Ezekiel chapter one begins with a vision the prophet sees as the heavens are opened. Ezekiel has this vision four times within the book of Ezekiel. Chapter 3:22ff describes Ezekiel communicating with God and again the prophet sees the glory of God as he did in chapter one. The purpose of the vision in chapter 3 was to reveal to Judah the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. The third time Ezekiel sees the same vision is found in chapter 8:4ff. Here the Lord causes Ezekiel to see the sins of His people and the destruction of the ungodly in Judah. Lastly, Ezekiel sees the glory of the Lord with the cherubim in chapter 43. Here the glory of Jehovah fills a new temple that is represented in the new kingdom and second covenant that Jeremiah spoke of in 31:31-34.
Let us simply examine the obvious facts regarding these visions. At the end of chapter one, Ezekiel summarizes the heavenly vision by saying, "This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory ofJehovah. And when I saw it, Ifell upon myface, and I heard a voice of one that spake" (Ezekiel 1:28). God's glory seems to be the significance of this first vision.
How can we define the "glory of Jehovah?" Clearly, the glory of Jehovah is depicted in a threefold manner. First, Jehovah is depicted as omnipotent (all powerful) in Ezekiel 1:10, 24- 25. The four cherubs with their four faces represent the government of Jehovah's throne. When these creatures moved, an awesome sound was made (Ezekiel 1:24). Such sounds indicate the power and fearful sight of the Lord. The four faced creatures likely illustrate that God is king of all flesh (cf. Jeremiah 32:27) and thereby all creatures are subject to His authority (the face of a lion). God is filled with great strength, there is nothing too hard for him; cf. Genesis 18:14, (the face of an ox). Thirdly, God is swift to carry out His plans (the face of an eagle), and lastly, God represents intellect and wisdom (the face of a man). These attributes appear to emphasize the fact that God is all powerful (cf. Jeremiah 32:17; 51:15-19; Revelation 4:6ff). With such universal rule comes the power to punish the lawless.
God's power is thereby seen as "a stormy wind out of the north" (Ezekiel 1:4). God's judgments come from the North in the scriptures (cc Job 37:22-24; Jeremiah 1:14; 4:6; etc). Secondly, the vision depicts the glory of Jehovah God as the emphasis is placed on the omnipresence of God (the God of all places). In Ezekiel 1:14 the four living creatures are described as darting here and there like lightning. God is everywhere in a flash. Jeremiah had said of the Lord, "Can any hide himself in secret places so that I shall not see him? Saith Jehovah. Do not Ifill heaven and earth? Saith Jehovah." (cf. Jeremiah 23:23-25). The third way that Jehovah's glory is seen is by His omniscience (the all-knowing God). The four wheels of Ezekiel 1:15-21 "had their rims full ofeyes round about." This clearly indicates the all-seeing and all-knowing nature of Jehovah God (cf. Jeremiah 23:23-25).
How should man respond to the "glory ofJehovah?" The "high and dreadful' (Ezekiel 1: 18) wheels of God's throne ought to move us to great fear and reverence for Jehovah's awesome glory
(omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence). Solomon said, "The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7). The apostle Paul writes, "Knowing therefore the fear or terror of the Lord, we persuade men..." (Il 1 Corinthians 5:11). The throne scene in Ezekiel chapter one moves us all to fear and awe of the Lord. God's throne is represented by "brightness" (Ezek. I 27) and "glowing fire" (Ezekiel 1:4, 13, 26, 27). God is light (1 John 1:5) and thereby heaven needs no sun to give it light (Revelation 21:23). With such a vision before us we may all be moved to do as Ezekiel and fall upon our face to the ground in reverence and awe of the glory of Jehovah.