Ezekiel 1-2

Thursday Evening Bible Study

July 14, 2005


Author: the prophet Ezekiel

Written: 592-570 B.C.

Ezekiel lived at the same time as the prophet Jeremiah, though he would have been a bit younger than Jeremiah. This was the time of the destruction of the nation of Judah and the Babylonian captivity.

While Jeremiah stayed in Jerusalem and ministered to the people there, Ezekiel was one of the captives taken to Babylon. His ministry was with those in captivity in Babylon.

There were various groups were taken captive off to Babylon.

The first group that was taken in 605 BC included some of the royal family, and included captives like Daniel.
A second group, containing 10,000 captives taken in 597 BC included the King Jehoiachin and Ezekiel the prophet.
The final group was taken at the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, which took place in 586 BC.

The first section of Ezekiel, chapters 1-24 deal with prophecies concerning the coming destruction of the nation of Judah and the city of Jerusalem.

Ezekiel 1 – Ezekiel’s Vision of God

1:1-3 The date of the call

:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the River Chebar, that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

the thirtieth year – possibly Ezekiel’s age. As a priest, this would be the year that he would enter into serving the Lord (Num. 4:3).

River Chebar – a river in Babylon. Some have suggested that it was actually the “Grand Canal” that Nebuchadnezzar had dug to connect the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

See maps – it’s not a straight trip from Jerusalem to Babylon. You would normally travel directly north until you came to the river Euphrates. Then you would make your way along the river to Babylon. As the F-16 flies, it’s only about 500 miles from Jerusalem to Babylon. As the ancient traveler walked, it was closer to 800 miles.

Ezekiel will catch a glimpse of heaven.

:2 On the fifth day of the month, which was in the fifth year of King Jehoiachin's captivity,

This particular vision will come in 593 BC.

:3 the word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there.

EzekielGod strengthens”

It would seem that Ezekiel grew up in the land of Judah, but was taken captive at the age of 25 and taken to Babylon. In Babylon, he settled in his own house in a village near Nippur, along the river Chebar (3:15, 24). He prophesied for at least 22 years (1:2 and 29:17-21). His wife died in 587 (24:16-18).

the priest – Ezekiel was a descendant of Aaron, of the line of priests. There are going to be things that he will write about that will show his priestly perspective. He will give us insight into things happening back at the Temple in Jerusalem. He will receive a vision about a future Temple with it’s rules and regulations for the priests.

:4-14 The Cherubim

:4 Then I looked, and behold, a whirlwind was coming out of the north, a great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself; and brightness was all around it and radiating out of its midst like the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.

I looked … – Ezekiel was a guy who saw things. A dream is when you see something while you’re asleep. A vision is when you “see” something while you’re awake. Through his ministry he had several “visions” where he caught glimpses of God, of things going on in other parts of the world, and where he saw things that were going to happen in the future.

As this vision begins, Ezekiel sees a huge storm cloud that is glowing from inside.

:5 Also from within it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a man.

Four living creatures –

Ezekiel will be informed later that these creatures are the “cherubim” (Eze. 10:15).

The singular is “cherub”. When you hear the word “cherub”, don’t think of little babies with wings.

There are two cherubim molded onto the lid of the Ark. They use their wings to cover the “mercy seat” or the representation of God’s.

These are angelic beings that surround God’s throne and seem concerned with protecting God’s holiness.
A cherub was appointed to guard the way into the garden of Eden to keep man out after he had sinned (Gen. 3:24).
Satan was once one of the cherubim (Eze. 28:14, 16)

Isaiah saw them and called them “seraphim” (Is. 6).

John saw them (Rev. 4-5).

There is a human-like appearance to them.

:6 Each one had four faces, and each one had four wings.

They weren’t “two-faced” but “four-faced” creatures.

Isaiah said they had “six” wings, but it’s possible that Ezekiel doesn’t see all the wings.

:7 Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the soles of calves' feet. They sparkled like the color of burnished bronze.

Their legs were straight like human legs, but instead of human feet they had calves hooves. They glowed.

:8 The hands of a man were under their wings on their four sides; and each of the four had faces and wings.

:9 Their wings touched one another. The creatures did not turn when they went, but each one went straight forward.

The cherubim wings touched each other, perhaps as the wings of the cherubim did on the mercy seat. Each cherub had four wings, and two of those wings were touching the wings of the cherubim on either side, forming a sort of square.

They didn’t need to turn their head when they changed directions. Because each being had four faces, they had eyes in front, on the side, and in the back. Every direction they moved was moving “forward”.

:10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man; each of the four had the face of a lion on the right side, each of the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and each of the four had the face of an eagle.

Why does each cherubim have these particular four faces? Who knows?

Some have tried to apply these to the four gospels, but I’m not sure about how you can prove that.

Some interpreters feel that these represent intelligence (man), power (lion), service (ox), and swiftness (eagle).

Others feel that these faces represent the highest forms of life in God’s created realm. Man was mentioned first because he was the best of God’s creative work. He was followed by the lion, “king” among wild beasts; the ox, one of the strongest of domestic animals; and the eagle, the “lord” of the birds.

:11 Thus were their faces. Their wings stretched upward; two wings of each one touched one another, and two covered their bodies.

:12 And each one went straight forward; they went wherever the spirit wanted to go, and they did not turn when they went.

wherever the spirit wanted to go … I like that idea.

(John 3:8 NKJV) "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

:13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches going back and forth among the living creatures. The fire was bright, and out of the fire went lightning.

:14 And the living creatures ran back and forth, in appearance like a flash of lightning.

These guys move fast, as fast as lightning.

:15-21 The wheels

:15 Now as I looked at the living creatures, behold, a wheel was on the earth beside each living creature with its four faces.

Some have suggested that this whole picture in front of Ezekiel is that of a huge chariot – resting on some type of wheel structure.

It’s interesting to note that when Elijah was taken up into heaven, it was in a chariot of fire:

(2 Ki 2:11 NKJV) Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

:16 The appearance of the wheels and their workings was like the color of beryl, and all four had the same likeness. The appearance of their workings was, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

beryl – A rare silver-white metal similar to aluminum. Beryl ranged in color from bluish green to yellow, white, pink and deep green.[1]

a wheel in the middle of a wheel – the general consensus is that each cherub had two wheels, with one wheel inside the other, but turned at a right angle. The idea is that the device could roll in any direction without turning.

:17 When they moved, they went toward any one of four directions; they did not turn aside when they went.

:18 As for their rims, they were so high they were awesome; and their rims were full of eyes, all around the four of them.

full of eyes – perhaps a picture being able to see everything?

:19 When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up.

:20 Wherever the spirit wanted to go, they went, because there the spirit went; and the wheels were lifted together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

:21 When those went, these went; when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up together with them, for the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

1:22-28 The Throne

:22 The likeness of the firmament above the heads of the living creatures was like the color of an awesome crystal, stretched out over their heads.

firmamentraqiya‘– extended surface (solid), expanse, firmament. Perhaps something like a “platform” stretching out over the heads of the cherubim. The platform is dazzling like crystal or ice.

(Ezek 1:22 NIV) Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked like an expanse, sparkling like ice, and awesome.

John said that the throne of God was surrounded by a “glassy sea”

(Rev 4:6 NKJV) Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

:23 And under the firmament their wings spread out straight, one toward another. Each one had two which covered one side, and each one had two which covered the other side of the body.

:24 When they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a tumult like the noise of an army; and when they stood still, they let down their wings.

noise of many waters – not that these are “jets”, but I wonder if the sound was similar.

:25 A voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads; whenever they stood, they let down their wings.

The voice is God’s voice. When they lowered their wings and stood still, God spoke.

:26 And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like a sapphire stone; on the likeness of the throne was a likeness with the appearance of a man high above it.

:27 Also from the appearance of His waist and upward I saw, as it were, the color of amber with the appearance of fire all around within it; and from the appearance of His waist and downward I saw, as it were, the appearance of fire with brightness all around.

:28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.

See pictures

There have been plenty of ideas over the years as to what Ezekiel saw.

A popular idea nowadays is that he actually saw UFO’s.

But this is not what the Bible is describing – unless you consider God’s throne an unidentified flying object.

Ezekiel was seeing the very throne room of God, just as Isaiah and John saw.

The idea is that Ezekiel’s call to the ministry is coming from God Himself.

Who did Ezekiel see on the throne?

The Bible tells us that it could not have been God directly.

(John 1:18 NKJV) No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

It’s possible that he saw Jesus on the throne.

Isaiah saw the “Lord” on the throne (Is. 6:1), and John tells us that Isaiah saw Jesus (John 12:41).

Ezekiel tells us that it was the “appearance of the likeness of the glory of God”. (vs. 28)

Ezekiel’s response was to fall flat on his face before God.

Ezekiel 2

2:1-10 Ezekiel commissioned, Spirit enters Him

:1 And He said to me, "Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you."

son of man – a term used 93 times in the book of Ezekiel. God is God. Ezekiel is man. It refers to his human limitations. Jesus was called the “son of man” and the “son of God”.

:2 Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me.

Ezekiel has an encounter with the Holy Spirit. He is filled with the Spirit.

:3 And He said to me: "Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day.

Isaiah and Jeremiah had similar callings, being sent to a stubborn, rebellious people.

:4 "For they are impudent and stubborn children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.'

:5 "As for them, whether they hear or whether they refuse; for they are a rebellious house; yet they will know that a prophet has been among them.

Whether or not they listen to what Ezekiel has to say, they will walk away knowing that a prophet has spoken.

:6 "And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house.

It doesn’t sound as if Ezekiel is going to have much fun in the ministry.

When God begins to use you in the lives of those around you, some pretty neat things happen. To see God at work through you is an amazing thing.

And for the most part, people appreciate what God is doing in you.

But if you want to go further in learning to serve God, you are going to find out that there are also going to be many, many times when you will be facing “briers, thorns, and scorpions”.

I’ve heard many a long time pastor say, “If you can do anything else rather than full-time ministry, do it”.

:7 "You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.

Ezekiel needs to pay attention to say what God has given to him. Ezekiel’s duty is to speak, not to make them listen.

:8 "But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you."

:9 Now when I looked, there was a hand stretched out to me; and behold, a scroll of a book was in it.

:10 Then He spread it before me; and there was writing on the inside and on the outside, and written on it were lamentations and mourning and woe.

This scroll in the vision is a symbol of all that God is going to give Ezekiel to say. In a sense, it is a picture of the Word of God.

Scrolls were typically made of animal leather. They usually only had writing on one side, but this one has writing on both sides (“inside and on the outside”) because God has so much to say.


Godly Ministry

Ezekiel’s own call to the ministry gives us some great lessons as to what ministry is all about.
Ministry is not just for “paid professionals”.  It’s for all of us.
My job as a pastor is:

(Eph 4:11-12 NKJV)  And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, {12} for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

Ministry is done by all of us.

1. Knowing God – having an encounter with Him (ch. 1)
I hate to say it, but there are people in places of ministry who have never actually met Jesus Christ.
I wonder why people even want to be involved in the church without knowing the head of the church.

Perhaps it’s because they want to do something good with their life.

Perhaps it’s because they want to stand up in front of people and be recognized and loved.

Some people enter into professional ministry because they have failed at everything else and it looks like an easy job.

Any kind of ministry, professional or volunteer, starts with an encounter with God Himself.

You must be born again.  You must believe that Jesus is the Christ and that He died for your sins.  You must open your heart to Him.

2. Being filled with the Spirit (2:2)
(Ezek 2:2 NKJV)  Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me.
Jesus told the disciples not to do anything until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 1:4-8 NKJV)  And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; {5} "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." {6} Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" {7} And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. {8} "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

Paul found some disciples who did not know about the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 19:1-6 NKJV)  And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples {2} he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." {3} And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." {4} Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." {5} When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. {6} And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

Without the power of the Holy Spirit, nothing we do is worth much at all.
3. Being filled with God’s Word (3:2)
(Ezek 3:2 NKJV)  So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll.
In teaching the Corinthians about communion, Paul wrote,

(1 Cor 11:23 NKJV)  For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;

He had been taught by the Lord.

Spending time in God’s Word.  Letting God’s Word touch your life first.

[1]Youngblood, R. F., F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, & Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995.