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Why the Weird Visions in Ezekiel?

By John A Carroll

Week 46 in the Word—November 12-18, 2021

This week, if you are following the Concealed and Revealed schedule, we will conclude Hebrews and begin our reading in Ezekiel. If you know anything about that latter book, you know that its author describes visions which are among the most confusing and bizarre in all the Bible—perhaps in all of literature.

What are we to make of these visions?

Take Ezekiel 1. The prophet tells us he saw a storm with wind, clouds, and fire—scarry but not unnatural, yet. However in the storm, he saw four living creatures with human appearances. Each creature had four faces (one human, one like a lion, one like an ox, and one like an eagle). They had four wings each which allowed them to fly with blinding speed as fire and lightning raged around them. Nearby were four wheels each having four more wheels within and eyes all over. They moved in sync with the living creatures at breakneck speed.

Above this sight, Ezekiel saw an expanse, a throne, and a likeness with a human appearance. A voice came from the expanse.

Who can truly picture this description? I have not even mentioned all of Ezekiel’s details. I confess my inadequacy. But that is the point, because next the prophet says, “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” What did he do? He goes on to say “…when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Ezek. 1:28b). He worshipped and he listened.

Neither the prophet nor all who read this are meant to fully comprehend the description. We are meant to do what Ezekiel did—perceive the likeness of the glory of the LORD and fall on our faces in worship. Better to do that than to dismiss the vision as the nightmarish musings of a demented mind or to get bogged down attempting to make graphic reproductions of the scene.

We are meant to be stunned, overwhelmed, and awe-struck at the sight that Ezekiel observed and that should drive us to fear God and worship Him in spirit and in the truth of His great power, holiness, and wisdom. There is none like Him. He is majestic, beyond imagination and description, invincible, unstoppable, supreme in every perfect and good way. He is infinite—space cannot contain Him, He is eternal—without beginning or end, unchangeable—His perfections mean He can never get better or be diminished. As you read Ezekiel and Hebrews consider how the Scripture reveals God in truth so that we may worship Him as He deserves.

As we will see, Ezekiel would need an accurate knowledge of the LORD who called him, for his job would be difficult and even fruitless from a human point of view. Ezekiel would be taken into dark places to see the reasons why God was bringing down the kingdom of Judah, her capitol, Jerusalem and even the temple. A deep knowledge of God would be essential to him, and he gained that knowledge because, through a strange vision, the LORD revealed it to him and to us through him.

To serve God, we must know Him deeply, being convinced that He holds all power and authority in heaven and on earth. What He sends us to do, He equips us to accomplish. His Word is the primary means for that equipping. So have a great week in the Word and let the truth of God inform you and overwhelm you. He is far above and beyond even the best and highest thoughts that we can conceive. Ezekiel’s vision demonstrates that. We will not understand the vision, but we will experience its intended purpose—listen, believe, know Him, and worship. That is enough.

Week of November 12-18, 2021

November 12/Day 316 Two Traits of True Believers (Ezekiel 1-3; Hebrews 9)

November 13/Day 317 Why the Good News Is So Good (Ezekiel 4-6; Hebrews 10:1-25)

November 14/Day 318 Holy Judge or Cosmic Cupcake? (Ezekiel 7-9; Hebrews 10:26-29)

November 15/Day 319 Arrogant Unbelief vs. Unwavering Faith (Ezekiel 10-12; Hebrews 11:1-19)

November 16/Day 320 Commended by God (Ezekiel 13-15; Hebrews 11:20-40)

November 17/Day 321 God Never Lets Us Go (Ezekiel 16; Hebrews 12)

November 18/Day 322 Ending Well (Ezekiel 17-19; Hebrews 13)

This schedule and devotionals are taken from my book Concealed and Revealed: a year in the old and new testaments. Available here.