By Pastor David Goode
In 597 B.C., King Jehoiachin of Judah surrendered Jerusalem, the capitol of Judah, to the Babylonians.
Nebuchnezzer, King of Babylon, took King Jehoiachin into exile along with 10,000 of Judah's soldiers, statesmen, and craftsmen. Among them was 25-year-old Ezekiel, who was in training to be a priest and looking forward to serving God in the temple, like his father before him.
Ezekiel's priestly aspirations came to an abrupt halt because God had other plans for him. When he was 30, the age that he would have begun his priestly duties, Ezekiel was called by God to serve as a prophet.
Let's rewind nearly 200 years, then time travel forward and paint a picture of the ancient historical landscape during this epoch (a period marked by distinctive features and events).
In 776 B.C., the first Olympic games were held in ancient Greece. The Greek poet Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey" were written from oral tradition around 750 B.C. The Greeks begin making clay objects circa 650 BC.
Nebuchadnezzer built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in 594 B.C., just three years after Ezekiel arrived. Ezekiel most likely observed the building of this ancient wonder of the world. The Greeks used saws for cutting in 575 B.C.
Finally, Anaximander proposed a mathematical model of the universe in 555 B.C.
God called Ezekiel into service as a prophet to the Jews in Babylonian captivity. Along with this calling, God gave him an astounding vision. It displayed God's omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. He saw God in all of His majesty in a vision of fire and glory.
God was showing Ezekiel, through this vision that he must listen to the infinite wisdom of his Creator. This experience removed all self-sufficiency from Ezekiel and colored his entire ministry.
Let's step into the supernatural realm vicariously and experience the vision with him, starting in Ezekiel 1:4.
"I looked and I saw a windstorm coming out of the north, an immense cloud with flashing lightning, surrounded by a brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal. In the fire was what looked like four creatures. In appearance their form was that of a man, but each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight; their feet were like those of a calf and gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings, on their four sides, they had the hands of a man. [The creatures] wings touched one another and each one went straight ahead. They did not turn as they moved."
Now let's look at the imagery and symbolism in Ezekiel's vision. He saw a windstorm and a cloud, filled with flashing lightning and a brilliant light. The windstorm speaks of God's divine power. The cloud is a symbol of the Divine presence of God and indicates the splendor of God's glory, which it conceals.
Lightning is a token of God's wrath. It also represents God's glory and majesty. A brilliant light surrounded the cloud. Light frequently signifies instruction.
The four creatures were cherubim, or angels of the temple. Look at Ezekiel 1:10; "Each of the four creatures had the face of a man. On the right side, each had the face of a lion. On the left, the face of an ox; each also had the face of an eagle."
In Ezekiel's vision, each of the creature's four faces represented an aspect of God's perfect nature. The man's face symbolized intelligence, the lion's face - dignity, the ox - strength, and the eagle - speed.
Space does not permit me to explain Ezekiel's vision any further, but I pray that I have ignited your curiosity enough that you will read about Ezekiel's vision and call to be a prophet of God in Ezekiel chapters 1-3. A good study Bible will be essential for this in-depth, captivating prophetic journey.
Ezekiel's ministry was colorful, dramatic, intense, and highly ethereal (heavenly), bringing communication from the Creator God to His creation, mankind. He enjoyed spectacular visitations, angelic encounters and magnificent visions from God.
On one occasion, God transported Ezekiel in an open vision to the temple in Jerusalem. You can read about this in Ezekiel Chapter 8. His reputed tomb is located in the neighborhood of Baghdad, at a place called Keffil.
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God bless you and your family and loved ones. Enjoy your Bible study. Questions? Contact me.
Pastor David Goode is the senior pastor at Heart of Worship Ministries, which meets on Sundays at 3 p.m. in the arts and crafts room at the Port St. Lucie Community Center, 2195 Airoso Blvd., across from City Hall.
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