Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Holy Spirit in Ezekiel
We press on to the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel chapter 1 we are introduced to the “spirit” in the wheels that directs both the wheels and the four mighty beings, apparently cherubim, that are revealed to the prophet by the riverside. The wheels were full of eyes, suggesting omnipresence, and the spirit dictating the direction of the cherubim likewise suggests God’s divine control over His creation, even the angelic order. We see this language again in Revelation 4:6-8, again in regards to the mighty cherubim surrounding God's very throne, that they are "full of eyes in front and in back...around and within." Their nearness to God and their ministry are both intriguing and mysterious.
I think it is safe to suggest (perhaps not dogmatically) that the “spirit” made mention of in Ezekiel chapter 1 is none other than the Holy Spirit, full of eyes and governing the created order, invisible to the eyes of men. The veil was taken away briefly for Ezekiel, concluding with a vision of the pre-incarnate Word enthroned in the heavens. How did it end? “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking,” Ezekiel 1:28. Ezekiel described God in terms that couched him with the limitation that words could convey; therefore the prophet strains the description by saying, “the appearance of the likeness,” of God.
The Holy Spirit is active in this world just as He was in the beginning, when He hovered over the surface of the waters prior to starting to define heaven and earth into an orderly, law-driven cosmos, Genesis 1:2. The Hebrew word for “likeness” is “d’muwth” and can also be translated “resemblance, model or shape.” Here we have a portrait of two persons of the Triune God, the God clearly and consistently portrayed in Scripture if one approaches it without bias. Otherwise we have the glaring contradiction of Scripture that says no man can see God, 1st Timothy 6:16. Jesus clarifies that no one has seen the Father save for Him, John 6:46. Now, has Ezekiel seen God or not? If one takes a non-trinitarian view passages such as this become a hopeless contradiction and a doctrinal nightmare to explain, or explain away as it were.
At the beginning of the next chapter we read: “Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me,” Ezekiel 2:2. Here we see the Holy Spirit coming upon Old Testament saints to empower them once more. In this instance the Holy Spirit gave Ezekiel the strength to stand before the vision of God, and would frequently bear the prophet to various places to receive the visions which he would then conduct to Israel in the captivity.
We find just this in Ezekiel 3:12, 14: “Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a great thunderous voice: ‘Blessed is the glory of the Lord from His place…So the Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness, and in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the Lord was strong upon me.” The Holy Spirit empowered Ezekiel, but not only that, the prophet possessed a divinely inspired anger that drove him to confront his rebellious fellow Jews with God’s indictments; we see this also in the person of King Saul when the Holy Spirit came upon him and compelled him to go to war against Nahash and save Jabesh Gilead, 1st Samuel 11:5-6. This fulfills the Scripture “The reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me,” Psalm 69:9, not only in the ministry of Christ but in every Christian who is more concerned with God’s truth than with people’s conjectures. There is Scriptural warrant for righteous indignation.