Scripture reading – Ezekiel 1; Ezekiel 2


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Having concluded our study of the prophecies and lamentations of Jeremiah, we continue our chronological study of the Scriptures in “The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel.”

Remember that Jeremiah served as the LORD’s prophet to Judah. His ministry spanned more than four decades and the reigns of the last five kings of that nation. Near the latter end of Jeremiah’s ministry, the LORD was preparing a young man named Ezekiel to serve Him as a prophet to a new generation. Indeed, he would have known of and perhaps revered the old prophet and his courage and passion for fearlessly declaring God’s Word to a rebellious nation. When he was 25 years old, Ezekiel was taken from Judah to Babylon and was numbered among the first captives (he and the prophet Daniel were contemporaries in Babylon, but there is no record that the two men knew one another).

Jeremiah was spared Babylon’s captivity and continued to preach and prophesy to Judah until Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. Living in Babylon, Ezekiel was tasked with foretelling Jerusalem’s imminent judgment and destruction to the Jewish exiles. He would spend his life in Babylon, calling the Jews to repent of their sins and turn to God. His ministry was to remind the Jews that the LORD would keep His covenant with Israel, and when 70 years of captivity were accomplished, they would be restored to their homeland.

Ezekiel 1


Ezekiel’s Calling (Ezekiel 1:1-3)

Being a man of priestly stock (for his father was a priest), Ezekiel was 30 years old when the LORD called him to serve as both priest and prophet (30 years old being the age men were ordained to the priesthood, 1:1-2). Ezekiel was eminently qualified to serve God’s people as a spiritual leader. From childhood, he would have been taught the Law and Commandments, trained for the Temple and its rituals, and was knowledgeable concerning the office and work of the priests. Ordained a priest and called by the LORD to be His prophet, Ezekiel ministered to a discouraged people who lived amid a heathen nation and under the shadow of God’s judgment.

Ezekiel’s Calling

A Heavenly Vision (Ezekiel 1:3-4)

Like the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6), who preceded him more than a century (760-681 BC), Ezekiel’s calling was a vision of God’s glory with the Lord sitting on the throne of heaven (Ezekiel 1:1). Describing the vision, Ezekiel testified, “I was among the captives by the river of Chebar [Kedar], that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God” (Ezekiel 1:1b).  Seeing the heavens rolled back as a scroll, we read, “The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest…and the hand of the Lord was there upon him” (Ezekiel 1:3). Ezekiel 1 recorded three visions that together gave Ezekiel an appreciation of “the likeness of the glory of the LORD” (Ezekiel 1:28b). 

Humbled by the LORD’s majesty, Ezekiel wrote, “I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:28c). Notice that fire had a prominent place in Ezekiel’s visions (fire being indicative of God’s holiness and judgment). Ezekiel testified, “I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a [burning] fire infolding itself [revolving circle of fire], and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber [i.e., molten bronze], out of the midst of the fire” (Ezekiel 1:4).


Vision of Cherubim (Ezekiel 1:5)

The LORD imparted to Ezekiel a vision of four “living creatures” (Ezekiel 1:5), who were later identified in Ezekiel 10 as cherubim, that attended the throne of God (Ezekiel 1:5-14; Ezekiel 10:1-22). What are cherubim? They are “living creatures [beings]” (Ezekiel 1:5, 14, 15; Ezekiel 10:15). Ezekiel described them as having “the likeness of a man” (Ezekiel 1:5).

Cherubim were the angels who served as the guardians of the Tree of Life and stood guard at the entrance to the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3:24). Two golden cherubim faced one another on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18-20). David observed that the LORD “rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind” (2 Samuel 22:11; Psalm 18:10). Cherubim were also stationed at the base of the throne of God (Ezekiel 10:1, 20).


Physical Appearance of Cherubim (Ezekiel 1:5-9)

The cherubim were described as having four faces, like that “of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle(Ezekiel 1:6, 10; Ezekiel 10:13). (Scholars suggest the four faces represented the various attributes of the cherubim. Perhaps the face of the man symbolized intelligence, the lion’s physical strength, the ox a service animal, and the eagle’s swiftness.) The cherubim were also described as having legs with “a calf’s foot” (Ezekiel 1:7), the “hands of a man” (Ezekiel 1:8), and wings (Ezekiel 1:9).

Physical Appearance of Cherubim

What purpose did Cherubim serve? (Ezekiel 1:12-14)

The cherubim were to serve the LORD wherever the Spirit of God did lead (Ezekiel 1:12). They were described as going “straight forward” and never turning aside from their ministry (Ezekiel 1:12). Their movement was as a fiery torch, and as swift as bright flashes of lightning (Ezekiel 1:13-14).


A Symbolic Picture of God’s Heavenly Throne Upon Four Wheels (Ezekiel 1:15-21; 10:9) 

Each cherub was described as having a wheel that supported God’s throne. I suggest that the wheels represented God’s readiness to move swiftly to meet the needs of His people. Through the wheels, the cherubim moved to accomplish their tasks, wherever the Spirit of God did lead (Ezekiel 1:19-20). Implying God’s omniscience and omnipresence, the cherubim’s wheels were described as having an inner rim, like an inner circle “full of eyes” (Ezekiel 1:18).

The Sound of Cherubim’s Wings (Ezekiel 1:22-25)

Above the heads of the cherubim was an expanse Ezekiel described as the color of “crystal” (i.e., like sparkling ice, Ezekiel 1:22). The sound of the movement of the cherubim wings was so loud that Ezekiel wrote, “I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host [a great army]: when they stood, they let down their wings” (Ezekiel 1:24). When God spoke, the wings of the cherubim were suddenly stilled (Ezekiel 1:25).


The Display of God’s Glory as He Sat on His Sapphire Throne (Ezekiel 1:26-28)

Ezekiel portrayed the LORD’s likeness as that of a man that sat on a throne of “sapphire stone” (Ezekiel 1:26). From his waist up, His appearance was like a fiery molten metal (Ezekiel 1:27a). From his waist down, He had the “appearance of fire” (Ezekiel 1:27b). The brightness of God’s glory was described as a brilliant rainbow in the sky (Ezekiel 1:28a).

Heaven became silent at the sound of God’s voice, and the cherubim “let down their wings” (1:25b). Ezekiel, seeing the glory of the LORD and Him sitting on His heavenly throne, fell on his face. Lying prostrate, he “heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:28) and said, “Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee” (Ezekiel 2:1).

The LORD Communicated His Word to Ezekiel

Ezekiel 2

The LORD Commissioned Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:1-5)

Addressing Ezekiel as “Son of man,” the young priest (30 years old, Ezekiel 1:1) learned the gravity of his ministry to the children of Israel who lived in Babylon (Ezekiel 2:3-4). Ezekiel’s calling moved the young man from anonymity to a ministry that provoked the anger of his rebellious people. 

The LORD instructed Ezekiel to stand up and listen as He warned, “Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me” (Ezekiel 2:3a). Notice that the sins of Israel were generational, for the people and “their fathers have [had] transgressed against” the LORD (Ezekiel 2:3b). They were spiritually obstinate and hardhearted (Ezekiel 2:4). Ezekiel would face a rebellious people. Still, if he was faithful to his calling, the LORD assured him, the people would “know that there hath been a prophet among them” (Ezekiel 2:5).

The LORD Cautioned Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:6)

Ezekiel was commanded, “Be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words” (Ezekiel 2:6). His ministry would be fraught with danger and rejection. Nevertheless, the LORD encouraged him, “Be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words…nor be dismayed at their looks” (Ezekiel 2:6).

The LORD Communicated His Word to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:7-10)

Where would Ezekiel derive the courage to face a people whom the LORD described as “most rebellious”? (Ezekiel 2:7-10)

The LORD prepared Ezekiel to be His prophet by giving him the spiritual nourishment he would need to confront a stiff-hearted people! The LORD commanded the young prophet, “Open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.” (Ezekiel 2:8).

What did the LORD put in Ezekiel’s mouth? It was the Word of God that declared His judgment of Israel. It was a scroll, “a roll of a book” (Ezekiel 2:9), upon which were written “lamentations, and mourning, and woe” (Ezekiel 2:10).


Closing thought

There are many lessons in these introductory chapters of Ezekiel. However, I suggest Ezekiel’s response to gazing upon God’s heavenly glory and hearing His word is instructive for all believers. When the young prophet saw the LORD’s glory and heard Him speak, he testified, “When I saw it, I fell upon my face”(Ezekiel 1:28).

May the same expression of humility be practiced when we come before the LORD to worship Him and hear His Word faithfully declared.

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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