The Berean Expositor
Volume 50 - Page 96 of 185
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pp. 76 - 80
Ezekiel's ministry commenced `in the thirtieth year' we are told, but no point of
reference is immediately given: it is not stated as the thirtieth year of a certain king's
reign, nor of the captivity. We are told also that this thirtieth year coincided with "the
fifth year of king Jehoiachin's captivity". Twenty-nine years before this date the book of
the law of the Lord had been found in the Temple, and the great Passover had been held
by Josiah. The nation had been given a tremendous opportunity: the Law had been
brought before them, by a king who was obedient to it; but as a nation it had no effect
upon them. Now the judgment has commenced and the captivity begun. Ezekiel is
called to prophesy against a background of judgment, and in prospect of judgment.
It was at this time, Ezekiel tells us, "the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of
God" (1: 1). Were this visions in which the prophet saw God, or were they visions
inspired by God? The Companion Bible note at this point suggests they were from God,
and as we read the accounts in chapters 1: and 10: it seems clear that this is the case:
"This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord" (1: 28).
What Ezekiel saw was not the representation of the glory of Jehovah; it was the
representation of the likeness of His glory. This is emphasized throughout: verse 5
alone, speaks of "the likeness of four living creatures", and they appeared like a man. As
the account is read, there is given to us the impression of a man seeking to describe the
It is tremendously impressive and awe-inspiring.
If the mere
representation of the likeness of the glory of God is so indescribably impressive and
awesome, what can the actual glory be like? And how totally unbearable would be a
direct vision of God Himself! Perhaps Ezekiel, more than any other whom God called,
was aware of the holiness and majesty and glory of Jehovah.
We have drawn attention to the similes in verse 5, and similar comparisons persist
throughout the passage. Verse 13 speaks of "the likeness of the living creatures, their
appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps". Verse 14
continues "and the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of
lightning". Again in verse 22 "And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the
living creatures was as the colour of terrible crystal", and who can describe "terrible
crystal"? So it continues to the end of the chapter:
"And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as
the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness
as the appearance of a man upon it.  And I saw as the colour of amber, as the
appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward,
and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of
fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud
in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the
appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord" (1: 26-28).