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A Study on God’s Glory and Its Consequence, from Ezekiel 1-6

2 November, 2010

While reading the first few chapters of Ezekiel the last few days, one central them has been reoccurring throughout: the stark difference between the revealed nature of God and the nature of man.

The revealed glory of God:

While Ezekiel was near the Chebar canal (pretty cool that they had canals way back when) God revealed himself to Ezekiel.  It went a little something like this:

Four living creatures, each with four wings, each with four faces.  We get the impression that they had a round head with a face facing each direction.  They had a human face, probably staring at you; a lion’s face on the right side, probably keeping an eye on you too; the face of an ox on the left side with at least one eye watching you; and on the back, the face of an eagle. Scared yet?  So with these four wings, two were used for flying, and all the creatures were in a line, with their wing-tips touching.  Better than the blue angels, I’m sure.  The other two wings were covering their bodies, but you could still see their calves’ feet and human hands.  The bodies shined like bronze.  Burning bronze.
Also, basically the whole thing looked like a lightning-esque fireball.  Not friendly looking, that’s for sure.  Mostly just terrifying.
After Ezekiel sees and comprehends the creatures, he then notices some sweet rides that are moving along the ground next to each creature.  Its like a wheel, I guess.  A wheel within a wheel, that doesn’t turn when it moves and has the appearance of gleaming crystal.  And the rims are covered with eyes.  Eyeballs.  Staring at you.  Oh and the wheels could fly just like the creatures.  Scared yet?  Better question: ashamed yet?
And these creatures aren’t even the revealed glory of God.  They are just his escorts.

Above the four creatures in the cloud lightning was a huge expanse.  The whole expanse shined like crystal.  Not like the bankrupt-stained glass of the Crystal Cathedral, but like real crystal.  Godly crystal.  The creatures flew under the expanse, and it sounded like the sound of the Almighty when their wings beat.  And then He spoke.  And then they stopped.  And then Ezekiel saw what was above the expanse.

A throne-like thing that looked like sapphire.  A human-like thing that looked like gleaming metal above the waist, but with all the colors of a rainbow below the waist.  And there was brightness all around.  Sheer brightness.  We can call this a Christophany

Ezekiel fell on his face.  In awe? In wonder? In shame? Yes. Yes. And yes.

The nature of man, as described by the revealed glory of God:

A bunch of rebels.  And in the worst sense of the word.  Rebellion that goes back to their fathers, and continues to that very day.  “To the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against Me.”  That “Me” is one with the glory that we have just discussed.  Its bad-news to rebel against that.

“Not to people of foreign speech and hard language, but to the house of Israel… Surely if I sent you to [the former] they would listen to you.  But the house of Israel will not be willing to listen to you, because they are not willing to listen to Me.”

They have a hard forehead.  They have a stubborn heart. They are a rebellious house.

After a bit more of this, the Spirit lifts up Ezekiel and he hears a sound as loud as an earthquake.  But it says something: “Blessed be the glory of the Lord from its place!”  It was the sound of the wings of the creatures as they touched one another.  And the sound of the wheels beside them.  And lo, it was the sound of an earthquake.  The Spirit took Ezekiel to be among the exiles of Israel, where he would see the consequence of God’s glory and man’s sin.

The Consequence:

First, Ezekiel is bound and his tongue dried so that he cannot speak unless it is time for him to speak.

Then the Lord shows him how the nation of Israel will be laid siege for 390 days.  And the house of Judah, 40 years.  The way this is reveal is that Ezekiel must carve the image of Jerusalem on a brick.  Imagine carving the image of a city on a brick. Then he must put an iron grate between he and the brick, and lie there for 390 days.  One day for each year.  The same is done for the house of Judah.

During this time, Ezekiel must eat only bread made from wheat and barley, beans and lentils, and millet and a type of Jewish wheat called emmer.  Then the LORD tells Ezekiel the most dire consequence yet: He will bake this bread in the presence of the people on human dung.  At this point Ezekiel says, “Nuh uh.  No way.  LORD you of all people should know that I haven’t defiled myself by eating anything defiled.  No way I’m eating off human dung.”  And the LORD replies, “Yea, OK sure. You get to bake it on cow dung instead of human dung.”

I can just imagine Ezekiel saying, “Oh OK yea that’s better.”  False.  That is like saying you can….well I don’t think I have to make an analogy.  That’s sick.  That’s the consequence of Israel’s sin!  They will go and they will eat their bread unclean among the nations that the Lord will send them.  Because of their sin!

And after all that, Jerusalem will be destroyed.  The people (God’s chosen people) will be made a desolation and an object of reproach among all the nations around them, and among all who pass by.

“Yet I will leave some of you alive.  When you have among the nations some who escape the sward, and when you are scattered through the countries, then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols  And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.  And they shall know that I am the LORD.  I have not said in vain that I would do this evil to them.”

 

What does it amount to?

This is as far as I have made it in Exodus, but praise the Lord I have read the New Testament!  If this was the end of the prophesy of Ezekiel I’m sure the people would have no hope.  I do know the story of the redemption of the dry bones later in Ezekiel, and that gives hope to this destroyed people.

What I also realize is that these people are just like us.  Except they may even be better off.  We are (for the most part) not God’s chosen race.  If you are 1/2 Jewish, that’s still not good enough.  And if you’re Jewish and don’t believe in the resurrected Messiah, that’s just rebellious (and we’ve seen what happens to those people).  So we the people are hopeless if the story ends here.  We are to be (rightly, justly) destroyed by the fury and wrath of the Lord, because He is so glorious.  If our glory falls short of His own glory, we have no place in His presence.  If you don’t have four creatures with four wings and four faces each escorting you, then your glory falls short of God’s glory, and you have no right to be in His presence.

BUT we know the good news.  We know that from this remnant that the LORD spared on his day of wrath prophesied in Ezekiel, a Savior was born.  This Savior was fully God, yet born of a woman.  His name is Immanuel, “God-With-Us”.  He was not rebellious.  His father is not rebellious, but he is just as glorious as God, because His father is God the Father.  This Savior was killed for our transgressions, and took the punishment that we deserved that is described here in Ezekiel.  He took the punishment of being under siege for 390 years, of eating things cooked on dung, of being destroyed by all manner of plagues and famine.  And that is just the physical punishment that he took in our place.  He also took the death (eternal death) that is our just end because of our sin.  AND THEN He conquered it! He conquered all of that punishment, physical and spiritual.

He has promised us that by faith in His justifying us on judgment day, that we will no longer be faced with punishment from God.  The only things that can touch us now, can’t hurt us.  We can be persecuted, struck down, homeless, penniless, physically freedom-less, or any other myriad of things that the world thinks is punishment.  But we know that none of those things are truly punishment compared to the punishment that has been conquered by our Savior.  They are actually joy, because they help us relate to the suffering our Lord endured to give us eternal freedom, and eternal life with Him.

 

So these lessons on God’s glory and its consequence from Ezekiel seem bleak, but they should leave us feeling two things: Joy that there is good news beyond the wrath; Fear of the all-glorious, ever-worthy, all-wise Lord.  We are still capable of sinning.  That sin is just as rebellious as Israel’s sin in Ezekiel.  Embrace freedom, not sin.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Mom permalink
    3 November, 2010 15:24

    As always, your study and explanation of difficult Scripture is like water on a dry land…refreshing. In the Isaiah study I am doing, God used the wicked king of Assyria to deliver His wrath onto the rebellious Israelites and also preserved a remnant. (Isaiah 10)
    I think this message is repeated several times in the O.T. It certainly impresses me that without the attribute of God’s wrath, His attribute of grace is diminished. Both are too weighty for us to comprehend. Maybe that’s why He repeated it in His Word to us.

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