Current events in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Libya and countries all over the world are building toward a super catastrophe. Already we are living in a new horrifying reality! Politicians, analysts and even regular news watchers can see that more plainly every day.
What they don’t realize is that the Prophet Ezekiel forecasted this modern situation we face—and he accurately illustrated what is about to happen and how it will all end.
Ezekiel of the Old Testament is somewhat of a counterpart to what the book of Revelation is to the New Testament. Ezekiel contains a story flow of prophecy as the book of Revelation does. Understanding what God revealed in this book will help you prepare for the prophetic events that are coming.
Ezekiel covered some territory that the other prophets usually did not, and on a rather large scale. He describes a lot of horrifying events that God prophesied. He also balances that terrible news with good news, such as one of the most beautiful chapters in the Bible about the Bride of Jesus Christ. But there’s no escaping the stark detail with which Ezekiel prophesies what is coming on the modern descendants of Israel and the world.
Never in the history of man has Ezekiel had such a profound meaning as today!
Getting to know God
Getting to know the true God is a dominant theme in the book of Ezekiel. The people of this world have many different ideas of who and what God is. But their words and actionsprovethey don’t know God. In a few short years, Ezekiel prophesied, the whole world shall come to know God! That is where everything is leading. This world is about to know God for the first time ever. (Note such verses as Ezekiel 6:7, 10; 12:15, 20; 16:62; 34:27; 37:13-14.)
Before that happens to this world, God says His end-time very elect will send out a warning message. They will declare the book of Ezekiel in its entirety and help lead the world to get to know the true, living God. There is nothing more thrilling than truly knowing God! God reveals Himself in Ezekiel.
We really need to understand the introduction to Ezekiel, especially the first three chapters. It helps us get the priority right: It describes the great God and what He is doing through His people.
You can’t understand Ezekiel unless you understand the most remarkable part of the book: its first chapter.
Ezekiel 1:1 is about getting to know God: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.” God revealed awesome visions to a slave! I don’t believe anyone has ever seen such visions as Ezekiel did.
Ezekiel begins by describing an incredibly fiery spectacle. “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself [a fire inside a fire], and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire” (verse 4). This was some of the most intense brightness you can imagine. Ezekiel was seeing God in a vision.
God’s Spiritual Vehicle
“Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle” (Ezekiel 1:5-10).
This is a description of the spectacular, resplendent vehicle that God rides in. The creatures transporting God were cherubim, and they each have four faces—one looks like a man; the others look like animals: an ox, a lion, an eagle. The ordinary angels apparently resemble men. But cherubim are not ordinary angels—“every one had four faces.”
“As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning” (verse 13). This must have been most impressive—living creatures lit up like fire, and lightning coming out of the fire!
“And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. … And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings” (verses 14, 24). Ezekiel saw this great, luminous vehicle with wings and revolving wheels moving at lightning speed. It never had to turn; it would move instantly in any direction. Men had never seen anything like this—it looked like torches or lightning darting around. This was quite a vehicle—so awesome Ezekiel had trouble even explaining it.
Has anyone else ever had such a vision?
This has a parallel in the book of Revelation. In the first chapter of that book, the Apostle John describes a fiery vision of God he received—much like Ezekiel. Then he went on to use the name “Lord God Almighty” 10 times—more than any other book in the New Testament (aside from quotes of the Old Testament). Seeing that vision put John’s mind on the “Lord God Almighty,” and made John a different man! It helped him see God far more deeply than he ever had before.
Ezekiel also talked about “the Almighty God” (Ezekiel 10:5). When you get visions like that, you begin to see things differently! The visions Ezekiel received really stirred and changed him, just like the visions John received.
Do you know God as these men did? We in God’s Church see God working all the time. The miracles that empower this Church are not from men—God is doing them. But we sometimes don’t see Him as He really is—the Lord God Almighty behind this Work who accomplishes everything we do!
The God of Ezekiel
Look closely at what was on top of God’s amazing transportation system. “And there was a voice from the firmament that was over their heads, when they stood, and had let down their wings. 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 above upon it” (Ezekiel 1:25-26). Sitting upon this vehicle is the God of Ezekiel—the great God whom all the world will one day come to know.
Notice: This great God of Ezekiel 1, riding atop this awesome transportation system, looks like a man. Study Genesis 1, and you know that man is the only creature in the world that looks like God! God created us in His own likeness. We look just like Him, because we are created to be part of the God Family! Mankind is truly part of something so splendid and unique it is hard to even describe. Man is something magnificent in potential. We look like God, and He wants us to develop the very character of God also (Genesis 1:26; image means God’s character).
It’s hard to read the amazing description of the living creatures and realize how far superior in potential we are to them. We are to become sons of God. Angels never had that potential (Hebrews 1:5).
“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 [a rainbow], so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness ofthe glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake” (Ezekiel 1:27‑28). Compare this description with Revelation 1. How impressive God is to behold!
This is the God of the Bible. This is not little Lord Jesus in a manger, or Christ riding on a donkey. This is the God of Ezekiel and Revelation and the whole Bible! This is what He looks like and how He travels. How many people know this God?
Ezekiel fell over in shock when he saw this vision. He could do nothing but prostrate himself before this resplendent Being. And it was then that God spoke to him.
If you were Ezekiel, wouldn’t you listen? I believe I would, if I saw a vision such as this. Well, we are,in fact, receiving a vision like this—though not directly as Ezekiel did. God is revealing Himself to us today in powerful, miraculous ways—even in this message you are reading.
The Point of Ezekiel
In this first chapter, Ezekiel introduces us to God. This world is about to know God for the first time ever. If we don’t know God, we know nothing of real value! And if you don’t know the God of Ezekiel 1, you don’t know God!
If you gathered all the angels and demons together, and all of the physical creation, including man in his incredible potential, you would see just how wonderfully unique we are! How often do we thank God for our potential? We should thank Him every day for that! Because before we can really understand anything, we must understand the connection between this spectacular, fiery God and man! This is the real point of Ezekiel! When the spiritual creation of man is complete, man will be God’s masterpiece!
Again, only man has the potential to become like God in character.
No other message compares in excitement and exhilaration to this one. People who fail to grasp this truth study Ezekiel and come up with all kinds of wacky interpretations.
Lange’s Commentary says, “In the whole of the Old Testament, there is nothing more obscure than the beginning and the end of the book of Ezekiel.” In this book I will show you that it is not obscure.