A Vision of God Ezekiel 1:1–20 -- By: Mark Dever

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 02:4 (Winter 1998)
Article: A Vision of God Ezekiel 1:1–20
Author: Mark Dever


A Vision of God
Ezekiel 1:1–20

Mark Dever

Mark Dever is pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D. C. A graduate of Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, he is the author of Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. His next book is a study of Richard Sibbes. He is a contributing editor to The Founders Journal.

The topic of my sermon is strange. Most sermons today seem to be on how to have victory over too much sin in your life or weight on your body, or over too little money in the bank or self-esteem in the heart. We hear sermons on family life, on personal wellness. Sermons on how to use time or strengthen friendships. Sermons on loving yourself or managing your money. Sermons on politics and government. But, as I say, I have a most unusual topic for a sermon these days, one that is even more needed than it is unusual.

I want to help you answer the question, “What is God like?”

To do that, I want us to turn to one of the most vivid records of a vision of God in the Bible. It is found in the first chapter of Ezekiel.

Ezekiel’s situation is an interesting one. A captured Israelite in forced exile, Ezekiel is a young man of about 30, recently relocated to the most powerful city on earth at the time, and God requires him to begin preaching to His people.

Now, in all honesty, I have to tell you that Ezekiel was “far from an ordinary individual.” W. F. Albright described Ezekiel as “one of the greatest spiritual figures of all time, in spite of his tendency to psychic abnormality—a tendency which he shares with many other spiritual leaders of mankind.”1 The book Ezekiel produced has struck many as rather strange and difficult. In fact, there was a tradition among the Jewish rabbis that young men were not allowed to read Ezekiel until they were 30, lest they would become discouraged at how hard the Scriptures were to understand and come to despise them.

But as strange as the early parts of this book may sound at first, I do not think that they are that hard to understand, and they are rich in meaning. From Ezekiel one, I want you to notice five things that we learn about God.

God is Not Like Us

This is where we really must begin if we are to understand this vision of God, and, more to the point, the God that Ezekiel envisages here.

The Old Testament prophets knew from personal experience that God was not just like you and me. They assumed what theologians call the “otherness of God.” So, too, the Psalmist in Psalm 50:21 represents the Lord’s rebuke to one human worshiper, ...

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