word, One Living Word, Who exactly revealed His Indescribable Glory.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men… 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, (John 1:1-4, 14).

His Indescribable Glory is seen in exactly Who Jesus Is. Jesus Who Is the Word; Jesus Who Is God; Jesus Who Is Eternal; Jesus Who Is Infinite; Jesus Who Is Creator; Jesus Who Is Life; Jesus Who Is Light. And Jesus reveals His Indescribable Glory in His Grace and Truth.

His Indescribable Glory is seen in His Grace that adopts us as His own and forgives us our sins.

He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (Ephesians 1:5-7).

His Indescribable Glory is seen in His Truth that speaks on behalf of the One Who sent Him.

So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him,” (John 7:16-18).

Jesus, Who Is the Son of God, is the exact representation of His Indescribable Glory.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3).

And one day, He is coming again, and all the world will see Him seated on His throne in His Indescribable Glory.

Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like lapis lazuli in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man, (1:26).

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,” (Matthew 25:31-32).

How do we respond to His Indescribable Glory?

When Ezekiel wrote of the visions of God, he referred to the visions of Elohim, the one true God; but he did not claim them as visions of Yahweh, the Name the LORD used to reveal Himself to Moses in His covenant and personal Name.

Perhaps we need a reminder, while we are brought into a personal relationship through His Indescribable Glory in Jesus, and we have the unbelievable privilege of access to Him through the blood covenant of His Son, He is forever Almighty and Holy God. Oh, let us never lose our sense of awe and holy fear before One so Indescribable in His Glory.

Worship the Lord with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! (Psalm 2:11-12).

It’s also interesting to note that Ezekiel’s vision came while by the river Chebar. The NIV Study Bible notes that this was possibly a place of prayer for the exiles.

Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. (On the fifth of the month in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile, the word of the Lord came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and there the hand of the Lord came upon him,) (1:1-2).

It’s likely Ezekiel was in that place of seeking Him with all his heart, and it is here that Ezekiel speaks of the hand of Yahweh upon him, the hand of His Covenant God, the hand of the One he knew personally through faith.

“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13).

And in the light of the overwhelming vision of His Indescribable Glory, Ezekiel responded the only way possible, he humbled himself in reverent worship. And it was then that he heard the Lord speak.

As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking, (1:28).

Perhaps if we feel the Lord has been silent, this is the place we too must begin. For He has revealed to us His Indescribable Glory through faith in His Son. Oh, let us fall on our face before Him and listen to Him!

Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” (Luke 9:35).

The day is coming when all will see His Indescribable Glory, but only those who have trusted His Son will remain in the eternal presence of His Indescribable Glory.

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,” (Matthew 25:31-32).

Oh today, let us pray for those who are blinded to the light, blinded through unbelief; and because of their unbelief are perishing.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

And as we pray, let us also be willing to serve through proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are blinded to His Truth. And wouldn’t it be glorious, if as we walked in our calling, perhaps we might be granted the privilege of seeing the Lord call others, as He did us, out of darkness into His marvelous Light? Oh, let us be willing vessels that others might come to know His Indescribable Glory in the face of Christ.

For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, (2 Corinthians 4:5-6).

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (1 Peter 2:9).

When we believe His Word and place our faith in Jesus, we are granted the Indescribable Gift of seeing His Indescribable Glory!

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  (John 11:40).

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Let’s Grow Together!

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