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Ezekiel 1:1-3:15

08.16.2010

Zeke starts off his book by relating the initial vision he has where God comes and speaks to him, anointing him as a prophet, and leaves.  Wow, is it a doozy.  He’s sitting by a canal (presumably catfishing because everyone goes fishing for catfish in a canal, right?) and <BOOM> the earth starts to shake and this glowing gyroscope dealie with cherubim comes down to him and draws him up to the throne of God.  Some interesting points:

1:11 | Many of the details of the cherubim are consistent both with the description of the Ark of the Covenant and with the vision Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6.

1:16 | The wheels-within-wheels aspect of the chariot or gyroscope or whatever it is that the cherubim are riding/drawing remind me of Buddhist imagery.  If I remember correctly, Buddhist tradition uses concentric wheels as a way of describing truth or reality or life or existence.  I don’t know that they take that theologically in a direction that’s consistent with the Christian understanding of God, but I find the parallel intriguing.

One theme related to that that always fascinates me is the relationship between Christianity and other faith traditions.  CS Lewis puts it well when he says that he would find it hard to believe in a religion that said that every other belief gets truth 100% wrong except theirs, which gets it 100% right.  Instead, he sees all religions as containing at least an element of truth, but remaining either incomplete or distorted.  He, then, sees the truth of the Gospel not as a rejection of Buddhism/Hinduism/paganism/etc., but rather as a fulfillment of them.  Christ, through the Gospel, brings to life the ultimate truth that every faith tradition has been striving to understand and describe.  So I’m always on the lookout for areas of overlap that can speak to this idea.

2:1 | God calls Zeke “Son of Man,” which is a title Jesus will use for Himself.  From the Hebrew “Ben Adam,” it means son of x, where x is a particular person.  It’s used 99 times in the Old Testament, 93 of which in reference to Zeke.  God uses this term for him to emphasize his createdness.  He calls Zeke “Son of Man” in the sense of, “Hey, you, created one, descendant of sinful Adam, this is the creator God speaking to you.”  It’s a big sentence to be contained in such a short title, but trust me, it’s there. 

3:15 | After the whirling God-mobile leaves Zeke back at his canal (presumably with all the catfish having been scared away), Zeke says he sat there, stunned and overwhelmed for seven days.  No kidding!  These are the kind of neat details that give me confidence in the reliability of scripture.  As Lewis says, legends are written in grandiose style, relating only relevant information.  If Zeke’s story was just a legend, he would have experienced this mind-blowing vision telling him to go preach to the people in exile, and he would have said, “Yes! I’m on it! Let’s go!”  Instead, we get this unflattering picture of Zeke sitting slackjawed and glassy-eyed on a canal bank for seven days.  These elements of realism are present in modern fiction, but never in ancient writings.  The only reason that I can imagine these details are included is that they are true.  Zeke really saw this vision, and then he really sat there dumbfounded for a week, wondering if he’d eaten a bad mushroom.

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