On the fifth day of the fourth month of the thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God. (Ezekiel 1:1)
Visions of God.
Distinctly different than Visions from God.
* * *
These were not only visions given by God, but manifestations of the divine glory of God. These types of visions are theophanies [theophany in the singular], and often took place at the beginning of the ministry of a prophet. Recall Isaiah seeing the mighty throne of God, Moses in front of the burning bush, John (the disciple) seeing Christ in the midst of the seven lamp stands . . . .
Why would God give his prophets visions of himself? One can consider it as a type of initiation for one who is now to enter a new realm of knowledge and perception, a new stage of his life, a new responsibility and mission.
* * *
I think when we are called to do a work—whether great or small—for Christ, God manifests his glory to us in some way or another. And yet, the manifestation is different from person to person, and often it is impossible to explain to others. Ezequiel, for example, describes what he saw: four beings of human form—but so strangely unlike humans at the same time. Four wheels. Lightning and thunder. Voices. A throne of lapis lazuli upon which was
“a figure whose face resembled a man. From what appeared to be his waist up, he looked like gleaming amber, flickering like a fire. And from his waist down, he looked like a burning flame, shining with splendor. All around him was a glowing halo, like a rainbow shining in the clouds on a rainy day” (Ezequiel 1:26-28)
* * *
It is said that the purpose of Ezequiel’s vision was to assure the exiles that despite the bleak outlook of the future, the current events had not escaped God’s control. It was to be an assurance that God was in complete control of the cosmos and the affairs of the world.
A revelation of God, therefore, can be a new insight to his character, a reminder of mercy, and a deeper knowledge of his love.
– – –
Have you ever had a vision of God?
What is the duty, if any, of anyone who has ever received such a vision of God?
What do you think is the meaning of the rainbow halo?
What could this symbol have signified to a people who had been through great hardship?