Ezekiel’s Vision By The River Chebar (Ezekiel 1:28) -- By: John Merle Ripe

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 088:349 (Jan 1931)
Article: Ezekiel’s Vision By The River Chebar (Ezekiel 1:28)
Author: John Merle Ripe

Ezekiel’s Vision By The River Chebar
(Ezekiel 1:28)

John Merle Ripe

When we hear it thunder we say it is the noise made by the spark of electricity called lightning. The Hebrew prophets said it was the voice of Jehovah. Which is correct?

A thunder storm furnished the introduction to the vision which the prophet Ezekiel saw when he was living among the captive Israelites in upper Mesopotamia. “And I looked, and behold, a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud with fire flashing continually, and a brightness round about it, and out of the midst thereof as it were glowing amber, out of the midst of the fire.” For him it was “the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Are we not likewise convinced that every beauty and splendor, every joy and excellence, every good that we can perceive, is but a picture and symbol of a corresponding greater excellency in the mind and heart of our Lord. Who can escape the truth when the Psalmist sings in the thunder storm :

The voice of Jehovah comes over the waters,
His voice o’er the vast and deep ocean is heard

What more fitting introduction could Ezekiel have had to his vision of the Lord’s glory than the awe inspiring approach of a mighty thunder storm?

In the following discussion of the First Chapter of Ezekiel, I shall make no attempt to trace or to imagine those experiences in the life of Ezekiel which prepared him for this vision, nor shall I venture any statements concerning his psychological make-up. My purpose is simply to see what good the chapter will do my soul in the twentieth century.

The few attempts of artists to reproduce this vision have been very disappointing to me. We know how futile are human attempts to catch and preserve a sunset, or a rainbow. One feels they are even more futile in the case

of Ezekiel’s vision. Yet, to understand the chapter at all, one must attempt some sort of visualization. For the sake of clearness I shall, in what follows, change the order of the passages. The mysterious sight which Ezekiel saw was arranged in three layers. He described the middle layer first (verses 5–14). Let us, however, consider the lower layer first (vss. 15; 21).

This bottom layer is composed of wheels within wheels, and may be called the running gear of the whole appearance—a marvelous and involved picture of complicated machinery, full of eyes and full of life. In our day of mechanical marvels there are many complicated machines which seem to be alive. ...

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