Ez.1:1-3:27 ‘…the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.’
There were seven visions during the 22 year period from 593 till 571 BC. The temple was destroyed in 586. So much for the historical background and as I mentioned in my introductory post focus is here for the Church which God is building. It is a tabernacle of God among men. (Rev.21:3) With this all encompassing view of redemption the God of hosts has for the literal and spiritual Israel the Israel of OT is a sign for us. In Isaiah we read that God uses his people as signs and wonders. ‘Behold I and the children…. are for signs and for wonders in Israel..’ (Is.8:18) It is in this context we need to understand the vision by the river of Chebar.
Let us pay attention to the form of vision. It is set in time and substance of the vision has its own peculiar coloring. God’s message requires man and his obedience is vital. God did not require him to fulfill as angels would have but as humans employing human speech and his every day circumstances. In this context we may be sure that the vision holds elements, motifs that the prophet would have been familiar with. Let us not forget the Pauline dictum, ‘But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God.'( 2 Co.4:7) In the service God Prophet Ezekiel was to be a watchman of Israel and required to bear the burden of God however terrible and painful it be. As a minister of God he was to reveal it according to the vision he received. It is a cooperative work that Ezekiel was required to do.
God commissioned Ezekiel to be the ‘watchman unto the house of Israel…'(Ez.3:17) As I mentioned earlier he bore witness in everyday circumstances. In other words God’s message was set in human context.
Thus when he lies on his right side or draws on a tile(4:1)he is bearing testimony to the vision. Whether he spoke or were shut up, and remained dumb he was a witness to them in accordance with the vision. He was merely discharging the commission.
time: Prophet Ezekiel goes at length to pinpoint the time reference. In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month and fifth year of King Jehoiachin’s captivity etc., The need for the surreal vision to be set within the bezel of time is not without relevance. It is God’s account of time and not finite time as we know it is the key. Thus the vision has a complexity that we can hope to understand by focusing in the manner God has chosen in other times to reveal his prophets and people. God’s leading and his ways are so manifold but will surely appear in His time. His intent for the House of Israel and Judah holds elements that must fully flower into events. These are often relevant far beyond the immediacy of the vision. In Isaiah we read of the coming of the Messiah and how Israel interpreted it and was accomplished meant two different things. In Is.7: 14 the birth of Jesus is predicted; and the significance of the name Immanuel cannot be lost on the Christian. He is the man of sorrows.(Is. 53. 3)The Saviour the children of Israel anticipated was the Saviour -King and for us the Anointed One did the ministry of Servant-King. So we need to steer clear off improbabilities while interpreting the vision of God. For this reason I do not think the living creatures were Aliens or UFO which are ingrained in popular culture, source of which is altogether irrelevant here.
God revealed the vision to the prophet though he was among other captives. ‘I was among the captives by the river..’