A Mind-Blowing Vision of GodDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
As I watched, suddenly a driving storm came out of the north, a great cloud flashing fire, with brightness all around. At its center, in the middle of the fire, there was something like gleaming amber. And inside that were forms of four living creatures. This was what they looked like: Each had the form of a human being, though each had four faces and four wings. (CEB)
In the first verse of Ezekiel, the prophet reports that he “saw visions of God” (1:1). The first of these visions, which dominates chapter 1, is truly mind-blowing. I have read it several times, trying to picture what the words portray. I can make sense of the words, but have a hard time putting them together into a coherent image. I sense that Ezekiel may have been struggling to find the right words to describe this utterly extraordinary vision of God, one that included flaming angelic beings with four faces and a set of brilliant wheels corresponding to the faces. And then, above the winged beings, was a gleaming, glorious revelation of God himself.
Ezekiel’s vision reminds us that we mustn’t limit God by our words and images. God is infinitely greater than anything we can explain or imagine. In his grace, God has condescended to make himself known to us in ways we can begin to understand. Yet we mustn’t confuse our understanding of God with the real thing. God is so much more than anything we can fathom or envision.
It’s tempting for us to latch on to certain ideas about God or pictures of God, such that we neglect the fullness of his revelation. This is one reason why Christians in my tradition (Reformed) have been reticent to display images of God. We can too easily let our images take God’s place in our minds and hearts. Ezekiel’s vision in chapter 1 reminds us of God’s transcendent greatness. It encourages us to be continually challenged to learn more about God and to know him more deeply and fully.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What ideas about God or images of God are especially meaningful to you? Why? What helps you to remember that God is so much greater than anything you can think or imagine?
PRAYER: Awesome, amazing God, my mind has a hard time figuring out just how Ezekiel’s vision in chapter 1 fits together. How much more difficult it is for me to understand who you really are.
Yet, I confess that I can sometimes feel as if I have you all figured out. I can even pick and choose among the images and ideas of God that I like. Forgive me for my arrogance, for my failure to attend to the wideness of your self-revelation in Scripture.
Thank you, Lord, for making yourself known to us in ways we can understand. Thank you especially for revealing yourself in a human being, in Jesus of Nazareth, the Word Incarnate. In him, we catch a unique glimpse of your truth, glory, and love.
All praise be to you, awesome, amazing God. Amen.
P.S. from Mark: The Christian season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, February 22. If you’d like to know more about the special season of the year that we are about to enter, you might visit the following link on my blog: Resources for Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.