This wonderful chapter sets the stage for the rest of the book, for it introduces us to a “man of God” who was one of the most faithful prophets during Israel’s time of captivity in Babylon. Let’s read verses 1-3, “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. On the fifth day of king Jehoiachin’s captivity, 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.” Here we learn that “Ezekiel the priest” was among those taken captive during the Babylonian invasion against Jerusalem. In Babylon he could no longer function as a “priest,” but God raised him up to be a “prophet” to His people. The book reveals that he prophesied concerning the destruction of Jerusalem some 7 years before God’s judgment fell upon the city that had been given over to idolatry and other shameless sins. In these first few verses we see God preparing him for this ministry in FOUR WAYS.

1) “The heavens were opened “…As far as I know, he was the only Old Testament prophet that was privileged to have “the heavens opened up to him.” Later, in the New Testament, we read of “opened heavens” five times (see Matthew 3:16; John 1:51; Acts 7:56; Revelation 4:1; 19:11).

2) “He saw visions of God”…The rest of this chapter gives us the first glorious vision where he saw “the glory of the LORD.” This vision would give him the boldness and endurance needed to carry on his prophetic ministry to a sinful nation that had rebelled against the Lord and were deserving of the judgment that would soon fall upon their beloved city of Jerusalem.

3) “The word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel”…The “word” he received was “the call to the prophetic office.” Again, he had been a “priest,” but now (in exile) he would be God’s “prophet” (spokesman) to the children of Israel.

4) “The hand of the LORD was upon him there”…It has been said that when God calls a person to speak and act on His behalf, He will also enable him to perform the task at hand. The “task at hand” will be carried out because “the hand of the Lord is upon him!” This expression is found SIX other times in this book (3:14, 22; 8:1; 23:22; 37:1 and 40:1).

In verses 4-28 we have THE VISION. Due to space limits, we will refer briefly to some of the things that Ezekiel saw and what they signify.

*Verse 4: “a WHIRLWIND was coming out of the north”…God’s JUDGMENT came from the north.

*Verse 5: “from within it came…FOUR LIVING CREATURES”…these are described in detail in verses 6-14 and are mentioned also in Ezekiel chapter 10 where they are specifically called “cherubim.” They are “angels” whom God often uses in His providential judgments on earth. These same “four living creatures” are seen in Revelation 4:6-9 where they are before the Throne of God giving honor to Him for His holiness. If you study the judgments of God in Revelation chapters 6-18 you will see how God uses these angels to carry out His judgments

In verses 15-25 Ezekiel saw what can only be looked upon as a GRAND CHARIOT. The “four living creatures” were seen alongside the WHEELS of the chariot and they all moved together in all directions. This speaks of God’s governmental dealings on earth being carried out according to His holy purposes.

In verses 26-28 the vision ends with a GRAND THRONE above the chariot. Sitting on the throne was “the LORD of glory.” How did Ezekiel react to this GRAND VISION of “the LORD of glory?” He says, “So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.” This, dear fellow-believer, is how we should all react when we see, through the scriptures, “the Lord of glory!” We should be “humbled before Him” (see Revelation 1:17). And just as Ezekiel was forever CHANGED by the sight of the “glory of the LORD” and made fit to be God’s servant, so we too will be “changed into the image of Christ” and be given a ministry to fulfill. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror THE GLORY OF THE LORD, are being TRANSFORMED INTO THE SAME IMAGE, from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. Therefore, since WE HAVE THIS MINISTRY, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart” (2nd Corinthians 3:18 and 4:1).  (361.5)  (DO)