Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ezekiel's Close Encounter - Chapter 1

My last post on Ezekiel was out of sequence, but it illustrated in a small way the kind of thing God was asking Ezekiel to do. I received a book for Christmas called The Insanity of God. It's an unusual title that applies well to what God wanted Ezekiel to do. In order to impress Ezekiel with the heavenly host, God orchestrated Ezekiel's close encounter with a heavenly flying object.

It happened while Ezekiel was in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; that the hand of the LORD came upon him. It was a scene much like in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the mother freaks out because she sees clouds pulsating with lights coming down towards her home. Ezekiel's vision had lights, technology, colors, creatures, and sounds that were equally terrifying. 

The winds and roiling clouds flashing with bursts of light came down to deposit, what is called in Hebrew, a merkavah. Israel's IDF would later use this word as the name of their battle tank. It was a glimpse of the spiritual realm that is normally hidden from our dimensionally bound eyes.
"Ezekiel's vision of God’s chariot became the biblical text most important to Jewish mysticism. The story of the prophet encountering God spawned merkavah mysticism, aptly named for the merkavah or chariot on which Ezekiel rode to the heavens. Followers of this type of mysticism sought to recreate similar experiences and ascend into God’s realm."
The adjectives used to describe the structure are attempts to compare it to things Ezekiel could understand, such as: "They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze."

There were five things that Ezekiel mentions: 
* Four living creatures with wings that flew while emanating lightning bolts
* Fire that was the radiant force of the creatures and the man on the throne
* An Expanse like crystal spread above the heads of the four living creatures and on which stood a throne
* A man who sat on the throne
* Wheels within wheels with rims ringed with [what looked like] eyes.

"Now over the heads of the living beings there was something like an expanse, like the awesome gleam of crystal, spread out over their heads.
which was alive with amazing beings arrayed in symmetry around a throne."

The four living creatures are mentioned several times in the book of Revelation as prominent members of the heavenly royal court. In that book they worship the Lord. Each living creature was human in form but possessed parts taken from animals on earth. Its head or head covering had four different faces: in the front was the face of a man, the right face was like a lion's head, the left face was like the face of a bull, and behind was the face of an eagle. I know it sounds weird! How do you think Ezekiel felt! The four faces were joined together on one torso, apparently, with a pair of legs and hands on each side. When I say the 'legs were straight, had feet like calve's feet, and gleamed like bronze',  I can easily understand why you might think they were machines, but the text says 'Living creatures.'

The temptation to attribute all of this to a machine has fired the imagination of many. When I was 19-20 years old, an author named Erich Von Daniken wrote the book Chariots of the Gods that sought to show this was one of many early encounters with UFOs. Later, a book called Crash go the Chariots by Clifford Wilson debunked the methods used by Von Daniken.

And then there were the wheels within wheels in a gyroscopic arrangement that has befuddled and inspired many. There's even an Internationally-recognized klezmer ensemble named Ezekiel’s Wheels!

I believe that the man on the throne was a pre-incarnation appearance of the Son of the Father, Yeshua/Jesus. The Son, as the Gospels would later show, is the communication arm of the Father, Who is invisible.

A Messianic friend I know (Asher Intrater), has written a fascinating book called Who Ate Lunch With Abraham? that goes over all of the times and places where God is visible in the TeNaKh.

What was the purpose of the vision? Why did The Godhead appear this way? I don't know that answer, but the purpose was to inaugurate Ezekiel as a prophet. This brings us into chapter 2.

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