When you first met God, did you have a vision like Ezekiel? I’ll admit that I did not. Instead of seeing winged creatures, a giant throne, and an image of the divine full of fire, my experience of Jesus was quieter. When I reflect on my faith journey, I first noticed Jesus in the love of my extended family, through the testimony of friends and strangers, and in the beauty of art, music, and laughter. I met Jesus through the everyday occurrences of the ordinary. The prophet Ezekiel, however, has a different experience.
Ezekiel, like the book of Revelation, is a book filled with images because the prophet speaks through pictures. His prophetic activity probably started around 593 BCE (BC), prior to the fall of Jerusalem. Like Jeremiah, he talked about the coming destruction of the Temple and the Exile. Unlike Jeremiah, however, Ezekiel survives and continues to preach through the early part of the Exile. The population of Jerusalem is in Babylon yet God’s words still come to them.
Ezekiel begins with an image of God. The description of winged creatures and a chariot bring to mind the Holy of Holies, the place in the Temple where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. God is not confined to any one place but is completely other-worldly. God cannot be tamed and is, instead, “holy beyond our understanding and control” (Lutheran Study Bible, 2009). When God appears to Ezekiel, Ezekiel can only see a glimpse of God’s outline and glory. The flames, winds, and fantastic creatures are a reminder that we are not as powerful as we think we are. God can go anywhere and moves seamlessly in any direction. God isn’t trapped in a linear experience of time. God isn’t limited to human expectations or controls. Instead, Ezekiel reminds us that God is God and we are not.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for 9/04/2016.