A Wheel withing a Wheel - The God who is Everywhere
A Wheel Within a Wheel: The God Who Is Everywhere (Ezekiel 1:1-28)
What is God like in Himself? Is He a celestial policeman out to arrest sinners? Is He an indulgent grandfather who chuckles through eternity? Is He an oblong blur or a computer? J. B. Phillips said, "Your God is too small." He may also be too local and too limited.
We do not discover God by thinking about God. God reveals Himself or we would never know Him. Ezekiel's vision of God exceeds in length and detail from all others in the Bible. In a summer storm while he was a refugee in Babylon (Iraq), Ezekiel had the grandest vision of God in the Bible. He saw God on a chariot-throne. God is on a throne because He rules all. God's throne is on a chariot because God pervades all things. The vision is progressive, developmental. It begins with the lowest, earthliest aspects of God's power and moves up to the highest, heavenly aspects of God's person.
This vision reveals the inadequacy of all human language and pictures to speak of God. Fifteen times in this vision Ezekiel indicates that God "looks like" what he describes. He struggles with language to say what language cannot say. This passage is so potent that Jews were not supposed to read it until they were thirty!
God presents Himself as the eternal Ruler whose power and presence penetrate every circumstance.
Circumstances of Loss Prepare Us to Meet God
Most of us meet God as He really is out of our own human frailty in the midst of change and loss. By his thirtieth year Ezekiel had lost the location, vocation, and companion of his life.
We meet God when location changes. In 597 B.C., the prophet was taken from Jerusalem to the refugee colony in Babylon, seven hundred miles east across the desert. There he lived by an irrigation canal on top of a mound of ruined ancient cities. He dwelt in a mud brick house far from home. When we change locations in life we can know that God is there.
We can meet God when vocation changes. Ezekiel was a priest. He had spent five years preparing for the priesthood when he was suddenly uprooted from the temple and the temple was later destroyed. Instead of a priest in Jerusalem, he felt like a nobody in the refugee camp. Often change or loss of vocation leaves us vulnerable and open to a vision of God.
We can meet God in the loss of companion. Ezekiel's wife also died (24:18). He seemed to be stripped of everything. He was alone, without job or wife in a foreign land.
At just this time God came to him. A violent July storm swept across the plains of Babylon. Looking at the natural storm, Ezekiel had a supernatural vision. If you are experiencing life's losses, you too can by faith encounter God Himself.
God Reveals Himself as the Supreme Lord of Creation
God is omnipotent. All creation reflects His powerful purpose. God's allpowerfulness in nature is symbolized by the four living creatures (1:5-14). These creatures show God's power in its entirety. Each has four faces. The human face represents God's most exalted creation. The lion's face stands for the most exalted wild beast, as does the ox and the eagle the most exalted domestic and flying creation. Together they stand for God's power in all nature. The numeral "4" in the Bible stands for completeness in all the earth. The creatures represent God's activity in nature; their wings move them with energy. These creatures represent God's energy in nature. They move straight ahead with intensity of purpose (v. 9) and spiritual energy like fire (v. 13).
These creatures support the throne of God and He expresses His will through them. God is alive and has life in Himself. He does not need anything in nature. He rules above creation on His throne.
God is omnipresent. He penetrates all creation with His presence. God's chariot-throne is on mysterious wheels (vv. 15-18). These wheels intersect at right angles. This was the prophet's way of saying that the throne of God can move in any direction effortlessly. The whole of God's chariot-throne moves in any direction without the wheels ever turning.
In human language what better way could Ezekiel say that God's presence is everywhere? Contrary to all human laws of motion, God's presence is effortlessly present in unity at all places. Like Ezekiel, we may connect God with a particular geographical location. If things do not go well, we are tempted to think that God is not there. God is not localized. You never leave Him behind. He is already at your destination waiting for you.
God is omniscient. He knows all things. The wheels of His chariot-throne are "full of eyes." Although this sounds grotesque, it presents the reality that God sees all. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good (Prov. 15:3). We are completely transparent. God sees all and knows all. He has all information. He never revises or experiences surprises.
Do you grasp the implications of this for your life? Your personal circumstances never overcome the power of God. The movements of your life never take you away from God. The moments of your life are never beyond the view of God.
God Reveals Himself as the Holy One—Absolutely Different
God reveals His separation. The "otherness" of God is revealed in sight, sound, and symbol.
In sight, the throne of God is set on a firm foundation above the creation. The word suggests a flat surface of ice or crystal. In sound, the wings of the creatures emphasize the separation of God. They sound like the rushing of cataracts, the marching of an army.
In symbol, the holiness of God is presented with reluctance, reticence, and reverence. God's dominion is described as One who sits on a throne. That throne sits on a lustrous, marble floor. The description of the form of the One enthroned hides as much as it reveals (v. 27). From the waist up He looks like a contained fire, a hidden mystery. From the waist down, He looks like burning fire. Around His throne is a rainbow, the sign of covenant. He never changes His promises.
Man responds to God's revelation with submission and with God's affirmation. Ezekiel falls down as if dead at this awesome sight (v. 28). Yet God responds with affirmation (2:1-2). He does not want to overpower us with fear, but fill us with His Spirit and life.
Does not this vision make you happy that God revealed Himself in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ? This presentation of God is almost too much. In Jesus God put on human flesh and walked among us. We know Him in a way Ezekiel could never imagine. Yet this vision shows us what He is in Himself.