As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.Ezekiel 1:28(NASB)
Ezekiel opened his book by informing us he was a Judean priest, who had been taken into Babylonian exile at the same time that Israel's king Jehoiachin was also captured. There were three separate occasions when Jews were deported to Babylon, and Ezekiel was among those in the second group of deportees. He was one of four priests who were also called by God to be a prophet - the other three being Jeremiah, Zechariah and John the Baptist.
He was also a contemporary of the prophet Daniel who had been deported to Babylon years earlier and Ezekiel's prophetic ministry was mainly to the Jews who had been taken into captivity. His ministry was also concurrent with Jeremiah's ministry, who was called to prophesy to those left behind in Jerusalem, and both the ministries of Ezekiel and Jeremiah were mutually complimentary.
In his opening verses Ezekiel explained that he was near the river Chebar in Babylon, when the hand of the Lord came upon him and he saw the heavens open and had visions of God. The rest of chapter one gives the most amazing description of the Lord. The vision he was given was so indescribably awe-inspiring that many things he saw could not be expressed through words, and had to be 'likened' to something else.
In his vision Ezekiel saw a storm approaching from the north with flashing fire and bright lights. He saw something like metal, glowing in the midst of the stormy fire and then he saw four winged creatures... each having human form with feet like a calf's hoof, and these heavenly beings gleamed like burnished bronze. He described the facial appearance and the strange movements of these "other-worldly" beings, each of which had four faces - like a lion; an ox, a man and an eagle.
He compared their swift movement with bolts of lightning and was amazed at the appearance of their beautifully fashioned, sparkling wheels, which were covered over with eyes - and Ezekiel said that the life of these creatures appeared to be in the wheels! After a lengthy description of these astonishing living beings, Ezekiel's attention was grabbed by what appeared to be a throne, above the heads of these magnificent creatures.
He then noticed that the loins of the one seated on the throne was like glowing metal, which appeared to be on fire. Ezekiel marvelled at the bright radiance encircling Him. "As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance", he wrote, "such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking".
So inexplicably magnificent and inexpressibly wonderful was the vision that Ezekiel saw, that he could only explain it by comparing it with familiar objects on earth. So indescribably holy and separated was the One Who was seated on the majestic throne, that he could only describe the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
My God, how wonderful Thou art,
Thy majesty, how bright;
How beautiful Thy mercy seat
In depths of burning light!
How dread are Thine eternal years,
O everlasting Lord,
By prostrate spirits day and night
How beautiful, how wonderful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power,
And awful purity!
Heavenly Father, how privileged we are to have such an astonishing peep into the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord, in Ezekiel's amazing vision, when You were You seated on Your heavenly throne and surrounded by the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day and transported by four magnificent living creatures. No words are sufficiently worthy to convey the greatness of Your glory... and yet in Your goodness and grace You pitied the state of Your fallen creatures and gave Your only begotten Son to become the perfect sacrifice for our sin. There are no words to express how great is Your endless wisdom; boundless power and awesome purity. Praise Your holy name, AMEN.