A. The Vision of God’s Glory, 1:1-28
(1:1-28) Introduction: being a true minister of God is one of the most difficult callings, or professions, in the world. A true minister lives for Christ and faithfully proclaims God’s Holy Word. Any minister who fails to live for God by disobeying His holy commandments is a hypocrite. And any minister who fails to faithfully proclaim God’s Word is a false teacher. Therefore, obeying and proclaiming God’s Holy Word are both essential for a person to be a true minister.
These two requirements are what make serving the Lord so difficult. When ministers live for God, their testimony often convicts those who live ungodly lives. As a result, the wicked often react by persecuting them. Sadly, the same reaction frequently occurs when ministers proclaim the holy commandments of the Word of God. Few people want to have their sins pointed out, and even fewer want to hear the truth about God’s coming judgment.
The point is this: being a true minister of God is difficult because we live in a depraved and corrupt world. The world is full of selfish, covetous, immoral, lawless, and violent people who prefer to continue in their wicked lifestyle rather than repent and obey the Lord.
If there was ever a minister who had a difficult calling, it was Ezekiel. In the present Scripture, God calls Ezekiel to be a very special prophet. His ministry would be special in that it would focus primarily upon the deeply discouraged Jewish exiles in Babylon. A spirit of hopelessness gripped the exiles because their nation had been almost totally destroyed in the war with Babylon. Most of their young men had been killed, and the vast majority of those who had survived were now scattered throughout the Babylonian Empire. The exiles had suffered the loss of their…
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But the people’s discouragement and spirit of hopelessness were not the only problems Ezekiel faced. False teachers were giving the people an empty hope by proclaiming a message totally different from the Lord’s Word. Instead of proclaiming the consequences of sin and the coming judgment, these false teachers were encouraging the captives to believe that they would soon be freed from their captivity. Therefore, a most difficult task awaited Ezekiel, for messages emphasizing the desperate need for repentance were the need of the hour. To prepare Ezekiel for the task, the Lord gave him a very special vision. This is, The Vision of God’s Glory, 1:1-28.
1. The heavenly visions of Ezekiel: a picture of God’s heavenly call (vv.1-3).
2. The huge, dark storm and tornado: a picture of God’s blazing holiness and awesome power (v.4).
3. The four living beings: a picture of God’s rule over all creation (vv.5-14).
4. The four wheels: a picture of God’s readiness to move and help (vv.15-21).
5. The vast, sparkling expanse and the throne of God: a picture of God’s glory (vv.22-28).
1. The heavenly visions of Ezekiel: a picture of God’s heavenly call (vv.1-3).
1. (1:1-3) Call, of Prophets, Ezekiel—Vision, of God, Seen by Ezekiel—Heaven, Opening Up, Seen by Ezekiel—God, Vision of, Seen by Ezekiel—Ministers, Call of, Ezekiel: Ezekiel saw the heavens opening up onto the most spectacular sight he had ever seen. When he looked up at the sky, he saw the clouds rolling back. It seemed as though space itself was parting so that he could see into another world, a world the human eye cannot see. Ezekiel actually saw into the unseen spiritual world, the spiritual dimension of being. Amazingly, he saw a vision of God (v.1).
Because of the significance of this event, Ezekiel recorded the date: it was on the fifth day of the fourth month of the thirtieth year. Although the meaning of the “thirtieth year” is not given, it most likely refers to his age because in Israel a priest began his ministry in the temple in his thirtieth year (Num. 4:1-3, 23). To clarify the date, Ezekiel added that it was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s exile (597 B.C.), which was the same year he himself was deported. All of the dates in Ezekiel are based on the year of King Jehoiachin’s exile to Babylon (v.2).
Of course, Ezekiel was not able to serve in the temple because of his exile and the Babylonians’ subsequent destruction of the temple. Most likely, he was grieving the loss of his ministry and discussing the situation with the Lord. Praying and seeking the Lord, as any genuine believer would do in such dire circumstances, Ezekiel looked to God for encouragement. He wanted the Lord’s guidance and an opportunity to minister to the people despite their bondage in Babylon.
God confronted the prophet somewhere along the bank of the Kedar River, which ran southeast into the Great Euphrates River. Apparently the Babylonians had settled a group of Jewish exiles there. Perhaps in his longing to get alone with the Lord and seek His face, Ezekiel had walked along the riverbank to get away from the settlement. He was obviously living for God and walking closely with Him. Although his heart was broken because he was unable to serve in the temple, he was making himself available for the Lord to use.
As Ezekiel walked along, the Lord suddenly spoke to his heart, calling him from the ministry of a priest to that of a prophet. God’s hand came upon him as never before and took complete control of his life. Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, the Zadokite priest (44:15-16; 1 Kings 1:32-35), was thereafter to be known as Ezekiel, the prophet of God. God set him apart to be His spokesman, to proclaim the Word of God to everyone he could reach, both Jew and Gentile. However, his ministry was to focus upon the Jewish exiles in Babylon.
Having been reared in a priestly family and educated for the priesthood, Ezekiel was well equipped for his ministry among the exiles. His background as a priest was essential for his new ministry. As a priest he was familiar with…
Knowing God’s Word—His law and covenants—enabled Ezekiel to point out the people’s sins and their desperate need to repent and return to the Lord. He was able to give them solid instruction about how to live a righteous and victorious life despite their bondage in Babylon. Moreover, he was able to share the wonderful promises of God’s Word, thus giving the discouraged exiles great assurance and hope. Ezekiel’s knowledge of the temple and priesthood made him the perfect prophet to share the glorious promise and design of the new temple that was to be built during the Messiah’s kingdom on earth (40:1–46:24).
Thought 1. God calls some people to very special ministries on earth. When He calls, it is up to the individual to respond and accept the call. Each person called must willingly surrender to the Lord and undertake the assigned task. Scripture after Scripture show how God calls people to take His Word into the world and fulfill particular tasks.
1) There was the call of Abraham:
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (Gen. 12:1).
2) There was the call of Moses:
“Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Ex. 3:10).
3) There was the call of Gideon:
“And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?” (Judg. 6:14).
4) There was the call of David:
“Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah” (1 Sam. 16:13).
5) There was the call of Solomon:
“And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in” (1 Kings 3:7).
6) There was the call of Elijah:
“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him” (1 Kings 19:19).
7) There was the call of Isaiah:
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isa. 6:8).
8) There was the call of Jeremiah:
“Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth” (Jer. 1:4-9).
9) There was the call of Zerubbabel:
“In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts” (Hag.2:23).
10) There was the call of the apostles, an example of God’s call to all ministers of the gospel:
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).
11) There was the call of Paul the apostle:
“But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15).
“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee” (Acts 26:16).
12) There is the call of God’s servants, all who truly believe and trust Him:
“And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come….Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (Mt.22:3, 8-10).
13) There is the call of the foolish, weak, lowly, and despised of this world:
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).